Maiello: Defeat the Press
Miami Fans Mistakenly Chant "Let's Go Eat" During Playoff Game
In Spring are two American tennis tournaments, each of which likes to be known as the fifth major. Both include both the men's and women's tours at the same time, which does give them the feel of a major, but they have 96 player fields instead of 128, and offer 1000 ranking points to the winners instead of 2000. Still, they're big tournaments.
The Indian Wells Masters, now officially called the BNP Paribas Open, was the Pacific Life Open (with lots of whale ads) from 2002 to 2008, and has had almost a dozen names over the last 38 years. I associate Banque Nationale de Paris and BNP Paribas with the French Open at Roland Garros, but BNP Paribas is now the largest bank in the world, so I guess they can sponsor a tournament anywhere. The Miami Masters, or Sony Ericsson Open, started out many names ago as the Lipton, and is often just called Key Biscayne. Larry Ellis of Oracle now owns the Indian Wells event, and former top ten player Butch Buchholz started the Key Biscayne event.
Indian Wells started last week. Tennis Channel announcers said there was a bout of flu going through the draw, and there have been several withdrawals and a few upsets already, but first lets talk about Dubai. New #1 Victoria Azarenka is undefeated this year, 18-0, or something, but pulled out of the Dubai Duty Free Championships early with an injury. I thought that might be the start of #4 Caroline Wozniacki's promised march back to the number one ranking, but #15 Julia Görges took her out in the semis. The Tennis Channel spelled it Goerges, but I called her Gorgeous Julia just to annoy my wife. The rather plain #5 Agnieszka Radwańska then beat Görges in the final.
A week later at the men's tournament in Dubai, #4 Andy Murray beat #1 Novak Djokovic in the semis, and lost a close final to #3 Roger Federer. Even though Murray lost to Fed, Ivan Lendl's coaching seemed to have imbued him with a new resolve and a more dangerous forehand.
So at Indian Wells, Murray came out, and lost his first match 6-4, 6-2 to #92 Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, a former #25 who is no slouch, but who he was expected to beat. “There obviously was a reason behind why I didn’t play well, and I’ll find that reason and address it,” Murray said to interviewers, but I thought the reason was obvious.
Murray had been hitting the open forehand, in which you pivot your weight to generate the power behind the stroke, but Lendl is teaching Murray a new power forehand:
"If you watch what it was like before and what it is like now, it is pretty major," the 24-year-old Scot said. "It's not a major change but when you look at it, it's very different in terms of the way that I am moving my feet. "This week I have been hitting it really, really well and hopefully I can keep that up. It makes a big difference, especially going into the clay court season because it's probably one of the most important shots on clay. "I never used to make that many mistakes on my forehand, it's just a bigger weapon now than it was before and that's important, to keep developing weapons in different ways to win points and shorten points as well ... the more free points you can get, the less toll matches are going to take on your body."
It isn't easy to change a groundstroke, though. Whatever worked well against Djokovic wasn't there when he struggled against Garcia-Lopez. In one quote, Murray complained about choosing between his safe loopy forehand and his new powerful forehand—during the match. Murray can't be thinking about that on a conscious level. He has to know what sort of forehand he's going to hit as soon as he has some idea where the next ball will be going.
The Tennis Channel's popcorn special featured #3 Petra Kvitova against #35, 19 y.o. American Christina McHale. Kvitova just pounded through McHale in the first set, 6-2. Then Kvitova started missing and McHale had the tall woman on the run. I was wondering if it was a mental lapse, until they showed Kvitova sucking on an inhaler. Petra had contracted a stomach virus in Doha, and dropped out of the Qatar Open and Dubai. McHale won 2-6, 6-2, 6-3. Kvitova has never done well in the states, so she probably wasn't defending many points, but she didn't defend her Paris Indoors title this year, either. So she may drop from #3. And to top it off she pulled out of the doubles with the Indian Wells flu.
#8 Mardy Fish lost to journeyman Matthew Ebden 6-3, 6-4. Fish lost a key point after shouting "C'Mon!" before his opponent had actually hit the ball, and came off a bit whiny as he argued for a let instead of a penalty. This was his tenth loss in fourteen matches, and he hasn't beaten anyone impressive in 2012; I wonder if his run is over.
#31 Andy Roddick pulled out the second set, but lost to Thomas Berdych in three. As the commenters noted, Roddick has only one finishing shot against Berdych—his serve. Once the point was in play, Berdych was generally in control. Roddick also came off a bit whiny as he argued that he had indicated he wanted a replay by sort of pointing up.
Indian Wells wraps up this Sunday, and Key Biscayne starts the day after.