By Bob Greene
BNP Paribas Open
Indian Wells, California, USA
Men’s singles: Novak Djokovic beat Roger Federer 3-6 6-3 7-6 (3)
Women’s singles: Flavia Pennetta beat Agnieszka Radwanska 6-2 6-1
Men’s doubles: Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan beat Alexander Peya and Bruno Soares 6-4 6-3
Women’s doubles: Hsieh Su-Wei and Peng Shuai beat Cara Black and Sania Mirza 7-6 (5) 6-2
Lukas Rosol beat Steve Johnson 6-0 6-3 to win the Irving Tennis Classic in Irving, Texas, USA
Thomas Enqvist beat Stefan Edberg 6-2 6-3 to win the Kings of Tennis in Stockholm, Sweden
“Today was my day and I really enjoyed this moment. After so many years of working hard, this is the best moment.” – Flavia Pennetta, who won the BNP Paribas Open women’s singles title.
“Personally, I’m very happy. I think I’m playing great tennis now and I’m really enjoying myself. Of course, I would have liked to have more won a few more points at the end but Novak made it tough, so congratulations to him for winning.” – Roger Federer, after falling to Novak Djokovic in the final at Indian Wells.
“The disappointing feeling always comes first, especially when you really, really have ambition to win the tournament. Of course, still good two weeks. First final here. Big event. And still good result. But it’s always disappointing that I really couldn’t play my 100 percent today.” – Agnieszka Radwanska, after losing to Flavia Pennetta.
“I just went for the winner.” – Alexandr Dolgopolov, who rifled a forehand on match point to upset top-ranked and defending champion Rafael Nadal.
“I am fine with the back. I didn’t have bad feelings with my back. The bad feelings were with the forehand and the backhand.” – Rafael Nadal, referring to his back injury at the Australian Open after losing to Alexandr Dolgopolov at the BNP Paribas Open.
“We are old, but we still good athletes. We are strong. We have so many years on the tour, and we know how to handle the emotion and everything.” – Flavia Pennetta.
“To get broken two consecutive times in that situation isn’t good enough. I played poor tennis at that stage. I didn’t make enough balls (and) missed easy shots … So over the course of the set, if you give up enough unforced errors on basic shots, then with the amount of free points he gets on his serve, that’s going to add up to a negative result.” – Andy Murray, following his 4-6 7-5 6-3 loss to Milos Raonic.
“We’re the number one team, and people may know us more now, but we still feel the same as before. All of this is nice because it helps us become more confident and believe in ourselves more on the court, and we’re more motivated now. too, but nothing has changed. We’re still the same people.” – Peng Shuai, who with partner Hsieh Su-Wei has never lost once they reach the final.
“We’ve known each other a very long time. Sometimes we don’t practice together – like at Wimbledon we never practiced together – but every time we go on court together, we try every point. If she misses a shot, I give her support. When I miss, she supports me. It’s very important in doubles. When we get into a final, we don’t think, we just try every point. This is the key for us.” – Hsieh Su-Wei.
In a battle of giants, Novak Djokovic reigned supreme by edging Roger Federer and capture his first title of 2014, the BNP Paribas Open. “Today was an incredible match,” Djokovic said when he was presented with the winner’s trophy. “It was an incredibly difficult match. Roger is playing great and it’s always a pleasure playing with him.” If Federer was playing great, Djokovic was just a few points better. The Serb lost his opening service game and subsequently the first set. Then, serving for the match, he was broken again. That necessitated a tiebreak, which Djokovic won 7-3. “I would have liked to have won a few more points at the end, but Novak made it tough,” Federer said. The hard-fought win gave Djokovic his third title in the California desert tournament, one less than Federer. Despite the loss, Federer leads their head-to-head record 17-16.
One year after contemplating retirement, Flavia Pennetta has won the biggest title of her career. “After so many years and so much work and everything, this is the moment I’ve always waited for,” the Italian said. Best known as a doubles player, Pennetta seriously considered quitting the tour last year when her ranking dropped and victories were few. But she reached the semifinals at the US Open last September and now has won one of the biggest titles outside of the four Grand Slam tournaments. “And it’s coming when you don’t expect it, because in the beginning of the week I never expected to be the champion or to be in the final or semifinal,” Pennetta said. The champion’s victory was made much easier when her opponent, Agnieszka Radwanska, struggled with a knee injury that severely limited her movement. The Pole called for a medical timeout early in the second set and received treatment twice. “I’m sorry I could run as much as I could,” Radwanska tearfully told the crowd. “But I had a great week; it was my first final here.
It’s disappointing to lose, but Flavia was just playing too good today.” Pennetta proved her run to the title wasn’t a fluke dependent on Radwanska’s injury. The Italian beat American Sloane Stephens in the quarterfinals and Australian Open champion Li Na in the semis. It was her 10th career singles title, but her first in four years. “For me it was something I was waiting a long time, and finally I have a good trophy in my hands.”
It took 15 years for brothers Bob and Mike Bryan to win their first BNP Paribas Open doubles title. Now, the 35-year-old American twins have won two straight, beating in the final the second-seeded team of Alexander Peya and Bruno Soares. “It was a great couple weeks for us and for the sport of doubles,” Bob Bryan said. “We’re excited to win our hometown ATP Masters 1000 and play so well against Bruno and Alex, who continue to put up great results.” The Bryans, who were the top-seeded duo, improved their record to 7-1 against Peya and Soares as they increased their record number of doubles titles to 95. It was the third time this season that Peya and Soares finished as runners-up, matching their finishes at Doha and Auckland in January.
When Hsieh Su-Wei and Peng Shuai reach the final, they are perfect. Hsieh and Peng increased their record to 11-0 together in WTA doubles finals. Their latest came in Indian Wells, where they stopped Cara Black and Sania Mirza in the BNP Paribas Open title match. The winning duo is currently the top-ranked doubles team in the world. Together they have captured Bali in 2008; Sydney, Rome and Beijing in 2009; Rome, Wimbledon, Cincinnati, Guangzhou and the WTA Championships last year, and Doha earlier this year. “We didn’t think about it,” Peng said when asked if they thought about their streak when they were on the court. “Every time we just try to fight every point.”
The third round proved to be as far as top-ranked Rafael Nadal could get at the BNP Paribas Masters. The defending champion fell to Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-3 3-6 7-6 (5) in the tournament’s biggest upset. Nadal had reached the semifinals at Indian Wells every year since 2006, winning the title in 2007, 2009 and last year. Dolgopolov, ranked 31st in the world and from Ukraine, beat Nadal for the first time after five losses, including in the clay court final at Rio de Janeiro two weeks ago. Serving for the match at 5-3 in the third set, Dolgopolov was broken at love, the final point coming when he double-faulted. “The point was just not to get too nervous,” he said. “I knew he’s going to make me play that game and not miss much, and I just gave it away. That was all me. I just tried to forget about that and come back.” Dolgopolov thought he won the match with an ace, but the call being overturned on a challenge from Nadal. “I thought, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me,’” Dolgopolov said. “I was thinking he’s going to challenge because I didn’t really raise my hands up or anything after that ace because I knew it was close and I wasn’t sure it was on the line. Then I just tried to come back as fast as I could to the line so I didn’t have enough time to think about it and just serve and start the point.” Dolgopolov hot his second serve in and followed with a blistering forehand that Nadal couldn’t return. Point, game and match, Dolgopolov.
On the same day that Rafael Nadal was ousted from the BNP Paribas Open, Maria Sharapova was also sent packing in an upset. The fourth-seeded Russian fell to Italian qualifier Camila Giorgi, 6-3 4-6 7-5. “I did not play a good match at all,” Sharapova said. “She’s quite aggressive, but some shots she hit incredible for a long period of time. But, you know, if I’m speaking about my level, it was nowhere near where it should have been.”
Injuries the past two years are keeping Victoria Azarenka from adding to the number of titles she has won at Key Biscayne, Florida, USA. A two-time winner of the event, Azarenka withdrew from this week’s tournament because of a lingering foot injury. Last year, she missed the event because of an ankle injury. After missing more than a month, Azarenka lost her opening match at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California, USA
Caroline Wozniacki is once again seeking a new coach – perhaps. Michael Mortensen was hired earlier this year, but last week told Danish newspaper Esktra Bladet that he no longer will be working with the right-hander. He noted that Wozniacki will continue working with her father. “I can’t do much more right now,” Mortensen said. “It’s better if the two of them continue working alone.” Mortensen, an experienced coach, said he wanted the player to make changes in her game, but she disagreed. “She wants to work on the things she emphasizes, and that’s totally fine,” Mortensen said. “There’s a lot of pressure on her and a lot of points she has to defend, and she wants to become familiar with her own game again.” Once ranked number one in the world, Wozniacki keeps returning to working with her father. Her previous coach, Thomas Hogstedt, also lasted only a few months.
Defending champion Stefan Edberg didn’t stand a chance against fellow Swede Thomas Enqvist when the two clashed for the Kings of Tennis crown at Stockholm’s Waterfront Centre. Playing in his first final at the Stockholm event, the 40-year-old Enqvist kept Edberg back of the baseline, let alone the net. “I’m super happy to win this title,” Enqvist said. “I’m from Stockholm so I have a lot of friends and family here. It was always very special to play the Stockholm Open, and now to get to win this event in my home city is just as special.” It was the ninth ATP Champions Tour title for Enqvist, but his first since Rio de Janeiro in 2012. He now is jointly ranked atop the ATP Champions Tour rankings with Delray Beach Open champion Andy Roddick.
An inductee into the International Tennis Hall of Fame last year, Charlie Pasarell has received his official Hall of Fame ring. Pasarell was presented with his ring in a special ceremony at the BNP Paribas Open by Hall of Fame Chairman Christopher Clouser, Hall of Fame President Stan Smith. Besides Smith, other Hall of Famers participating in the ceremony included Rod Laver, Donald Dell, Bud Collins, Butch Buchholz, Brad Parks, Rosie Casals, Roy Emerson and Mark Woodforde.
Eleven ATP World Tour players are recent graduates of the ATP University in Miami, Florida, USA. Players were schooled in media relations, finance, anti-corruption, marketing, rules and officiating, medical services, nutrition and giving back. The new graduates include Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic, Dominic Thiem of Austria, Guilherme Clezar of Brazil, Thomas Fabbiano of Italy, Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics, Frenchmen Guillaume Rufin and Pierre-Hugues Herbert, American Bradley Klahn, Kazakhstan’s Aleksandr Nedovyesov and Colombia’s Alejandro Gonzalez. Almost 900 players have graduated from the university since it was established in 1990.
Irving: Santiago Gonzalez and Scott Lipsky beat John-Patrick Smith and Michael Venus 4-6 7-6 (7) 10-7 (match tiebreak)
International Tennis Federation: www.itftennis.com
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$4,720,390 Sony Open, Miami, Florida, USA, hard (first week)
$4,720,380 Sony Open, Miami, Florida, USA, hard (first week)
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$4,720,390 Sony Open, Miami, Florida, USA, hard (second week)
$100,000 Zurich Jalisco Open, Guadalajara, Mexico, hard
$4,720,380 Sony Open, Miami, Florida, USA, hard (second week)