Rafael Nadal has won five of seven tournaments since returning in February. (Andres Kudacki/AP)
The Report Card hands out grades for the week in tennis. Last week, Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal won titles in Madrid, where Grigor Dimitrov had a breakthrough victory and Roger Federer and Victoria Azarenka struggled in returns from lengthy layoffs.
Serena Williams: A. Another week, another title, another demolition of Maria Sharapova (who has lost 12 consecutive meetings), another week at No. 1. Williams successfully defended her Madrid Open title and showed for the first time in more than a decade that she could dominate on all shades of clay, flattening Sharapova 6-1, 6-4 in the final. The scary thing about Williams’ three-title, 19-match winning streak is that she’s not even playing as well as she was at this time last year, when she also won the Family Circle Cup and Madrid Open and came into the French Open streaking.
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Rafael Nadal: A. As the other Big Four members fell one by one, Nadal was able to fight through his one blip of a match and find better form late in the tournament. After being two points from losing his quarterfinal against David Ferrer, Nadal rolled past Pablo Andujar in the semifinals and Stanislas Wawrinka in the final to collect his 40th clay title and 55th overall. Nadal, who missed all of January as part of his seven-month recovery from a knee injury, has made the final in all seven tournaments he’s played this year and claimed a tour-leading five titles. Not even the most optimistic Nadal followers could have foreseen this type of dominance in his return.