Mondays with Bob Greene
Roger Federer beat Stan Wawrinka 6-4 7-5 to win the BNP Paribas Open men’s singles in Indian Wells, California, USA
Elena Vesnina beat Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4 (6) 7-5 6-4 to win the BNP Paribas Open women’s singles in Indian Wells, California, USA
Aljaz Bedene beat Mikhail Kukushkin 6-4 3-6 6-1 to win the BMW of Dallas Irving Tennis Classic in Irving, Texas
“This has been a fairytale week once again. I’m still on the comeback.” – Roger Federer, after winning the BNP Paribas Open.
“I think nobody could pick me at the beginning of the tournament that I could win this title. Me, also. I couldn’t pick myself.” – Elena Vesnina, who won the BNP Paribas Open women’s singles.
“I gotta be positive. I made finals here, and that’s great. I lost a match which I should have won, but this is tennis. Nobody died, so I move on, and I’m on a good way. I’m playing better. I’m winning lots of matches in a good way, in two sets. I’m really positive.” – Svetlana Kuznetsova, after losing the Indian Wells women’s singles final to Elena Vesnina.
“If you look at most of the matches, like (Nick) Kyrgios against (Novak) Djokovic or you name it, there is not that many long rallies unless both players really want it. When one guy doesn’t want to have long rallies, you can bail out with big serves, big shots.” – Roger Federer, explaining why he felt his quick victory over Rafael Nadal was physically easy.
“I want to play these big events. I don’t want to be at home watching. I’m putting the work in.” – Venus Williams, after losing to Elena Vesnina.
“He obviously comes out playing his style, very aggressive, and just going for every serve, whether it’s first or second. It’s obviously very hard to play like that.” – Novak Djokovic, explaining how he has lost to Nick Kyrgios in their last two meetings.
“Tennis is awesome, I can say.” – Elena Vesnina, after winning the women’s singles at Indian Wells.
“We’re not celebrated as two women with completely different backgrounds who have created incredible opportunities for ourselves and our families. Instead, we are ranked against each other for our differences, our game, our earnings.” – Maria Sharapova, talking about herself and Serena Williams.
Stan Wawrinka was able to put a few roadblocks in the way, but he couldn’t stop Roger Federer’s remarkable return to the ATP World Tour. The 35-year-old Federer produced some of the best tennis of his career to win the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells for the fifth time, stopping Wawrinka in straight sets. That draws Federer even with Novak Djokovic as he became the oldest winner of a Masters 1000 event. And the way Federer won his 90th career crown could mean the Swiss master could add more titles. Wawrinka played his normal powerful game, forcing play and converting his chances. It just was that Federer was playing on a little higher level, ripping backhand winners from all over the court and closing out points with sharp volleys. Still, Wawrinka broke Federer for the first time in the tournament, then held for a 2-0 lead to start the second set. It was a short-lived lead as Federer won the next three games before breaking his countryman in the 12th game to capture the title. “I came here for the first time 17 years ago,” Federer told the crowd. “So, to be here again as the champion is an amazing feeling.”
STARRING IN THE DESERT
Elena Vesnina surprised even herself. “I won the title, and this sounds like a miracle for everybody, for you guys, for me, for, I think, all the girls out there,” the champion said after outlasting fellow Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova in three sets. “I knew that Svetlana was the favorite of the match,” Vesnina said. “I didn’t care. I just wanted this title so much.” And she deserved it. On her way to the final, Vesnina also ousted Angelique Kerber and Venus Williams. After winning the first-set tiebreak, Kuznetsova grabbed a 4-1 lead in the second set, only to have Vesnina win seven of the next eight games to level the match at a set each and lead 1-0 in the third. Again, Kuznetsova moved ahead, leading 4-2 before losing the next four games. “I tried my best and she won because she was more aggressive,” Kuznetsova said. “I was too passive. That’s it.” It was the first time Vesnina had made it past the third round in singles at Indian Wells. Last year, the 30-year-old lost in the first round of qualifying. “I was not afraid to lose, you know, maybe for the whole match,” Vesnina said. “I was just trying to play.”
Playing in just their third tournament as a team, Martina Hingis and Chan Yung-Jan stopped Lucie Hradecka and Katerina Siniakova in straight sets to win their first title. “For (our) first two tournaments in the Middle East, we were trying,” Chan said. “We know each other as opponent. We didn’t know how to work together, and we spent a lot of time on court, off court, try to know each other and try to build up the trust between each other. I think those two tournaments, even though we didn’t win the title or didn’t get into the final, but still help us a lot. I think that’s key. … Those two tournaments help us a lot here.” Hingis and Chan converted all seven break points chances. Hradecka and Siniakova also were playing just their third tournament as a team.
The highly-anticipated clash between Roger Federer and Nick Kyrgios turned out to be a disappointing nothing. That’s because hours before their quarterfinal match was scheduled to begin, Kyrgios withdrew because of illness. “At this stage we think it’s food poisoning, and I’m praying it’s nothing more,” the 21-year-old Australian said in a statement. “After a restless night of being sick I have nothing left, and to play a great champion like Roger, I need to be at my best to have a chance. I don’t take this decision lightly, these are the matches we train for, but I’m in no fit state to take to the court.” Kyrgios had upset defending champion Novak Djokovic in the fourth round, while Federer had advanced to the quarterfinals by crushing Rafael Nadal in straight sets.
Because of injuries, the top two ranked men and the Australian Open women’s champion will miss the upcoming Miami Open Masters. Top-ranked Andy Murray won’t be going for the title he won in 2009 and 2013. “Sadly, due to a right elbow injury, I won’t be playing in Miami,” Murray said in a statement. “The focus is on getting ready for the clay-court season.”
Novak Djokovic, ranked second in the world, also withdrew because of a right elbow injury. The Serb right-hander said the injury has bothered him for months and worsened in the past week. Djokovic has won the Miami event six times, including last year when he beat Japan’s Kei Nishikori in the final.
Eight-time Miami champion Serena Williams will skip the tournament because of a left knee injury. Williams has not played since she won the year’s first Grand Slam tournament in January, giving her 23 major career titles.
Roger Federer came from behind to edge Rafael Nadal in the fifth set of the Australian Open final in January. This time, the two met in the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open and it was no contest. Federer seemingly could do anything he wanted as he blasted his Spanish opponent off the court 6-2 6-3 in a match that wasn’t as close as the score indicated. It was the first time Federer had defeated Nadal in three consecutive matches in their careers. The last time Nadal beat Federer was in the Australian Open semifinals in 2014. “It’s a nice feeling to win the last three, I can tell you that,” Federer said. “But most importantly, I won Australia. That was big for me. On the comeback, I look back at that and think that was one of the coolest things I ever experienced in my career.” Nadal was quick to admit he wasn’t on the same level as Federer this time. “In Australia, it was a very close match. I had good chances to win,” Nadal said. “Today, not. Today he played better than me.”
Novak Djokovic’s match winning streak at the BNP Paribas Open ended at 19 when he fell to huge-serving Nick Kyrgios 6-4 7-6 (3). It was the second time in three weeks that the Australian had knocked off Djokovic. The Serb had won the Indian Wells tournament the past three years. “The run was amazing. I am very proud of it, obviously,” Djokovic said. “It had to end at some stage. Unfortunately, it was today. Nick, again, as he did in Acapulco earlier, few weeks ago, he served so well. Just wasn’t managing to get a lot of balls back on his serve, first and second, as well. That’s what made a difference.”
SET FOR TENNIS
Venus Williams knows right where she wants to be – a winner on the tennis court. “Of course, winning rounds gives you the opportunity to be closer to the winner’s circle,” the 36-year-old American said after losing a three-set quarterfinal match to Elena Vesnina. “That’s always the goal. It’s never fun to fall short. But, you know, I gave my all.” Williams was diagnosed with Sjögren’s Syndrome in 2011, a disease that is energy-sapping. Yet she continues to not only compete, but has once again become a force in women’s tennis, reaching the Australian Open final in January where she fell to her younger sister, Serena. “I want to win 6-0 6-0,” said Venus, who played with one thigh heavily strapped. “But it builds character and builds wonderful memories, of course. I would just like to be healthy just like the next human being. You beat your body up in sport, and I want to play these big events. I don’t want to be at home watching. It’s frustrating either way, not to be 100 percent or to watch at home. Which one do you choose? I choose to be here. That was my choice. I gave it my best today, and I’m looking forward to playing her again, hopefully healthy and 100 percent, and will have an opportunity to really show what I can do in these kind of matches.”
SHARAPOVA TO RETURN
Maria Sharapova knows that the 15-month doping ban she received has damaged her reputation. The ban ends next month and she will return to the WTA tour at the Stuttgart Open. The former world number one tested positive for the banned substance meldonium at last year’s Australian Open and was originally banned from the sport for two years. After an appeal, the Court of Arbitration for Sport reduced the ban by nine months. “I have expectations of myself because I know what I’m capable of,” Sharapova said. “Will I have those standards? Of course. Will I have to be patient? It’s not my greatest strength.” Several players have disapproved of the fact Sharapova will be allowed to play in a tournament that starts two days before her ban ends. She is scheduled to play her first-round match on a Wednesday, the first day she is allowed to be present in a tennis stadium.
Novak Djokovic won his 300th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 match when he beat Juan Martin del Potro in the third round at Indian Wells. The 29-year-old Serbian joins Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal as the only players who have reached that level.
Enrique Morea, twice a semifinalist at Roland Garros who went on to serve five terms as president of the Argentina Tennis Association (AAT), is dead. He was 92. Morea reached the final four in Paris in 1953 and 1954. In 1950, he teamed with America Barbara Scofield Davidson to win the Roland Garros mixed doubles title. The native of Buenos Aires also served as Davis Cup captain and refereed three Davis Cup finals, in 1972, 1976 and 1979.
Dan Lucas, who joined the WTA Networks in January, has died at the age of 31. Before joining the WTA editorial team in London, Lucas had worked for two London newspapers, the Guardian and the Telegraph, as musical websites Louder Than War and Drowned In Sound. A native of Northampton in the English Midlands, Lucas was living in London at the time of his death.
Indian Wells (men): Raven Klaasen ad Rajeev Ram beat Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo 6-7 (1) 6-4 10-8 (match tiebreak)
Indian Wells (women): Martina Hingis and Chan Yung-Jan beat Lucie Hradecka and Katerina Siniakova 7-6 (4) 6-2
Irving: Marcus Daniell and Marcello Demoliner beat Oliver Marach and Fabrice Martin 6-3 6-4
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
MEN and WOMEN
Miami Open presented by Itaú, Miami, Florida, USA (first week)
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
MEN and WOMEN
Miami Open presented by Itaú, Miami, Florida, USA (second week)