Early Upsets At Indian Wells

Mar 15, 2009

The men’s and women’s events have both kicked off at Indian Wells in California, and while in the early rounds the men have performed as their rankings would suggest they should, two big name losses on the women’s side, combined with the absence of both Williams sisters have left this tournament wide open for the taking.

The Women

Coming into the tournament both Serena and Venus Williams had continued their boycott of the event, leaving a fairly even field with four women in particular rated as having the greatest chance. Two of those women – Elena Dementieva and Jelena Jankovic have been bundled out in the first round, leaving Dinara Safina as a slight favourite ahead of Vera Zvonareva.

While Jankovic has struggled to find form early in the year, the loss of Dementieva was much more surprising, having been one of the form players at some of the big events played earlier in the year. Her form has dipped slightly in the past month and she fought hard for the first two sets here but ran out of steam and lost the third 6-1 against Petra Cetkovska from the Czech Republic.

The Russian has had a very busy start to the year with back to back wins in the Southern Hemisphere followed by a narrow semi-final defeat at the Australian Open.

“I think I should not have come here” she said “because I did not have enough time to recover after playing so many matches at the beginning of the year. I needed a much longer break to get ready to play at my best.”

Whether she likes it or not, she’ll now have plenty of time to rest before her next tournament.

If you’re looking for an outsider to play well at this event, one player to watch is Victoria Azarenko who is in great form at the moment. She recently defeated Caroline Wozniacki in straight sets in the final of the tour event in Tennessee, before teaming up with the Dane to take the doubles title, ending a good week for the pair.

The Men

The event in Indian Wells is the first tournamet since the Astralian Open where the top four men have lined up together. Federer has been recovering from a back injury and has not played since January. Andy Murray is back after withdrawing from the event in Dubai and Rafael Nadal gave his knee an extra week of rest before playing in his country’s Davis Cup win against Serbia last week.

In that tie he crushed Novak Djokovic in straight sets on his favoured surface, which would have been a nice confidence boost for him coming into this event. Not that he ever needs a boost to his confidence – he doesn’t seem the type to ever have doubts about his ability to win a tournament.

It will be interesting to see how the Swiss champion goes this week. Outwardly Federer is his usual self – confident in his chances, at ease with the media and buoyant at the news that he and his fiance Mirka are expecting thier first child.

But the news that he was in coaching negotiations with Aussie Darren Cahill this week is perhaps a result of his frustration at his inability to overcome his Spaniard nemesis. Apparently the negotiations stalled over Cahill’s reluctance to commit to a hectic travel schedule.

To me this is a positive sign for Federer. It seems that he is looking for a solid year of coaching around which he can build a game plan to turn the tables on Nadal and cement his place in history. Federer and Cahill have worked together over the past four or five years, with the South Australian coaching Federer for 35 weeks last year.

He couldn’t commit to that much time again with a young family back home so they have decided to go their separate ways, with Federer now being forced to look elsewhere to fill the vacant role. You’d imagine there’ll be no shortage of job applications being handed in for the position.

Nadal is the obvious favourite for this tournament. There is no other player in outstanding form at the moment, and as long as his knees hold up he should take the title.

Crooksy

Written by: Crooksy

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