The first week of May — the week preceding Madrid on the calendar — is a fascinating, uncomfortable, and mysterious place. Why do I say that? Because it is hard to know which results mean something and which results do not. Anastasija Sevastova offers a case in point.
Sevastova, who has not been fully healthy for portions of the first half of the 2019 tennis season, is trying to work her way back into form. She lost to Petra Kvitova after a decent run last week in Stuttgart, but most people probably expected her to handle 18-year-old Anastasia Potapova in her first match this week in Prague. She did not.
Is this an alarm bell? Is this “one of those days”? Is this an insignificant loss which might actually carry the benefit of making sure Sevastova is fresh for the Premier Mandatory event in Madrid, the one Premier Mandatory tournament of the clay season on the WTA Tour? You could make valid interpretations in support of these competing claims, but right now, do you have a good feel for which is the best line of analysis?
Bravo to you if you do — I say that seriously — but I can’t say I have the foggiest idea.
Weeks on tour with smaller-scale tour stops are often landmines for people who want to make predictions or connect the present moment with the future. Some players enter these events desperately trying to win a title which — at higher-tier tournaments — is not as realistic a goal. Other players are just trying to polish their games or at least maintain a continuous feel for live matches as they move through the calendar. The goal of every player in a field is not the same — the desire to conquer is the same, but the professional need to gain certain advancements or positive components from a tournament will differ from athlete to athlete.
So, what does Sevastova want right now? Will she come to Madrid and noticeably improve? Will she struggle to gain traction? For her and other players who lose early during this specific week on tour, simply realize that an early loss might not be everything it initially seems to be on the surface.