By Bob Greene
Rafael Nadal beat Juan Martin del Potro 4-6 6-3 6-4 to win the men’s singles at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California, USA
Maria Sharapova beat Caroline Wozniacki 6-2 6-2 to win the BNP Paribas Open women’s singles in Indian Wells, California, USA
Jurgen Melzer beat Denis Kudla 6-4 2-6 6-1 to win the Dallas Tennis Classic in Dallas, Texas, USA
Stefan Edberg beat John McEnroe 6-4 6-3 to win the Kings of Tennis by Index International in Stockholm, Sweden
“I believe we have a magic generation of players today and they are better than we were. Now is probably the greatest tennis era ever.” – Stephan Edberg.
“A lot of things happened the last seven months, (so) to be back here and to have this very heavy trophy with me is amazing. Beating three Top 10 players and winning a title like this is just something unbelievable for me. I’m very, very happy and very emotional.” – Rafael Nadal, who captured the Indian Wells men’s singles crown.
“I think Rafa deserved to win. The last hour of the match, he played so solid and put me so far (from) the baseline and made winners. But I think I (had) a good tournament anyway, and Rafa played really well today in the second and third sets.” – Juan Martin del Potro, who lost to Rafael Nadal in the Indian Wells final.
“I really appreciate these moments. This is what I do all the work for. When you have days like this … it’s a really nice feeling because everything has paid off.” – Maria Sharapova, after winning the Indian Wells women’s singles title.
“I tried to do my best out there, but, yeah, it just wasn’t good enough today. I didn’t feel like I was playing poorly. I felt like I was playing pretty good tennis out there.” – Caroline Wozniacki, following her loss to Maria Sharapova.
“With Bjorn (Borg) there in the crowd, it feels so special. He is an inspiration to all Swedish tennis players and I am very proud to have won this title with him watching.” – Stefan Edberg, after winning a senior tournament in Stockholm, Sweden.
“Stefan played amazing, he deserves this title. I felt like I had my chances out there, I had a couple of good runs. But then I got a little bit tight, and the next thing I knew I was battling again. But that’s the way it goes. I gave it my best.” – John McEnroe, following his loss to Stefan Edberg.
“It’s really tough. Those four guys are making history in every Grand Slam and every big tournament they play. Me, and a few others like (Tomas) Berdych, (Jo-Wilfried) Tsonga and (David) Ferrer are trying to get into that big group, but it’s not easy. They are playing so well and you can see in almost every Grand Slam the top four are in the semifinals.” – Juan Martin del Potro, talking about Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal.
After winning a record-breaking 22nd ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title, Rafael Nadal has decided to skip this week’s Sony Open Tennis in Miami, Florida, USA. Nadal missed seven months with a left knee injury, and only returned to the tour last month. He played three clay court tournaments, reaching the final in all three and winning the last two, before winning a hard court title in Indian Wells, California, USA. The Sony Open will also be played on hard court. “We are disappointed to hear the news that Rafael Nadal will not be competing in Miami this year, especially given his strong results since his return to the Tour,” Sony Open tournament director Adam Barrett said in a statement. “He is a tremendous ambassador for the game and has thousands of adoring fans here in South Florida. We wish him well and hope to see him back in Miami next year.”
Rafa is back. The Spanish left-hander won his third straight tournament, this time on hard court, when he rallied to beat Juan Martin del Potro in the BNP Paribas Open final. It was a record-break 22nd ATP Masters title and his third at Indian Wells. Nadal also joined Roger Federer as the only active ATP players to have 600 match wins as he captured his 53rd career crown. Posting a record of 17-1 since he returned from a seven-month injury layoff, Nadal has racked up his best season start. It didn’t look that good for Nadal as his Argentine opponent won the opening set and took a 2-0 lead in the second. “I started the match playing fantastic, and then del Potro started playing a little more aggressive,” said Nadal. “When I was able to calm myself, I began to play better.” Del Potro had gained a berth in the final after upsetting world number three Andy Murray and top-ranked Novak Djokovic. Nadal eliminated his archrival Roger Federer in a quarterfinal.
Maria Sharapova hadn’t won a title since Roland Garros last spring. That changed on the hard courts of Indian Wells when she took apart former world number one Carolina Wozniacki in the women’s final of the BNP Paribas Open. The 25-year-old Russian needed one hour, 21 minutes to grab the victory. “What makes it so special is when you end up as the champion, that’s why I am smiling,” said Sharapova, who has now won at least one WTA title each year since 2003. “The score line looks a lot easier than I think the match actually was. It was a tough match, a tough battle, and there were a lot of games that went to deuce and a lot of long games. They could have easily swung the other way, especially some opportunities she had in that second set. But I always felt like I was always a foot ahead.”
John McEnroe was an interloper in Stefan Edberg’s homeland this year, and the Swede made him pay for it. With Bjorn Borg in the stands watching, Edberg defeated McEnroe 6-4 6-3 in the final of the Kings of Tennis by Index International. It was Edberg’s first ATP Champions Tour title since 2010. The Stockholm crowd was treated to some exhilarating tennis as both McEnroe and Edberg are serve-and-volley masters. “I am so thrilled with this title,” Edberg said. “That was such a close match. There were moments when I felt it could get away from me, so I’m so pleased to come through.” Both finalists were thrilled that former world number one Bjorn Borg was in the audience for the title match. “This was such a special night, being watched by my great pal Bjorn, Mats (Wilander), all these guys that are my idols and my friends,” the American left-hander said. “The only thing that wasn’t great about tonight was that I didn’t win.” Despite the loss, McEnroe moves to the top of the Champions Tour rankings after reaching the final of the first two events of the year.
There were no matches underway at the time, but when a 4.7 magnitude earthquake struck near Indian Wells, California, USA, it affected the players at the BNP Paribas Open. “I didn’t know how long it was going to last, if it was going to get worse from there, or if the worst was already past,” said Roger Federer, who ran out of the house where he was staying. “It was a very strange feeling to have because you see the windows shaking and you look up and realize you’re under a structure. It was quite scary for a second there.” Rafael Nadal agreed. “I was very scared, said the Spaniard, who was on a massage table when the quake hit. “I think the massage table moves even worse.” Nadal didn’t have to worry about his match against Leonard Mayer of Argentina. Mayer withdrew because of a back injury not related to the earthquake.
Austria’s Jurgen Melzer decided to play an ATP Challenger event while most of the big names were in Indian Wells, California. Melzer figures he made the right choice, winning both the singles and doubles of the Dallas Tennis Classic in Dallas, Texas, USA. Currently ranked 48th in the world, Melzer defeated American qualifier Denis Kudla 6- 2-6 6-1 for his first title since winning Memphis, Tennessee, USA, last year. “I refocused (after losing the second set) and I told myself it’s a maximum 45 minutes of focus now, and I got off to a very good start,” Melzer said. “In the end, while I think I didn’t play my best tennis for two sets, I was pretty happy with the third set.” Less than an hour later, Melzer returned to the court with Philipp Petzschner to win the doubles, beating Eric Butorac and Dominic Inglot 6-3 6-1. Melzer and Petzschner won the Wimbledon doubles in 2010 and the US Open in 2012.
STOPS SKID AGAINST SERB
All things must eventually come to an end, including Novak Djokovic’s winning streak. When Juan Martin del Potro upset the top-ranked Djokovic in the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open, it was the Serb’s first loss in 21 matches, dating back to last October when he fell to Sam Querrey at the Paris Masters. The victory also snapped del Potro’s four-match losing streak against Djokovic, who now leads in their career head-to-head meeting 8-3. “He deserved to win because he was more composed in the important moments and he played the right shots,” Djokovic said. “He stepped into the court, where on the other side I made a lot of unforced errors and was at the back of the court too passive.”
Martina Hingis will play World TeamTennis (WTT) this summer with the Washington Kastles. The team announced Hingis will join it on July 15, two days after she is enshrined in the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island, USA. For the last two years, Hingis has played for the New York Sportimes and is the reigning female MVP of the league. Her teammates with the Kastles include Venus Williams. The Kastles have won the last two WTT titles, going undefeated both times.
Although they haven’t set a date, tennis player Maria Kirilenko and hockey star Alex Ovechkin are talking wedding plans. “Now it’s a little bit difficult because I’m playing and Alex is playing,” Kirilenko said. “’We are just in the period of talking what’s the best. We will find the right day.” The Russian couple used his Twitter account to announce their engagement on New Year’s Day.
It was the kind of day tournament directors dread. In a bizarre coincidence, top-seeded Victoria Azarenka and seventh-seeded Samantha Stosur withdrew with leg injuries from their quarterfinals matches at the BNP Paribas Open. Azarenka pulled out with an inflamed right ankle after Stosur had withdrawn earlier in the day with a calf injury. Azarenka was the defending champion of the Indian Wells event and also won the Australian Open earlier this year. Stosur won the US Open in 2011.
The chief executive of the governing body of British tennis is stepping down. Roger Draper said he is leaving the Lawn Tennis Association after seven years in the position. “Now is the right time for me to hand over the baton to a new leader who can build on what has been achieved in recent years,” said Draper, who noted British tennis “is entering a very exciting phrase.” Andy Murray is the US Open champion – Britain’s first male to win a Grand Slam tournament singles title since Fred Perry in 1936 – while two British women, Heather Watson and Laura Robson, are ranked in the top 50.
Dallas: Jurgen Melzer and Philipp Petzschner beat Eric Butorac and Dominic Inglot 6-3 6-1
Indian Wells (men): Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan beat Treat Huey and Jerzy Janowicz 6-3 3-6 10-6 (match tiebreak)
Indian Wells (women): Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina beat Nadia Petrova and Katarina Srebotnik 6-0 5-7 10-6 (match tiebreak)
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
$5,244,125 Sony Open Tennis, Miami, Florida, USA, hard (first week)
$5,185,625 Sony Open Tennis, Miami, Florida, USA, hard (first week)
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$5,244,125 Sony Open Tennis, Miami, Florida, USA, hard (second week)
$100,000 Orange Guadeloupe Challenger, Le Gosier, Guadeloupe, hard
$5,185,625 Sony Open Tennis, Miami, Florida, USA, hard (second week)