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Okay, Fritters is over the Coachella bug – at least he enjoyed sharing the headlines with all the tennis players who dropped out. (It’s rare that you watch tennis matches for medical updates on your own condition, right?)
Before we get too excited about this weekend, let me put case a big dark cloud over everything by pointing out that there’s rain in the forecast. Now, let’s assume that the weather man is wrong, all wrong:
So, what an interesting week we’ve had at Indian Wells, huh? Roger Federer has shown true grit in his battles vs. young stars Milos Raonic and Thomaz Bellucci, despite suffering a family-wide illness that brought down even the mighty Mirka. Novak Djokovic overcame some hiccups vs. pretty boy Pablo Andujar and Rafael Nadal has proven that a few weeks off didn’t do any harm.
Here’s what we’re looking forward to this weekend on the men’s side:
Semifinals: Novak Djokovic vs. John Isner.
This is John Isner’s year. He’s making the World Tour Finals at the end of the season. Now here’s his big chance to follow up his career building victory over Roger Federer in Davis Cup with a big upset over Novak Djokovic in the desert. He must feel he can do it. (Don’t let that three setter vs. Gilles Simon fool you into thinking Isner isn’t playing at his best – Simon is experiencing a mini-Renaissance right now. I saw his skills in person last weekend.)
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Juan Martin del Potro vs. Roger Federer and David Nalbandian vs. Rafael Nadal. It’s a bit of a generational mix in this group – enjoy it while you can! (Yes, I’m already nostalgic for the New Balls Please era.) Roger’s had great luck vs. Del Potro for most of his career, and has already beaten the Argentine three times this year (all in straights.) Speaking of Argentines, Nalbandian is doing well in his twilight years though it’s hard to see how he will suddenly be able to beat Rafael Nadal for the first time since 2007. Just sit back and enjoy watching David sneak a few backhands up the line.
So. . .are we looking forward to a Fedal semifinal, or is all just too much for us at this point?
The women’s draw is shaping up to be just as entertaining, with all hailing the return of Ana Ivanovic and her forehand at this tournament. As much as I giggle at her errant ball toss and squeaky toy grunt and compulsive fist pumping, it’s impossible for me to wish Ana anything but happy returns (and forehands). Her glamazon semifinal against Maria Sharapova, who beat the other Maria (Kirilenko) in Thursday’s quarters is sure to be worth a watch. Both have the weapons and the weaknesses to make for an intriguing match up. In the other semi, Vika Azarenka, an unbeatable and silent killer who is seemingly comfortable in her position as unheralded No. 1 – at least Wozniacki enjoyed some controversy – takes on Angelique Kerber. Jumping ahead, I wonder if Maria Sharapova is ready, mentally, to face the fearsome Vika in another final.
Oh, because I have yet to mention it an it has to be said: I’m really disappointed in Michael Llodra. I wrote a friggin’ ode to the man, not realizing that there was a downside to what I assumed was just spirited joie de vivre. Turns out the guy is a dumb ass. (And if you refuse to take issue with his insulting treatment of a fan, then please tell me that his “apology” made you see the light.) What lesson can we learn from this, tennis fans? We really don’t have any clue what these dudes are really like. (Except for when it comes Roger and Rafa, who are obviously perfect, right????)