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Pro Tennis Showcase
March 14, 2011

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BNP Paribas Open 2011, Indian Wells, California, USA
March 14, 2011
Editorial by Vince Barr. Photography by Harvey Rubin.


Vince Barr Photo
Vince Barr

BNP Paribas 3rd Round
Caroline Wozniacki had absolutely no problem dispatching her Spanish opponent Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, 6-1, 6-3. Sanchez had won their previous three meetings, which was the extent of their previous head to head play. In other words, Wozniacki had never beaten her prior to today. Lindsey Davenport thought that Caroline needed to find a way to adjust to Martinez-Sanchez's lefty serve. So many players these days serve from the right-hand side so whenever a player encounters someone serving from the other side, certain adjustments must be made. Davenport also thought that because Wozniacki "is so quick, she can cover all the shots and put pressure on her opponents to go for the lines. (As a result) she gets a few errors that way," Davenport explained. As for Martinez-Sanchez, "she can't afford to get into too many baselines rallies with Wozniacki; Caroline can really wear her down," Davenport noted. Brett Haber, another Tennis Channel commentator, asked Lindsey if she would try to practice with lefties when she knew she was going to play one in a given tournament. Surprisingly, she said no. But Davenport chalked that up to stubbornness on her part, as she wanted to continue to hit with her coaches and not other players. "There really weren't that many lefties (on tour when I played) to hit with," Davenport said. "So, it would take me a few games (to get acclimated). What I would do is adjust my return position; I would move over more to my left, so I could cover the backhand serve with a little bit more reach on that side. And sometimes I would start messing around with my grip; to go with a backhand grip rather than a forehand one," Lindsey observed. "Most of the lefties on the WTA Tour will serve to your backhand the majority of the time. Martinez Sanchez likes to mix it up with a forehand serve more than some others. I played Monica Seles and her favorite serve was always to the backhand side," Davenport noted.
It is difficult to create drama where there really wasn't any, so I'm not going to try. Caroline broke Martinez Sanchez in her first service game, and it was all downhill from there for her, as the score might indicate. I'd rather spend some time talking about matches (either men's or women's) where the outcome was in doubt or else one that was very closely contested. Sometimes, a blowout can be understood if one player just makes a lot more unforced errors than he (or she) usually does or else does not serve well or hit nearly enough winners. Consider the night match between Samantha Stosur and Dinara Safina. Stosur had 36 unforced errors by the sixth game of the second set and Dinara was not much better, trailing her in that category by only four errors. The difference, in Davenport's opinion, was that Stosur was missing a lot of sitters (balls that hit the court and just bounced rather high, just waiting to be crushed). That could point to a lack of concentration (note that I said "could" since absent a comment from Stosur on that particular point, we'll never know and my statement is just speculation). Samantha got broken at 2-4 in the second set but had an opportunity to get the break up as she had the advantage on Safina's serve at 20-40. But then she over-hit a forehand to get back to deuce. Then she got another advantage but crushed a forehand wide into the doubles alley to lose that advantage. Then, the very next point, Safina dumped a volley into the net to give Stosur another advantage. She managed to covert this opportunity only because Safina committed her 15th double fault of the match, which is quite excessive in less than two complete sets of tennis, at this level of competition. Safina held serve then broke Stosur to win the match 7-6 (2), 6-4.
On the men's side, Philip Kohlschreiber pulled off a major shocker by beating 4th seed Robin Soderling, 7-6 (8), 6-4. Looking at their career head-to-head results, I guess the outcome should not be all that surprising, despite the disparity in their ATP rankings. Kohlschreiber is currently ranked 35th while Soderling came in as the 4th-ranked player in the world. Philip had won three of their previous four matches. Soderling won the last match they had played on an indoor hard court in Rotterdam, The Netherlands a few weeks ago (during the first week of February) at the ABN / AMRO World Tennis Tournament.
The last match of the day (and the final third round match) took place between Sam Querrey and Fernando Verdasco. This was a very well-played match by both players. They had only met once previously with Fernando taking the match in New Haven, CT back in 2009 by a score of 6-4, 7-6 (6). Each held serve to 5-all in the first set but Querrey broke Verdasco at love to go up 6-5. To be fair, Fernando had a couple of unforced errors in that game so Sam did not have to do all the work himself. Querrey seemed quite determined to take the first set after the break as he executed a fantastic passing shot out wide which Fernando managed to return (at 30-love). Querrey then ripped another forehand out of Fernando's reach to the same spot, deep in the ad court, when Verdasco was expecting a cross-court volley. Sam won the first set, 7-5.
The second set started out with Fernando serving but he was quickly broken at love. Sam's first serve was really working for him with 40% of his serves being unreturned, providing an abundance of free points. This just must have been Sam's night. He found himself down love-40 in his first service game of the second set, managed to get to 30-40 and then hit an unbelievably awkward shot that somehow found its way on the line to get to deuce. Verdasco challenged the call to no avail and two points later, Sam had a 2-0 lead in the second and you had to think that that game was probably Fernando's best chance to break Querrey all night. The BNP Paribas is the first tournament to have the Hawkeye system in place on all eight of its tournament courts, which is well overdue in my opinion. The reason that has not been done up till now is due to the cost (about $50,000 per court). However, it levels the playing field and I think will make for a more equitable tournament for all participants, regardless of where the match is played.
The Verdasco / Querrey match was played on the main stadium court, which already had Hawkeye in place. Still, there were a couple of calls that went Sam's way at 4-2 that should have gone the other way in favor of Verdasco. Still, Fernando did not challenge either questionable call and one of them was badly missed on a second serve that should have been a double fault against Sam. I'm not sure why Fernando did not challenge those two calls that went against him. Remember that a player has an unlimited number of successful challenges of line calls and can have two incorrect challenges each set. The worst that can happen is that a player runs out of challenges but they don't get any extra credit for having not used their challenges at the end of a set. So, I think you can say that Fernando made a mistake there in not making a challenge when he was unsure of the call. The television commentators also were critical of Verdasco not challenging the calls which they showed would have resulted in an overturned call on both occasions. Querrey finally won the match on his third match point. Sam has a positive plus / minus of 7 (29 winners against 21 unforced errors) while Verdasco was a negative 12 (20 winners vs. 32 unforced errors). Also, Fernando missed all eight of his break point opportunities against Querrey's serve while Sam managed to convert two of his five opportunities against Fernando's serve.


[1] Rafael Nadal (ESP) {orange shirt} d [Q] Ryan Sweeting (USA) 63 61
Rafael Nadal 2011 BNP Paribas Open Tennis
Rafael Nadal 2011 BNP Paribas Open Tennis
Ryan Sweeting 2011 BNP Paribas Open Tennis
Rafael Nadal 2011 BNP Paribas Open Tennis
Ryan Sweeting 2011 BNP Paribas Open Tennis
Rafael Nadal 2011 BNP Paribas Open Tennis
Ryan Sweeting 2011 BNP Paribas Open Tennis
Rafael Nadal 2011 BNP Paribas Open Tennis
Ryan Sweeting 2011 BNP Paribas Open Tennis
Rafael Nadal 2011 BNP Paribas Open Tennis
Ryan Sweeting 2011 BNP Paribas Open Tennis

[32] Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) d [4] Robin Soderling (SWE) {white shirt} 76(8) 64
Robin Soderling 2011 BNP Paribas Open Tennis
Philipp Kohlschreiber 2011 BNP Paribas Open Tennis
Robin Soderling 2011 BNP Paribas Open Tennis
Philipp Kohlschreiber 2011 BNP Paribas Open Tennis
Philipp Kohlschreiber 2011 BNP Paribas Open Tennis
Robin Soderling 2011 BNP Paribas Open Tennis
Philipp Kohlschreiber 2011 BNP Paribas Open Tennis
Robin Soderling 2011 BNP Paribas Open Tennis
Philipp Kohlschreiber 2011 BNP Paribas Open Tennis

[21] Sam Querrey (USA) {blue shirt} d [9] Fernando Verdasco (ESP) 75 64
Sam Querrey Fernando Verdasco Scoreboard 2011 BNP Paribas Open Tennis
Fernando Verdasco 2011 BNP Paribas Open Tennis
Sam Querrey 2011 BNP Paribas Open Tennis
Fernando Verdasco 2011 BNP Paribas Open Tennis
Sam Querrey 2011 BNP Paribas Open Tennis
Fernando Verdasco 2011 BNP Paribas Open Tennis
Sam Querrey 2011 BNP Paribas Open Tennis
Fernando Verdasco 2011 BNP Paribas Open Tennis
Sam Querrey 2011 BNP Paribas Open Tennis

Earlier Columns from this Event:
March 13, 2011 BNP Paribas Open: Raonic Rising, Roddick Rolling, Federer Florishing - Roddick, Blake, Djokovic, Golubev, Federer, Andreev
March 12, 2011 BNP Paribas Open: Women's Preview & Second Round Results - Nadal, de Voest, del Potro, Ljubicic, Wozniacki, Stephens
March 11, 2011 BNP Paribas Open: Men's Preview with Photo Coverage of Blake, Guccione, Ivanovic, Date-Krumm

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