The Andy Murray vs. Robin Soderling quarterfinal was the most dramatic singles match in the desert on Friday. After surviving four break points in his first service game, the Swede went on a tear. It took Murray most of the first set just to win a single game. Things got interesting in the second, when Murray fought back from a break down to take things to a tiebreak. Soderling looked to be losing his nerve, but summoned up the courage to put the Scot away 6-1, 7-6(4). Robin’s never been past the third round at Indian Wells.
“I thought I couldn’t do well here, and now I show I really can,” he told reporters afterwards (via ATP).
The meeting at the net was frosty, as per usual with Rockin’ Robin (let’s just say those sports photographers use some really fast shutter speeds):
Soderling will play Andy Roddick in Saturday’s semis. The American, who has never made it to the finals in the desert, routined Tommy Robredo 6-3, 7-5 in the other quarterfinal of the day. Soderling holds a 2-0 advantage against Roddick in their head-to-head.
Rafael Nadal will play Ivan Ljubicic in the other semifinal on Saturday (5-1, Rafa, in the head-to-head). The match is first up on the main stadium, allowing Rafa some rest before he and Marc Lopez return to the court for their doubles final. The Spanish duo beat the No. 6 seeded team of Aspelin/Hanley Friday afternoon and will meet the top-seeded team of Nestor/Zimonjic for the trophy. Cool! We’re getting a battle between the Big Dog Singles Star (and sidekick) vs. the Top Doubles Specialists! I know I’ll be tuning in. (Click here for the US Indian Wells TV schedule and here for live streaming options.)
Here’s some video of Nadal/Lopez in action on Friday. Think the crowd was behind them?
Getting ahead of ourselves: Rafael Nadal has won both the singles and doubles in a single Masters Series event before, in the 2008 Monte Carlo tournament (partnering with Tommy Robredo.) Jim Courier is the only other player to have done this. (via ATP)
On the ladies’ side, Jelena Jankovic beat Sam Stosur 6-2, 6-4 in a match that was tougher than the scoreline suggests. It was a tough call for me because I’m a fan of both of these players. But it’s great to see the entertaining JJ playing well again. She’s pretty happy about her week, too (quote from Thursday):
“Yeah, you know, it’s nice to get that feeling (of winning) back. The satisfaction that you feel after you win a match, after you fought very hard and you beat a tough opponent, a great player, I think it doesn’t get better than that. So I think that’s why you play tennis. You play for that joy, for that feeling when you win a match. It just, it’s great. It’s a nice, really a nice feeling to have, and I hope that I will have many more to come.”
Sam Stosur won’t go home completely disappointed. Her semifinal effort means she’ll crack the Top 10 for the first time. She also summoned up the energy to win her doubles semifinal. She and partner Nadia Petrova will play Peschke/Srebotnik in Saturday’s final.
Caroline Wozniacki is also reaching a new high in the rankings, thanks to a 6-2, 6-3 win over fellow rally monkey and best buddy Agnieszka Radwanska on Friday night. She’s nudging aside the still-injured Dinara Safina and taking the second-best position for the first time in her career. What an impressive accomplishment for the 19 year old, who hopefully has the disposition to enjoy the privilege instead of shriveling under the pressure.
‘‘I’ve done a lot of good results,” Wozniacki said. ‘‘The rankings is just a bonus.” (via NYTimes)
Both Serena and Dinara have pulled out of Miami next week. What’s that old Woody Allen quote about just showing up?
JJ enjoys a winning 3-0 head-to-head record vs. Wozniacki.
Note that unlike many tournaments, both the men and women play their singles finals on Sunday.
Because I know a lot of people are missing ol’ Roger Federer this weekend, I thought I’d sneak in this Fed-centric Ivan Ljubicic quote from Thursday’s presser:
Q. You’re good friends with Roger, so how difficult was it to have the friendship grow when he was the guy, during your top years, stopping you time and time again?
IVAN LJUBICIC: How difficult…
Q. How difficult is to keep up the friendship when the one guy that is stopping you…
IVAN LJUBICIC: No, it’s not a problem at all. I mean, I always enjoyed playing him even though I lost many times. I always felt like I was a better player right after finishing the match against him. He was the one — I think it was not only the case with me, but with everybody else. He really raise the level of everybody else.
Every time when I walk off the court against him, even though I lost, I felt like I learned something. You know, I was respecting that. There were times when I was really upset with the loss, like Rotterdam final. I was 4-2 up in the tiebreak of the third; Miami final, three tiebreaks when he won the tournament by hitting the let.
There were some difficult moments. But right after — five minutes after the match point, I felt okay. Again, you know, happy that I learned something, I felt like. You know, I’m close to him.
The photo above is from LJuby’s 29th birthday, after he lost to Roger Federer in the Round of 16.