Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Wednesday @ Indian Wells - Rafa Escapes

It was an amazing day @ Indian Wells (If it wasn't so hard to find on t.v. you could almost think it was a major.) and we are now at the point in the tournament where marquis matchups are the norm instead of the exception. They are popping up like Joshua Trees do in the local deserts.

The story...

Nadal v Nalbandian: Just when you start to get the feeling that Nadal is never going to lose again, we find him in deep trouble, forced to fight off 5 match points in the 2nd set against giant-killer David Nalbandian (winner of 8 out of 18 v. Federer and 2 of 3 v. Nadal).

But rather than being too much, the pressure seemed to be just right for Nadal. After breaking to stay in the match, Rafa took charge in the tiebreaker and never looked back. Suddenly 1 for 10 on break point opp's for Rafa was 4 for 13 - he was up 2 breaks and cruising in the third. It was remarkably clutch tennis by Rafa, who is looking for his 2nd Indian Wells title.

2:54:48 was the elapsed time, with a bagel in the resoundingly affirming 3rd set for Rafa.


Azarenka Stays Hot: Victoria Azarenka continued her torrid tennis with a QF triumph over the highest ranked woman in the tournament, Dinara Safina. Azarenka is 17-1 on the year with two WTA titles; she is headed for a showdown with, of all people, her doubles partner, Vera Zvonareva (They are in the semis btw). That should be interesting, considering how well they know each other.

- During what was, IMHO, a very spirited match, Safina was hurt at times by double faults and errors. That I expected, as it is usually the norm for the very tempestuous Safina.

But what was surprising about the match was that Azarenka was able to overpower Safina as they went down the stretch. While Safina appeared to be muscling the ball, Azarenka was timing it so beautifully. Her strokes were rhythmic and remarkably consistent (given the bombs that Safina was hitting in her direction). This was a very impressive match from Azarenka, and it solidified her first ever visit to the top-10.

Isner's Run Ends: Elsewhere at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, surprise American and University of Georgia grad John Isner battled hard, but in the end the youngest player in the men's top-10, Juan Martin Del Potro, took both tiebreakers and booked himself a trip to the QF's. This was a true battle of the big boys. Isner, #147-ranked, is 6'9". Del Potro, #6-ranked, is 6'6".

Last Years Champ Advances: Novak aka the Joker Djokovic was up to his usual tricks, using both power and finesse to dismantle hard-fighting Stan Wawrinka. The Joker will now engage in another heavyweight tussle with Andy Roddick in the QF's. These guys must like butting heads in the QF's (they met in the QF's at the 2008 U.S. Open and the 2009 Australian Open).

The Dark Horse: Ivan Ljubicic, 2-5 on the season as of 10 days ago, is now going to do battle with Andy Murray in the QF's after 4 consecutive surprise wins.

Always the main event: Roger aka our heavenly father Federer was taken to three sets by Fernando aka Gonzo Gonzalez. - I'm not sure if this is good or bad for Roger. Of course the win is good, but we have all become accustomed to Rafa and Rog never losing a set. If they do then OMG something is wrong, right?

- During the match (and how good must you be, btw, to be able to beat Fernando gonzalez 12 out of 13 times?) Gonzo smashed his racquet during a changeover and it seemed to fire him up a bit. But it was not enough to shake the living legend from Basel, Switzerland, holder of 13 majors.

Murray Is Through: Murray and Djokovic are the only remaining man in the draw who have not lost a set.


- Thursday's Men's QF's will feature a heavily anticipated Federer v Verdasco installment. Fed is 2-0 vs. Verdasco, both wins coming on clay.

- Murray v Lubicic is the other men's match on tap.

- One Thursday women's QF features returning champ Ana Ivanovic against upset-minded Austrian Sybille Bammer, while the other pits Aggie Radwanska against the name that only the brave dare to speak: Pavlyuchenkova. The 17 year-old is the lowest ranked (42)of all remaing women.

Thanks for checking in,


The Fan Child


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