Photos from LIFE
Have you heard? Roger and Rafa are facing off in doubles action today in Indian Wells, along with respective partners Stan Wawrinka and Marc Lopez. AND, by some modern miracle of broadcasting, Tennis Channel will actually be broadcasting it LIVE at 6pm, Pacific. (And check out live streaming options, here.) Progress!
This is going to be great fun, though I admit I immediately thought of Roger’s comments after beating the young Ryan Harrison: he’ll be under some pressure to win. Yes, Rafa and Marc are the defending champs, and Rafa, at least, gives major props to his partner for it (“he has amazing talent”), but it’s Roger with the top ten quality partner and the improvisational game experts say is tailor made for the game. Though top dubs player Nenad Zimonjic says Rafa’s unique style is an asset – via The New York Times:
“I think both Nadal and Federer are both really good. They understand the game of doubles,” said Nenad Zimonjic, the Serbian doubles specialist who has beaten and been beaten by both Federer and Nadal in doubles. “Roger is the one who plays more the traditional way, he plays serve and volley first and second serve. Rafa mixes it up. Most of the time, he will stay back and rely on the heavy groundstrokes and big forehand and quickness. But at the net, he’s also quite comfortable when his partner is serving. He crosses a lot and helps his partner, so I think he can play it all. It makes it more difficult, because he’s a little bit unpredictable.”
Roger could still think of himself as the underdog. The New York Times (thanks, Janet!) has provided a breakdown of the R&R doubles head-to-head: Nadal/Robredo beat Federer/Allegro in Indian Wells in 2004. Rafa and fellow Mallorcan Carlos Moya beat Roger and Stan in ’07 in Rome. Can Roger stop the bleeding?
Regardless of the pressure that Roger or even Rafa may feel in this match (at the very least, they will share a healthy competitive spirit), the mini doubles boom in Indian Wells has been such a treat this week. 9 of the top 10 guys has participated in the draw, Nole, Murray, Roger and Rafa have all gone far and all of us at home have been clamoring for something that we were told was obsolete: doubles on TV!
Do we thank the super tie break or is it simple geography? The New York Times points out that European players, with Miami around the corner, prefer killing time in the California desert to flying back and forth across the Atlantic.
In closing – how awesome was Rafa’s reaction after beating Karlovic in the third set tie break last night?