Learning our lesson from Saturday’s standing room only Roddick/Blake vs. Murray/Hutchins doubles match, we camped out early on Stadium 2 on Sunday to catch wild card entrants Rafael Nadal/Marc Lopez vs. the third-seeded doubles team of Lukas Dlouhy/Leander Paes. The wild cards won: 6-4, 3-6, 10-6. The result made me pity the doubles specialists of the world. You and your partner carve out your own small, safe place on the ATP tour only to have a big, burly singles legend and his smiley sidekick come and trample through your rose garden – just for kicks. Paes and Dlouhy should start a neighborhood watch with the second-seeded Bryan brothers, who lost to another unseeded pairing, Kohlschreiber/Berdych, that evening.
The match before Nadal’s doubles was a bit of a dud. Agnieszka Radwanska blew out Henin-killer Gisela Dulko 6-1, 6-0, by simply keeping the ball in play and letting Dulko disintegrate. Big wins come with a big mental price for most players.
We caught both Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Andy Murray shirtless and sweating it out on the practice courts in the afternoon. Both evidently had more work to do after winning their second round matches earlier in the day. Tsonga took out Matosevic: 6-1, 6-3. Murray defeated Seppi: 6-4, 6-4.
I prefer to watch action up close than from the big stadium nosebleeds. So instead of witnessing Zheng upset Sharapova or Federer taken to three sets by Hanescu, I caught a number of straight set blow-outs: Soderling vs. Korolev (Robin won), Melzer vs. Nalbandian (Melzer won), Dementieva vs. Flipkens (Dementieva won), and Blake vs. Ferrer (Blake looked scary good.) Just as I was kicking myself for not bringing a pair of binoculars, some knowledgeable spectators told me that the day’s very best match was way out on Court 4 between Francesca Schiavone and Aravane Rezai. Rezai won 6-7(4) 7-6(2) 6-4.
From what I gathered second hand, the capable Zheng Jie blunted Maria Sharapova’s power game by moving her around the court. And Maria’s power game was further hampered by 14 double faults and a sore elbow that required a rub from the trainer. She told the press after her 3-6, 6-2, 3-6 loss that her elbow “was a little stuck” and that she’s been feeling it since the US Open. (LA Times) Go ahead and hit that panic button, Masha fans.
Nikolay Davydenko is probably panicking after learning that he’s been playing tennis with a broken left wrist. An MRI on Sunday revealed that doctors originally misdiagnosed an injury he suffered in last month’s Rotterdam tournament. Kolya’s out for at least four weeks, say ATP officials (via Reuters). Perhaps the news is even more worrying to Ernests Gulbis, who lost to Davydenko in straight sets on Saturday. Ouch and ouch.
Roger Federer had a bit of an adventure in his second-round match vs. Victor Hanescu on Sunday evening. It was the first tour match he’s played since winning the Australian Open, and it showed. After losing only 1 of his 21 service points in the first set, Roger was broken in the second and had to fight to take it to a tiebreak – which he lost 5-7. The third set was back to business as usual, with Roger snapping it up 6-1. I think the ATP jinxed him by arranging a post-match ceremony to award Roger with trophies for 2009 Player of the Year, Fans’ Favorite Player of the Year, and the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award.
For our last evening in the desert, we treated ourselves to dinner at Ristorante Mamma Gia. Someone mentioned to us that they’d seen Rafa dining there the evening before, and we figured his recommendation was gold. Reservations are required during the busy tournament week, but we found a perch at the bar and enjoyed a tasty dinner. And a parade of off-duty tennis players. It was like running into your work friends while out on a date – except in this case my “work friends” have no idea who I am and could care less about my date (sorry, Fritters). Nicolas Almagro, David Nalbandian, Andreas Seppi, Carla Suarez Navarro, Tomas Berdych, Daniela Hantuchova and Tommy Robredo – along with their various team members – all filed past while we ate our steaks and pasta. I had the better view of the front door and enjoyed freaking Fritters out by saying stuff like “Hey, there’s Shakira!” and “Whoa, the twins are up kinda late!” Good times.
Sunday’s complete results (via www.bnpparibasopen.org):
BNP Paribas Open Results: Sunday, March 14, 2010
Men’s Singles – Second Round
 R Federer (SUI) d V Hanescu (ROU) 63 67(5) 61
 A Murray (GBR) d A Seppi (ITA) 64 64
 R Soderling (SWE) d E Korolev (KAZ) 62 64
 A Roddick (USA) d [Q] Y Lu (TPE) 64 64
 J Tsonga (FRA) d [Q] M Matosevic (AUS) 61 63
S Greul (GER) d  G Monfils (FRA) 16 62 63
J Blake (USA) d  D Ferrer (ESP) 61 64
D Sela (ISR) d  R Stepanek (CZE) 64 16 62
 T Robredo (ESP) d S Stakhovsky (UKR) 36 63 75
 J Melzer (AUT) d [WC] D Nalbandian (ARG) 64 61
N Almagro (ESP) d  I Karlovic (CRO) 75 76(5)
 A Montanes (ESP) d [Q] R Mello (BRA) 36 64 64
 M Baghdatis (CYP) d A Clement (FRA) 76(7) 61
 F Lopez (ESP) d P Mathieu (FRA) 36 63 64
T de Bakker (NED) d  J Tipsarevic (SRB) 32 ret. (abdominal strain)
M Russell (USA) d  I Andreev (RUS) 46 63 62
Men’s Singles – Third Round
 V Troicki (SRB) d  N Davydenko – w/o (broken left wrist)
Ladies’ Singles – Third Round
 M Kirilenko (RUS) vs  C Wozniacki (DEN)
 E Dementieva (RUS) d K Flipkens (BEL) 64 62
 A Radwanska (POL) d  G Dulko (ARG) 61 60
 J Zheng (CHN) d  M Sharapova (RUS) 63 26 63
 M Bartoli (FRA) d J Craybas (USA) 62 60
 A Rezai (FRA) d  F Schiavone (ITA) 67(4) 76(2) 64
 N Petrova (RUS) d S Peng (CHN) 61 75
[WC] A Molik (AUS) d [Q] E Baltacha (GBR) 60 62
Men’s Doubles – First Round
 D Nestor (CAN) / N Zimonjic (SRB) d E Butorac (USA) / R Ram (USA) 63 64
T Berdych (CZE) / P Kohlschreiber (GER) d  B Bryan (USA) / M Bryan (USA) 76(4) 75
[WC] M Lopez (ESP) / R Nadal (ESP) d  L Dlouhy (CZE) / L Paes (IND) 64 36 10-6
 S Aspelin (SWE) / P Hanley (AUS) d J Kerr (AUS) / F Polasek (SVK) 75 63
F Lopez (ESP) / F Verdasco (ESP) d [WC] M Ancic (CRO) / M Fish (USA) 76(9) 63
Ladies’ Doubles – Second Round
G Dulko (ARG) / F Pennetta (ITA) d  N Llagostera Vives (ESP) / M Martinez Sanchez (ESP) 75 76(4)
I Benesova (CZE) / B Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) d  A Kleybanova (RUS) / F Schiavone (ITA) 57 75 10-1
 B Mattek-Sands (USA) / Z Yan (CHN) d [WC] T Garbin (ITA) / J Jankovic (SRB) 64 46 10-5