Key take-aways from Indian Wells
The Indian Wells BNP Paribas Open, the year’s first ATP Masters 1000 event is now over, and one of the lengthiest non-slam events on the ATP calendar has been won by the most familiar face on tour – Roger Federer. That in itself was a surprise as Roger hadn’t won the event in the last 5 years. In addition, there were quite a few other surprises from which certain take-aways could be gathered.
1. Andy Murray’s a loner
The current top 4 in Men’s tennis is arguably the best bunch of top 4 players tennis has ever seen, according to John McEnroe (a view that many others would concur with). And the odd man out among these 4, not only by virtue of not having been a Grand Slam winner, but also for the reason that, unlike the other three, he loses to lower-ranked players quite often, is Andy Murray. With yet another first round loss at Indian Wells this year, Andy lies isolated in the ATP rankings table. The gap ahead of him is about 2000 points and the gap behind is about 3000 points. While all the others above and below him in rankings will fight it out for their positions, his position is safe as a house and all he needs to concentrate on is to break the first round jinx at Miami.
2. Golden streaks aren’t easily repeatable
If there is one thing that Djokovic’s inner self might accept, it is that a 41-match winning streak and a near-invincible year are things that are probably once-in-lifetime events to savour. His loss to an inspired Isner in the semi-final is not of a worrying cause for Nole as it was a tight encounter which either player could have won, and he even showed his ice-man instincts by saving match points. It would be absolutely amateurish to say that his invincible period is about to reach the end of the tunnel. There can be holes in the tunnel through which rays of sun (read occasional losses) could enter!
3. The American presence in the top 10
The USA and the ATP top-10 rankings have always had a very loving relationship. There has always been at least one player from the country in the top 10. Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi took care of that and more in the 90′s before Roddick took the baton in the early 2000′s. After years of being a consistent top-10er, when Roddick had a slump last year, out of nowhere, Mardy Fish took baton into his hands, and now that he is at the brink of departing the top 10, a 6 foot 9 incher in John Isner has promptly set himself in the top 10! The love story continues.
4. Avenging with perfection
Roger Federer, fresh on the heels of back-to-back titles at Rotterdam and Dubai, came to the event as one of the favourites. He was among the players who got hit by the mysterious flu that was around the desert town but that didn’t prevent him from clinching the title. And the way he had to go about it promised to be tense and dramatic. The draw dictated that if Federer hoped to win it all, he had to defeat Rafael Nadal and John Isner, the men who had handed him back-to-back defeats (and the only defeats in 2012 so far). But the man fended both of them off in straight sets with typical Swiss precision and perfection to capture his record-equaling 19th Masters’ title.
5. A pecking-order change in the offing?
The turn of events at Indian Wells makes the upcoming Masters event at Miami an interesting one to watch out for. It could kick-start the inception of a change in the pecking order at the top of the rankings table. Though Djokovic’s position at the top is safe irrespective of what happens at Miami, Federer can fancy his chances to secure the No.2 spot with a title here, assuming Rafa doesn’t go past the quarters. A tough ask, but plenty of other likely other scenarios could bring No.2 and No.3 a lot closer after Miami. The fact that Nos.1 and 2 have truck loads of points to defend in the coming months and No.3 has won 39 of his last 41 matches makes the coming months a cracker of a period for tennis fans!