Top Moments from Miami Open

From the desert (Indian Wells) to the beach (Miami) the players go…

Tempered by rain delays, the tournament’s lack of roofs prompted it to ask Mutua Madrid Open, “Can we borrow your roof for a sec? Thanks in advance.” To which Mutua Madrid replied, No problem ! Which one do you prefer? 🌧🚫

Once a top tournament, it is now below par from its website to its grounds, nevertheless the players brought their A games!

Week 1 Top Moments:

5. On-court coaching is most troubling on the women’s tour. Though I have never liked the optics, I tried to see it as an option for the players. While some players avoid it like the plague, others have become dependent on it. It highlights troubling relationships and player weaknesses. Are coaching timeouts needed in individual sports? Without other players to coordinate with, tennis players only have to be concerned with their own X and Os.   If the WTA does not bring this issue for debate, it will be just another example of how inept they are at understanding their audience and unable to protect their players or the sport. There are too many examples of players crying, using coaching sessions for validation, appearing unable to figure out their own games. The most frequent scene is a player sitting silently receiving rapid fire direction from a man. Often, this man looms over her and does not give the woman an opportunity to speak. When this man is also the player’s father, the dynamic is not any better. Where is the agency?

4. This tournament maybe Muguruza’s turning point. Since she won the French Open, she has had a difficult time stringing wins together. After losing the first set to SHUAI ZHANG and an on-court coaching session, she got it together winning 4-6, 6-2, 6-2. Like Dorothy, I hope she is realizing that she had it all along. She does not have to look or ask anyone for it. Her coaching relationship seems a bit dependent. Unlike Muguruza, Keys looked really good coming into the tournament. She seemed the most settled and confident I have ever seen her but she tanked her second round match against Arruabarrena 7-5, 7-5.

3. Men’s tennis is on an upswing. Americans finally  have some dogs in the fight: Sock, Fritz, Tiafoe, Donaldson, Mmoh, Rubin… How unfortunate, Tiafoe plays hard but loses to Federer and his rank does not get a major jump. Donaldson gets a walk over and a major ranking bump with Raonic’s withdrawal, from 95 to 75. If America is on an uptick, Spain is flatlining. Of the the ten players from Spain in the tournament only Baptista Agut and Nadal move on to week two. Note also, Nadal was close to saying sayonarra after a bagel from Kohlschreiber 0-6, 6-2, 6-3.

2. Doubles had some of the most exciting match-ups this week; this is where the real shot-making is. Bethanie Mattek-Sands‘number one ranking is in jeopardy as is Nicholas Mahut’s. While Kristina Mladenovic and the all-Russian team of Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina vie for the number one position on the women’s tour, the Bryan Brothers pushed past Kyrigios/Reid 6-3, 6-4 to keep their campaign alive.

1. Injury prone players are few, but they are notable. This week Raonic withdrew with a hamstring injury; he has had a litany of injuries in his rather young career. Similiarily, keys gave everyone a fret, when she called a trainer out after losing the first set to Arrubarrena in the third round for a tight shoulder; she was able to finish the match. Nishikori appears to me injury free after his third round match with Verdasco. Kyrigios, who withdrew last week at Indian Wells with Food poising, looked great in his singles and doubles matches.

Must See Week 2 Matches: Federer/Del Potro, Kyrigios/Karlovic, Young/Fognini, Williams/Kuznetsova, Muguruza/Wozniacki

Check-out: 

  1. First Meeting: Tiafoe vs. Federer
  2. First Meeting: Townsend vs Kutnetsova


Week 2 Top Moments:

Everywhere I look I see tennis. On Tennis Channel they were featuring men’s doubles, while ESPN2 had Halep and Konta’s Quarterfinal match. While both are subscription venues, it is nice to see so much tennis on TV in the USA. Hold-up, Tennis Channel chose to replay Federer/Berdych instead of the women’s semi-final match on Friday. Booooooo!

5. Disappointing retirement by Muguruza. Down 6-7 to Wozniacki, she said, “I started to feel headache, pain in my stomach, the heat.” Though she feels the tournament was good for her, I am doubtful. There is something amiss here…
4. Venus’ straight set win over Kuznetsova was spectacular. She closed with an excellent point in the tie breaker at net… This match was shot central: down the lines, serves, pick-ups, defiant forehands… If you missed it, make so time and popcorn for the replay. Unfortunately the back-to-back matches (Kerber, Konta) may have been a little too much for Venus. She appeared flat and sluggish at the beginning of her semi-final match with Konta; her serve was also missing. She fought hard to hold or break but loss in two sets 4-6, 5-7. This loss was tough to see and will sting Venus for sometime. She does leave the tournament with a new goals. Per ESPN, Venus Williams is bidding to become the oldest player to defeat a reigning World No.1. Martina, Paris, 1993 over Seles is record.
3. Plishkova vs Wozniacki was as much an on court coaching battle as it was a fitness match. Correct me if I am wrong, but it looked like the players used every on court coaching opportunity. Me  No Like!
2. The doubles courts were on fire. Sock/Monroe defeated the Bryan Brothers in the semi-finals 76(5), 6-3 and faced Kubot/Melo. Can you imagine getting hit on court by a sock forehand? Well, Kubot will be sore and thinking about Sock for some time… Though Sock is getting all the recognition, it as Monroe who shone. Unfortunately they lost in the final to 7-5, 6-3 to Kubot/Melo.
Once doubles partners, Mirza and Hingis, competed across the net from each other in the semi-final with new partners Barbora Strýcová and Chan Yung-jan respectively. They won 6-7(6), 6-1, 10-4 and faced  Dabrowski and Xu. Unfortuntately, Mirza/Strycova lost   6-4, 6-3.
1. Oh my, Kyrgios/A. Zverev maybe the match of the tournament! Kyrgios won in three, but he was so close to taking it in two.  In the second set, Kyrgios could not close out the tie-break as Zverev refused to go away 6-4, 6-7(11), 6-3.
Kyrgios had a rematch of sorts with Federer in the semifinal, since he had to withdraw in Indian Wells due to food poisioning. Kyrgios was close to taking the win in the third, when a fan interrupted his play on a ball. This point should have been replayed and the attendants in the stadium should have removed the disruptive fans. Though the umpire tried, he could not control the crowd, who were determined to set-up a Federer-Nadal final. Kyrgios kept it together till the last two points when he lost 7-6, 6-7, 7-6. In press he was reflective and actually quite thoughtful.
He was playing great. Yeah, the crowd was obviously on his side, but I think I have to win a little bit more to start getting them on my side… Obviously I’m an emotional guy. I had some ups and up and downs, bit of a roller coaster. Ultimately I think I put in a good performance. I thought the crowd would’ve enjoyed watching it, people at home would’ve enjoyed watching it. As I said, I wouldn’t be surprised if they found something bad, though. Kyrgios Press Conference
I was totally disappointed in Federer’s response to the crowd situation.  In press he said, “But you’re right, the crowds jump on it pretty quickly. But it makes for a good atmosphere I guess at the end of the day, so it’s not all that bad.” Would the fans and press feel the same if the crowd cost Federer a match? The atmosphere was not that of a Davis Cup. Fans were deliberately disrupting Kyrgios’ serve and play. This wasn’t about Kyrgios’ focus or lack thereof. This was about bad form and disrespect from the crowd. In the end, it was the crowd that won this tight match but Federer was in epic form indeed!
The one thing I noticed about Kyrgios’ game is how contended he is in rallies to simply get the ball back in play. He rarely sets-up plays, uses patterns or goes for risky shots. I also did not see a lot of down the line winners and I wonder if his back-hand can be stregthened. More importantly, he does not seem to use a lot of pace in rallies. Even his returns are more block-backs than zingers. Also, while his use of SABR was entertaining and successful initially, it became a crutch for him. Sure it shook Federer at first, but its overuse lost its effectiveness. It will be interesting to see how Kyrgios’ game evolves.
Check Out:
  1. The Sharapova machine is churning. This SI piece on Sharapova’s passion and integrity is really something…
  2. Is there ever enough written on the beauty of Federer’s game?
  3. Li Na and her husband have a new venuture, showing us life after tennis can be glorius.
  4. The Changeover Chat discusses on-court coaching is smart and thorough.
  5. In Crowd Behavior: Worth Policing, Worth Doing The Right Way Zemek suggests steady evolutionary change in regards to crowd behavior.
  6. Congratulations to the winners Konta (6-3, 6-3 Woznizacki) and  Federer (Nadal 6-3, 6-4) on their final wins.              .
Next week:
From feather weight to heavyweight, WTA and ATP players leave Miami for Mexico charleston or Davis cup

 

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