Ok, so who’s the idiot who picked Marin Cilic to the Indian Wells Tennis Masters final? Um, that’s me. You can say I trucked a “Peter Bodo” on that one or that I was suffering from a form of “March Madness”. I am stunned and disappointed by the loss, but at least Marin was honest in the post-match presser.
“Well, it’s tough always these Masters tournaments. You have many good players, no easy matches,” said Cilic after getting pounded 7-6, 6-0 by Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. “I read on Tennis-X Sean Randall pick me to finals. I mean even from a clown like Randall, that type of extra pressure of having to, well, play well at my age can catch up with you. I mean, it weighed me down because draw was nice like he said. Yeah, well, I hope to better live up to expectations from these media and myself in Miami where I will have the uses of 911 Goran.”
Also yesterday, clothed in his new Dunlop duds, Nikolay Davydenko fought off the hot-handed Ernests Gulbis. An impressive win for the Russian who is still dealing with a bad wrist and now a bad right hamstring.
Rafael Nadal also rolled in his return from injury and Novak Djokovic got skunked in the second but won in the end over Mardy Fish in three. Djokovic’s now gone the distance in six of his last seven matches, and he’s now getting bageled by guys outside the Top 100. Are you convinced this guy’s a No. 1 contender? I’m not.
On the women’s side, as I wrote yesterday you can now officially put Ana Ivanovic on the back of a milk carton. The former No. 1 and 2009 Indian Wells runner-up was bounced by Anastasija Sevastova 6-2, 6-4. I said at the start of the year that the WTA starlet could fall outside of the Top 50 if she doesn’t start winning matches soon. Well, she’s lost five of her last six and the result is that she’s now officially out of the Top 50. You have to wonder, How low can she go?
Top seeded Sveta Kuznetsova also got dropped by Carla Suarez-Navarro in three. With the upsets to Sveta and Justine I think it’s safe to say Kim Clijsters is a good bet to walk away with her third IW title six days from now. In fact they should just stop the tournament and give her the title right now.
Moving on to today’s card. Roger Federer makes his long-awaited return. The two Andys, Andy Roddick and Andy Murray, are also in action, plus in what might be the best match of the day, James Blake and David Ferrer will battle. And Nadal is also back for some doubles play – the knees must be good, no?
I will be interested to see how Federer performs. I know it was all in good fun (sort of), but Roger really didn’t look too good Friday night. And after 40 days off some rust shouldn’t be a surprise. So if Victor Hanescu can have a big serving day and push Roger to a couple tiebreaks anything’s possible, especially in the breezy desert. Fed is 11-0 in sets and 4-0 overall against big Romanian.
I also think Zie Zheng could upset Maria Sharapova. Otherwise the top plays should have good days today.
As for the Hit for Haiti fiasco Friday night, it was fun, then awkward and then disappointing from a tennis perspective. The event was successful for the cause and for the $1 million plus money it raised for Haitian relief efforts, but the takeaway was unfortunately all the bad blood bubbling up between Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras.
The showman Agassi, so accustomed to bringing down the house, this time brought down the event with his endless stream of banter, his low-brow jokes and his repeated mocking of his chief rival, Sampras. Agassi of course is highly, and rightfully, praised for running a school where he teaches kids respect, honor and class. But it sounds like the master needs to enroll in his own school and learn some things. Let’s just hope Federer-Nadal doesn’t dissolve to this level some day.
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