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Now It’s More Like More like Indian Wells – Good Weather, Roger and Rafa

A Federer-Nadal quarter-final would be a gift of sorts, especially since the No. 1 seeds both were eliminated.

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Roger Federer (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

By Art Spander

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — That was more like it. Indian Wells, the elite suburb of Palm Springs — which is pretty elite its ownself — was what we expect this time of year, beautiful weather. And Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal also were what we expect this time of year, playing beautiful tennis.

There probably isn’t a tournament from Melbourne to Toronto that either hasn’t won, but at this one, the BNP Paribas Open, the first big event each year after the Australian Open, both have been particularly successful.

Federer has won it five times, Nadal three, and the possibility one or the other will add another championship is very much real — and as always good for the gate, good for the Tennis Channel and good for Roger and Rafa.

“All the best players come here,” Federer said, addressing a stadium full of fans Wednesday, after his 6-1, 6-4 victory over Kyle Edmund, the relatively young (24) British player.

“You guys are having a good time,” he told a crowd that didn’t need the reminder, “and so are we.”

Nadal, whose 6-3, 6-4 win over Filip Krajinovic of Serbia came in the day’s first match, was a trifle less effusive than Federer, which given his 11 a.m. start time is understandable.

“I have to wake up at 6:30 in the morning,” said Nadal.

Federer and Nadal are one match apiece away from facing each other for a 39th time in their careers (Rafa has won 23 of the 38). And to the question of whether yet another opportunity against Rafa would still be exciting, Federer had a quick response.

“Yes, absolutely,” he said, “I think that’s also one of the reasons I’m still in the game, is that when I play the top guys I’m ready for it. For that, I train hard.”

Federer is 37 with 20 Grand Slams, arguably the best player ever, and we’ll get into that more when Roger discusses Rod Laver, the last to win the true Slam, all four majors in a single calendar year — and he did it twice, in 1962 and 1969.

Nadal is 32 with 17 Slams, including 11 French Opens, the most titles won in a single event by a male player. And since the French is played on the red dirt of Roland Garros Stadium, he is considered the finest clay court player in history.

So, in this non-major-yet-anything-but-minor BNP event, a Federer-Nadal quarter-final would be a gift of sorts, especially since the No. 1 seeds, Novak Djokovic and Naomi Osaka, both were eliminated.

“I’m very happy this week,” affirmed Federer. “I hope I can get there. But I’m not going to underestimate Hubert.” As in unseeded Hubert Hurkacz of Poland, his next opponent — and the guy who upset Denis Shapovalov of Canada.

“And yeah,” agreed Federer, “Rafa looked supreme this week. He clearly also goes in against (Karen) Khacanov, but Khacanov played a good match just now against John Isner. I think that’s also going to be quite a test for Rafa. But same for me with Hubert.

“I don’t think we’re looking too far ahead, to be honest.”

Everyone else is. Big names with big games are the sport’s attraction. Time and achievement merge to create an irresistible blend. Nothing against Hubert Hurkacz and Karen Khacanov, but if you had to rely on them to get headlines and ratings, well, you wouldn’t get either.

Federer, the Williams sisters, Rafa — they have earned their status. They’ve won. They’ve lasted, even longer than players did a generation ago, because of the emphasis on diet and training.

Federer, who was No. 1 seemingly forever, now is No. 3. Venus Williams, 38, a multi-time champ, is 36th and hasn’t won in a long while.

“You’ve got to be passionate about what you do,” said Federer.

Laver, 80, played in the ’50s and ’60s, first as an amateur and then as a pro, as jet travel was just beginning. ”What he went through, going from city to city,” said Federer, ”clearly he was ahead of his time. He brought something to the game.”

So have Federer and Nadal, who could bring even more if they meet here at Indian Wells.

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Bianca Andreescu becomes the youngest WTA Premier Mandatory champion at Indian Wells

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Canadian 18-year-old Bianca Andreescu edged past Angelique Kerber 6-4 3-6 6-4 to become the youngest WTA Premier Mandatory champion and the fourth youngest winner at Indian Wells behind Martina Hingis, Serena Williams and Monica Seles.

Bianca Andreescu has won her maiden WTA title. With this win she has won 28 of her 31 matches this season and becomes the first wild-card to win the Indian Wells title.

Andreescu started the first set with an immediate break on her fourth break point chance in the opening game after Kerber’s second double fault. The Canadian teenager held her serve with a hold of serve at 15 to open up a 2-0 lead.

In the third game Andreescu hit a forehand slice to draw level to 30-30, but Kerber held her serve for 1-2, as Andreescu sent her forehand wide.

Andreescu held her serve at 30 in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead. The teenager got to 30-all on Kerber’s serve, but the German player hit a big forehand and held her serve for 2-3. In the sixth game Andreescu hit a forehand winner to earn a game point and held her serve with her first ace. Andreescu made a double fault at 30-15 in the 10th game but she held her serve to close out the first set 6-4 in 40 minutes. Kerber won all her points on her second serve, compared to Kerber’s 55%. The German player made 14 unforced errors in the first set.

In the second set Andreeu got to 30-30, but she hit her backhand into the net to hold serve for 1-1. In the best game of the match Kerber saved two break points to hold her serve for 2-1. Andreescu battled hard to hold her serve but Kerber came back from 30-40 down to convert her only break point of the set after two deuces thanks to a forehand error from Andreescu. The player consolidated the break with a hold at 30 to open up a 4-1 lead. Kerber held her next service games to close out the second set 6-3.

Andreescu opened the third set with a hold at 30 to take a 1-0 lead. The Canadian held serve in the third game at deuce for 2-1, but she missed a chance for a break point, when she netted a short forehand. Andreescu required medical treatment on her arm after the third game.

Kerber converted her second break point to take a 3-2 lead, when Andreescu hit a shot into the net. Andreescu broke straight back at 15 to draw level to 3-3 and held serve at love for 4-3. The Canadian got the second consecutive break on her second break point chance in the eighth game to earn her chance to serve for the match, but Kerber saved three championship points to break back in the ninth game on return at deuce, when Andreescu hit her drop-shot into the net.

Andreescu closed out the match with another break in the 10th game on her fourth championhip point. She hit a forehand winner at 30-30 and closed out the match, when Kerber hit the net, and fell to the ground in celebration.

“I would like to congratulate Angelique Kerber for an amazing tournament. It was amazing to share the court with you today. You are an incredible champion and an inspiration. Hopefully this moment can be an inspiration for many young athletes because, like I always say, if you believe in yourself anything is possible. My mother told me throughout the years ‘if you work hard, you dream to get big. Then you can accomplish so many things and that’s what I’ve been doing throughout. This moment has become a reality and it’s really crazy. To my team – thank you for being there for me throughout so many years. It’s really means so much to share this moment right now”, said Andreescu.

 Angelique Kerber congratulated with Andreescu on her amazing week in the post match speech.

“I would like to say congratulations to Bianca for your unbelievable tournament, for your win here. You played amazing during the whole tournament and you really deserved to win the title”, said Kerber.

 

 

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Rafael Nadal Withdraws From Federer Clash With Knee Injury, Withdraws From Miami

Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from his BNP Paribas Open semi-final with Roger Federer due to a knee injury.

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Rafael Nadal (@BNPPARIBASOPEN - Twitter)

Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from his Indian Wells semi-final with Roger Federer after suffering a right knee injury.

The Spaniard injured his during his 7-6(2) 7-6(2) win over Karen Khachanov in the quarter-finals. As a result he has also withdrawn from next week’s Miami Open.

It was reported that Nadal had a 15 minute practice before a 10 minute conversation with his team where they made the decision to withdraw from the semi-final.

After the announcement Nadal emphasised his disappointment at the withdrawal, “I wanted to try my best to be competitive, but during the warmup I felt my knee was not good enough for the level I need to play,” Nadal explained.

“It’s tough for me to accept all these things that I’m going through in my career. Sometimes I feel sad because I’m in a disadvantage to all my opponents. 

[I need to] be positive and grateful for all the things tennis has given to me. I feel fortunate for all the things I’ve done in my life and the world of tennis.”

It is a bitterly disappointing setback for Nadal who would’ve been hoping to close the gap between him and Novak Djokovic at the top of the rankings.

Next for the Spaniard will be Monte-Carlo in mid-April after also announcing his withdrawal from next week’s Miami Open, “The plan for the clay season is Monte-Carlo, Barcelona, Madrid, Roma and Roland Garros. That has been my calendar throughout my career and I hope to be able to complete it one more time.”

As for Roger Federer, he will now play either Dominic Thiem or Milos Raonic in tomorrow’s final as he looks to win his sixth title in California.

 

 

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Indian Wells Day 13 Preview: The Men’s Semi-Finals

It will be Roger Federer against Rafael Nadal for the 39th time in the BNP Paribas Open Semi-Finals… or will it be?

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Roger Federer (@BNPPARIBASOPEN - Twitter)

By Matthew Marolf

During his semi-final yesterday against Karen Khachanov, Rafa aggravated the knee tendinitis that has plagued his hard court tennis in recent years. He was still able to finish off the dangerous Russian, but even Nadal himself admits he won’t know how his knee will be for this match until he wakes up today. It’s entirely possible he may retire from yet another hard court tournament. Assuming he is able to play, we’re in for a rekindling of tennis’ most historic rivalry. The other men’s semi-final will feature two men who have advanced to finals at both Grand Slam and Masters 1,000 events, but are yet to win one.

Rafael Nadal (2) vs. Roger Federer (4)

Rafael Nadal (@BNPPARIBASOPEN – Twitter)

This will be their first match since the Shanghai Masters in October of 2018, nearly a year-and-a-half ago. Nadal holds an overall 23-15 edge in their head-to-head, but he hasn’t defeated Federer in over five years, by far the longest stretch in this rivalry without a Rafa victory since they first met 15 years ago this month. Roger has won all of their five most recent meetings, all of which have been played on hard courts. That run started at the 2015 Basel event.

It famously continued in the 2017 Australian Open final, which is really the match that turned this rivalry around.  Federer came back from down a break in the fifth to beat his toughest opponent. The bigger racquet face he changed to during an injury layoff in 2016 played a significant role. Roger went on to beat Rafa at this tournament two years ago, and then again two weeks later in the Miami final.

Their last three matches have all been straight set wins for Federer, ever since that Australian Open final. Both men have advanced to this semi-final without dropping a set, with Federer only losing his serve once in four matches. Roger has looked exceptionally sharp, and is on a 9-match win streak coming off his 100th career title in Dubai two weeks ago. Considering their recent history, the court surface, and Nadal’s knee, Federer is the favourite to reach his 9th Indian Wells final.

Dominic Thiem (7) vs. Milos Raonic (13)

Dominic Thiem (@OanaVancea – Twitter)

Both of these men should be fully rested ahead of this semi-final.  Unlike Nadal and Federer, they got a day off between their quarterfinal and semi-final matches. And Thiem got Thursday off as well when Gael Monfils withdrew from their quarterfinal. Dominic didn’t lose a set in his other three matches at this tournament, while Milos only dropped one in four matches.

Raonic is yet to face a seeded player at this event, but he’s 2-0 lifetime against Thiem. Both of those matches were on hard courts, and Milos took both in straight sets. Thiem though is a much-improved hard court player since they last met in 2016, and he’ll prefer the slower hard court in Indian Wells. However, Raonic has achieved much more previous success in the desert than Thiem. This is the first Indian Wells semi-final for Dominic, while Milos has advanced this far in all of his last four appearances. I like the big-serving Canadian’s chances to reach his second final in tennis paradise.

Other notable matches on Day 13:

Marcelo Melo and Lukasz Kubot (@ESPNtenis – Twitter)

In the women’s doubles final, the best team in the world, Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova (1), vs. two top 15 singles players, Elise Mertens and Aryna Sabalenka.

In the men’s doubles final, an established team of Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo (6) vs. a newly-formed team of Nikola Mektic and Horacio Zeballos.

 

 

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