Archive for the ‘Indian Wells’ Category

11 Mar 2011

Rafael Nadal golf

March is a special time for North American tennis fans. The days start to get longer, the snow starts to melt, the sun starts to come out, and two back-to-back premier tennis tournaments take place in a timezone that saves us from becoming zombies the next day. However, these tournaments aren’t slams, and with their strange placement in the tennis calendar, they often leave me asking “what does it all mean?”

Let’s take a look. To start, Indian Wells and Miami are the standard bearer of both how to run a tournament outside of the majors, as well as the benefits of running a combined tournament, which is becoming more and more common. They are 7 round tournaments (like the slams), however, 32 seeds get a bye, so it’s only a 96 player draw on both sides. For the men, the last to win both back to back was Fed, who did it in both 2005 and 2006 (that’s 24 straight wins combined). Agassi did it in 2001, Rios did it in 1998, Sampras did it in 1994, Chang in 1992, Courier in 1991. Miami was founded in 1985, so in 25 years, that’s 7 times the Indian Wells champion has gone on to win Miami, a remarkably high percentage by my estimation.

For the ladies, Kim did it in 2005, Serena in 2001, and Steffi did it in 1996. The ladies side of Indian Wells wasn’t held before 1989, which means that back to back wins has happened 3 times in 21 years.

For tennis writers and talking heads, finding meaning in a seemingly endless season centred around four main tournaments can be difficult. Indian Wells/Miami is an interesting combo. To win both, you get the equivalent of a slams worth in points, 2000, and need to win a daunting 12 straight matches if you’re a seed (or an insane 14 if you’re not). They’re played on hard courts, of course… however, the second Miami is done, most top players set their sights on clay, and don’t play another match until then. Still, to win a tournament of this caliber, let alone both, is a serious statement.

For me, these tournaments don’t exist in a vacuum, but they might be the closet thing that any big tournament could be. Ljubicic’s astonishing and heart warming run didn’t mean a meteoric rise to the top 10, and JJ’s victory didn’t signal a return to serious slam contention. That being said, Andy’s victory in Miami let everyone know that he can still compete at the big time, and Kim’s championship… well, she won the US Open, so take from that what you will.

Perhaps the most astonishing thing about Indian Wells and Miami, especially in this day in age, is the contrast of venues. If the switch from clay to grass requires serious adjustment, so must the switch from IW to Miami. Indian Wells, placed seemingly in the Middle of Nowhere California features tons of empty practice courts, gorgeous scenery, blue skies, and a relaxed atmosphere. Miami, on the other hand, is just off Miami, one of the main (party) centres of Florida, and is busy and in your face.

This year, it’s tough to know who the favourites are going in. Nole? Kim? Possibly. Could either of them take both of them? What major upsets await?

Indian Wells and Miami might not tell you who will win Wimbledon, or even the US Open… but two things are for sure. These are two fantastic events, and there is is some seriously entertaining tennis headed our way. Enjoy the tournaments everyone.

The JJ Syndrome

Posted by Brodie under: Caro, Indian Wells, JJ

22 Mar 2010

You know people who have near death experiences, and then come back fully revived with a new appreciation for life? Or an unhealthy person who almost dies of a heart attack, and does a complete overhaul of what they eat afterwards? We might as well start calling that the “JJ Syndrome”.

JJ looked well on her way to another confusing tournament. If you remember, last year she lost to PAvs early, who was a no one at the time. This year it was Errani, the tiny Italian, who was up a break for nearly the entire third set in their third round match. However, JJ kept calm, refocused, and pulled the thing out of her ass. She then went on to win the next 8 sets that she played (oddly, by a score of either 6-4 or 6-2 for all of them) and took the championship. And beating Shahar, Kleybs, Sam and Caro with those scores isn’t exactly a walk in the park.

So props to JJ, who showed the world (in other words, proved me wrong) that she CAN have streaks of consistency, and when she chooses to kick it into high gear and attack, can be one hell of a wall.

And really, it showed the real weakness of Caro’s game: not being able to defend the big hitters. Sure she can push weaker opponents around the court, but her inability to finish points (partially due to the lack of a big forehand, and REALLY due to her lack of volleying skills which keep her from moving in) cost her big time. Saw some people accusing Caro of not having a “plan B”. Not true. Girl had a perfect idea of what was going on out there. She just couldn’t do a damn thing about it.

Anyway, props JJ. As much as I might hate to say it, you really deserved this one.

Clean Sweep

Posted by Brodie under: Dick, Indian Wells, Old Man Ljubs

22 Mar 2010

Hats (and hairpieces) off for the Wrinkley Old Knob Head, who became the oldest debut winner of a Masters tournament yesterday, at 31 years and 2 days. 31! And it’s not like he had a great draw and took oppurtunity of it, he took out Nole, Rafa, and Dick. He also becomes the first Croat to win this tournament. Another important stat: 4 tiebreaks played, 4 tiebreaks won. You can’t hope to beat top players if you can’t take them out in the big tiebreaks (case in point, Baggy) and Ljubs just plain outserved Dick yesterday to take it.

Simply put, it’s just fun. Sure, you can be pissed at the fact that he took out such glory as Pico, Nole, and Rafa, but at some point you just have to tip the hat (or walking stick). Good job old man. Go buy yourself a nice reclining chair.

21 Mar 2010

“If I have to play the match of my life with doubles, I’d pick him as a partner.” – Wrinkley Old Knob Head on Rafa.

Good call, old man. Because Rafa has one tough noggin’… right? Go figure, Mr. Clean took Rafa out in a third set tiebreak, when you’d figure Rafa would be automatic. Rafa?

‘I was more nervous than passive, because I never had to arrive to this tiebreak.’ At 6-1 ‘I was destroyed mentally*’ – Rafa

Rafa… destroyed mentally? Hmm. Sounds like a brother is out of match play. It HAS been over a month. So how odd is it that Rafa might actually need the play more for the mental side than the physical side? Because the dude is moving well, and hitting shots.

But let’s just throw our hats off to Old Man Ljubs for a second. A player who was as high as number 3 four years ago… and turned 31 two days ago. THIRTY ONE. That wrinkley knob head is old in tennis terms, y’all (does he not look way fuckin’ older or what?) He’s used his experience and sensibility to make brilliant and smart shots all week long. God damn old man.

This goofball beat Sod (thanks for avenging Muzz!) in three needless sets, after being up a break and giving away two in the second set. Really, the guy is on fire with the serve, for the most part, and without Fed in the way, he’s made the final losing only one set on the way. So the new age, big server vs. the creative walking stick. Probably not what the tournament organizers were expecting, but… gooooood.

Pure Evil

Posted by Brodie under: Dick, Indian Wells, Sodomy

20 Mar 2010

OK, OK, fine. Sod had been on fire all week. He might even beat Dick in the semis. And Muzz was absolutely USELESS. You break Sod while he’s serving for the set, then lose in the tiebreak? Why am I even bothering?

In other words, Sod has proven that last year was not a fluke. In fact, it might have been just the beginning. Run for your lives.

Not much else to say for the men. Wrinkley Knob Head took out Pico, Rafa just lost the second set to him, and Dick won 97% of his first serve points against T-Rob, which was messy business. Seriously Rafa, get this together.

Back, Bitches

Posted by Brodie under: Caro, Indian Wells, JJ

20 Mar 2010

For those who follow me on Twitter, you’ve seen that I’ve had a whole lot of homework (read: complaining) to do. The majority of it is done, however, save for exams at the end of April. Which means I have tons of time to blog and not feel guilty! Heyo! So I should be back until the next time I have way too much homework. So like, November.

Watched the Caro match last night, really solid win, A-Rad is a player who she SHOULD beat. Also have go give props to the JZ/Caro match the other night, which was one of the most high quality WTA matches I’ve seen all year. JZ’s backhand was on fire, and the whole thing was just a total war. Regardless, Caro looks like she’s trimmed down a bit, put on some muscle, and it’s starting to pay off. Glad she’s not turning into JJ from last year. Speaking of which…

JJ has really proven herself this week, in my eyes. I didn’t see her matches against Kleybs or Superhero Sam, but both those players looked on their games (especially Sam, who hadn’t dropped a set all tournament) but JJ took both of them out. So word to that woman. Hard to save the favourite in the final is, really. JJ has beaten much tougher opponents… but Caro is looking hella determined. Regardless, great tournament for both.

Unusual Business

Posted by Brodie under: Caro, Indian Wells, JZ, Masha

15 Mar 2010

It was business as usual for the ladies yesterday… or perhaps business as unusual, as pretty well everyone who should have won yesterday did so. Caro, probably for the first time this year, looked like her old self, really hitting the ball, spreading Kiri out, and hitting some big serves (she went for an ace down the line on the ad court at one point and just missed wide, it was weird) and threw a bagel and 3 at Kiri. Ouch. Maybe now that Nails is out of her way, she’s believing. She’ll take on Nads next.

Birthday girl Aravane took out Franny, and Lena, A-Rad (bagel and ‘sticking Dulkbag), Mono and Molik all won.

Yesterday’s biggest “Performance Of The Day… Brought to you by Balls To The Wall¬©” is from the lil’ scrapper, JZ, who continues to prove that no opponent is too big (or too tall) for her this year. Taking out Masha in three (ridiculously long) sets, she sets up a fourth round meeting with Alicia Molik. So basically, she should be top 5 in the early WTA YEC race by the end of the tourney, if she isn’t already.

Sucks for Masha though, who apparently was feeling more right elbow pain, just as in USO, and she’s not exactly one to make excuses. It might explain her TEN THOUSAND (read 14) double faults, and just one ace. At one point, break point, she took extra long on a second serve, and proceeded to flop it into the net. Something was definitely up. I’d say the bottom half’s remaining 8 has shaped up quite nicely, overall.

Grindin’ Away

Posted by Brodie under: Baggy, Indian Wells

14 Mar 2010

Hell of a match (read: first set) by The Cyprus Tourism Board and Clementine, who shelled out an absolute war of attrition first set that took nearly an hour and a half. At 5-all they reached some 9 or 10 deuces, went to deuce at 5-6, and Baggy finally took the damn thing in the tiebreak at 9-7 (saving many set points on the way). Wowza. Not surprisingly, Arnaud kinda called it a day after that. Still, mad props to Baggy’s focus, who at 6-6 in the tiebreak, had an Arnaud serve get called out only to be overruled by the chair as an ace. He came back and fired an ace and an unreturnable serve, and then got the mini-break and the set. He’s moving great and is looking really in shape.

He gets rewarded by getting Fed next round. Regardless, I’d expect it to at least be competitive, and who really knows where Fed’s at after the whole sticky lung thing.

14 Mar 2010

…On my beach at night.

Wow Marin, just wow. Doesn’t like Indian Wells hospitality? Misses his real coach? Tired from Davis Cup? Just simply doesn’t give a fuck?

Marin won one point in the first set tiebreak against GarLo, and then proceeded to not give a rat’s ass in the second set… quite honestly the worst lack of effort by a top 10 player that I’ve seen in a long time. I don’t know what the final unforced error count was for him in that set, but the number is probably too big for this blog.

I’d be tempted to say “oh, he’s tired from Davis Cup”… but it’s a WEEK later. He’s played a lot this year, no doubt, but dude, you’re a top 10 player, this is Indian Wells, a Masters tournament, this is what you get up in the morning for. Sad times.

This goofball also managed to eat a Fish bagel in the second set. Unless it’s salmon, whole grain, and cheese, sounds disgusting at best. Apparently Fish was arguing with Mo, however, and once you tip the Scales of Mo against you, there’s really not a whole lot you can do. Nole tossed a 2 (to go with his first set ‘stick) in the third and took it home. Good boy.

Nothing else too crazy for the dudes really, other than Gilles losing, which is unfortunately not too surprising these days. Poor guy. Rafa of course made a solid return, which is good. OOP today is far from delicious (or even as good as yesterday) however, the possible wind and drama might get the better of some players, so definitely keep a look out. Most of the interesting matches are on the ladies’ side (Caro/Kiri!). Can check the OOP here.

14 Mar 2010

Ana Ivanovic Indian Wells

There’s been calls to “take a break”. To spend more time on the practice court. To get more match play in. To try crystal meth. Everything under the sun including taking a trip to the end of the rainbow has been suggested for poor Ana, and now perhaps the most crazy thing has happened, something no one figured would happen.

She’s out of the top 50. And she’s cool with it. In fact, she’s confident. Yeah, you read that all right. My main suggestion was getting a full time coach, and I think she got one just in time. Last year was a year of pain… minus Indian Wells, where she made the final, and got most of her ranking points from. A second round loss this time around means there isn’t a whole lot left lying around. Perhaps this pic best sums it up best. Ana, still being invited to players parties and big time events… yet is now somehow magically ranked lower than a struggling Sorana Banana. Oh dear.

Yet she remains confident and upbeat about her game. Good. Because now that you’re out of the top 50, you’ve seriously got shit to prove now. Here’s hoping she DOES take an Andre route, maybe not as low as the ITF stuff, but some International events, work on the ranking, and work on beating players that she can and should beat.

According to @donkeygrooming Sven (is the nicest guy ever, go figure) and was really sad about Ana. There, there Omniscient One. You have done all you can.

This also happened. The shit? A 3 sets loss to CSN, and 1-6 in the third none the less. Apparently Kuz tried to break her racquet at the end, and failed. How Marcos of you. Seriously, she never gets this angry. It must be the wind… that, or there’s something in the wind. There’s drama all around the grounds.

Mind The Racket Podcast:

Episode 7 – US Open Week 2 Wrap-Up