WOW! This year’s Indian Wells tournament packed in as much drama and excitement as a Major. Before we get all worked up over Miami (yep, play begins on Wednesday), let’s take a look at our baker’s dozen of top Indian Wells happenings.
1. Eventual IW champ, Rafael Nadal, scored a miraculous victory over sneaky/scary underachiever David Nalbandian in the Round of 16, saving 5 match points in yet another impressive performance of mental domination. Here’s part of Rafa’s grand escape act:
2. Maria Sharapova streaked through the tournament like a blond comet, pulling from the singles draw, entering doubles with Elena Vesnina and losing in the first round. Afterwards, Maria told reporters that she’s through setting any timetables for her return to the tour, and she has since pulled from the Mimi tournament. Perhaps she’s too busy working on her MTV pilot (click here)?
3. Baby Fed: After Roger and Mirka dropped the Baby Bomb, photographers took the necessary photos of Mirka with snacks and other people’s children.
4. The WTA imploded as Jelena Jankovic, Elena Dementieva and Svetlana Kuznetsova all got beat in the second round. No. 1 seed Dinara Safina wimpered her way out of the quarterfinals. Defending champ Ana Ivanovic folded to Vera Zvonareva – a player who’d never won a Premier level tournament before – in the final match. But it wasn’t all gloom and doom – young stars like Victoria Azarenka and Ana Pavlyuchenkova look ready to pounce.
5. We watched Rafael Nadal work his ass off on the practice courts (don’t worry, not literally!) while still keeping his sense of humor. When we cheered a rare point won by his practice and doubles partner, Marc Lopez, Rafa pretended that his feeling were hurt. Then he won the rest of the points.
6. The player-on-player action never stopped on the “grassy patch”:
7. Personally, I was happy to see Ivan Ljubicic do well again – making it to the quarters and giving Andy Murray a run for his money in two tight sets. Too bad about that freakish HawkEye malfunction.
8. Random moment, observed: Federer walks onto a practice court and gets yelled at by one of the doubles players who are finishing up there: “Hey, we were in the middle of a POINT!” Federer smiles, the doubles player doesn’t. Yet another sign that Roger’s aura of intimidation is fading?
9. Potito Starace, no longer a U.H.O. (Unidentified Hunky Object):
10. Darren Cahill dumped Roger Federer in Dubai and showed up in Indian Wells with boy-toy Fernando Verdasco. But Fed got sweet revenge when he beat Verdasco and the Spaniard’s Adidas Player Development gurus in the quarter final. In straights. Bench press that, Gil Reyes!
11. Doubles the pleasure: 8 of the ATP’s Top 10 singles players entered the doubles draw this tournament, including Federer, Nadal, Murray and Roddick. For the lucky fans who saw it, Nadal/(Marc) Lopez vs. the Bryan Bros. was one of the highlights of the tournament. Andy Roddick and Mardy Fish won the title, beating teams like Chardy/Simon, Llodra/Stepanek, Del Potro/Nalbandian, Gasquet/Wawrinka, and, finally, Mirnyi/Ram on the way. Impressive.
12. Reports poured in of FSN network‘s shabby, shoddy and sh*tty treatment of tennis fans. It sounds like no one in the States saw the Nadal/Nalbandian match on t.v. and some of us didn’t get any of Saturday’s semifinals, either. Why does Tennis sell its tournaments short by giving broadcasting rights to networks that won’t broadcast tennis? Click here for ways to vent.
13. And then there was my chance of a lifetime (click here). . .I’ll never travel without a Sharpie again!
Mirka photos: AP Photo/Matt Slocum