Friday brought us some big rains, big names and big upsets at the Sony Ericsson Open. Rains caused about 3 hours worth of delays, which might explain some of the stormy behavior of players and even fans on the court.
Nobody forecast this: Oliver Rochus defeated Novak Djokovic 6-2, 6-7 (7), 6-4 in the second round. Rochus was within two points of winning the match in straight sets. It was reportedly a poor effort from Nole, who was booed by the crowd (via Tennis.com):
Novak Djokovic’s mistakes mounted, and so did the fans’ frustration. Midway through the final set, when the Serb sent yet another unsightly shot wide, there was a collective groan and a smattering of boos.
A short time later, when Djokovic walked off the court defeated, the jeers were louder. He made a thumbs-up gesture in response.
Perhaps the fans were just wet and cranky? Don’t ask Nole.
Q. There were some jeers when you were coming off the court, which surprised us up in the media area. Were you are scratching your head? Any idea what that’s about?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No comment.
James Blake, who was watching Novak’s match from the locker room, said he was really impressed by Rochus (via Tennis.com):
“The guy has so much talent,” Blake said. “I was saying to some of the people in the locker room, pound for pound, he’s got to be one of the best athletes in the world. Every ball it seems is over his head, and he’s getting up there and hitting it with such great strength and so cleanly.”
Wow, that’s some big-time praise. Perhaps Blake got a little too excited watching his fellow veteran. He lost his match 6-3, 1-6, 2-6 to Thomaz Bellucci.
Sam Querrey wasn’t in such a generous mood after his three set loss to Jeremy Chardy:
Andy Roddick (over Andreev) and John Isner (over Russell) scored some victories for the American men on Friday. Roddick was asked about fellow-American Wayne Odesnik’s drug charges:
If he [Odesnik] pled guilty, which it looks like he did, there’s nothing worse than that. I’m normally the one to give people the benefit of the doubt. If that’s the case, what we read today, that’s just plain cheating and they should throw him out of tennis. There’s just no room for it. I was shocked. I was surprised. You know, we don’t need stories like that. You know, I know that’s the minority. If that’s the case, I have zero sympathy.
It’s just normally when this has happened in tennis it’s been someone that is like I don’t really know at all. To have it be one of our guys and for us to lose a guy in the top 100, it makes me a little angry, you know. I don’t want that stigma attached to our country and to our players, so it really pisses me off.
[Tennis] has the most stringent drug testing policies in sports. We’re up there with the Olympics. We can’t take Sudafed because something will come up. We have to be accountable for where we are. I have to send in my forms next week to tell people where I’m gonna be for the next month every single day. If my wife and I want to drive for a day trip somewhere, I have to call in and say, ‘We’re going here, here, and here’ and provide an address.
The ATP and the powers that be in tennis have done every single thing possible, you know, with the exception of assigning a person to follow each person around 24 hours a day and sleep with the person, to mitigate these problems, you know.
The sooner [tennis tests for Human Growth Hormone] the better. I think they should use it everywhere. I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a test out there that we’re gonna be the first to come fly with it. I hope we do. I hope this will move it. There’s no room for it. We don’t need it. We don’t need that stigma. I take a lot of pride in what we have to do on a daily basis and how responsible we have to be for, one lack of a better word for one jackass to ruin it for the rest of us.
Yeah, what he said.
Rafael Nadal took out Taylor Dent 6-4, 6-3. This sets up an interesting third round match vs. David Nalbandian, who beat Victor Troicki in his second round match. Last week’s IW champion, Ivan Ljubicic, couldn’t keep the good momentum going. He retired with a back injury after winning the first set vs. Benjamin Becker.
On the women’s side, Justine Henin showed no ill effect from her second round loss last week in the desert. She positively trounced No. 5 seed Elena Dementieva in the Miami humidity: 6-3, 6-2. And she was thrilled by her performance (via WTA):
“It was not as hard as it was in Australia, but I’m very happy the way I’ve played very consistent tennis tonight. I wanted this victory a lot, and I’ve been very – I mean, 69% of first serve is quite unusual for myself, so I really take it as something positive,” Henin said.
“I’ve been aggressive, I went to the net, I took the opportunity, so I am very happy the way I played. And to beat, I mean, top 10 players again, it is of course a lot of confidence.”
Caroline Wozniacki was still a little wobbly from losing the IW final last weekend, needing to dig herself out of 3-6, 1-3 hole before beating Tsvetana Pironkova in three. Kim Clijsters, Victoria Azarenka, Vera Zvonareva (6-1, 6-2 over Oudin), Schiavone (def. Cornet), Lucie Safarova (def. Martinez Sanchez) and Sam Stosur (def. Suarez Navarro) all advanced.
Real quick – how excited was everyone about Ana Ivanovic’s first round win over Pauline Parmentier on Thursday? It was almost embarrassing – like when you get a new haircut and everyone goes on and on about how much better you look. Might as well enjoy the good vibes while we can – Ana plays Indian Wells semifinalist, Agnieszka Radwanska, on Saturday.
We’ll finally have some TV coverage on Saturday as Roger Federer makes his Miami debut vs. Nicolas Lapentti. (Sorry, but how can a tournament be a 5th slam if there’s no domestic TV coverage of the early rounds?) Hopefully FSN will also show the Mallorcan team of Rafael Nadal/Bartolome Salva-Vidal (yeah, the guy doesn’t even have a photo up at ATP.com) vs. Mike and Bob Bryan!