It’s nice to be able to write Congrats, Rafa! on the same day the Spaniard suffered his biggest upset since last year’s Roland Garros. He’s also projected to fall to No. 4, behind Andy Murray, when the ATP updates the rankings. But Rafa squelched his disappointment by returning to the court on Saturday night, where the Singles Super Star/Trusty Sidekick pair beat the No. 1 team of Nenad Zimonjic/Daniel Nestor to take the Indian Wells doubles title. It’s Rafael Nadal’s and Marc Lopez’s second title as a team and also their second victory in a final over Zimonjic/Nestor (the first one coming in Doha in 2009.)
Here’s Rafa on the big doubles win:
“For me it’s a pleasure to play with Marc,” said Nadal. “He’s a very close friend of mine, and we do really well. After losing important singles, the victory in doubles makes me happy. Always is nice to win a tournament.” (via BNPParibasOpen)
And here’s Rafa on his big singles loss:
“That was an accident today,” Nadal told reporters after failing in his bid to win a third title at Indian Wells in four years. “That’s my feeling, because I was playing (well) enough to win the tournament.
“It was an important accident, and I have to learn to try to play more aggressive next time, try to convert the opportunities.
“But for the rest, nothing to say, no? I was feeling I was playing better than probably ever on this court.” (via Reuters)
Here’s Ljubicic’s take on his big victory:
By “why not go all the way?” Ivan means “why not beat Andy Roddick?” The two first-time IW finalists will face each other on Sunday afternoon. Roddick holds a 7-3 advantage in the head-to-head, winning their last meeting in 2007, in the quarterfinals of this tournament.
For those of you who were hoping for some Nadal vs. Soderling fireworks, I offer you this ancient trash talk from the 2003 US Open. It came after Ljubicic lost to a young – and reputedly cocky – Andy Roddick in the second round (via Tribune.ie):
“I mean, generally, I don’t like him (Roddick).” [Ljubicic told the press after his loss.] “Nobody in the locker room likes his acting on the court. He’s a good player. He’s going to win a lot of matches, but not because he’s like that. Nobody acts like that. He’s the only one.”
“He doesn’t respect the others,” said Ljubicic. “Some other player is going in your face and you understand that they just want to win a match. But what he’s doing is just pumping up the crowd, which in the United States he can do. But everywhere else, if he does it, people just smile. Fortunately for him, 70% of the big tournaments are played in the United States. He’s number four in the world for that.”
Roddick said he was surprised by Ljubicic’s tirade. “I think if they (rival players) are talking, they’re not talking to me about it, which would be the mature thing to do, ” he said.
Andy reportedly called Ivan Ljubicic at 1:00 am after hearing about his remarks, asking why he didn’t speak directly to him instead of the press. Ivan then told the press all about the call:
‘‘I asked him last night if he feels like I should apologize to him,” said Ljubicic, retracing his conversation with Roddick. ‘‘He said, ‘If you really don’t feel nothing bad about me, why should you apologize?’ I think this is perfect.”
‘‘I just wanted to say that I didn’t like his attitude on the court, not just last night but generally,” Ljubicic said. ”I don’t have to like it, you know.” (click here to read the old piece from the New York Times – it’s an interesting flashback to tennis days gone by.)
Obviously their semi-public spat happened a very long time ago, and I’m sure neither player cares or even really remembers much about it. But it’s an interesting reminder of how much the pecking order and these two players have changed in the past seven (!) years. Now it’s Andy Roddick who’s calling out young guns like Gael Monfils and Novak Djokovic. It’s also pretty cool that both Ivan and Andy are still around and fighting for a Masters shield on Sunday. This will be Roddick’s first chance since winning his fourth such event at Cincinnati in 2006. This will be Ljubicic’s fourth attempt to win his first Masters title, his last chance coming in Miami in 2006 (l. to Federer.)
Taking it back to the present: Singles semifinalist, Sam Stosur, wasn’t quite able to go all the way in doubles on Saturday. She and partner Nadia Petrova lost to 6-4, 2-6, 10-5 to the team of Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik.