WTA stars continue to drop in the desert like beads of sweat from Rafa’s furrowed brow (or the deluge from Kleybanova’s ponytail). Sharapova, Henin, Ivanovic and Kuznetsova disappeared during the first week. On Monday 3rd-seeded Victoria Azarenka was bounced by 28-seed Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez. No. 17 Shahar Peer took out No. 9 Flavia Pennetta.
No. 6 seed Jelena Jankovic was upset with herself after being stretched to the limit by unseeded Sara Errani, but likely felt a lot better about her performance after Kim Clijsters (14) was knocked out by Alisa Kleybanova (23).
Kleybanova is the biggest babe in tennis right now, to use Mary Carillo’s term for physically imposing females who smash the yellow off the ball. It’s not a huge surprise that a rising talent like the “Klubber” beat Clijsters, though it’s troubling that Kim couldn’t find a way to pull out the third set with a 3-0 lead early and, later, a 4-0 advantage in the tiebreak.
The men suffered a much milder case of upset-itis. No. 21 seed Juan Monaco (likely inspired by GTT’s latest banner art) took out 11th seeded Juan Carlos Ferrero. 10th seeded Fernando Verdasco got spanked 6-0, 6-3 by No. 19 seed Tomas Berdych (Tomas must have liked his dinner at Mamma Gina’s the night before.) Novak Djokovicavoided becoming the Upset of the Day by saving three match points in the third set against Philipp Kohlschreiber.
Perhaps Nole was inspired by the words of his “lifetime idol” Pete Sampras, who advised him to “win with your mind and your heart” when they met for the first time last week.
Novak said that his meet and greet with Pete was “incredible” and was thrilled that Sampras “promised” to hit with him sometime. He told reporters that he credits Pete for much of his own success: “He’s the one that gave me a lot of motivation to became a professional player because I didn’t have anyone playing tennis in my family. I had to do it myself.” (quotes via Tennis.com)
Speaking of speaking highly of Pete, here’s Roger Federer on the “awkward moment” at Hit for Haiti (or Hate for Hitty as John Wertheim called it in his review):
“It’s a pity if that’s what grabs the limelight and not the event itself, you know. Because for me it was a dream to play with Pete, and I’m sure Rafa, as well. He’s never even met Pete before. So to be out there with Andre and Pete was obviously fantastic. That’s kind of what I remember, of course.”
Rafael Nadal suffered no crises of mind, heart or forehand on Monday, beating Mario Ancic 6-2, 6-2. Nadal says he’s “playing well” and “feeling confident” but the first question after his match was on a more important topic than his game. What’s up with his horrendous brown shorts?
Check out his hilariously ambivalent answer:
Top doubles seeds Nestor/Zimonjic scored one for the doubles specialists on Monday evening, beating Blake/Roddick in a super tie break.
Click here for more results. (Go Carla!)
Note: We’re no longer courtside at Indian Wells (sob!) but we’ll try to dig up some fun stuff from afar. Thanks to everyone who read and commented on our IW coverage last week and sorry I couldn’t join in the conversations more. Now that we’re not running from match to match (boo hoo!), I hope to be able to chat more. You guys are the best!