Indian Wells: Rocky road.


1. 2nd major tournament of 2010, second early exit by Maria Sharapova. This follows her round 2 loss at Wimbledon and round 3 at the US Open. At least she sounded a lot optimistic than I do right now.

“It’s just the mystery of the unknown.We can only do so much and work as much as we can. It’s a combination of both physically and mentally just getting stronger and little steps.

I think I’m doing a lot better than other people that have had shoulder surgery in their careers.  Some people have never come back. What, I’m 13 in the world or something?  That’s a lot better than some of the girls I’ve lost to in the last year.”

It’s a long long road back from injury and it’s a rocky one. Not of the confectionary kind.

The common feature in her losses to Zheng Jie, Oudin and Kiriklenko over the past 6 month has been that she’s hit more winners, unforced errors and double faults than her opponents. It’s not that these victors were counterpunching pushers waiting for her to ‘give away the match’. It’s about her game having too much black-and-white, hits-and-misses and not enough grey.

Yes, grey is neither her style nor her personality. But it wouldn’t hurt to see some minor tweaks in her game. Especially with a whole new generation of Baby Sharapovas coming up with more consistency albeit less mental fortitude than Sharapova.

Still. Hard to be mad at Zheng Jie when she’s such a cute little rubber duck.

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2. Non-upsets of the day: Gisela Dulko tells the story of a typical journeywoman – beating Justine Henin one day, winning a grand total of one game against Aga the next.

Comebacks are all the rage on the WTA tour – Alicia Molik crushes Lena Balt 60 62 to advance to the third round of Indian Wells.

Greul grilled Monfils 16 62 63, Blake blitzed Ferrer 61 64. Melzer melted Nalbandian by the inverse scoreline of 64 61.

No Fedbandian quarterfinal then? Le sad.

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3. Of course, we were almost denied of a Federer quarterfinal of any kind altogether as Victor Hanescu took a set in his 36 76 16 loss to a chili-red Roger.

The first set was over a flash as Roger got up an early break and lost only one point on serve. You can be forgiven for expecting the second set to be just as straight forward. After his hawk-eye successes at the Australian Open, the Fed reverted back to his love/hate relationship with our favourite birdy.

Hey genius, two things you can’t argue against in tennis – hawkeye for a bad call, and a wall for outhitting you.

But it seems that taking a set off Hot Papa was all that Hanescu could manage before a third set burn-out. Roger upped his service percentage and closed out the deal with a breadstick, and took a few more vases home for Mirka.

Baghdatis next. Fear for your knickers.

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4. Ana Ivanovic fell to Sevastova in her first match at Indian Wells. With this loss, she’s set to tumble out of the top 50 for the first time since 2004. It’s depressing. It’s humiliating. It’s well-publicised … or perhaps more appropriately – badly-publicised.

It’s just a awful story.

So I’m going to stop talking about it.

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5. Wisdom from Bodo.

Sure, players have bad days, and women players often have bad days for biologically-related reasons that are never discussed (it goes against the grain of both good manners and our general social philosophy) but loom at the proverbial 800-pound gorilla in the room.

Okay then.

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6. I’m a little late on this thanks to the internet fiasco at home, but Hit for Haiti 2 turned out to be the unfortunate clash of personalities it promised to be.

Rafa looked overawed at times and wasn’t nearly as relaxed and quippy as he was in Australia with Nole. Fed was goofy and McDreamy, and really tried to make things about as pleasant as he could.

Andre and Pete? Fire and ice.

From the outset, it felt like Andre was trying to overcompensate the humor of the night. Depending on your view of AA, either he got too relaxed and loose-lipped, or he set out to bait Pete in the first place. It didn’t help that Pete not only took the bait but took it badly. It was shocking, inappropriate, embarrassing. It was the walking-in-on-nasty-Christmas-fights kind of awkward. It made me want to rewind back to the part of the night that was still cheery and playful.

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Andre Agassi. The little kinks in his personality are what makes him one of the most intriguing characters in tennis. But this was no brainer – he said the wrong thing at the wrong time. He embarrassed Pete, who he knew wasn’t quick or sharp enough to tease back with the same sort of dark, edgy humor.

Not to mention: he did so at a charity match in front of 16,000 people. It killed the atmosphere and shifted the focus of the night from altruism to scandal.

When asked about the incident, Rafa said he didn’t understand it. Whether he was being genuine or just refusing to get involved we’ll never know.

Fed also downplayed the incident with a line I wish he used on the night to break the ice: “Now being a father I thought we had to give both guys a time out.

Cracking dad jokes already are we?

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7. To end on a positive note: bullying Roger? Bad idea.


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14 responses to “Indian Wells: Rocky road.”

  1. pban says :

    Haven’t seen the hit for haiti2 so can’t comment, but going by web accounts Andre was way out of line especially since he knows Pete’s weakness as being a generally dour personality .It was always a bad combination of players,methinks Martina and Feddy playing a mixed doubles match with the Grafs would have been the best bet , the fiasco just puts in perspective what Roger did in Australia…it was spontaneous ,warm and the players joined because they genuinely cared.Saw Feddy’s match though, so thought it was going the Julien Benneatue way, thank God for those ill timed drop shots from Hanescue.While I am zen like in t
    hese events I do want Pete’s record.(well I am so not bothered that I have been awake since 4am to watch a match which started at 7 am ;) )

  2. Mia says :

    For the Hit for Haiti-2, I think I’ll just focus on #7 so there’ll be good memories of something that turned sour.

  3. Jack says :

    I’ll always be a Masha fan no matter what happens in her career. But I must admit, its not easy at the moment!

    Its horrible seeing her serve so badly. I mean, she used to have one of the best serves, now its one of the worse. Plus its not just her serve, everything is off at the moment. :(

    I feel though that the injury has set her back a few years. In 2008, I felt like she was really developing new aspects of her game and now it seems like she has lost them.

    Anyway, maybe she should hire a new coach to work on her serve and other parts of her game?? Because whatever they’re doing now obviously isn’t working.

    • TennisAce says :

      It does not help that the only thing her coach came out on court and told her to do was to go after Jie’s serve. Yup, when all else fails, hit the ball harder. Good tactics. I cannot understand why she thinks that at No. 13 she is in a better position to lose matches like this than if she were No. 31. She, as we are constantly reminded, is Maria Sharapova, the mentally toughest player on tour. Not even Serena Williams is as tough and what I have been seeing since 2007, with a glimpse in 2008, is a shell of this former player. Yes, she has come back from the shoulder surgery but at what level and will she be able to up this level when the going gets tougher as it will no doubt will.

      • flo says :

        Agreed, though that has always been Shara’s game for better or worse. She doesn’t seem that coach-friendly, anyway. I’m not a fan of her game. She’s hella glam, tho. But imo, she’s not ever been as tough as Serena (discounting those California Dreaming days of yore). Serena’s big serve on big points ratio is through the roof.

      • dootsiez says :

        No one is as tough as Serena Williams, but as mental toughness goes, Maria’s right up there. Part of the problem is that Maria used to be able to depend on her serve. Now she can’t and the rest of her game hasn’t adjusted to suddenly having a weaker serve. She’s going to have to find a way of fine-tuning her groundies or improving the serve, cos she needs at least one of those two to be solid and dependable.

  4. Jack says :

    Do my eyes deceive me?? Fed in something other than blue!!! :)

    Not worried it went to three sets. After all, he was bound to be rusty after a long break. But TWO double faults, shocking!!! :D

    Anyway, Fed better win this to pull me out of my Masha depression! :)

    As for the Hit for Haiti, its sad that Pete and Andre couldn’t put their personal feelings aside for one night. But lets be honest, even before that, it was kinda falling flat in comparison to the original. Its a shame though that it drew attention away from what the night was meant to be about.

  5. Dippy says :

    Half expected that H4H IW will not be as fun as H4H AO, to make matters worse the legends decided to be divas and make a fool of themselves. H4H IW is supposed to be for charity not settling scores. At least Roger tried to make it as fun as possible. Rafa as usual hides behind his lack of understanding in English (really helped during tense moment). Well at the ladies delivers..

    • flo says :

      I understand why Rafa would duck the questions as it’s not his problem and he doesn’t want to offend anyone by taking sides. But allegedly (from Steve Tignor?) he was telling Andre to stop with the lip just a few points afore the incident. And even if not, I’m sure he understood it well enough. Again, I don’t think Rafa has some obligation to get involved.

  6. TennisAce says :

    I think Fed dealt with it head on. He called out both guys in his press conference and felt that their behaviour took away from the spirit of the occassion. Not only that, apparently this was Rafa’s first time meeting Sampras and you know that Fed must have been talking up how great Sampras is to Rafa and now this. A bit like a really bad Christmas dinner with the uncle that no one wants to invite but you invite him nonetheless just because he is family. Federer recommends a time out. You can tell he will be strict with Myla and Charlene when they grow up. Excerpts from Fed’s presser here http://tinyurl.com/yfamhrn

  7. judy says :

    agreed on all accounts doots (except i’m starting to really hate bodo). love your HFH2 assessment. that doubles point rocked!

    just when i thought i couldn’t love fed more, he goes out and gets this adorable haircut, wears an outfit i like that’s not blue, tries his best to keep things cool on court, comes up with amazing plays and brings out the melty smiles! i even marvel at his continued disdain for hawkeye. that might have been the loudest ‘challenge’ request i’ve ever heard from fed. i freakin love him!

    more vases for mirka. hilarious!

  8. breadstix says :

    @6: Oh dear, that doesn’t sound pleasant. I still haven’t watched the Hit for Haiti 2 clips and have not had the chance to read much about it lately either but that sounds like it was a bit… awkward. :/ Such a shame, H4H1 was such a joy to watch.

    Didn’t imagine Nalby would fall so quickly, and Feddy! This always seems to happen when I leave for bed, thinking that he’s in a good position to wrap up the match. Eurgh. Now Baggy… :/!

    *sigh* Masha…

  9. jfK says :

    So sad about Maria. I’m worried she is going the way of Ivanovic. The commentators said she will never be a contender for Slams with that serve. :(
    Nice to see Roger play, though. Scared us a little in the 2nd set but Total domination in the 3rd :P

    • dootsiez says :

      Maria going the way of Ivanovic? Maybe serve-wise. But mentally those two are like a lioness and a kitten.

      You know which one’s which ;)

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