Indian Wells: Not a soup can.

The history of tennis is constantly evolving. Back in ‘medieval’ times, men like Willy Renshaw rocked up once a year to the sacred grounds of Wimbledon and defended their crown by merrily defeating their opponent, before heading home for a cigar and the latest developments of the East Indian Company.

Or so I’d like to imagine.

Willy Renshaw on the left, his twin brother Ernest on the right.

Fast forward 60 odd years, we arrive at the age of classics, filled with the romanticism of Laver, Rosewall and Emerson. To a Gen-Y like myself, the world lived in black and white back then, and tennis players always seemed to play with such ease and style that they could’ve walked straight off court and onto the set of Mad Men.

By the time our tennis history rolled around to late Sampragassi and the beginning of Fedal, modernity had dawned on tenniskind. We had epic rivalries, intense competition, clothing juggernauts generating such incredible wealth from the sport that they were turning it into a misery machine with a massive marketing campaign.

So what now? Are we entering tennis postmodernity?

The Sovereign (Roger? Serena?) is alive and well, but the sovereignty of our tennis realm is fragmenting. The overriding theme before the Australian Open – that the men’s field is wider than ever, that the women’s field has too many contenders – may have been suspended since Roger and Serena stormed Dootsie’s backyard, but the fragmentation of power continues. Contenders are emerging from outside the top 10 and converging towards the top 5.

For sure – sovereignty ain’t what it used to be in our tennis world.

But even so, no one saw this coming: Ivan Ljubicic, champion of Indian Wells 2010. My initial response was somewhat identical to my reaction to Andy Warhol.

“B-b-but, they’re soup cans!”

“It’s art.”


Seeing Ivan Ljubicic holding the Indian Wells trophy reminded me of the Campbell’s soup cans.

Unlike Monet’s garden (Roger) or Van Gogh’s starry night (Rafa), Ivan Ljubicic presents a mundane kind of promotional material for the tournament. He’s no established contender, and certainly not an up-and-coming talent, having spent the tournament celebrating his use by date 31st birthday.

Surely, this is not the guy who would become the last man standing?

But let’s not underestimate the skill it takes to draw soup cans. It wasn’t as if the draw opened up for Ljubicic and he found himself in the final without having to play a top-30 player.

En route to the title, Ljubicic took out Djokovic, Nadal and Roddick, losing only one set to 3 top 10 players, at a time when most people have long forgotten his relevance.

Yes, he has a good serve, or more accurately a clutch serve (perhaps the best kind), but make no mistake, the guy’s no Ivanisevic or Roddick. His backhand is lethal at times, but it doesn’t exactly have the flair and fame of an ‘Henin’ or a ‘Reeshie’. His forehand is a meat-and-potatoes kinda shot, but it’s not definitive of his game, hardly a shot to end all shots.

And his movement? Let’s not go there.

Yet Ivan Ljubicic navigated himself through a tricky draw that not many top players, including the famous Fedal, could’ve won themselves.

He served big when he needed to. He battled nerves, higher ranked opponents and himself (51 unforced errors against Nadal anyone?). In the end, it took all his years of experience to be able to win against Djokovic, Nadal and Roddick back-to-back, without succumbing to a fear of success.

And when match point has been played and won, who’s to say that it wasn’t art?

At least, it’s not a fucking soup can.

xx doots


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19 responses to “Indian Wells: Not a soup can.”

  1. Ceeza says :

    Very nice..

  2. Mia says :

    Wow, you could juxtapose a black and white picture of Roger in his version of the cardigan and it would harken back to those times.

    Re the Ljub serve, I read sometime ago that, to Marat Safin, Ivan had the best serve among the current players. Said he was scared to play him.

    • dootsiez says :

      I know right? Roger’s cardigan looked like a copy of Emerson’s.

      Funnily enough, I’ve never thought of Ljubicic as a serve machine (because because he does appear to have groundstrokes), but his serve was so good last week. Every time he needed a serve, he found one. You don’t get more clutch than that.

  3. Lovekosifed says :

    Very smart and clever post, Dootsiez! Apart from the regular Fed-worship, it’s the occasional bursts of brilliance that I enjoy when visiting this blog.

    And Ivan totally deserves this year’s IW. It was any of the top 4’s tournament to lose, and boy DID they give it away! I can’t be happier for good ol’ Ljuby for not caving in to pressure and fear of winning against top players!

    • dootsiez says :

      The top 4 aside, it was Robin Soderling’s tournament to win and he blew it. 😦

      • Lovekosifed says :

        I was hoping for a Dimples-Buttboy finals, more than Giggles-Buttboy. The former have the tendency to bitch while the latter pairing is just too goody-goody. I wouldn’t blame Fedal for being squishily good, but a Swede-Spanish bitchfest is sometimes nice. Sometimes.

  4. pban says :

    Miami draw is out, Rafa in Novak’s half so Fed gets Muzza ie if he manages to reach the semis.

    • dootsiez says :

      LOL pban. Trust you to relate any post to Fed. 😛

      I’ll update the draw breakdowns soon. Although I’m not sure what for … after the farce of Indian Wells.

      • pban says :

        Thanks for the compliment doots ;), but I loved your post here and the reference to that douchebag was just incidental.After the ankle injury in 2005 I check on him everyday so this was the news which caught my eye.

    • Lovekosifed says :

      Time now to bet AGAINST the Fed. >:)

  5. Amandita_FP says :

    Excellent post Dootsiez!

    I was very happy to see Ljubicic winning but there is no way that I could have predicted that outcome. (I still can’t believe he beat Nadal.. seriously I was just hopping he wouldn’t get crushed but he ended winning the match & the tournament!) LOL

    I really like the art comparison and the way you’ve presented it. Well done =)

    • dootsiez says :

      Thanks Amandita! I thought Ljubo was going to get crushed by Rafa too. Rafa had a bad day, what can you do?

  6. flo says :

    How the heck did he climb to no. 3 with no masters or grand slam titles? Must have been highest ranking for someone with his results. No disrespect to Ljubicic, congrats to him; hope he continues his run for the year.

    (I mean reasons besides TMF monopolizing everything.)

    • dootsiez says :

      Ljubicic *never* did well at the slams. I remember him tumbling out of slams in the first round a few times, even when he was in the top 10. It’ll always make a mention in the first few days, but no one would care.

      And he made the final in Miami one year, no? Lost to Fed in 3 tiebreaks.

  7. breadstix says :

    Wow, loved this post Doots. The Warhol analogy is genius.

    Anybody who had decided to bet on Ljuby winning IW at the start of the tournament would have made a killing. All credit to him though, he played wonderfully when he had to, and backed up a top 10 upset by taking down another and ultimately winning the tourney (Baggy had better been taking notes).

    Please could everything go back to normal for Miami though…?

  8. braggaditis says :

    An amazing write-up!!!

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