Sigh. I’ve been doing a lot of that lately, while watching the action at the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells. This is my home tournament, the place where Fritters and I became live tennis fanatics, breathing down the necks of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal as they practiced in surroundings as intimate as our local public courts. We’ve had to take a break from the desert sun this year to tend to our little Fry, but the tournament’s sunny ambiance still radiates from the television screen and we’ve been enjoying every moment so far. Is it just me, or are the match ups better than ever this year, the story lines more intriguing, the weather even more perfect? Sigh. . .’til next year.
A quick look at the draws:
As you guys noticed, defending champ Roger Federer has a crappy draw, packed with his personal bugaboos: Benneteau in the third round, Hewitt in the fourth (okay, Lleyton is a bugaboo past, but let’s go with the theme here), none other than Rafael Nadal in the quarters (the quarters!) and ba boy Berdych in the semis. Let’s not even think about Djokovic or Murray in the final. It’s enough to make a Federer fan ditch the desert for a dog sledding tour of the North Pole. However, with Benneteau bowing out in the second round and Roger showing some scintillating hard court form in his first match versus Denis Istomin on Saturday, I wouldn’t start packing the parkas yet.
Anyone else besides Larry Ellison enjoying watching Rafa sweating it out on the hard courts? Yes! I was mildly surprised, at first, when Rafa opted to join the tour in the desert after his successful South American swing. I thought he might decide to rest his knee until Miami. But after watching him win his first match vs. Ryan Harrison under the lights last night, a match that included a tough first set, it all made sense. This guy loves to play! Tennis, I mean, though the golf certainly sweetens the deal.
Andy Murray just lost the first set of his first match at Indian Wells to one Evegny Donskoy. The young Russian is fun to watch – volleys! lobs! backhands! – but really, what’s up with Murray’s Indian Wells second round curse? Straight sets losses to Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in 2012 and to Donald Young (!) in 2011? I’m guessing it has something to do with the dry desert conditions vs. the Scot’s training base in Miami, though Larry Ellison’s promise to bring a Nobu satellite to the new stadium court may help the Scottish sushi lover shake it off.
On the ladies’ side, let’s take a minute to acknowledge the fact that the Williams sisters are continuing to boycott this tournament (one that’s surely changed quite a bit since 2001, but oh well), and that having the world number one brush off such a big tournament is a big time downer. Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka probably aren’t too bummed out, however, and fans can look forward to a possible Maria vs. Vika final. I’m also keeping an eye out on Marion Bartoli (Maria’s possible quarterfinal opponent), who has ditched her father for new coach Jana Novotna and has dedicated herself to improving her fitness. Marion’s done so much, already, with her unconventional game and physique. I’m really curious to see how she does now that she’s going mainstream.
Random observation – I LOVE the sun hat Larry Ellison’s companion – Ukranian actress named Nikita Kahn – is wearing. Anyone know where I can buy one?
Finally, thanks to Judy and Lorrie for sharing this video – just makes me miss book worm David Ferrer even more. (He went out to Kevin Anderson in his first match.) Also of note – I can’t believe Rafa doesn’t like jamon (not to mention tomato and cheese)! Isn’t that required for Spanish citizenship?