December 1, 2015

BNP Paribas Open Tournament Director and COO Steve Simon New CEO of the WTA

Volunteers are celebrated before the start of the Women's Singles Final in Indian Wells, California on Sunday, March 22, 2015. (Photo by Billie Weiss/BNP Paribas Open)

(October 5, 2015) On Monday, the Board of Directors of the Women’s Tennis Association announced a unanimous decision naming Steve Simon, the Tournament Director and Chief Operating Officer of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells Tennis Tournament, as the new CEO of the women’s tour. Simon will begin his new position immediately and leave his current post at the end of November.

Simon joined the tournament in 1989 in a sponsorship sales role after working with adidas for six years. He became Tournament Director and COO in 2004. At the end of the 2013 tournament, he and the CEO oversaw the vast expansion of Indian Wells.

“I am exceptionally grateful to both Charlie Pasarell and Raymond Moore for the opportunity they gave me more than 25 years ago to work at the BNP Paribas Open,” said Simon through a news release. “I have cherished my time here, and everyone involved with the event – staff, volunteers, players, officials and many more – who have made this event into the exceptional tournament it has become. I am humbled and excited about the opportunity, and leave the tournament knowing that the team in place, under the guidance of Moore and owner Larry Ellison, will continue to excel and keep the BNP Paribas Open as one of the best events in the world.”

“Steve Simon, with his successful career leading one of tennis’ most prestigious tournaments, is the perfect person to run the WTA,” the WTA Board said in a statement. “Steve produced results, pursued excellence and he kept innovating, making the fan experience even better. He has a very clear vision for the sport and is held in high regard by all.”

Simon replaces Stacey Allaster who announced her resignation on September 22.


Djokovic Does the Double

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic

(March 22, 2015) INDIAN WELLS, California – After the drawn out drama of the women’s final and over an hour later than planned, defending champion Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer took to the court for their final, and with the anticipation of perhaps another three set thriller on the cards.


First blood though went to the Djokovic, who closed out a ruthless break, for a 4-2 lead, and although Federer asked the question for him to serve it out, he snapped up the first set 6-3.


It was imperative for Federer to get off to a quick start, and it looked as though he would settle, but another loose game helped Djokovic take advantage for an early break at the start of the second.


Djokovic was making the difference in his return games, taking the time away from Federer in the distinctly cooler conditions today than for the majority of the tournament, but Federer needed to settle to try and at least stay in contention, before time ran out to make his move.


Suddenly the momentum shifted as Federer took advantage of a dip in Djokovic’s game to level at 4-4 with a break that got the crowd alive, roaring their approval and silencing the small enthusiastic group of Serbians in the nosebleeds.


Holding in perhaps his most commanding form since the very start of the match, the pressure was very firmly on Djokovic now as the errors started to stack up from the Serbian, as he served to stay in the set. A slightly more confident hold to love brought him into a second set tie-break.


With Djokovic taking the early momentum, Federer slowly got himself back into contention as the pressure got to the defending champion, double-faulting on his serve to bring Federer level at 5-5. A second double fault handed the advantage right back at the Swiss with two serves to come at 6-5. He needed just the one set point to send the final into an electric decider.


Perhaps it was inevitable that the defending champion would come out swinging maybe a little more freely, and quickly took a 2-0 advantage before the nerves seemed to grip him again, opening the door for Federer to charge back in to get the match back on serve.


It was Djokovic who surged to a lead once more, at 5-2, with Federer serving to stay in the championship.


For a match that could so easily have been settled in straight sets, Federer had done well to fight back, but a tired shank gave the Serbian the match points he needed, as he closed out the win 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-2, a title defence, and draws level with Federer in terms of titles won here.


Coming first into press, Federer analyzed where the match was won (and in his case lost):


“For a long time I was always trailing. I was putting myself under pressure unnecessarily sometimes on my own serve. But that was, again, a credit to Novak’s great way of returning second serves.


“He’s always going to catch some first serves, especially here where it’s not as fast. I knew it was going to be tough. That was the most disappointing part I was telling myself throughout the match. It’s like where is that return on the first serve? “


He continued: “Midway through the second it started to get better and I got into more rallies, and that’s where I think it became close again. That was tougher for him, because all of a sudden I think I was playing better so he wasn’t getting as many free points. He had to pull back and play a bit more safe. So it was from my side a bit more up and down, and he was just more solid. That’s why he totally deserved to win today, in my opinion.”


Djokovic was presented with a cake celebrating his 50th title, which surpasses coach Boris Becker’s 49 titles, and the World No. 1 described how that felt along with his assessment of the match.


He said: “I thought set and a break and it was a break point for 5‑2 up. I thought I could have done the job earlier. Credit to Roger for fighting through. Showed again why he’s a competitor and champion, somebody that never gives up. When we got to the third set obviously it was anybody’s game.


“I managed to regroup [and] overcome that frustration of handing that tiebreak to him with three double faults in crucial moments. But that’s sport. Obviously under pressure sometimes these things happen and it’s important to regroup, bounce back, and focus on next one.”


He continued: “I’ve got to look forward to get to Miami and have a dinner with Boris. I think it’s on him this time. (Smiling.) I surpassed his 49th title, so that gives a little bit of special spice to this title.”


While Federer is skipping Miami this year, Djokovic will travel on to defend his title and attempt the double once more.


Ros Satar is a British sports journalist and a writer at


Simona Halep Rallies Past Jelena Jankovic for Indian Wells Title

Simona Halep

Simona Halep

(March 22, 2015) INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA – It might not have been the final that people wanted, in amongst the hoopla surrounding Serena Williams return and subsequent withdrawal in the semi-final, but with 16 minutes gone and only two games on the board, there was no doubt the crowd were going to get their money’s worth, between former champion Jelena Jankovic and World No. 3 Simona Halep.


It was always going to be important for Jankovic to be able to move, and having struggle with injury ahead of the match, she kept the press core in stitches with her lack of preparation, but ultimately bringing in attacking play as well as defence would be the key.


There were early signs of nerves by Halep who struggled for eight minutes as Jankovic put in a pleasing display of aggressive drive volleys and her trademark backhand down the line to take the first game, but failed to consolidate as Halep settled back down quite quickly, as the first passage of play resolved on serve as Halep got the first hold of the day.


Jankovic took the initiative once more, this time managing to consolidate on a break of serve, nudging her into a commanding position at 4-2. With Halep venting her frustration on her racquet, it was clear to see that Jankovic’s aggression was perhaps throwing Halep off her game plan a little, as the Serbian broke again to come out and serve for the match.


With Halep receiving a medical timeout for her toe before the second set, it was important that she came out to hold her first service game, but her relief was short lived, as Jankovic kept the pressure on, in fact if anything starting to get a little frustrated at herself, which may have spurred her on to put the hammer down on the Romanian.


A loose game by the Serbian to get broken to love put Halep back in the driver’s seat and the second set back on serve at 3-3, and for the briefest moment it looked like we could be in for the three-setter that we wanted but the Romanian handed the break straight back and with it, her hopes for her biggest title in her career.


Halep had to dig out a further break, aided and abetted by some typical Jankovic drama which included three double faults, a time violation warning, and Jankovic trying to serve while a ball-kid was still scrambling off the court. It was an emotional rollercoaster for Halep, who once more found herself rapidly facing break points succumbing to the fourth straight break of serve this match, but more dangerously giving Jankovic serving for the title.


Admitting to her coach Chip Brooks that she was nervous she reverted to the defence we often see in her game, just giving Halep the opportunities to dig out winners, breaking her with the fifth consecutive time this set. With finally a hold to stop the run of breaks, Halep suddenly seemed the aggressor as Jankovic tightened up as the match went into a decider.


Again the initial advantage went to the volatile Serbian, but Halep was never far away from breaking back, as the pair treated the crowd to some great rallies, not to mention more drama as the chair umpire seemed to forget about the nuances of second serves.



With both struggling to keep hold of their serve in the final set, Jankovic called her coach back once more but her serve and resolve seemed to desert her once and for all as Halep broke for a 5-3 lead to serve for the title, but handed back the advantage straight away.


It took yet another break to love to seal the deal for the Romanian 2-6, 7-5, 6-4 after what started out as a difficult week for her, after a personal bereavement. It had been a great run for Jankovic who struggled to deal with the nerves of closing out, having won her last title in 2013.


After the match, Jankovic admitted that she had let her opportunities pass her by.


She said: “I let those nerves take the best out of me. That shouldn’t happen. I was full of emotions. I was just overwhelmed and excited that I’m in the final and I put myself into a position to win.


“So it’s been an amazing two weeks. Yes, of course I’m disappointed that I lost this final, because I really had a chance to win and hold that trophy. But I’m still proud of myself and my team how far I came into this tournament and what I have achieved.”


Halep admitted she knew she was being rushed into mistakes, especially in the first set, and finally the key had been to make her run over the three sets.


Talking to the press with the giant glass trophy at her side, she said: “She knew how to play me today to make more mistakes. It was difficult for me to take that balls very high and without power, so I did many mistakes with my forehand.


“My coach came on court and he said that I’m rushing at that balls. So I said, Okay, I understand, and I go now to play not very strong those balls.


“I just try to stay cool, to make her run a lot. I know that she’s running well, but still my backhand down the line was good today. Forehand so so. Everything went well, and, you know, I have no comments now. I have like, in my mind, it’s like ‑‑ I have another title, my biggest title now, so it’s amazing. I feel great.”


After attempting to lift it, she confirmed she intends to play Miami, as does Jankovic.


Ros Satar is a British sports journalist and a writer at


Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer to Clash in Indian Wells Final

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic

(March 21, 2015) The top two men’s tennis players will face off in the final of the BNP Paribas Open on Sunday in Indian Wells, California.

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic defeated No. 4 Andy Murray 6-2, 6-3 in the first semifinal of the day, a rematch of the Australian Open final, while No. 2 Roger Federer bested Milos Raonic 7-5, 6-4.

In Sunday’s final, defending champion Djokovic will be aiming to capture his fourth Indian Wells tournament, while Federer will be going for his fifth title in the desert. Federer leads Djokovic 20-17 in their head-to-head records.

Djokovic is now 17-8 against Murray, after winning for the sixth straight time against the Brit. Djokovic is 18- 2 on the year.

Considering this was probably the first match that I’ve played in the day in the entire year ‑‑ because I have played Doha, Dubai, Australian Open, and 90% of the matches I played during the night ‑‑ I thought I handled the conditions well.

It wasn’t easy, but I needed some time to adjust. The fact that I’m in another finals makes me definitely feel very good, very confident.

I had a phenomenal start of the season, and hopefully I can, you know, do my best tomorrow and maybe get another trophy.

Murray had a below average serving day against the Serb, losing his serve four times in the match.

“I tried to go for a few more serves today and to try to get a few more free points, but, you know, serving 50% or just below is, you know, not good enough against the best players,” sais Murray. “You obviously need to serve better.

“I thought I actually hit my second serve better than I did in Australia today, but first‑serve percentage was too low.”

Murray had 29 unforced errors and only seven winners in the contest

“I think obviously I didn’t start either of the sets well,” Murray said. “That obviously makes things difficult against the best players. I mean, Novak didn’t give me any free points at the beginning of either of the sets, and I made a few too many errors early on.

“Then, you know, in the end of both sets, middle of both sets, I started to play a bit better and made it tougher and was able to push him a bit, but not enough at the beginning of the sets to make it challenging enough for him.”

“I thought I played solid, with the right intensity from the beginning,” said Djokovic. “Good first‑serve percentage. Got some free points there in the important moments.

“Just overall it was a good performance.”

Djokovic admitted that his opponent did preform as well as he could have.

“Even though it’s a straight‑set victory, I still had to earn it,” Djokovic stated. “I thought that he hasn’t played close to his highest level. Made a lot of unforced errors, especially from the forehand side. Low percentage of first serves in. That allowed me to obviously step in and be aggressive.”


Roger Federer

Roger Federer

Milos Raonic broke up the potential “Big Four” reunion in the semifinals when he upset Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals on Friday. Raonic tested Federer in the straight set loss on Saturday.

The hard-serving Canadian was broken in the eleventh game of the first set, which the Swiss closed out 7-5 in 45 minutes. Federer opened the second set with a break, and never looked back.

Federer has now reached his 40th Masters Series 1000 final. Federer claimed the desert crown 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2012.

“I’m very happy how well I’m playing,” said Federer. “Feel good physically. Obviously I feel refreshed after the holiday. I’m serving well, which is always crucial.”

“He was neutralizing well on the serve, but especially during the points I felt like a few times I was able to stretch him,” Raonic said.

“He was doing a good job of getting legs behind and always playing deep cross so I could never find that short forehand I was looking for.”

“I wish I would have served a higher percentage, but I felt like when I was putting my first serve in I was doing a good job,” the Canadian explained. “I don’t think I mixed up my second serve enough.”

Djokovic discussed the possibility of playing Federer in the final:

“If I get to play Roger, it’s the ultimate final that right now I can have. Probably the player that is in the best form. You know, in the last 12 months he’s been playing some of his best tennis, I thought.

“Especially after, for his standards, pretty average season in 2013. He came back and played the finals in Wimbledon, played some great tournaments, won titles, and we had a fight for No. 1 spot all the way up to last couple of matches in London.

“He started off the year well again except that third‑round loss in the Australian Open. He won two titles. You know, he’s playing great. There no question about it.

“We all know that Roger, with all his records, we know the experience that he has. He’s not expected to play nothing less than his best in these stages of the tournament.

“He’s been proving that. He won so many titles. He loves the big occasions, and I’m sure he’s gonna come out wanting to win, being aggressive.

“He moves great. I thought since he changed the racquet it helped him with maybe reaching balls in the defense that he wasn’t able to do maybe before that. Seems like he has more control in the backhand. Great serve, as always.

“So he’s a very complete player. No question about it.”

“One thing about Roger is that he always makes you play highest level if you want to win against him,” Djokovic added.

“That’s something that’s always in the back of my mind. This is something that makes me come out with the highest possible concentration and intensity and commitment. If I want to win that match and win this title, I definitely need to be on top of my game.”

“After losing so close last year I was quite disappointed, even though I was happy how I was playing,” said Federer. “Can’t wait until we get a chance again to play him here, because you have to wait one entire year, got to win another five matches, and finally you’re in the finals again.

“So I think it’s very exciting for both of us, and also for fans, to see a rematch of the great final from last year. I’m looking forward to it, and I hope I can keep up my good play.”

“I like these big matches. I have been playing so well and I don’t feel tired. I feel great going into the finals, and I hope I can keep up this kind of a level. I know I need an extra special performance tomorrow because Novak’s going to push you there to come up with a lot of great shots in a row, which is not always easy to do.

“So I will see how it goes.”

Asked if his rivalry Djokovic is on par with Rafael Nadal, Federer said: “It will never be the same. Not better or worse. It just will be different just because the matchup is so unique for me with Rafa; whereas Novak’s is totally, like I said, straightforward.

“With Rafa I feel like I need to change everything when I play him. I have played so many times against Rafa on clay, as well, that it feels different; whereas Novak has been a much more of a hard court rivalry, whereas with Rafa has been more clay and grass.”

Federer on his rivalry with Djokovic: “What remains is that you know it’s always been tough against him. I have seen the rise of him, you know, as he’s gotten fitter and more match tough, mentally tougher, became one of the best movers we have in the game. It’s been nice seeing him do that, you know, and improve as you move along.

“Sometimes I wonder if everybody’s willing to improve as much as Novak did. It’s been interesting to see him figure his game out, and I’m happy I can still hang with him. I must be quite honest, because he’s in his absolute prime right now, and I enjoy the challenge of him. I hope he enjoys my challenge.

“So we will see tomorrow, but I think it’s a very dynamic rivalry we have. Great movement. I don’t think we need to change our games very much when we play each other. We can just go out there and play our game, which I think is quite cool also for fans and for ourselves, which is interesting.”





What a Difference a Week Makes

Serena Williams

Serena Williams

(March 20, 2015) INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA – Just as the tournament spun in the early days with the expectation of Serena Williams’ return, so it would end in an almost eerie echo of 14 years ago.


Social media had already buzzed about the news during the previous semi-final, and when she took to the court mostly to cheers, a few boos could be clearly heard from the Press balcony, coming from above, but the announcement was cleverly stage managed to celebrate 40 years of the tournament, and the momentousness of Williams come-back just a week ago.


Williams spoke to the press immediately afterwards and confirmed: “I was just on the practice court two days ago, day and a half ago, yesterday, and everything was going good. Literally last two couple minutes of practice I went for a serve and I just felt a super sharp pain in my knee.


“It was like, Okay, and I served again. I felt it again. I just came off, and it hasn’t been the same since. I have done everything. Like I have just pretty much done everything from taping to research and I even did an injection. I have never done an injection before.


“I think if this was any other event I probably wouldn’t have considered it. I wanted to give 200%. It just wasn’t meant to be this year.”


She has stated she intends to return to Indian Wells next year.


Meanwhile – we had the ATP quarter-finals to conclude, and that too was a tale of two halves.

315Federerin press.-001

Roger Federer almost bullied his way to the semi-finals of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. From the outset he had Tomas Berdych on the back foot, at one stage throwing up three double faults in one game before Federer finally broke through the door he had been battering down. A single break was a respectable margin for the first set, but it was not enough as Federer stepped up a gear, and Berdych crumbled once more in a key match 6-4, 6-0.


The confidence he had at the start of the year with regards to changing the team around him, once more could not manifest itself when it came to the crunch, as Berdych tried to explain.


In his post-match news conference he said: “When you feel that he’s in control right from the beginning, then of course you have to come up with your best game from the beginning of the match. I mean, you just want to play well. You just want to play your best. There is a very thin line in between that and overdoing it. It’s not so easy, really, to control it every single time that you go play with a player like this, even if he’s playing in such a good shape.


“Today I stepped a little bit over it, so hope the next time, next day, it’s just going to stay on the line.”


With the very real prospect of the World Top 4 contesting the Indian Wells semi-finals, Federer cast his eye over another match up with Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard started aggressively against Milos Raonic, breaking him before the first change of ends in the first set.


Federer said: “Matches against him are always tough, I think. You know, he’s going to play the percentages high. He’s not going to miss many shots. He’s got a great forehand, one of the best ever. Then physically and mentally he’s always going to be there. That what makes him so good and so tough over all these years. “


It looked for all the world like we would be in for a quick afternoon, but somehow Raonic clung on to set, needing five set points in total (three in the tie-break) to take only his second set off the Spaniard.


Milos Raonic

Milos Raonic

Going toe-to-toe with him in the decider had everyone ready for a decisive tie-break but for a loose game by Nadal to give Raonic a 6-5 lead. For once it was right to come down to that serve as Raonic held his nerve to close out a 4-6, 7-6(10), 7-5 win, his first over Nadal and it sets up an intriguing rematch now against Federer after their encounter in the season opener in Brisbane.


Raonic believes he can be ready for Saturday’s semi-final after such a momentous win.


He said: “I think I have a good understanding of what I need to do against Roger. Obviously that’s the easiest part, understanding it, rather than doing it. But I think the last three times we have played I have sort of been able to change course a little bit, especially when it was important to me in Paris. Even the other two I didn’t play well at the start of the matches, in London and in Brisbane, but I was able to find a way to fight myself back into those matches and give myself some opportunities.


“I’ve just got to keep calm, keep collected, and just try to figure out solutions and adjustments as they come.”


The ATP semi-finals will be played on Saturday.


Ros Satar is a British sports journalist and a writer at


Old Guard Shine Once More

Jelena Jankovic

Jelena Jankovic

(March 19, 2015) INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA – We could be heading for a Serena Williams / Jelena Jankovic final after the Serbian continued her strong run of form at the tournament she won back in 2010. Always reliable for a chuckle in press, she walked in with a heavy sigh as if she had lost, before joking about how she and Williams had been high-fiving each other at their achievements this week.


In a week where the WTA Rising Stars rose up for a fraction of a time to dispatch top seeds, the old guard have reasserted themselves, and we were almost entertaining three players over the age of 30 in the semi-finals.


Jankovic’s passage into the final was quick, as Ukrainian qualifier Lesia Tsurenko sadly struggled throughout their quarter-final with an ankle injury she picked up in the previous round, and retired to hand Jankovic a 6-1, 4-1 win.


“It’s never nice to end a match in that way. I think Lesia has had such a great tournament and she has beaten so many great players throughout the draw. I knew it was going to be a tough match today. In the first set I think we played well. I didn’t see some problems. I was feeling pretty good out there. I was playing my game and waiting for my chances to execute. I was solid.”


She continued: “In the second set she started limping and I saw that she had some problem. You know, that’s the time as well I lost a little bit of my focus. I was kind of looking at what she was doing. It was crucial for me to win that game at 2‑1, because who knows what would happen if it was 2‑All.”


Defending champion Flavia Pennetta was not so lucky though, starting slowly against Sabine Lisicki before finally starting to play a bit better. After her overwhelming emotions at beating World No. 2 Maria Sharapova, she had to battle once more from a set down to keep her defence alive, even saving a match point on the way to leveling the match.


The tides turned in the decider, as Pennetta had her chances to close out the match, but Lisicki, who had never won in Indian Wells, edged her for a place in the semi-final 6-4, 6-7 (3), 7-6 (4) . The crowds gathering for the night match were treated to a spectacle, and the semi-finals ought to live up to that as Serena Williams will face gritty Simona Halep in the final night match on Friday, with Jankovic and Lisicki opening up the show.


Meanwhile the men’s quarter-finals got underway with Andy Murray thwarting Feliciano Lopez. The Spaniard could not get a break (quite literally) as Murray quietly and efficiently dismantled his serve and rendered his coming forward moot winning 6-3, 6-4.


He explained: “I don’t have as much trouble with the lefties just because I grew up playing with one, and that’s obviously one of his biggest advantages. I thought I played a good match. Every time he came to net I made it very difficult for him. I passed very well, and that was important, because it meant that he spent more time at the back of the court.


“When we were in the baseline rallies, I felt like I was able to dictate a lot of those points. Passing shots were important today.”


With the disappointing news that Bernard Tomic had withdrawn officially with a back injury, but also troubled with a wisdom tooth, defending men’s champion Novak Djokovic gets a walkover into the semi-final, but after struggling against him last year, Murray believes he has a chance to redress the balance.


He said: “He’s played extremely well here in the past. You know, he will be totally fresh as well and ready for the semis, so it will be a tough one for me. But I feel like I played well this week, and, you know, if I can keep that level up and for a sustained period on Saturday, I’ll have a chance.”


The men’s quarter-finals conclude on Friday.


Ros Satar is a British sports journalist and a writer at


For the Good of the Sport

Serena Williams

Serena Williams

(March 18, 2015) The women’s side of the draw flipped on its head once more as the young up and coming pack started to fall away after some famous wins this week. Gone was Caroline Garcia, who felled Ana Ivanovic, while Jelena Jankovic hit one more for the oldies when she dispatched Belinda Bencic to book her place in the quarter-final.


But perhaps the biggest surprise was Lesia Tsurenko defeating Genie Bouchard, whose come-back had been going quite swimmingly until that point. And she’s going to be one to watch as she faces the 2010 champion Jankovic next. The Serbian is playing some really solid tennis at the moment, perhaps buoyed by a great win over the very hard-hitting Madison Keys, but she can also come undone fairly spectacularly when she’s up against a player she has not played before. We could expect all kinds of potential tantrums on court, but it still will have been her best result for quite some time.


Serena Williams finally ended the great run of Acapulco and Monterrey champion Timea Bacsinszky, and while she admitted she could almost see the trophy in her hands (the first American to win it since her victory in 2001) she acknowledged that she had still a way to go.


She said: “I think it will be really good. It’s a good surface for her. I feel like she can definitely come out here, and when we play, play really well. Hopefully I can start playing better. “


Andy Murray

Andy Murray

But maybe, and perhaps disappointingly, the focus at the start of the day was more on the news that Wayne Odesnik had been caught again on a doping charge, despite protesting his innocence. He was caught in two samples, and in light of his two year ban in 2010-2011 for being caught with a growth hormone and medical materials in his possession, he was banned for 15 years, and thus announced his retirement from the sport.


Needless to say there are not many offering to give him a handshake for his “achievements” (if a world ranking of No. 77 and no titles are to be celebrated).


Andy Murray tweeted “Good riddance” and called into question, quite reasonably, if one had been caught once, why would you do it again?


He said: “He’s been linked to a number of people that have been involved in doping presently and in the past and surrounded himself with those people, so I can’t say I’m surprised.   To have three separate issues is ridiculous. It’s good that he’s off the tour now.”



Rafael Nadal was a touch surprised to hear the news but broadly agreed, saying: “I really don’t know about him, so it’s difficult to say one or another thing. But obviously when that happens twice, you don’t deserve to be on the tour.”


Quarter-final action continues on Thursday.


Ros Satar is a British sports journalist and a writer at




Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal Advance at Indian Wells


Roger Federer

Roger Federer

(March 17, 2015) World No. 2 and four-time Indian Wells champion Roger Federer avenged his Australian Open third round loss to Italy’s Andreas Seppi with a 6-3, 6-4 victory on Tuesday night. Rafael Nadal also advanced with a 6-4, 6-2 win over American Donald Young. Both men have moved on to the round of 16.

“It absolutely was an opportunity right away to play him again and sort of erase it to some extent from the memory as the season moves forward,” Federer said of the 82-minute match “It’s one of those matches you’re happy you’re through, and I was happy it was over.”

In the all-lefty match-up, Nadal said: “I feel confident that I am playing much better than one month and a half ago.”

“I feel closer to be what I am, what I want to be, and it’s a positive victory for me, and it’s a positive victory for me, another victory. Every victory is important victory for me. Already six matches in a row winning, and that’s a good number.”

The No 3 player will face Gilles Simon in the fourth round.

“He is playing well. He had a good beginning of the season,” The Spaniard said of his future French challenger. “Is true he had some problem in his neck last couple of years, no? He had some injuries there.

“So he’s playing with injuries, with pain, with no continuity is very difficult for everybody. He’s healthy now. He’s playing well. He’s a very dangerous player.”

Federer will play American Jack Sock next.

“Never played him,” said Sock. “I mean, we are friendly. Friendly guy. Talk in the locker room some. Yeah, I’m more excited than anything if I do play him. Obviously Seppi got him in Melbourne.

“But, yeah, if I get a chance to play him ‑‑ I haven’t played one of those, as some people say, those top 4 guys. I haven’t been able to play one in a match. Yeah, I look forward to it, and especially here in the States it would be fun.”


Maria Sharapova Falls to Defending Champ Flavia Pennetta at Indian Wells

Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova

(March 17, 2015) Former BNP Paribas Open champion Maria Sharapova lost 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 to defending champion Flavia Pennetta on Tuesday evening. For the emotional Italian Pennetta it was her ninth straight win in Indian Wells, California.

Pennetta left the court during the first set and cried.

“Sometimes you just need to take everything out,” said Pennetta. “I mean, in the court it’s not easy to do that. I was just trying to keep calm and playing every point.

“But then when I finish the first set I was feeling, Okay, I have to go out.”

“For the first two or three games I was OK,” Pennetta continued “Then it’s coming. Like I never expect. I never do something like that. Normally you go away and you don’t want to stay on the court. But for me was important to just keep calm and try to play. In the end I just play really well.”

The 33-year-old Pennetta hit 34 unforced errors and 15 winners opposed to her Russian opponent with 42 unforced errors and 27 winners to along with 11 double faults.

“Last two times I beat her 2009 and 2011 I think, and every match we play I think was a third set,” said Pennetta. “Every match. Also the two before I lost: 2006 in Wimbledon and another one I don’t remember ‑‑ here.

“It was always really tough and close match. I think for sure, I mean, when you go on the court and you know you lose the last two times you think a little bit more.

“I just try to play in the way I always play against her. I mean, if you give her time you are dead, so you have to hit the ball, try to be aggressive the most you can, and try to go all the time for the good shot.”

I mean, it’s always the way I play, but sometimes when I play with not the big one I’m waiting a little bit more. But with this kind of player you have to take the chance you have, because it’s just coming once. If you wait, they are back.

Pennetta broke the world No 2’s serve twice in the deciding set.

“I don’t think the match starts in the third set,” said Sharapova. “I got off to a good start. Definitely had some chances in the beginning of the second set. Few Love‑40, Love‑30 games.

“Yeah, just didn’t, you know, commit enough. Didn’t take one of those. I think she gained a little bit of confidence after that. She started feeling a little bit kind of fresh breath of air. Started going a little bit more for her serve, for the lines.

“I just felt she got in a really good rhythm. Everything I gave her she was able to hit back solid with pace. She mixed it up. She was seeing the ball a lot better.”

“We haven’t played in a while so it’s tough to compare today’s match to the other ones,” noted the five-time major winner. “Today’s situation, I think it was ‑‑ when you let someone kind of back in, when you’re, you know, there in front of them and, you know, you’re doing the right things ‑‑ okay, maybe I wasn’t playing my best tennis in the first set, but I was competitive enough and solid enough and was doing the right things.

“Just wasn’t able to step up in the key moments in the second.”

Pennetta will play the winner of the Sabine Lisicki/Caroline Garcia match in the quarterfinals.


Serena Williams Reaches Indian Wells Quarters with Three-set Win over Sloane Stephens

Serena Williams

Serena Williams

(March 17, 2015) Serena Williams overcame 52 unforced errors and nine double faults to stop Sloane Stephens 6-7 (3), 6-2, 6-2 to reach the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Open on Tuesday.

The 21-year-old Stephens took a double break 3-0 lead in the opening set, and lost the advantage until the tiebreak, which she dominated 7-3.

“I think Sloane played really well in the first set,” Williams said. “Actually in the whole match. I just made a few errors, but I think she forced me to make those errors.”

The 19-time major champion rallied from dropping the first set in a tiebreak to dominate the final two sets.

From 1-2 down in the second set, Williams won 11 of the next 13 games.

The 33-year-old veteran Williams broke Stephens’ serve three times in the final set. The world No. 1 set up match point with a 128-mph ace and sealed the victory when Stephens netted a backhand.

“I thought I played a really solid first set,” said Stephens. “Obviously I was playing No. 1 player in the world so it was going to be a little tough. She played well in the second and third set.

“You know, you win some, you lose some. It was a good effort by me.”

“I had some chances and opportunities that I didn’t really capitalize on which I should have. Like I said, I was playing No. 1 player in the world. When you don’t take your chances, it could be a little tough.”

Despite only a 51 first serve percentage, Williams hit 14 aces during the match. Stephens hit 13 winners to 36 unforced errors with a 58 first serve percentage.

The two-time Indian Wells champion Williams has now raised her record against Stephens to 3-1, with her only loss coming in the quarterfinals of the 2013 Australian Open.

The world No 42, once as high as No 11 in the world, said she is building on her recent positive results: “definitely a good step in the right direction; looking forward to next week.

“I think I played really well my last three matches, and then today I felt I played really well. You know, I think it was just continuous flowing, and every day it’s getting better.

“So I’m happy with that.”

“I have always thought Sloane can be really great,” said Williams. “I think she’s on the right track. You know, she played really well. She had some very good wins here against two seeds.

“So, yeah, I thought it was a really positive result even today.”

Williams will play Timea Bacsinszky next.

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Serena Williams and Sloane Stephens Win to Set Up Fourth Round Clash at Indian Wells