Indian Wells: the first few days - UBITENNIS
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Indian Wells: the first few days



TENNIS – Both the ATP and WTA tours have stopped in the US for just over 3 weeks of action with the first stop being the desert location of Indian Wells California. The biggest “shocker” of the tournament thus far will have to be the early exit of 3rd seed Victoria Azarenka who lost in straight sets to American Lauren Davis 6-7, 0-6. Cordell Hackshaw

Both the ATP and WTA tours have stopped in the United States for just over 3 weeks of action with the first stop being the desert location of Indian Wells California, BNP Paribas Open (March 6 – March 16). This event, the most attended tennis event outside of the majors, is always special for fans as it gives them an opportunity to see many of their favourite players in one place at a fairly decent price. These premier hardcourt events are also the last stops before we head into the clay court season which culminates at the French Open in May. However, despite its desert locale, the tennis action at the BNP Paribas Open has been somewhat cold for the most part over the first 3 days. The biggest crowd draw thus far has been the doubles match up of Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka v Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi. The 2011 finalist and 2008 Olympics gold medalists Swiss duo won 6-2, 6-7, 1-0.

The biggest “shocker” of the tournament thus far will have to be the early exit of 3rd seed Victoria Azarenka who lost in straight sets to American Lauren Davis 6-7, 0-6. Azarenka who was clearly hampered in the match, later admitted that she is suffering from nerve damage in her foot which has been plaguing her for some time. She added that she may have been a bit too stubborn to have not adhered to medical advice to not play this event. Despite this upset, other top women’s seed managed to hold their own to move through to the 3rd round: Agnieszka Radwanska (2), Simona Halep (6), Jelena Jankovic (7), Sara Errani (9), Carolina Wozniacki (10), Roberta Vinci (13), Carla Suarez-Navarro (14), Eugenie Bouchard (18), Alizé Cornet (22), Lucie Safarova (26) and Magdalena Rybarikova (31). A pair of qualifiers Casey Dellacqua and Yaroslava Shvedova took out seeded players Kristen Flipkens (19) and Kaia Kanepi (24). They will be joined by Annika Beck who took Elena Vesnina (30). Two time champion (2002 and 2007) Daniela Hantuchova (29) was also upset by Varvara Lepchenko in straight sets in the 2nd round.

With this being a 96 field draw and seeded players getting a bye into the 2nd round, Days 1 and 2 had some interesting match ups for the avid tennis fan. Russia’s Vera Zvonareva (2010 Wimbledon and US Open semi-finalist) saw her comeback to top level play cut short when Shuai Peng of China took her out in 3 sets. Peng went on to lose to Bouchard in the 2nd round. Fellow Russian Nadia Petrova had to retire from her match against Silvia Soler-Espinoza after just 2 games. While on the subject of veteran players trying to get back in major form, 2010 French Open champion Francesca Schiavone took out young German Mona Barthel in the 1st round. She will face her opponent in that major final, Sam Stosur for a place in the 3rd round. Promising players of the likes of Julia Goerges and Monica Niculescu are also through to the 2nd round. Other results saw the comeback efforts of Andrea Petkovic and Urszula Radwanska halted by Camila Giorgi and Aleksandra Wozniak respectively.

There were many young up and coming players also in action in the 1st round here at Indian Wells. Great Britain’s Heather Watson won over the 16-year over Belinda Bencic of Switzerland. Although Watson lost in the 2nd round to Aga Radwanska in straight sets, it was a good effort against the top player. Not surprisingly, the United States put forward many of their young talents in the field. Shelby Rogers, Madison Keys, Coco Vandeweghe and Taylor Townsend all won their 1st round matches. Fellow Americans Victoria Duval, Alexandra Kiick, Alison Riske, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Christina McHale and Vania King were not so lucky. Keys went on to lose to Vinci in 2nd round.

On the men’s side, main draw action began on Thursday and like the women’s draw, the top 32 seeds were given byes into the 2nd round. Veteran and two time major winner, Lleyton Hewitt proved that he still has something left in the tank when he took out his countryman Matthew Ebden in 3 sets. Another veteran on tour Mike Russell of the US took out his fellow countryman Donald Young. Russell was joined by his compatriots Sam Querrey, Ryan Harrison and Tim Smyczek in the 2nd round. Frenchman Edouard Roger-Vasselin won over Benjamin Becker in straight sets. It must be noted that it was a very lackluster performance from the German in this match up. There were so many careless errors from his racquet that at times it looked as though they were intentional. Nonetheless, a good win for the Frenchman.

Other winners included Radek Stepanek surprisingly over Denis Istomin. Stepanek will get for his 2nd round opponent, world’s number 1 Rafael Nadal. Speaking of Nadal, Lukas Rosol won his 1st round encounter and will try for another major upset as he faces Andy Murray in the 2nd round. Jeremy Chardy, Paul-Henri Mathieu, Ivo Karlovic and Juan Monaco also moved through to the next round. Tour veterans such as Feliciano Lopez, Jarkko Nieminen, Teymuraz Gabashvili, Nikolay Davydenko, Julien Benneteau and Victor Hanescu are also through to the 2nd round where they will all face seeded players.

The top seeds begin play on Saturday with Nadal, Roger Federer, Andy Murray and recent Australian Open champion Stanislav Wawrinka all set to play. The tournament is sure to come alive from here on end or so one would hope.


Olympic Qualification Is Not the Only Goal For French Veteran Gael Monfils



Gael Monfils (image via

Gael Monfils admits he doesn’t have too many years left on the Tour but this doesn’t mean his targets are any less ambitious. 

The 37-year-old has enjoyed a rapid rise up the rankings over the past 12 months following battles with injury. At his lowest, he was ranked 394th last May but is now in 40th position. As a result, he is closing on securing a place in the Olympic Games which is being held in his home country of France for the first time since 1924. The tennis event will be staged at Roland Garros. 

“When I was 400, I was thinking the Olympics would be great, but it’s going to be tough,” Monfils told reporters on Tuesday. 
“There are younger players playing well. If I don’t qualify, I don’t mind. It will just mean I’m very close to the ranking I want to be. That ranking will allow me to find another goal.”

Monfils is already a three-time Olympian but has never won a medal at the event. He reached the quarter-finals of the singles tournament twice in 2008 and 2016. 

Another goal of Frenchmen is the Wimbledon championships which concludes just three weeks before the Olympics begin. The proximity of these tournaments will be a challenge to all players who will be going from playing on clay to grass and then back to clay again. 

“I really want to go and play Wimbledon. I don’t have so many Wimbledons to play in the future. The Olympics is one goal, not the only goal.” Monfils states.
“My dream is of course to be part of the Olympics. I played three times at the Olympics. I’d like to be there again. But I also really want to do well in Wimbledon this year. To reach my goal, it has to be including Wimbledon.” He added. 

Monfils is currently playing at the Monte Carlo Masters where he beat Aleksandar Vukic in his opening match. In the next round, he will take on Daniil Medvedev in what will be their first meeting since 2022. He leads their head-to-head 2-1. 

Medvedev has openly spoken about his roller-coaster relationship with playing on the clay. He admits it is not his favourite surface but how much of a factor could this be in his upcoming clash with Monfils?

“Of course, it’s not his favourite one, but he’s still Daniil Medvedev, and whatever the surface, it’s always very complicated to play him,” Monfils concludes. 

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Matteo Berrettini wins in Marrakech displaying quality tennis



Matteo Berrettini - Marrakech 2024 (photo X @ATPTour_ES)

Matteo Berrettini defeats Roberto Carballes Baena in straight sets, 75 62, and proves that his comeback is well grounded  

If life is often considered a continuous narrative, it may be no coincidence that today Matteo Berrettini’s comeback journey intersescted Carballes Baena, a player he had faced twice in straight tournaments, Florence and Naples in October 2022, shortly before plunging into his annus horribilis, an injury-plagued 2023.

Just like resuming the story from where it was left.

Carballes Baena, the defending champion, got off to a sharper start, holding serve with ease and earning a first break point in the second game. Berrettini averted the threat by hammering down three serves but lost his service two games later.

Doubts on the Italian’s recovery from his energy-draining semifinal may have been starting to come afloat. However Berrettini broke back immediately, unsettling the Spaniard’s consistency with changes of pace and alternating lifted and sliced backhands.

The next six games neatly followed serve. Figures witness how close the match was. After 45 minutes the scoreboard read 5 games all, and stats reported 27 points apiece.

The eleventh game was to be crucial. Carballes Baena netted two forehands, while trying to hit through the Italian’s skidding spins and conceded a break point. Berrettini followed up two massive forehands with a delicate, unreachable drop shot and secured the break.

Carballes Baena was far from discouraged, and fired two forehand winners dashing to 0 40  with the Italian serving for the set.

Berrettini was lucky to save the first break point with a forehand that pinched the top of the net, and trickled over. Then he hit two winning first serves to draw even. Then again two first serves paired with their loyal forehand winner: Berrettini’s copyright gamepattern sealed a 59 minute first set.

The match seemed about to swing round at the very start of the second set when Carballes Baena had three break points and was winning all the longer rallies. Once more Berrettini got out of trouble thanks to his serve. Carballes Baena’s disappointment turned into frustration after he failed to put away two quite comfortable smashes and lost his service immediately after.  

Unforced errors were seeping into the Spaniard’s game and when Berrettini won a 16-shot rally with a stunning crosscourt forehand on the stretch and went on to grab a two-break lead, the match appeared to have taken its final twist.

Berrettini did not falter when serving for the match at 5 2, despite an unforced error on the first point. Three first serves chauffeured him to two match points.

Carballes Baena only succeeded in bravely saving the first, well steering the rally. But the 2021 Wimbledon finalist produced a massive serve out wide and joyfully lifted his arms to the sky, for a most emotional victory. It means so much to a player whose talent and career have been incessantly diminished by injuries.

It’s been a tough last couple of years” Matteo Berrettini said, holding the trophy. “Thanks to my team I was able to overcome all the tough moments my body didn’t allow me to play. I thank you and all the people that made my comeback possible: all my friends and my family, the people that were with me all the time when I was sad, injured and I didn’t think I could make it.”

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Andrey Rublev Reflects On Recent Struggles Ahead Of Monte Carlo Title Defence



Andrey Rublev admits he continues to struggle to maintain his emotions on the court after his disqualification from a tournament earlier this year.

The Russian world No.6 hopes to get back on track after a disappointing American swing where he won just one out of three matches played. In Indian Wells, Rublev beat ex-No.1 Andy Murray before falling in straight sets to Jiri Lehecka. Then in Miami, he lost his opening match against Tomas Machac. 

“At Indian Wells, I was so focused on trying to control my movements that I was completely stuck,” the 26-year-old recently commented
“I had no energy left, I had no strength. And in Miami, I exploded. I could no longer control myself, my actions, my nerves. I felt paralyzed, I couldn’t move.”

As to why Rublev felt so paralyzed, he acknowledges it could be linked to an incident that happened earlier in the season. At the Dubai Tennis Championships he was defaulted from his semi-final clash against Alexander Bublik for unsportsmanlike conduct after he was accused of saying an obscenity in his native language at an official. He then successfully appealed against the penalty and retained the ranking points and prize money he earned, barring a fine of $36,400 for a code violation.

“Maybe what happened in Dubai remains in my mind,” said Rublev. 

Rublev’s focus now switches to his title defence at the Monte Carlo Masters. It is the only Masters 1000 event he has won so far in his career. 

“I feel better. These last two weeks I have been training a lot. But it’s one thing to train well, it’s another to play well in a match.” He evaluated of his current form. 

Rublev has yet to defend a Tour-level title so far in his career. Should he do so, he will become only the fifth player in the Open Era to win multiple Monte Carlo trophies. 

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