Top 5 highlights from Indian Wells 2014
- A look at the highlights and memorable moments from the 2014 BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, where Djokovic and Pennetta triumphed.
This past weekend saw another enthralling edition of the hugely popular Indian Wells tourney come to an end. Often labelled as the “fifth Grand Slam”, the Larry Ellison owned facility attracted the top names from across the board and needless to say, made for a cracking fortnight of tennis. There were a fair share of upsets, moments of controversy and of course the making of champions, which were enjoyed to the fullest by a good crowd. Here are five highlights for me from the tournament:
The Italian job
There was misfortune in the women’s finals with Agnieszka Radwanska having to brave it out despite being clearly affected by a knee injury. But that should take nothing away from her opponent Flavia Pennetta who claimed the biggest title of her career with some swashbuckling tennis over the course of the tournament, ultimately winning in straight sets 6-2, 6-1. Not a bad return for the Italian who contemplated retirement before reaching the semi-finals of the US Open last year. Pennetta’s run was particularly impressive considering she took out top-seeded Li Na in the semis and held her own against giant-killers Camila Giorgi and Sloane Stephens.
While we’re on the subject of Italian girls, Camila Giorgi’s triumph over Maria Sharapova was the match of the tournament in the women’s section for me – a wonderful story of an underdog prevailing against all odds in an intense and emotional affair. Despite struggling with her first serve and making a host of unforced errors, she just about held her nerve to close out the match at the second time of asking in the final set, one where her father (masked in controversy over business dealings) could barely watch and was often spotted burying his face in his curls or hands or whatever he could find.
Clash of the titans
Novak Djokovic’s biggest strength is perhaps his mental toughness and ability to fight back when the chips are down. After being blown away in the opening set by an in-form Marin Cilic and then losing yet another tie-break to hard-hitting John Isner, most would wither and eventually lose but not Nole, who produced back-to-the-wall performances to earn his right to play an on-song Roger Federer in the finals.
The pattern in the deciding match was no different with the Swiss ace taking the opening set 6-3 courtesy of a single break of serve. Yet again though, Djokovic raised his game and found that extra bit of energy in the second set to upset Roger’s rhythm and take the match to a decider. He continued building the momentum and got himself into a winning position before failing to close out the game on his serve for the second successive encounter. He stepped it up when it mattered most in the tiebreak though, winning the title with a 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(3) scoreline and exacting revenge for his loss in the Dubai semi-finals to the same opponent a fortnight ago. The close nature of the contest and the form of both men promises a series of exciting encounters to come over the course of the season.
It takes two to tango
In the men’s and women’s doubles competitions, top seeds Bryan brothers and the Hsieh/Peng pair ruled the roost cruising to 6-4, 6-3 and 7-6(5), 6-2 wins respectively after seeing off some early pressure. The Bryans keep racking up the trophies and this was their 95th overall, whilst Hsieh/Peng are at an impeccable 11-0 in WTA doubles finals.
The quest for peace
One of the great beauties of sport is its ability to touch lives. It is with this intention that Ukraine’s Alexandr Dolgopolov put together a message of peace featuring the top stars from the men’s circuit, urging for the violence to be stopped back in his home country. The man himself brought smiles and cheers to the faces of his troubled countrymen who celebrated every step of his path to the semifinals – including a 6-2, 3-6, 7-5 scalp of World No. 1 Rafael Nadal in the third round of the competition. He eventually bowed out to Roger Federer but not without making waves and jumping a whopping 26 places in the ATP Tour rankings since the start of the year.
Balls of fury
Chair umpire Mohamed El Jennati was in the thick of the action after two controversial judgment calls which drew the ire of Denis Istomin and Fabio Fognini in the space of 72 hours. Both players felt hard done by and did not hold their emotions back, arguing profusely before being asked to get on with it by the supervisor. The incident sparked a volatile Fognini back to life as he went on to charge through the rest of his match but Istomin, who won that particular game, eventually phased out as the contest wore on.
But the sight of each men making his case was one to behold, with the Italian in particular absolutely letting it rip. “It’s my point,” Fognini said. “How you say no? You make the same s*** with Istomin yesterday? You were in the chair. Call the supervisor. … F*** are you doing? F*** are you doing?”
It proved to be quite an eventful tournament for El Jennati who was also reportedly on the chair for the women’s doubles between Flavia Pennetta/Kristina Mladenovic and Kimiko Date-Krumm/Barbora Zahlavova Strycova , a contest where Date-Krumm was hit in the eye , Strycova was struck on the face and Mladenovic got stung by a bee.
Indian Wells always gives us something to look forward to and this time it was the opening of Stadium 2, a nice intimate court which marked the beginning of a new era in this wonderful facility.
The 2014 edition left us with many fond memories, including those of the never out of fashion ‘tweeners’. Until next time then, adeus Indian Wells, Ola Miami!Published 20 Mar 2014, 13:53 IST