Welcome to Instant Replay, a recap of the best highlights, GIFs and photos as we move into the business end of this week's tournaments.
With tournaments in action in Europe, North America, South America and Asia this week, the schedule has been taxing on the sleep schedules, but if you've stayed up through the night you have been rewarded with some quality tennis and unexpected drama.
It wasn't the ideal week for Ivo Karlovic. He landed in Memphis without his bags and then lost to No. 156 Austin Krajicek 7-6 (4), 4-6, 6-4 in the second round of the Memphis Open. It's been a banner week for Krajicek. The 24-year-old American came into Memphis having only one one ATP tour-level match win in his career and he scored two more this week.
It's always awkward when friends play each other. Once again, Dominic Thiem and Ernests Gulbis, who share a coach and practice together, put on a flat display and yet again, it was Thiem who got the better of his elder mentor, winning 6-4, 6-2 in the first round of Rotterdam. Since making the French Open semifinals last May, Gulbis has won just nine matches and he's now 0-3 in 2015.
How about this forehand zinger from Thiem:
Gael Monfils is into the Rotterdam quarterfinals and will play defending champion Tomas Berdych. And he's still hitting shots that defy description:
Andy Murray has repeatedly suffered from a post-Melbourne malaise after making the Australian Open final, but he hasn't missed a beat this year. He put on a clinic against Nicolas Mahut in the first round of Rotterdam:
Murray then rallied from 3-5 down in the second set against Vasek Pospisil to win 6-3, 7-5 to advance to the quarterfinals. The key moment in the match: After losing a grueling 30-shot rally while serving for the second set, Pospisil couldn't recover within the allotted time and was given a time violation. Since it was his second violation of the day, he was docked his first serve. Pospisil was never the same. He lost the final four games of the match. On the changeover after getting broken, Pospisil proceeded to lay into chair umpire Cedric Mourier, dropping an expletive-laden rant.
Here's that 30-shot rally:
I am not a huge fan of the 'tweener, but this was a perfectly executed defensive tweener from Grigor Dimitrov, who weighted the lob perfectly to put Gilles Muller into an awkward overhead, which he missed.
They can't all be gems though. For every Dimitrov highlight, there are a few attempts that end up on the cutting room floor:
Dimitrov crashed out in the second round to Muller, losing 6-2, 7-6 (8). This after he saved two match points to beat Paul-Henri Mathieu in the first round. This has not been the start to the season that he wanted. Could some of the blame go to some racket tinkering?
Over in Antwerp, where the WTA has revived the Diamond Games for the first time since 2009, Andrea Petkovic is on the verge of returning to the Top 10 on Monday after she saved eight match points to defeat Alison Van Uytvanck 6-7, 7-6, 6-2 in over three hours. See GIFs over every match point save over at TennisNow.
The early rounds in Antwerp have given us some entertaining match-ups. Alize Cornet and Belinda Bencic exchanged cries of anguish and tears before the French veteran secured a 1-6, 6-2, 7-5 win in the first round. The same level of emotion came through again when Cornet lost to Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 6-4, 6-2. With neither woman able to hide her emotions on court, chair umpire Mirjana Cicak had her hands full:
And then there was the slice-and-dice special between Monica Niculescu and Kirsten Flipkens. Niculescu dominated the first rounder, winning 6-3, 6-2, completely flummoxing the Belgian with her unorthodox game. Here's how hard Flipkens had to work just to get a point:
The news of the week so far in Belgium was top-seeded Eugenie Bouchard's opening round loss to No. 46 Mona Barthel, 4-6, 6-1, 6-2. The win was Barthel's first over a Top 10 player in two years and drops the talented Canadian to 13-11 since Wimbledon. One question looming after Bouchard's loss: Was this tweet from Victoria Azarenka related to the match?
Turns out, no, it wasn't:
Gilles Muller has had a great start to the season. He made the quarterfinals of Chennai, semifinals in Sydney, fourth round of the Australian Open, and notched wins over David Goffin and Dimitrov this week in Rotterdam. It's all coming together for him, which is probably why he went a little ballistic when he blew a match point against Dimitrov:
Here are the quarterfinal slates for Friday:
Rotterdam: Andy Murray vs. Gilles Simon, Tomas Berdych vs. Gael Monfils, Gilles Muller vs. Stan Wawrinka, Sergiy Stakhovsky vs. Milos Raonic.
Antwerp: Mona Barthel vs. Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, Andrea Petkovic vs. Dominika Cibulkova, Karolina Pliskova vs. Lucie Safarova, Carla Suarez Navarro vs. Francesca Schiavone.
Memphis: Kei Nishikori vs. Austin Krajicek, John Isner vs. Sam Querrey, Bernard Tomic vs. Donald Young, Steve Johnson vs. Kevin Anderson.
Sao Paulo: Luca Vanni vs. Dusan Lajovic, Leonardo Mayer vs. Joao Souza, Santiago Giraldo vs. Fabio Fognini, Pablo Cuevas vs. Nicolas Almagro.
Pattaya City: Misaki Doi vs. Monica Puig, Evgeniya Rodina vs. Ajla Tomljanovic, Duan Ying-Ying vs. Daniela Hantuchova, Vera Zvonareva vs. Marina Erakovic