Federer Eases Past Del Potro
Federer and del Potro had already met three times this season, prior to yesterday’s encounter, with Federer winning all of these meetings. Their last match, in Dubai, was an incredibly close one, ending 7-6, 7-6. Today in his press conference, Juan Martin said he would, “take my match in Dubai, not this one, because I played worse than Dubai and Roger played always in the same level.” That was certainly true, del Potro showed none of the powerful game, which won him the US Open in ’09. Things were looking up when the opening game, on Federer’s serve, lasted over ten minutes. However, disaster struck when an errant serve by Federer was called in and hawkeye was unavailable to make the challenge. The internet servers had gone down and the video could not be transmitted. In this case, the rule states that the original call stands. While the original call was in, it seemed like all the parties involved saw the ball out, including Federer. In the end, del Potro lost the point, and the game, and went on to lose the next game as well, on his own serve. It was clear from the get go that the call had distracted del Potro. He wasn’t playing well at all and that game seemed to stick with him throughout the entire match. He went, as far as to admit, “I can’t be focused during all the match I don’t feel comfortable playing the match,” after the call was made.” He made sure to give plenty of credit to Federer, who played some phenomenal tennis despite still not feeling 100%, and was happy to consider the fact that he may still have lost the match even if he had won that game.
Federer is notorious for his dislike of the hawkeye system. Asked about the incident, he brought up a similar incident for him in the 2008 Wimbledon final against Rafael Nadal, “when I played Rafa in Wimbledon, at 6‑All in the fifth Hawk‑Eye wasn’t available anymore because of the light. That was great for us to know, you know, for the players. It wasn’t such an important match. Who cares?” His response was met with laughter from the media, many of who consider that the greatest match of all time. While hawkeye has its limitations, overall, it has likely been an improvement to the game. When line judges are dealing with balls that land just millimeters on or off the line, there’s such a huge opportunity for human error. In fact, Indian Wells just instituted the challenge system on all its courts this year, but they must still be working out the kinks.
In the end, del Potro could not overcome his frustration, never really finding his focus in the match, and losing 6-3, 6-2.
Nadal Tested by Nalbandian
Most people considered the first match up on Stadium 1 to be the most competitive of the day when the schedule was released. Federer and del Potro have had several close encounters so it was only natural to believe this would be the same. On the other hand, few people, myself included, gave David Nalbandian any chance against Rafael Nadal. The Argentine needed a wildcard to get into the tournament after his ranking dropped due to injuries. The 2002 Wimbledon finalist was once ranked as high as No. 3 in the world, but it has been a long time since he was a threat in the later stages of large tournaments like Indian Wells.
Interestingly, it seemed like vintage Nalbanian came out to play in the early stages of the match. He kept pace with Nadal and even had looks at several of his early service games. To everyone’s surprise Nalbandian managed his first break at 4-all in the first set, giving him the chance to serve for the set, which he did. There was a notable flurry of panic amongst the crowd when David won the first set. However, they didn’t need to work. Nadal roared back to win the second set 7-5 to even the match. At this point it pretty much seemed over. How could Nalbandian possibly keep fighting? When he went down two breaks in the third set, it was nearly certain that the match would be over in a matter of moments. Just when everyone thought it was over, Nalbandian managed to once again break Nadal’s serve, but he was still down one break, which gave Nadal the chance to serve for the match. Shockingly, Nalbandian carved out another break points on Rafa’s serve, which would have evened up the match. But, it was not in the cards. An ill-fated drop shot cost Nalbandian the set and the match.
Most people were surprised that Nadal had such a hard time defeating the Argentine, but Nalbandian has always been an opponent that troubled Rafa. Who said, “that probably make me feel a little bit not safe before the match. That’s why probably I had more mistakes than usual.” Nadal can’t afford to make these kind of mistakes in his next match because Roger Federer will not beat himself. Fortunately for Nadal, he has played Federer 27 times before and has won 18 of those matches.
Ivanovic’s Run to the Semifinals Ends in Tears
Ana Ivanovic has had a bit of a fairytale run to the semifinals here in Indian Wells, her first at a tournament of this scale in a long time. She beat last year’s champion, Caroline Wozniacki, as well as last year’s runner-up, Marion Bartoli en route to her meeting with Maria Sharapova, who she last played in the 2008 Australian Open final. For the first several games, it was a close match, but Sharapova managed to get the first break of the match and it looked like things would be all over. When Sharapova was leading 5-4, Ivanovic left the court for a lengthy medical time out and it seemed things could only go downhill from there. It was not immediately apparent what was wrong with the Serbian, but she obviously wasn’t feeling well.
After losing the set, Ivanovic called her coach, Nigel Sears to come to the court. He told her that only she knew how bad it was and that if she couldn’t play good tennis, she shouldn’t keep playing. Regardless of Nigel’s warning, Ana tried to take the court again, but it was just too much. After the first game of the second set, she walked over to the chair umpire and said she couldn’t keep going. The trainer came out to examine Invanovic, and a couple minutes later she walked over to shake Maria Sharapova’s hand and concede the match.
According to Ivanovic it is some kind of glute strain, something that, “gradually got worse and worse.” She will get an MRI tomorrow to check the extent of the injury. Putting the injury aside, Ana called this an “amazing two weeks,” saying, “I really felt like I have been playing the best tennis probably played in a very, very long time. It wasn’t only one match. It was very consistently. “ Consistency is something that has plagued the Ivanovic since winning the French Open in 2008.