Jennifer Denfield

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Friday at Indian Wells

Rafael Nadal

Friday featured the last of the men’s quarterfinals and the women’s semifinals on stadium 1. Although the practice courts were fairly quiet this morning, I did find John Isner and Sam Querrey warming up for their doubles semifinal. They seemed to be in a good mood ahead of their match.

Roger Federer and Juan Martin Del Potro started off the men’s quarters for the day. It didn’t take long for Delpo to lose his focus, though. Del Potro challenged a ruling on Federer’s serve, which both players believed to be out. However, hawkeye wasn’t available, so the original call of an ace was unchanged. It clearly frustrated Delpo for the rest of the match. He seemed to lose his focus from that point on, which severely impacted the Argentine’s game. Federer played very well and was off the court in a quick two-set match and should be well rested ahead of his semifinal tomorrow.

Meanwhile, on court 2, John Isner and Sam Querrey took on Max Mirnyi and Daniel Nestor. Quisner seemed a bit surprised by the fact that their match was so empty. The Federer match was the more popular choice when the doubles semifinal began, but Isner still tried to liven up the small crowd with some calls for cheers as the players got ready to start the match. The match didn’t last long after Quisner broke in the first set to win 6-4 and rolled through the second at 6-2. They will face Rafael Nadal and Marc Lopez in the final tomorrow.

On stadium 1, Nadal had to fight off some strong play from David Nalbandian as well as his own errors. Nadal made several uncharacteristic mistakes in the first set, allowing Nalbandian to break Nadal at 5-4, giving the Argentine the first set at 6-4. Nadal fought back in the second set and was able to stave off Nalbandian to take control of the match. The first few games of the third set went to Nadal, and it seemed that, after a double break, his victory was assured. Nevertheless, Nalbandian held strong and gave Nadal enough trouble to break back once. The number two seed, however, made sure it didn’t happen again and won the third set at 6-4.

In the evening, the women’s matches took center stage. Victoria Azarenka had a successful match against Angelique Kerber. She did not seem to struggle much as her winning streak continued. Maria Sharapova fought back from a break down against Ana Ivanovic to win the first set. Both players worked hard in the first set, forcing each other to save break points. Unfortunately, Ivanovic injured herself in the middle of the first set and was forced to retire shortly into the beginning of the second set. It was disappointing that Ivanovic had to retire as it was shaping up to be a great match, but the rematch of the Australian Open final with Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova should be great to watch.

It will be tough to leave Indian Wells tomorrow, but there will be some great matches on Saturday and Sunday to conclude the BNP Paribas Open 2012 with the men’s doubles final on Saturday and the men’s and women’s singles finals on Sunday.

Thursday at Indian Wells

Novak Djokovic

It seemed oddly empty at the tournament today compared with the past five days in terms of fans. Of course, the smaller player field made for a less hectic scene at the practice courts. Still, I managed to get a lot of photos.

The practice courts featured a few players who had been knocked out. David Ferrer, John Isner, Caroline Wozniacki, Jurgen Melzer, Iveta Benesova, Richard Gasquet, and Julien Benneteau were all getting some training in this morning. The afternoon saw the second half of Quisner–Sam Querrey–practicing as well as Milos Raonic, Rafael Nadal, and Marc Lopez.

Ana Ivanovic started off the morning on stadium 1. She played a strong match against an ailing Marion Bartoli, who apparently came down with the Indian Wells illness. Ivanovic will take on Maria Sharapova, who fought hard in the battle of Maria’s against Maria Kirilenko.

When Kirilenko took the first set and broke in the second, it seemed that Sharapova had a big hill to climb. The former world number one broke back, and it seemed the second set would be won by whoever could hold her serve. Sharapova managed to do so eventually and went on to win the set and ultimately the match.

On the men’s side, Novak Djokovic had little trouble with Nicolas Almagro. Djokovic made more errors than usual today, but Almagro couldn’t capitalize and seemed to fade away. When John Isner began his match against Gilles Simon, Isner couldn’t seem to stay focused either, making a plethora of mistakes. Simon took advantage of the situation and secured a break in Isner’s first service game. Despite this early disadvantage, Isner fought back and won the first set. The match took three sets, but the American was able to see it through.

Men’s doubles also took center stage tonight with Rafael Nadal and Marc Lopez facing Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski. Fyrstenberg and Matkowski are strong doubles players; however, they never seemed to find a rhythm as Nadal and Lopez cruised to a victory.

Tomorrow will be my last day of live coverage, so check back tomorrow night for more photos!

BNP Paribas Open 3.14.12

Feliciano Lopez practices with his trainer

I finally made it to the practice courts today. There was a little more mystery today as to who would be practicing when because the screens showing the practice sessions were not giving complete information. It was nice, however, to get to stumble upon Rafael Nadal practicing without every seat around the courts filled an hour in advance. It reminded me of the tournament five years ago when they didn’t announce the practice schedule.

My morning started out with Feliciano Lopez, Sam Stosur, Ana Ivanovic practicing. Petra Kvitova was also practicing with Yanina Wickmayer. It was a pretty intimate feel on court as no one was really watching them. Richard Gasquet and Grigor Dimitrov were on a practice court next to Jo Wilfried Tsonga and Julien Benneteau. Again, the malfunctioning practice schedule really helped out as the courts were fairly empty.

To my surprise, forty minutes after play began, Novak Djokovic was already a set up on Pablo Andujar. To go from a 0-6 thumping to a 7-6 victory in the second set was quite impressive from Andujar. Nevertheless, Djokovic showed why he’s the number one player in the world, winning the third set.

Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal had a quieter practice session at least until Djokovic won. Isner made quick work of Matthew Ebden while Sam Querry warmed up for their match later that day. Gael Monfils was also on court playing four-square soccer while Gasquet played actual soccer on the field. The entire French contingent would have a soccer showdown later in the evening on the field.

Victoria Azarenka took apart Agnieska Radwanska. Rafael Nadal also had a strong match against Alexandr Dolgopolov. I expected Dolgopolov to give Nadal more trouble, but Rafael held pretty strong as Alexandr made many unforced errors.

Sam Querry and John Isner went the distance Richard Gasquet and Paul Hanley and come out with a win as Roger Federer went a set down to Thomaz Bellucci. Federer held back and won as did Gilles Simon, who had a hard fought victory against Ryan Harrison. The score line in the third set didn’t do justice to how hard Harrison fought, but Simon deserved the victory.

Tuesday at the BNP Paribas Open

Jo Wilfried Tsonga won a three-setter against Marcos Baghdatis this afternoon

Things are heating up in Indian Wells—at least for those players that are still healthy. Nikolay Davydenko pulled out this morning, paving the way for Thomasz Belluci to make it into the round of 16.

Fernando Verdasco and Juan Martin Del Potro started things off on center court. Del Potro began well, taking the first set 6-2. Clearly, Verdasco’s neon yellow and orange outfit wasn’t too distracting for him. Verdasco turned on his forehand in the second set and took the match to a tiebreak, but Del Potro managed to eke out a win. Both players did well. Unfortunately, it just came too late for Verdasco.

In the doubles world, John Isner and Sam Querry faced Robert Lindstedt and Horia Tecau. The trouble for the fourth-seeded doubles team started on Lindstedt’s serve as a mix of errors and strong play from Quisner forced a break much to the delight of the very pro-American crowd. Lindstedt and Tecau fought back for a super breaker but ultimately failed to do much with it, losing 10-5.

On center court, Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova both pulled out convincing wins. I’m hoping for a replay of the Australian Open final this weekend at the BNP Paribas Open.

My favorite match of the day was Jo Wilfried Tsonga and Radek Stepanek. Stepanek fought hard in the first set and managed to win the tiebreaker with surprising ease. The second set was a different story, though. Stepanek played well, but Tsonga came back strong in the second and third and proved to be too tough for the Czech.

Alexandr Dolgopolov and Marcos Baghdatis were up next and continued the theme of neon orange. It’s great to see the Cypriot back in action. He gave Dolgopolov some trouble, but in the end, Baghdatis couldn’t do enough.

Center court was packed again when Rafael Nadal took on countryman, Marcel Granollers. Granollers wasn’t able to throw too much at Nadal, who got through the match quite comfortably. He made very few errors in the first set, but Nadal tightened up in the second and looked a bit shaky, making several mistakes. He did enough, though, to see off Granollers.

The night session started on time tonight with Roger Federer playing Milos Raonic, which proved to be an interesting match. Check out Andrea Lubinsky’s article for analysis of the match. It certainly set a great atmosphere for Caroline Wozniacki and Ana Ivanovic.

On the outside courts, men’s doubles with the Murray brother against Max Mirnyi and Daniel Nestor as well as Richard Gasquet and Paul Hanley facing Oliver Marach and Alexander Peya while Marion Bartoli closed out the night by winning against Lucie Safarova on court two.

Check in with us tomorrow for more coverage!

First Weekend at Indian Wells

Feliciano Lopez

Any day that starts with Nadal and Verdasco on the practice courts together promises to be a good day in my book. The second round of the men’s draw had a strong start on Saturday.

John Isner started off against Federico Gil, and the first set seemed to be wrought with errors. Isner pulled out the first set, but really took control in the second, which seemed to be just the opposite for Richard Gasquet.

Unlike Isner, Gasquet started off strong. He took the first set from Albert Ramos at 6-3 and went up a break in the second. Even with this break, he seemed frustrated with his level of play and was talking to himself for at the half of the second set. He finally had reason to when he failed to successfully serve out the match. From then on, Gasquet lost concentration and Ramos took total control, ending the third set quickly.

The trouble for the seeds seemed like it might continue when Andy Roddick began his match against Lukasz Kubot. Roddick was off his game in his first set, losing 4-6. He fought back in the second set, though, and took the match to a tiebreak. The crowd definitely played into Roddick’s favor as he lifted him game and ended up winning the match.

Meanwhile, Feliciano Lopez was playing four-square tennis on the practice court. They were extremely animated about sticking to rules, particularly Lopez, who was extremely vocal whenever someone questioned his plays. I may not have taken Spanish recently, but I’m pretty sure that I would not want to argue with Feli over this game.

Next up on my agenda was Sam Querry and Nico Almagro. Sam started off well but Almagro came up with all the answers in the second and third set. Sam seemed tight in the third, which certainly contributed to his downfall, but Alamagro definitely played well. Even Sam’s SAMurai supporters couldn’t pull him through the match.

Maria Kirilenko had a frustrating first set against Begu. She was forced into a tiebreaker even though she started well at 4-0. The second set was also close, and Kirilenko ended up winning it 7-6, 6-4, but I forced my way into Stadium 2 during the second half of this match to watch Ryan Harrison

Harrison played Victor Troicki, and it was a great match to watch. I had some questions about how high Harrison could reach last year, but he’s seemed to really step up his game this year. The first set was closely contested but Harrison played strong to pull out a great second set. I can’t wait to see what sort of impact he makes on the ATP this year.

The night ended with Andy Murray and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. I can’t say I love the bright orange outfit, and it didn’t seem to do much for Murray’s success. Garcia-Lopez is a good player, but I was shocked to see the fourth seed bounced out so quickly. Hopefully Murray will get it together ahead of Miami in another week.

Sunday saw the start of the other half of the men’s draw. Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer headlined the day with Nadal starting early on the practice courts. He’s been around closer to 10 AM these past few days, which feels very different than the usual later afternoon practice.

Juan Martin del Potro returned to take on Marinko Matosevic of Australia. Del Potro seems to be in fine form. I look forward to watching him on Tuesday just as I do with Rafael Nadal, who played a strong match.

I was expecting a much closer match with David Ferrer and Grigor Dimitrov. I expected Grigor to come out stronger, but David proved his worth as a returner. He successfully fought back to gain control of the match and managed to hold out.

Gasquet and Hanley managed to pull out a win in doubles, and unsurprisingly, Roger Federer successfully dealt with Kudla. I appreciated Kudla’s apparent revival of the Lleyton Hewitt hairstyle of the early 2000′s and late 1990′s. Still, Denis hasn’t quite hit Hewitt level as Federer easily saw him off.

It was a great weekend for tennis, and the next week in Indian Wells certainly promises a great deal. Keep checking back to Tennis Grandstand for more coverage this week of the tournament!

Indian Wells Around the Grounds

Fernando Verdasco

The Indian Wells bug has continued to play a big part in the tournament. The morning began with Francesca Schiavone taking on Lucie Safarova. Safarova looked good today and took the first set although Schiavone’s stomach bug likely had a great deal to do with it. She retired after losing the first set, but I certainly respect that she was willing to play.

Feliciano Lopez started the day on the practice courts as did Fernando Verdasco although they were unfortunately not playing together. On the men’s side of the draw, Stanilsas Wavrinka played against Gilles Simon. The match looked fairly even, but Simon pulled his way through it.

Also on the practice courts, Robert Lindstedt and Horatio Tecau were working hard early this afternoon. They made an appearance in the Corona tent late this afternoon for a trivia contest and some photos, which was a fun surprise to walk in on.

Afterwards, Novak Djokovic took on Kevin Anderson. Anderson played well for the first few games, making a close match of it in the first four games. Djokovic turned on the style and took over the rest of the match.

Mardy Fish had an interesting match with Matthew Ebden. Fish played hard, but controversy ensued when Fish cheered before Ebden could make it to his drop shot. Fish didn’t seem to realize that he lost the point at first, but he put up an argument about it afterwards. In his press conference, Fish admitted that he did not quite understand the rules and believed he deserved a let rather than losing the point. Fish seemed to have lost his concentration after that, but it was a good match.

Andy Roddick had a tight match against Tomas Berdych. Berdych certainly had the advantage in the first set, which caused Andy some headaches. The crowd helped Roddick in the second set, so he scratched his way into a third set. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to pull it out.

Tomorrow, I hope for some more shots of the practice courts and some great matches, so stay tuned!

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