Mondays with Bob Greene
BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells, California, USA
Vasek Pospisil beat top-ranked Andy Murray 6-4 7-6 (4)
Fabio Fognini beat seventh-seeded Jo-Wilfred Tsonga 7-6 (4) 3-6 6-4
Pablo Cuevas beat Albert Ramos Viñolas 6-7 (3) 6-4 6-4 to win the Brasil Open in Sao Paulo, Brazil
“If I pick a handful of great moments in my career, this is definitely one of them. To beat the number one player and somebody as accomplished as Andy, one of the greats of the game, is amazing.” – Vasek Pospisil, after upsetting top-ranked Andy Murray.
“It ain’t over til’ it’s over, and I didn’t see no fat lady singing.” – Venus Williams, who rallied from three match points down to defeat Jelena Jankovic.
“A loss has never felt so good. I’ve never been this upbeat after a loss, so that’s a good sign.” – Ajla Tomljanovic, who lost her first-round match in just her second tournament back after undergoing shoulder surgery a year ago.
“It was very different from previous years. I wasn’t playing really well in the start … I had to turn a few matches around, in the quarterfinals, too, and the match stopped yesterday when I was one set down. But I was strong enough to turn it around and win a third title here.” – Pablo Cuevas, following his winning the Brasil Open for the third consecutive year.
“I had a lot of chances, but it just wasn’t my day.” Albert Ramos-Vinolas, after losing the Brasil Open final to Pablo Cuevas.
“I heard she is struggling with the knees, so I understand. After she won the Australian Open she can take a long time off. She will come back at Roland Garros and she will probably win.” – Simona Halep, on Serena Williams decision to skip both Indian Wells and Miami.
“I know tennis is not your whole life, I know there are so many things in your life that are more important. But at the same time, it’s so precious. The 10 years in your life you can spend like this, look at how many people can do it. I probably appreciate it way more. I’ll never say I hat tennis ever again.” – Ajla Tomljanovic, who is back playing after missing almost a year following shoulder surgery.
“It feels great, it means that I’m pretty old and have been on the tour for a long time. I hope I get the chance to go for 500.” – Philipp Kohlschreiber, after winning his 400th career ATP World Tour match.
“I believe tennis these past years the level raised a lot. All matches are so difficult. It doesn’t matter who is playing. It’s so difficult to win.” – Svetlana Kuznetsova.
Andy Murray continues to have problems in the California desert. The world’s number one-ranked player was shocked in his opening match at the BNP Paribas Open by Canadian qualifier Vasek Pospisil in straight sets. “I don’t know exactly why it is,” Murray said when asked about his poor record at Indian Wells. “I don’t know if it’s the conditions. I really don’t know why I haven’t played my best here over the years.” Murray has reached the BNP Paribas Open semifinal just once in his last eight attempts. Pospisil, whose best results have come in doubles, trailed 2-4 in the opening set when he went on a six-game streak to go up a set and a break. Murray eventually forced a tiebreak, only to have the Canadian take a 6-2 lead. The Scot saved the first three match points before Pospisil closed out the victory with a sharply angled forehand winner. “Of course some thoughts come in, especially in the second set, Pospisil said. “It’s not every day you’re close to beating the number one player in the world.”
Venus Williams staved off three match points and eliminated another former number one player, Jelena Jankovic, 1-6 7-6 (5) 6-1 to advance to the third round at Indian Wells for the first time since 2001. That was the year she and her father were jeered by the crowd when she withdrew from the semifinal against younger sister Serena because of an injury. Williams didn’t return to Indian Wells until last year. The eventual winner played horribly in the beginning, dropping 16 of 18 points on her own serve in the opening set and trailing 4-1 in the second. That’s when everything changed. Still, all three match points came in the 12th game of the second set with Williams serving at 15-40. Jankovic would win only one more game.
The winningest team in men’s doubles history, the Bryan twins, were a first-round casualty in Indian Wells. Nick Kyrgios and Nenad Zimonjic upset the two-time former champions Bob and Mike Bryan 6-4 3-6 10-7 (match tiebreak). Kyrgios is still looking for his first AT World Tour doubles crown, while his 40-year-old partner, Zimonjic, has won 54 tour-level doubles titles. Like the Bryans, Zimonjic is a two-time champion at Indian Wells. The winners fired 13 aces in the match.
Rafael Nadal wants the Davis Cup competition to be played over a two-year period so that the world’s top players will participate. The Spanish star didn’t agree with a change in the format announced last week by the International Tennis Federation (ITF). Under the proposed rules, Davis Cup matches would be best-of-three sets rather than best-of-five. “In my opinion it is not about best-of-three or best-of-five,” Nadal said. “In my opinion, it’s bout we cannot have a Davis Cup champion every year. That devalues the competition. If the top players are not playing very often, then you are making something not good.” To reach the Davis Cup final, a team must play four times in a year. “Davis Cup is a beautiful competition, a very emotional competition,” said Nadal, who has led Spain to three Davis Cup titles. “To maintain that level of emotion, that level of quality of tennis, you need to do the things for the best players. And the best players need to feel comfortable playing every time that Davis Cup is going.” Nadal suggested the international team competition be played over a two-year period with teams playing no more than twice in any one year.
Pablo Cuevas needed an extra day, thanks to rain, but still won his third straight Brasil Open, thanks to an unorthodox maneuver. On his fourth match point, Cuevas hit his second serve underhanded , forcing Albert Ramos Viñolas to scurry from the baseline to retrieve the ball. A clay court specialist, Cuevas won the point to close out the victory. “I was making a lot of double faults,” said Cuevas, who had 12 in the match. “When I prepared to hit that second serve there was a big chance that I would hit a double fault. So I thought about the possibility of the underarm serve, and that it was something I probably shouldn’t do. But I also should not do another double fault. So I just stopped thinking and I did it.” Cuevas is the first player to win three consecutive Brasil Open titles. Nicolas Almagro has won the tournament three times, but only two of his titles were in succession.
Because of a left knee injury, Serena Williams will miss the two major hard-court tournaments held in the United States this month. The withdrawal from the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California, USA, meant Williams would lose her number one ranking to Germany’s Angelique Kerber. Serena has not played since winning the Australian Open in January. “Sadly, I have to withdraw from the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells and the Miami Open,” Williams said. “I have not been able to train due to my knees and am disappointed I cannot be there. Will keep moving forward and continue to be positive. I look forward to being back as soon as I can.”
Eugenie Bouchard is stuck at making early exits from tournaments. Once ranked as high as fifth in the world, Bouchard lost her opening match in three sets to Annika Beck. It is the third time in five tournaments this year that Bouchard has lost in her opener. The Canadian started strongly, taking the opening set before losing 3-6 6-2 6-2. In the third set she won just five points on serve as she was broken four times.
The youngest player in the BNP Paribas Open pulled off a big surprise in her second-round match. Seventeen-year-old Kayla Day, the youngest player ranked in the WTA’s top 200, won the final four games of the match to defeat Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 6-4 5-7 7-5. Seeded 32nd in the hard-court tournament, Lucic-Baroni reached the semifinals of the Australian Open in January. She’s also18 years older than Day, who won the US Open junior girls title last September. Ranked 175th in the world, Day was playing in just her fourth WTA main draw and had won just one WTA main-draw match before Indian Wells. That was when she beat fellow American Madison Brengle in the first round of last year’s US Open. She beat Japan’s Kurumi Nara 6-3 6-4 in the opening round of the BNP Paribas Open.
A first-round loss wasn’t a problem for Ajla Tomljanovic. She’s just happy being back on a tennis court. The 23-year-old Tomljanovic lost 7-5 6-2 to Germany’s Julia Goerges in her opener and just the second tournament back after undergoing shoulder surgery a year ago. “I’d be so unfair to myself to be disappointed in myself at this point,” Tomljanovic said. “Of course you’re disappointed at a loss. You’re a competitive athlete. But it lasted for 30 seconds.” The Croatian has been ranked as high as 47th in the world, back in 2015. The year before she reached the round of 16 at the French Open by beating Agnieszka Radwanska. Then came the injury and surgery. “It just feels like I’ve been away for decades,” she said. This time last year I was supposed to play here and I had surgery when it started. My surgeon told me, ‘You’ll be back next year at that tournament.’ I thought my level, is it ever going to be there again. Just to be here and be competitive with these girls. I’m not far off. It’s the little things now that are important. It’s just encouraging.”
Philipp Kohlschreiber joined an elite group when he won his 400th tour-level career match at the BNP Paribas Open. The third German to win 400 career matches, Kohlschreiber joined the select group when Alexandr Dolgopolov retired with a leg injury early in their second set. The Ukrainian was leading 7-6 (3) 1-1 at the time. “I won most of the 399 before this without a retirement,” Kohlschreiber said. “It was a strange situation, because I saw he wasn’t moving 100 percent, but I wasn’t sure how bad it was. He has a big game and I was fighting back after going down a break in the first set. I maybe wasn’t playing my best tennis, but I was fighting.” Boris Becker and Tommy Haas are the only German players who have won more ATP World Tour matches than Kohlschreiber. The 33-year-old has won seven tournaments in his 17-year career. “They are all special,” Kohlschreiber said of his victories, “but the first win in Munich in 2004 stands out, playing in front of the home crowd and in front of family and friends was especially something special, of course.”
Indian Wells: www.bnpparibasopen.com/en/
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
$7,913,405 BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells, California, USA, hard, second week
$150,000 BMW of Dallas Irving Tennis Classic, Irving, Texas, USA
$6,99,450 BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells, California, USA, hard, second week
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
MEN and WOMEN
Miami Open presented by Itaú, Miami, Florida, USA (first week)