By Bob Greene
BNP Paribas Open
Kevin Anderson beat fourth-seeded David Ferrer 3-6 6-4 6-3
Ernests Gulbis beat ninth-seeded Janko Tipsarevic 6-2 6-0
“Today, more than any result, any victory is important because that gives me the chance to play another day. That’s what I need, to play matches. I need to compete.” – Rafael Nadal, who is playing his first hard-court tournament since returning to the ATP World Tour after missing seven months with a knee injury.
“I only just saw him yesterday after my practice. I was really excited to see him again. We hadn’t had much contact. I think he wanted to get away from it all, which I really understand.” – Roger Federer, noting the return of Rafael Nadal to the ATP World Tour.
“Of course I am disappointed because I lost my first match, but this is tennis. It’s impossible to win always.” – David Ferrer, after losing to Kevin Anderson.
“I have great memories from 2011. That was by far my most successful year in the career. But it’s very early still to say what’s going to happen, so I don’t want to predict anything. My mindset will stay the same, and that is to enjoy the moment, to be in the moment, to try to do my best in the present, take it step by step and then see how far I can go.” – Novak Djokovic.
“I had no pressure. She (Jelena Jankovic) is seeded; ‘’m not seeded. I have no pressure this year at all. Overall I was thinking that I don’t want to have any pressure in my life, that I feel much better without pressure. I will try to keep things this way, but I always think when I come on the court it’s going to depend on me and on my game. I was pretty bad in the first set, but I managed to change it. So I’m pretty happy with it, but I have to change the start.” – Svetlana Kuznetsova, following her second-round victory over Jelena Jankovic.
“Obviously for me the priorities are the Slams and Davis Cup. I try and pride myself on playing well in those matches.” – Lleyton Hewitt, after upsetting John Isner.
“It’s been a tough few months, for sure. You sort of feel like it was a win just to go back out there. There’s a lot of people that have sort of dealt with what I’ve dealt with and not come back. It’s nice to just play, first and foremost, and then you get out there and you want to win.” – Mardy Fish, who played – and won – his first competitive match since he was sidelined last September with a heart condition.
“The score was 6-3 6-1 in the end, but for sure it wasn’t that easy a match. Many of the points were very long and she’s a very strong player. It was a much tougher match than the score.” – Sara Errani, after beating Johanna Larsson.
“She’s got a big game. Her forehand is massive and she’s got a very big serve. She’s just got to put all the pieces together. She’s only 18. I think she’s got a lot of potential. She has those big weapons that win these big matches.” – Samantha Stosur, talking about 18-year-old American Madison Keys.
“Once I started being a little bit more aggressive I felt like I had an edge on her. She’s a tough first round, that’s for sure. She likes those center court matches. She lives in those opportunities. She makes you hit so many balls and she has such a great slice. But, again, that’s when she has time to do all that. I try to take that away from her, right from the beginning.” – Maria Sharapova, after being Francesca Schiavone.
Rafael Nadal holds an 18-10 head-to-head advantage over Roger Federer. Yet it was Federer who expressed how happy he was that his Spanish rival has returned to the ATP World Tour after recovering from injuries. “I was really happy to see him doing so well in Acapulco,” Federer said of Nadal, who won the Mexican clay court event. “It’s great to see him here playing on the hard courts. I’m hoping to catch up with him this week.” Federer is the defending champion at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California, USA. If both continue to win, they would meet in the quarterfinals of the hard-court tournament. Federer has gotten off to a rocky start in 2013. He lost in the semifinals of the Australian Open to Andy Murray, fell to Julien Benneteau in the quarterfinals at Rotterdam and was ousted by Tomas Berdych in the semifinals at Dubai. “Dubai was a bit unfortunate, losing with three match points and having to explain the loss when you feel you should be preparing for the final,” Federer said. “What happened, happened. I’m playing fine. Obviously I hoped to have won a tournament by now, but I’m happy with my game.”
Martina Hingis, who won five Grand Slam tournament singles titles, headlines the newest members of the International Tennis Hall of Fame. The Swiss star is joined in the tennis shrine by broadcaster Cliff Drysdale, promoter Charlie Pasarell, master player Thelma Coyne Long and contributor Ion Tiriac. Now 32 years old, Hingis was 16 when she won the Australian Open and Wimbledon. In all, she won a total of 15 Grand Slam tournament titles, including nine major doubles and one mixed doubles. She won three straight Australian Open singles titles and added Wimbledon and the US Open to her trophy case. He was a finalist at the French Open in 1999, losing to Steffi Graf, and led the Swiss team in 1998 to its only Fed Cup title. Drysdale, who was a player during the 1960s and 1970s, helped found the ATP and served as its first president. He later became a broadcaster. Pasarell, also an ATP co-founder, was a past director and managing partner of the tournament in Indian Wells, California, USA. Tiriac played Davis Cup for 15 years, helping lead Romania to the finals three times. After his playing days he has held numerous roles, including coach, player manager and tournament promoter. Long, now 94, won to Australian singles titles among her 19 Grand Slam tournament trophies, including doubles and mixed doubles from the 1930s to the 1950s. The Class of 2013 will be inducted on July 13 in Newport, Rhode Island, USA.
Lleyton Hewitt might not win any more Grand Slam tournaments, but he still remains a threat on the ATP World Tour. The 32-year-old Australian knocked off big-serving John Isner in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California, USA, shocking the American 6-7 (6) 6-3 6-4. “It’s nice to beat a big name,” Hewitt said. “John’s obviously a tough match for anyone to play, and especially coming off a good result here last year.” In 2012, Isner reached the final on the hard court at Indian Wells. “It’s good just to know you’re thereabouts,” said the Australian. “I feel like I have been hitting the ball pretty well in practice. Down in Australia I hit the ball well. … It’s just a matter of getting matches under my belt.”
SIGNED UP FOR QUEENS CLUB
In a bid to prepare for Wimbledon, Tomas Berdych will play the warm-up grass court event at Queens Club for the first time in eight years. “I think it could be a good advantage to be in London to get used to the conditions and to those great courts, and I think this is exactly what I need before Wimbledon,” said Berdych, who reached the Wimbledon final three years ago, where he lost to Rafael Nadal. Berdych is returning to Queen’s Club on the advice of his new manager, Ivan Ljubicic. “He only played Queen’s once before and I thought he should change that,” Ljubicic said. “Traveling is tiring. If a player stays in London and gets used to London grass – and the Queen’s Club courts are the closest to the courts at Wimbledon – it can only be a good thing. I think it’s the best preparation for Wimbledon.” Also signed up for the Aegon Championships, which will be held in June, is US Open champion Andy Murray.
It was a chilly day, so Svetlana Kuznetsova decided to wear pants in her second-round match against 18th-seeded Jelena Jankovic. Bad move. “For me it’s very difficult to play in cold weather because even when I tried to play in the long tight pants in the first set, I cannot,” the Russian said. “I think I can do it every time I go and try, and I know I cannot. I can practice in them without problem, but when I have matches I always start to lose. I have to take them off and then all the things changes.” Kuznetsova dropped the opening set at love before making her wardrobe change. Then it was her Serbian opponent who got iced, Kuznetsova winning 0-6 6-2 7-5. “I don’t think I started to win because of my pants, but still I was not moving. I just had to change things,” she said “They are very tight, so they were kind of pushing my stomach and I was not so much comfortable. It was not bothering me like so much, but after I took it off I was feeling a little bit looser. So it’s a little bit funny. Yeah, it’s just the pants, but I don’t blame them. I mean, it’s all because of me.”
STRENGTHENS DRUG PROGRAM
The sport of tennis is adopting the biological passport program and increasing the number of blood tests it will perform. It’s all part of an anti-doping drive that the players have demanded. The International Tennis Federation (ITF) said the measures will go into effect this year on both the men’s and women’s tours in an effort to ensure the game is clean. The biological passport tracks a player’s blood profile over time, looking for any changes that might indicate doping. The system is already used for track and field and cycling and has resulted in sanctions against athletes without positive results. The program was announced after a meeting of an anti-doping group comprised of officials from the ITF, ATP, WTA and the four Grand Slam tournaments. The ITF said all the bodies expressed “’unified support’” for the program.
SEES NO PROBLEM
Admitting he may be naïve, Pete Sampras said he believes performance-enhancing drugs have not been a problem in tennis. “It’s just my feeling,” Sampras said following an exhibition match in Los Angeles, California, USA. “I don’t think players are that sophisticated in tennis. It’s not their culture. I don’t think it’s in their nature.” All top players are subject to being tested without warning. An admission in January by Lance Armstrong that he used banned substances in all seven of his Tour de France cycling victories has increased the focus on doping in all sports. Last month the International Tennis Federation (ITF) suspended Barbora Zahlavova Strycova of the Czech Republic for six months for doping after she tested positive for the stimulant sibutramine at a tournament last fall. Denying she took the drug to enhance her performance, the Czech said it got into her system through a supplement. “It’s a random case here or there,” Sampras said. “I don’t see the top guys messing around with that. Maybe I’m naïve.”
Indian Wells: www.bnpparibasopen.com
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
$4,330,625 BNP Paribas Open, hard, Indian Wells, California, USA (second week)
$5,185,625 BNP Paribas Open, hard, Indian Wells, California, USA (second week)
Kings of Tennis by Index International, hard, Stockholm, Sweden
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$5,244,125 Sony Open Tennis, hard, Miami, Florida, USA
$5,185,625 Sony Open Tennis, hard, Miami, Florida, USA