Indian Wells - Miami: Who's Hot and Who's Not - UBITENNIS
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Indian Wells – Miami: Who's Hot and Who's Not

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Novak Djokovic scored his second Indian Wells – Miami double after 2011. In the women’s tournament Flavia Pennetta won the most prestigious tournament of her career at Indian Wells and Serena Williams won her seventh Miami title A record of the US hard court tournaments. by Diego Sampaolo

Novak Djokovic: Novak Djokovic showed that he is back to his best form after clinching the second Indian Wells-Miami double of his career. He started the US hard court campaign with some doubts after losing to Stan Wawrinka in the Australian Open quarter finals and to Roger Federer in the semifinals in Dubai but he finished his US hard-court campaign in style winning both US Master 1000 tournaments. The US double is a confidence-booster for the Serbian player ahead of the European clay season which will kick off in less than two weeks with the Monte-Carlo Rolex Master where he will defend his title won in the final against Rafa Nadal. Both Nadal and Djokovic have dominated the Master 1000 circuit since 2013 winning all tournaments apart from Miami in 2013 which was won by Andy Murray.

Monte-Carlo will be another chapter of the rivalry between Djokovic and Nadal. Djokovic will have to defend just 190 points in Madrid and Rome. On the contrary Nadal will defend 2000 points as he won both these Master 1000 Tournaments in 2013. Nadal will defend 2000 points as Roland Garros champion, while Djokovic lost in a epic semifinal against Nadal last year and will defend 750 points, The Roland Garros is one of the few tournaments Djokovic never won in his career. He would complete his collection of Grand Slam tournaments with a win at the Roland Garros.

Djokovic beat Murray and Nadal in straight sets en route to winning his fourth Miami title confirming his status as the Hard-Court King. Only Djokovic and Federer have managed to score the Indian Wells and Miami double twice: Federer won both tournaments in 2005 and 2006 and Djokovic made the double in 2011 an 2014.

Djokovic won his second consecutive title with his coach Martin Vajda on his side as Boris Becker underwent hip surgery. This fact raised the question of many whether Becker was a good hire for Djokovic or not. It is difficult to say that but what is more important is that Djokovic is peaking his form at the right time ahead of the big tournaments.

Rafa Nadal: The Spaniard suffered a defeat in his fourth Miami final after losing three times in 2005, 2008 and 2011 losing with a double 6-3 against Djokovic but he remains at the top of the Ranking.However he gained 500 points after missing Miami last year. He will have to defend a lot of points on his favourite clay surface, having won in Rome, Madrid and the Roland Garros last year.

Kei Nishikori: The Japanese player was so unlucky to withdraw from the Miami semifinal after beating Roger Federer in three sets. Nishikori showed his maturity at high level when he scored three top wins beating Grigor Dimitrov in the third round, David Ferrer in the fourth round (after saving four match points) in a three-set tie-break and Roger Federer in the quarter final after rallying from a set and a break down.

Roger Federer: He played a great tournament in Indian Wells losing in three sets against Novak Djokovic. In Miami he went up a break twice in the second set against Nishikori but he could not close out the match. With his recent results in Indian Wells and Miami Federer has moved up to fourth in the ATP Ranking.

Tomas Berdych: The Czech reached the Miami semifinal after beating two strong rivals like John Isner and Aleksander Dolgopolov. He was then forced to withdraw before his semifinal against Nadal due to gastroenteritis.

Aleksander Dolgopolov: The Ukrainian player produced a major come-back reaching the semifinal in Indian Wells losing to Federer and confirmed his return to form by reaching the quarter final in Miami where he lost against Tomas Berdych after beating Stanislas Wawrinka.

Milos Raonic: The young Canadian player reached two consecutive quarter finals at Indian Wells and Miami reaching the too 10 position of the ranking. At Key Biscayne Raonic pushed Nadal to the third set and recorded the fastest ever serve in Miami with a 144 kph ace.

Andy Murray: In his first tournament after his split from Ivan Lendl who guided to wins at the US Open and the Olympic gold in 2012 and his Wimbledon triumph in 2013, Murray showed some encouraging improvement beating Feliciano Lopez and Jo Wilfred Tsonga before losing in the quarter final against Nole Djokovic. Murray will now play for Great Britain against Italy in Naples in the Davis Cup quarter final.

The Bryan brothers: The famous doubles legends Mike and Bob Bryan scored an impressive triple winning Delray Beach, Indian Wells and Miami. They completed the Indian Wells.Miami double for the first time in their long careers.

Stanislas Wawrinka: The Swiss did not show the same form as during the fantastic two Australian Open weeks. He failed to advance the fourth round in both Indian Wells and Miami. He lost to Kevin Anderson in Indian Wells and to Aleksander Dolgopolov in Miami.

Bernard Tomic: The young Australian player lost 6-1 6-0 in the first round against Jarkko Nieminen in just 28 minutes in the shortest match on the Open Era history.

Women:

Serena Williams: The US legend made history by winning her seventh Miami title in her ninth final in her home tournament which is held not far from the place where she lives. She was able to recover from 1-4 against Maria Sharapova in the semifinal and 2-5 against Li Na in the final. Serena holds the record for most Miami titles and is one of the four players to win the same WTA tournament more than seven times. The other players are Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova and Steffi Graf.

Li Na: This year’s Australian Open champion reached the seminal at Indian Wells where she lost in the semifinal against Flavia Pennetta and played the final in Miami where she was lost against Serena Williams 7-5 6-1 after storming to a 5-2 lead in the first lead. “I feel heavy right now but I am not feeling old at all. I feel I a young 32. I feel like tennis has changed a little bit now because it’s not about technique. It’s more mental and physical too and I am taking care of myself”, said Li Na after the final against Williams in Miami.

Flavia Pennetta: The Italian heroine ha mover to World Number 12 after her impressive title won in Indian Wells against Agnieszka Radwanska after beating Li Na in the semifinal. Pennetta achieved the most prestigious tournament of hr career. She continued her great period of form after the semifinal at the US Open and the quarter final at this year’s Australian Open.

Dominika Cibulkova: The Slovak player followed up her final at the Australian Open with a win in Acapulco, a quarter final at Indian Wells and a semifinal at Miami reaching the top-10 for the first in her career. In the third set of her Miami semifinal against Li Na Cibulkova was three games from the final in Miami final. Cibulkova reeled off six consecutive points and eight of the next nine points from 7-5 2-2 for Li Na to clinch the second set 6-2 and build up a solid 3-1 lead in the third set. Cibulkova had a point to go up 4-1 but Li Na scored four games in a row to take a 5-3 lead before clinching a hard-fought win with 7-5 2-6 6-3.

Maria Sharapova. The Russian player played one of the best tournaments of the year in Miami but she lost 7-5 6-1 after leading 4-1 in the first set and 2-0 in the second set against Serena Williams

Martina Hingis and Sabine Lisicki: The Swiss legend teamed up with last year’s Wimbledon finalist Lisicki to win her first doubles title since 2007 in Miami beating Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina in three sets with 4-6 6-4 10-5 reeling six points in a row from 4-5 in the third set tie-break. Six years after her retirement Hingis returned last summer playing alongside Daniela Hantuchova in five WTA doubles tournaments. The Swiss player did not play for six months after the US Open but she made a second return in Indian Wells teaming up with Sabine Lisicki.

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Brazilian Rising Star Joao Fonseca Waives College Eligibility To Turn Pro

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Image via https://twitter.com/RioOpenOficial/

One of Brazil’s most promising young tennis players has made the bold decision to abandon a dream of his to play college tennis in America to turn pro. 

17-year-old Jaoao Fonseca was committed to playing college tennis at the University of Virginia but says professional tennis has called him in a way he couldn’t refuse. The rising star has played just two Tour-level events so far in his career and is currently ranked 343rd in the world. 

At last week’s Rio Open, he became the second-youngest player after Alexander Zverev to reach the quarter-finals of an ATP 500 event since the category was introduced. In his home tournament, the Brazillian beat Arthur Fils and Cristian Garin before losing to Mariano Navone.

“It was an incredibly tough decision for me and my family as I have been dreaming about living a college life in Charlottesville, playing the sport that l love with a wonderful team and coach, but, in the last months, professional tennis called me in a way that I simply couldn’t say no,” Fonseca wrote in a statement published on Instagram
“Although I will not be attending school, I think it is an extremely valuable and viable path for young players in their way to professional careers,” he added.

Fonseca has already enjoyed success on the junior circuit. Last year he was runner-up in the doubles tournament at the Australian Open boy’s event. Then at the US Open, he won his first Grand Slam junior title in singles. He is also a former ITF Junior World No.1 and is currently ranked second in the standings. 

The youngster has already been hailed by compatriot Beatriz Haddad Maia, who is currently ranked 13th on the WTA Tour. Speaking to reporters at the San Diego Open, she has offered her support to Fonseca if he needs it. 

“João is a nice person. He has a great future, if he keeps working hard and keeps doing what he’s doing. I think he has a very aggressive mentality and tennis.” She said.

“We sometimes text each other, but not that much. But I’m always following.. not only him.. but the Brazilians. I’m proud of what he’s doing. He has a long way and he needs to understand that it’s a marathon, it’s not a 100 meter race.’
“Tennis has its ups and downs. I wish him all the best, for sure. I’ll be here whenever he wants. I’m happy with what he’s doing.” 

Fonseca played at the Chile Open this week but lost in the first round to Thiago Agustin Tirante.

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Injured Alcaraz Pulls Out of Rio Open After Two Games

A sprained ankle a couple of minutes into his debut at the Rio Open forced top seed Carlos Alcaraz to abandon his match against Thiago Monteiro

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Carlos Alcaraz after the injury - Rio 2024 (photo Tennis TV)

For world no. 2 Carlos Alcaraz, this year’s Rio Open lasted two games: the Spanish champion had to retire on the score of 1-1 in the first set during his first-round match against Brazilian Thiago Monteiro due to a sprained right ankle suffered in the second point of the match.

In an accident somewhat reminiscent of the terrible one suffered by Zverev in the semi-final of Roland Garros 2022, Alcaraz’s right foot “got stuck”  in the clay as he returned towards the center of the court after returning from the left, and he immediately flew to the ground dropping his racket. The Spaniard immediately asked for a medical time-out, but as soon as he took off his shoe it was immediately clear that his ankle had already swollen.

After having a tight bandage applied, Alcaraz tried to continue the match, but just two games later he understood that it was not possible to continue so he shook hands with his opponent, abandoning the Brazilian tournament.

The match was played on a very heavy court due to the rain that had fallen heavily during the day. The organizers had been forced to cancel the daytime session and play could only begin around 7.30 pm local time, after the courts had remained under pouring water all day.

Alcaraz told the press present in Rio: “I think these things happen, especially on clay. It wasn’t a problem with the court, I hurt myself in a change of direction and this happens on this type of surface. I went back into the match to see if I could continue or not. I spoke to the physiotherapist on the court and we decided, together, that I would continue to see if the ankle would improve. It didn’t happen, so we preferred to be cautious and withdraw as a precaution.”

Considering that Alcaraz left the court on his own two feet and managed to wobble through a couple of games after the injury, it is quite likely that the injury he suffered is much less serious than the one that kept Alexander Zverev away from tournaments for over seven months. However, it will be necessary to verify whether it is just a sprain or whether tendons or ligaments have been involved. If this were to be the case, the prognosis could turn out to be longer, and this is happening less than two weeks before the start of the Sunshine Double in Indian Wells and Miami.

The Spaniard is scheduled to play an exhibition in Las Vegas on 3rd March against Rafael Nadal: it will be decided in the next few days whether to withdraw as a precaution for the first Masters 1000 of the season in Indian Wells.

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Can Jannik Sinner dodge the morning-after syndrome?

Very few players have managed to follow up their first triumph in a Major. Hewitt is the last new Grand Slam champion to immediately win an ATP title. Nadal, Djokovic and Federer all misfired, can Jannik Sinner do better?

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Jannik Sinner - Australian Open 2024 (photo: X @federtennis)

By Roman Bongiorno

“The morning-after syndrome,” as they call it. The list of great champions who have suffered from it – Carlos Alcaraz, Juan Martin del Potro, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka, Andy Murray, is impressive.  Some of the most illustrious names in our sport, the most successful ever. Yet, even for those who are legends, the match immediately after their first Grand Slam triumph is often an insurmountable hurdle.

The very young Spanish phenomenon, born in 2003, was the latest striking example. After winning the 2022 US Open and becoming the new world No. 1, Alcaraz managed to win just one set in his next two matches: he lost 6-7 6-4 6-2 in the Davis Cup against Felix Auger Aliassime, who was definitely on fire in that period, and was inflicted a 7-5 6-3 defeat by veteran David Goffin in his first match at the ATP 500 in Astana.

Mentally, it’ not easy. The most important triumph of one’s life, immediately to be put aside.  And go back to work. The media are quick to pounce on any slip, headlines hinting at signs of a career already over: “it’s gone to his head”, “he has made his money” etc.

Less than a year later, Carlos Alcaraz was once more a Grand Slam champion, beating Novak Djokovic in the final at Wimbledon.

Just think of tennis legends such as Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, who fell victims to this serious syndrome. The former, after his triumph at Roland Garros 2005, stepped back on court on the green grass of Halle, losing in 3 sets to the world number 147 German Alexander Waske: 4-6 7-5 6-3. For many, that was a disastrous defeat foreshadowing a future that would not be as bright as it had seemed. Rafa told another story, by winning another 21 Grand Slam titles, on every surface.

The Serbian, on the other hand, thrived on the hard courts of Melbourne, just like Jannik Sinner. In 2008, after winning the title, he was engaged in Davis Cup against Russia. He did not finish his rubber against Nikolay Davydenko and retired at the beginning of the fourth set while trailing 2 sets to 1. In his first ATP tour appearance, in Marseille, after brushing aside Ivan Dodig, he was ousted in three sets by Gilles Simon. Over the following 15 years Novak Djokovic went on to become the has become the most successful player ever.

What about Roger Federer? After lifting the trophy won at Wimbledon in 2003, he moved to the home clay of Gstaad.  He survived the morning-after syndrome  after a fierce but victorious struggle in the first round with the Spaniard Marc Lopez, ranked No.190. Then he cruised till the final, but was defeated in a five set hustle 5-7 6-3 6-3 1-6 6-3 by Jiri Novak.

The morning-after did not spare Juan Martin del Potro. After his stunning victory over Federer at the 2009 US Open, he set foot on an ATP tennis court three weeks later in Tokyo. It was Edouard Roger Vassellin, 189th in the world, who spoiled the party, neatly defeating the Argentinian in two sets, 64 64.

Even “Ice man” Bjorn Borg, the man without (apparent) emotions, focused only on tennis and winning, lost the first match after his success at Roland Garros 1974. He was defeated in the first round in Nottingham by world No. 71 Milan Holecek from Czechoslovakia. Over the next years he definitely made up for that impasse on English lawns.

A rare bird at last, and not by chance does it come from Australia, a land which is ever so rich in unique species. Lleyton Hewitt, who in 2001 after steamrolling Pete Sampras in the US Open final, immediately won his next matches, two singles rubbers in the Davis Cup against Jonas Bjorkman and Thomas Johansson, and then went on to win in Tokyo by beating Michel Kratochvil in the final.

Jannik Sinner has been building up his success on gruelling feats. Sure he’s eager to be back on the Dutch indoor courts of Rotterdam where he enjoyed a brilliant run last year, only surrendering to Danil Medvedev in the final. Just one year ago the Russian seemed an impossible opponent to defeat. Now, in the last 4 challenges, Jannik has beaten him 4 times. The last one, in the final of the Australian Open.

Rotterdam could have been the stage for a rematch, but Medvedev has pulled out of the tournament. Jannik Sinner appears as a favourite, and is vying to close in on that third place of the rankings currently held by Daniil.

Jannik has set out on his mission. But even if he were to be defeated in the first round by an opponent ranked beyond the top 200, no one should dare cry failure. Italy at last has a Grand Slam winner, and he is not to be downplay him in case of first defeats.

Translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye

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