BNP Paribas Open (8)
Coverage from ATP Masters 1000 / WTA Premier Event Tournament at Indian Wells, California, March 5 - March 18, 2012
ONE: Earlier this week, the "Indian Wells virus" dominated the headlines. But this weekend, all eyes were on the skies. Cold, windy and rainy conditions rolled in to challenge the men's semifinals. John Isner and Novak Djokovic managed to get their match in, and it was a huge, crowd-pleasing three-set win for Isner. But just as the men were shaking hands at the net, the first drops of rain began to fall. After a few hours of rain delay, the courts were dry enough for the second semi. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal took the court for their 28th meeting, with swirling winds and ominous clouds overhead. Conditions meant that tennis wouldn't be great, but the crowd didn't mind. There was a short rain delay partway through the match, and then, with Federer serving for the victory, yet another rain delay on match point. This drew a huge round of boos from the crowd, but the umpire had no choice. Five minutes later, Federer rose from his chair, walked to the service line, bounced the ball a few times, and then finished the match with one final serve, an ace.
Juan Martin del Potro could only laugh today. A challenge he was confident would go his way was not available due to an "internet problem." When that happens, the call on the court stands. Federer's next challenge, which suddenly worked just fine, also went against “delPo.” Juan Martin turned his racquet around, aimed it at the replay screen, and fired. When told after the match that Federer had agreed with his first challenge, del Potro laughed and said, "He saw it out also? Don't tell me that!" Though frustrated with the technical problem, del Potro conceded that Federer was outplaying him today and the call was not that important.
ONE: Many big names were out on the practice courts early Wednesday AM. The morning's entertainment was provided by the always smiling Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who was cracking up the crowd with his Victoria Azarenka impressions. Azarenka was hitting a couple courts away, and we are not sure if she heard or saw the teasing or not.
The “Coachella Valley-wide” virus that has put unrest in the stomachs of many and fear in the stomachs of all others may have claimed one more victim among the players today, as Nikolay Davydenko withdrew from his match against Thomaz Bellucci with an unspecified “illness.” But the valley can likely blame tennis for the epidemic. Victoria Azarenka says she and some other players suffered from the virus a few days before the tournament began. Patient Zero?
Tuesday’s Costly Break
American Jamie Hampton was making her way through a comeback against fifth seed Agnieszka Radwanska, winning the second set 6-4 after dropping the first, when she began cramping in the beginning of the third. After losing the opening game, Hampton had to lie down on the court and was seen by a trainer. As the cramping rule in effect since January 2010 dictates, Hampton would lose a point every time she went over a 30-second time delay, leading her to forfeit two games today. Hampton then tried to play but was unable to continue, leaving the score at 6-3, 4-6, 3-0.
Radwanska was not an expert on this rule and had expected Hampton to be penalized fewer points: “So I was actually very surprised, to be honest. I knew that she can't have medical timeout, but also I thought maybe, you know, she’s gonna lose point or something… two games, that's a lot.”
When asked about what advice she would give Caroline Wozniacki, who is in a similar position as Ivanovic as another “former No. 1,” Ivanovic said, “Um, yeah. Maybe they can give me advice. (Laughter.) Maybe I'm not the right person to ask that question.”
She went on to talk about the difficulty of having one’s goals in the rear-view mirror and having to reset them.
Monday’s Budding Auteur
Maria Sharapova, whose interview after defeating Simona Halep went with only a single match-related question, said she would like to write a fan-friendly, “easy reading,” book about her life. Would it be like Vince Spadea’s book? “I haven't read Spadea's. I don't think I will. No offense, Vince.”
Maria Sharapova has been known to stare down an opponent or two into submission. Perhaps it’s all part of the Robert Lansdorp training method. Unlike Jankovic, who, on Friday, said she was scared of Nick Bolletieri at first meeting, Sharapova had only positive emotions about the Floridian. Not so with Lansdorp.
Sharapova says that, in early interactions, the renowned coach, “scared the living ‘beep’ out of me.” Sharapova says her coaching relationship with Lansdorp could produce a tome, “because there were just so many situations in which I was, like, ‘Wow, did this really happen?’” The Russian painted a picture of a rude and ruthless, but effective, mentor and says she does not regret a minute of the time spent under Lansdorp’s tutelage.
In one of the earlier Friday matches, Ukrainian Qualifier Sergei Bubka led Nikolay Davydenko 5-0. Bubka proceeded to lose the next seven games to give Davydenko the set, then lost the second set, 3-6, making the Russian’s victory nearly routine. The Court 7 match was barely noticeable if not for the turnaround in the score and Davydenko’s past standing among the best players in the game.
Hours later, a similar scenario was unfolding on Stadium Court, and all were paying attention, as the player giving up a set and 5-1 lead was World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka. Azarenka, who came into the tournament riding a 17-match
Thursday’s What is he Thinking About?
During his pre-tournament interview, Rafael Nadal was asked at length about the impressive, by skill, effort, and length, 2012 Australian Open Final he had lost to Novak Djokovic. The Spaniard noted the match was “a great moment for sport.”
He said that, while he regretted some moments of the match, the first Grand Slam of 2012 was a very positive experience overall. The multiple losses to Djokovic in the last year have not gotten too far into his head, Nadal claims. “When I go to the court every morning, I don’t think about Novak… I don’t have a spirit of revenge or obsession,” he said.