Indian Wells Day 3: Sharapova, Kuznestova, Blake victorious
Sharapova shows no mercy against fellow French Open champ Schiavone
In what was seemingly one of the trickier second round match-ups, Maria Sharapova had no trouble beating veteran Francesca Schiavone 6-2 6-1, despite the cold, windy conditions to kick off her 2013 BNP Paribas Open campaign. Schiavone may not have been playing her best tennis, but Sharapova knew better than to discount her, saying, “no matter where she is in the rankings, she has experience, has a Grand Slam, you know, behind her back. She likes those center court matches. She lives in those opportunities.” Sharapova will face Carla Suarez Navarro in the next round. Of course, a Maria Sharapova press conference wouldn’t be complete these days without a few questions about her off-court enterprise, Sugarpova. Business savvy Sharapova says that her gourmet candy line will be expanding from twelve flavors to fifteen in the next few weeks.
Kuznetsova overcomes bagel to bounce Jankovic
Former Indian Wells champion Jelena Jankovic raced to a quick 6-0 lead against Svetlana Kuznetsova in their second round match. This would appear to spell the end for Kuznetsova, but with these two players, it’s never quite that simple. But the pants came off in the second set and the momentum turned around. Kuznetsova was wearing leggings in the first set to deal with the unseasonably cold weather, but apparently pants just don’t suit her. Asked about the weather, she responded, “it’s very difficult to play in cold weather because even I tried to play in the long tight pants the first set, I cannot.” After two lopsided sets, things got interesting once again as it looked like the players were headed to a third set tiebreak. However, Kuznetsova was the one to draw first blood, breaking Jankovic to win the match 0-6, 6-2, 7-5.
Blake into 2nd round, has gained perspective from being a dad
33 year old James Blake scored a much needed first round win on Thursday over Robin Haase. Blake underscored the importance of getting match wins in gaining back confidence. He described it as, “sort of the chicken or the egg, which is first? If I’m not confident I’m going to play a little more passive, and if I’m playing too passive it’s tough for me to get confident.” Blake hasn’t had much luck in singles this season, and turned to doubles to boost his victory count, which he says helped him build some confidence coming into this tournament. Another motivating factor? Family. Blake credits his newborn daughter with helping put things in perspective, saying, “the things that she does are more important than the things that I do now. That’s something that’s probably been foreign to me for most of my career, because most athletes are so selfish. For a good reason. We sort of have to be to be successful with our career.”
Sock falters after missing match point
Young American Jack Sock faced a difficult first round opponent in Ivo Karlovic. Sock started the match well, winning the first set 6-3. Karlovic upped his game in the second set, but he still found himself facing match point in the tiebreak. Unfortunately for Sock, that’s where things started to unravel. One missed backhand and it was a whole new game. He ended up losing the deciding set 6-2. Asked about that spiral, Sock explained, “when you have match point, seems like it’s pretty much in your hands. Pretty routine backhand up the line to make, and I missed it by a couple of inches and missed a simple forehand to lose the set.” Understandably disappointed, Sock still isn’t putting any numbers on his game. Rather than targeting a specific ranking, Sock is happy just to compete, saying, “I mean, for me just to stay out there and stay healthy and feel like I’m improving, if I feel like I’m a better tennis player at the end of the year than I am right now, I would say that’s a pretty successful year.”