The last two quarterfinal matches on the men's side will be played later today in Miami at the Sony Ericsson Open. First up, Roger Federer (SUI) will take on Gilles Simon (FRA). Federer has a losing record (1-2) against Simon, but he won their last meeting -- a match that went the distance at the Australian Open this year. It looks like this match will be on Rogers Sportsnet One, starting at 3PM ET. But they won't be taking the court until the Petkovic vs Sharapova match is over. As it stands now, Petkovic won the first set, but Sharapova is up 4-0 in the second. This one may go three sets, so the TV coverage will probably be late starting.
In the other quarterfinal tonight, No.7 seed Tomas Berdych (CZE) will be playing top seed Rafael Nadal (ESP). These two have a more storied head-to-head history than Federer and Simon, but Berdych hasn't beaten Nadal since 2006. This match will also be on Rogers Sportsnet One, as well as on the Ontario and Pacific regional stations (which means HD for me!) starting at 7PM ET.
Sharapova is currently up 5-0 in the second set, and has a break point chance for a bagel...
UPDATE: Simon retired after dropping his first 2 service games, citing waking up with a sore neck and having difficulty moving. Sharapova got her bagel, and ultimately won the match.
The first two quarterfinal matches are set to go at the Sony Ericsson Open today. This afternoon, No.6 seed David Ferrer (ESP) will take on No.14 seed Mardy Fish (USA), who has been on a roll as of late. Fish dealt with a surging Juan Martin Del Potro in straight sets yesterday, and is looking to become the top ranked American if he can pull off win over Ferrer today. Veteran Andy Roddick will drop to No.14-15 after losing in the second round of the tournament.
Fish will likely have to be aggressive and come to net often in order to challenge Ferrer's serve. It's usually safe to assume that Ferrer will play solid defense and give up very few free points when returning. Fish will probably have to grind out some of service games.
In the night match, Kevin Anderson (RSA) will have his hands full No.2 seed Novak Djokovic (SRB). Anderson came through the section of the draw that saw early exits by seeds Andy Murray and Fernando Verdasco. As for Novak, he sailed comfortably through his matches in the previous rounds rarely allowing his opponents to hold on to their own serve.
What can be said about this match? Djokovic is not only unbeaten so far this season, he actually looks unbeatable when he plays. But Anderson may not be a total write-off -- he defeated Djokovic in Miami a few years ago in a three set match. Given that interesting historical tidbit, this is not the Djokovic of old. He has been dismantling his opponents with devastating precision all year. I don't expect there to be an upset tonight.
More on these matches here.
I wasn't able to watch today's match (glad to have the live scores ticker), but it was pretty clear that Raonic didn't get off to a great start against Somdev Devvarman in Miami. In this article, Raonic himself admits that he come out a little flat and just wasn't able to recover.
“I was trying to overcome a lot of things,” [Raonic] said. “I wasn’t playing my best, I wasn’t feeling the ball.
“I was trying to just squeeze by. I wanted to win today and use tomorrow to get better and play better Sunday. But that didn’t happen. He played well. It was not the greatest match but I was there fighting as much as I could today.”
And fight he did. Coming back from two breaks down in the first set to force a tiebreak is no small feat. But alas, it was not to be. According to this article, Raonic will be playing the ATP 1000 Masters event in Monte-Carlo next. This is the first big clay court tournament of the year, and it gets underway on April 9.
Milos Raonic lost his second round match in Miami versus Samdev Devvarman (IND) in straight sets. The scoreline, in Devvarman's favour, was 7-6(5), 7-5. This was Raonic's first match at the Sony Ericsson Open, having received a first round bye for being seeded No.31 in the main draw. After losing in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open, this marks another early exit for the young Canadian in the first two ATP 1000 Masters series events of the year.
Devvarman broke Raonic to start the match, and held a two-break lead while serving for first set at 5-2. Just when it was looking like a complete blowout, Raonic won 4 games in a row before Devvarman held at 5-6 to take the set to a tiebreak. Again, Milos fell behind a few mini-breaks almost immediately and had to fight his way back on serve. He was unable to complete the comeback however, losing the tiebreak 7-5.
It was Raonic who got the first break in the second set, finally converting on his fifth break chance opportunity in Devvarman's second service game. Raonic held on to the lead for a few games, but Devvarman would eventually get the break back to level the set at 4-4. As Milos was serving to force another tiebreak, he got down 15-40 in a hurry and wasn't able to serve his way out of it. Devvarman needed just one of his 2 break chances to secure the second set (and ultimately, the match) with a score of 7-5.
While Raonic was able to bring his ace count up as the match progressed (hitting 12 in total), his overall first serve % hovered around 50 and rarely improved beyond that mark. Milos also racked up 7 double faults, which often proved to be the turning point in some of his service games. Another key stat in the match was the number of break points saved: Raonic saved just 1 of 5 break points on his serve, while Devvarman was able to save 5 of 8 on his. Devvarman was able to capitalize on his chances much more effectively than Raonic, making it difficult for Milos to sustain any kind of momentum during the match. Here are the complete stats:
Obviously, it's disappointing that Milos Raonic is out of the tournament -- but I'll still be watching when TV coverage starts up tomorrow on Rogers Sportsnet One at 11 AM ET. It seems like forever since the win in San Jose and the finals in Memphis, I'm just anxious to see Milos make a deep run at an ATP 1000 Masters event. There's always the clay court season...
Qualifiers and Wildcards
The qualifying rounds have finished and the main draws are underway. Qualifiers on the men's singles side included Alex Bogomolov Jr., Ryan Sweeting, Robert Kendrick, and Donald Young from the USA and Marsel Ilhan from Turkey, who Milos defeated in the round of 128 at Indian Wells (it is unlikely we will see a rematch, as Marsel would have to make it to the semi-finals from his quarter of the draw, which includes Murray, Verdasco, and Djokovic).
Qualifiers on the women's singles side include Jamie Hampton and Sloane Stephens from the USA to join other Americans like Melanie Oudin and Madison Keys in the main draw.
Of note on the doubles side, wildcards have been issued to the American team of Ryan Harrison and Jack Sock, who will face the Bryan Brothers (USA) in the first round, and to the USA/JPN team of Donald Young and Kei Nishikori.
Also of note, Milos Raonic was not given a wildcard in this tournament - his ranking (currently #34) gave him automatic entry.
As previously posted, Rebecca Marino and Stephanie Dubois were Canada's hopefuls for the qualifying draw but they were eliminated. Frank Dancevic made it through the first round but fell to Alex Bogomolov Jr. in the second qualifying round 4-6, 6-1, 3-6. That leaves Milos Raonic as the only singles player remaining in the tournament, and Daniel Nestor the only doubles player.
Daniel Nestor's draw as 2nd seed in men's doubles will not be easy to start. He and Max Mirnyi (BLR) will take on Spain's Fernando Verdasco and Feliciano Lopez in the first round, followed by the winner of the match between Djokovic/Murray and Stakhovsky/Youzhny. As the second seed, they could potentially be facing the Bryans in the finals if both were to make it through their halfs of the draw.
Click here to see how I think the men's draw will turn out. As you can see, I expect Milos having to defeat Devvarman (IND), Ferrer (ESP), Wawrinka (SUI), Soderling (SWE), Djokovic (SRB), and Federer (SUI) on his way to the title! It would be quite the feat indeed.
Milos Raonic will play his first match Friday, tomorrow, 25 March. He will be playing against Somdev Devvarman, who is coming off a win against Potito Starace (ITA) 6-2, 6-4 and made a very impressive performance earlier this month in Indian Wells, California in his round of 16 match against Federer at the BNP Paribas Open.
Good luck Milos!
It was a tough day at the office for the Canadian women trying to qualify for the Sony Ericsson Open. Both Rebecca Marino and Stephanie Dubois have been eliminated in the first round of qualifying. Here are their match results:
Junri Namigata (JPN) def. Stephanie Dubois (CAN) 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-3
Jamie Hampton (USA) def. Rebecca Marino (CAN) 6-1, 7-5
On the men's side, Frank Dancevic is the lone Canadian hoping to make it through the qualifying rounds. He defeated Brain Dabul (ARG) in straight sets today, 7-6(3), 6-1, and is one match away from the main draw. Dancevic will face Donald Young (USA) on Tuesday, who recently upset Andy Murray (GBR) in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open.
THE MAIN DRAW
Not all the qualifying spots are filled yet, but the main draw has been released. Milos Raonic is seeded No.31 in the draw, which means he receives a first round bye. Raonic could run up against (6) David Ferrer (ESP) in the 3rd round, should they both win their opening matches. Robin Soderling (SWE), the No.4 seed, is also lurking in Raonic's section of the draw. Check out the Fantasy Draw and make your picks for the tournament.
Milos' opponent in the second round will be either Somdev Devvarman (IND) or Potito Starace (ITA). There isn't much of a history to speak of between Raonic and these players. The first round for the men starts on Wednesday, which means we will have to wait until at least Friday before we see Raonic in action in Miami.
Top ATP Stars such as Novak Djokovic, David Ferrer, Rafael Nadal, Richard Gasquet, and Japanese player Kei Nishikori will play an exhibition soccer match against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers:
"The match against the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers will take place at Ransom Everglades High School (3575 Main Highway) a couple miles south of the tournament in Coconut Grove at 7:00 pm on Wednesday, March 23rd. A dinner and auction will follow the soccer match at the new JW Mariott Marquis in downtown Miami." - according to Sony Ericsson Open website
Edit: P.S. - Read the ATP article written after the match here.
Djokovic & Wozniacki claim Masters 1000 Titles at Indian Wells
Novak Djokovic claimed the men's BNP Paribas open championship this afternoon at Indian Wells in a comeback against Rafael Nadal, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2. Although Nadal outplayed Djokovic in the first set and at the beginning of the second, Djokovic was able to pull it together and solidly outplay Nadal to win the second set and cruise through the third (as much as anyone could "cruise" through a set against Nadal). Djokovic is clearly the Emperor of Tennis for 2011 so far, but keeping such a title during the upcoming clay court season will not be easy - and what better place for Rafael Nadal to show why the ATP still calls him #1.
On the women's side, Caroline Wozniacki defeated Marion Bartoli 6-1, 2-6, 6-3 in another exciting 3-setter which had ups and downs for both players. In the end, both players were happy with their performances at the BNP Paribas Open - and so they should be. This was Caro's first win at Indian Wells and it raises her total to 14 titles on the WTA tour.
Official Tournament Article on WTA (Women's) Final
Official Tournament Article on ATP (Men's) Final
MP3 - Craig Gabriel Reviews the Final (Official Tournament Audio Review of the Finals)
Go to the Head-to-Head and click on "stats" by this or any other match to see the numbers...
The singles finals at the BNP Paribas Open are today starting at 2PM ET. It will be broadcast live on the ABC network.
Djokovic defeated Federer yesterday in 3 sets to earn himself a spot in the final against Nadal. With the win, Novak will take Roger's place as the No.2 ranked tennis player in the world. During the match, the commentators speculated as to whether Federer could regain the No.2 ranking by the end of the year -- they weren't too optimistic about his chances.
Nadal is going for his third title at Indian Wells after taking out Juan Martin Del Potro in the semis, a man who had given Nadal trouble in their last few meetings. Nadal has a winning record against Djokovic, and their last memorable match was in the finals at last year's US Open. That match ended with Nadal winning his first US Open title, and thus securing the highly prestigious Career Slam. Interestingly, Djokovic was coming off a big win over Federer to reach the US Open final against Nadal -- just like in this tournament. But given how well Djokovic has been playing this season, there might be a different result this time around.
But before any of this happens, the women's singles has to be decided first. Caroline Wozniaki has reached the finals in Indian Wells for the second time and will face Marion Bartoli of France. Wozniaki's dominating performance against Sharapova in the semi-finals is probably a good indicator as to how this final will play out.
It should be an exciting day of tennis at the BNP Paribas Open today, with a rare lineup playing out in the men's semi-finals.
Federer and the other three singles semi-finalists – Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin del Potro – have combined to win the past 24 Grand Slam titles, beginning with Nadal’s triumph in 2005 at Roland Garros. The same four reached the semi-finals at the 2009 US Open, won by del Potro. (source)
There are a few storylines here. Both Nadal and Del Potro are coming back from injuries, and there is a rankings battle taking place between Federer and Djokovic. If Djokovic can beat Federer today (which would make it an impressive 'hat trick' for Novak after big wins at the Australian Open and in Dubai), he would take the #2 ranking away from Roger. You can read more about this showdown here. The men's matches will be broadcast live on ABC today starting at 2PM ET.
Unfortunately, there is no Milos-related news to report other than that, according to his twitter feed, he's in Miami and gearing up for the Sony Ericsson Open. I'll be taking a closer look at that tournament after all is said and done in Indian Wells.
It's a good day to be a tennis fan -- enjoy the matches today, everyone.