Earlier this week, the “Indian Wells virus” dominated the headlines. But this weekend, all eyes were on the skies. Cold, windy and rainy conditions rolled in to challenge the men’s semifinals. John Isner and Novak Djokovic managed to get their match in, and it was a huge, crowd-pleasing three-set win for Isner. But just as the men were shaking hands at the net, the first drops of rain began to fall. After a few hours of rain delay, the courts were dry enough for the second semi. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal took the court for their 28th meeting, with swirling winds and ominous clouds overhead. Conditions meant that tennis wouldn’t be great, but the crowd didn’t mind. There was a short rain delay partway through the match, and then, with Federer serving for the victory, yet another rain delay on match point. This drew a huge round of boos from the crowd, but the umpire had no choice. Five minutes later, Federer rose from his chair, walked to the service line, bounced the ball a few times, and then finished the match with one final serve, an ace.
Indian Wells Friday Quick Roundup
Hawk Hunting Juan Martin del Potro could only laugh today. A challenge he was confident would go his way was not available due to an “internet problem.” When that happens, the call on the court stands. Federer’s next challenge, which suddenly worked just fine, also went against “delPo.” Juan Martin turned his racquet around, aimed it at the replay screen, and fired. When told after the match that Federer had agreed with his first challenge, del Potro laughed and said, “He saw it out also? Don’t tell me that!” Though frustrated with the technical problem, del Potro conceded that Federer was outplaying him today and the call was not that important.
Ana Night Like This
Ana Ivanovic’s run of bad luck continues. Playing “the best tennis [she] probably played in a very, very long time,” Ivanovic got off to a great start against Maria Sharapova Friday night. But a glute strain (initially reported as a hip injury) started hampering her movement halfway through the first set and Sharapova gradually took over the match. Ivanovic requested a medical timeout, explaining later that she could not push off the ground on her serve or backhand. The Serbian tried a few more games, called for her coach, and eventually crossed the net to concede the match, choking back tears while she made a quick exit.
Taking it on the Chin
The second-seeded doubles team of Daniel Nestor and Max Mirnyi took on all 13 feet 3 inches of “Quisner” (Sam Querrey and John Isner) out on Court 2 Friday. Experience and team cohesion are great and all, but when the Americans got together at the net, there weren’t a lot of options for the Belarussian-Canadian pair. In the two-set match, there were perhaps only two successful lobs.
Eventually, Mirnyi tried blasting right through the Americans, but Querrey has quick hands and the “underdogs” took out the second-seeded Mirnyi/Nestor, 6-4, 6-2. They’ll meet 2010 winners, Nadal and Marc Lopez in the Final tomorrow.
Nadal isn’t the only one licking his lips at the prospect of a 28th meeting with rival Roger Federer. Just imagine how thrilled the tournament organizers are that both men won their quarterfinals Friday! While Nadal holds an 18-9 lead in their career head-to-head, Federer has been on a tear, going 16-2 this year (one of the losses was to Nadal in Australia), after closing out 2011 with three consecutive titles, including at the ATP World Tour Finals. After a quiet finish to 2011, Nadal was the Australian Open Runner-up this year, and has been playing well here in Indian Wells. This one looks like a toss-up. Either way, as Nadal acknowledged, “Always are special matches… I am playing probably against the best of the history.”
Indian Wells Wednesday Quick Roundup
ONE: Many big names were out on the practice courts early Wednesday AM. The morning’s entertainment was provided by the always smiling Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who was cracking up the crowd with his Victoria Azarenka impressions. Azarenka was hitting a couple courts away, and we are not sure if she heard or saw the teasing or not.
TWO: The world No. 1 certainly heard when, during her match later, the crowd began echoing her shrieks. It didn’t seem to faze her as she almost double-bageled Aga Radwanska (Final score was 6-0, 6-2). There were a lot of fist-pumping and intense facial expressions, even at 6-0, 5-0, perhaps in response to Radwanska’s comments after their match in Doha?I n her post-match interview, Azarenka denied any grudge with Radwanska, but also slipped in a reference to the controversy. “I hope I was a good example of women’s tennis,” she said with a smirk.
THREE: While Stadium Court was emptying out after Federer’s match, admission to Court 2 was standing room only, as Ryan Harrison and Gilles Simon gave the strongly pro-American crowd lots to enjoy as the sun went down. In just under three hours, Harrison gave his fans a racquet smash in the first set, three match points saved in the second, countless long rallies and great shotmaking, but, ultimately, disappointment with a three-set loss. Despite real exhaustion in the longer rallies, Harrison certainly didn’t fold. But Simon was better on key points and took the final set, 6-1. Both warriors received a huge ovation from the crowd and Harrison acknowledged their support several times on his way out.