May 30, 2017

Elena Vesnina and Roger Federer Win BNP Paribas Open Singles Titles

(March 19, 2017) Roger Federer and Elena Vesnina took home the BNP Paribas Open singles trophies on Sunday in Indian Wells California. In an all-Swiss affair, Federer defeated Wawrinka 6-4, 7-5 to win his fifth Indian Wells crown, 90th career tournament and 25th Masters Series 1000 title. He is now tied with Novak Djokovic for most Indian Wells titles.

At 35-years and seven months old, the 18-time major champion became the oldest BNP Paribas Open champion. Federer is third in Open Era in number of titles behind Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl.

The women’s final was an all-Russian contest which saw Elena Vesnina rally from a set and 1-4 down in the second s set and 2-4 down in the third set to beat Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-7 (6), 7-5, 6-4 in just over three hours in the first match of the day.

“For me, the dream run continues,” Federer said during the trophy ceremony.

“This was not part of the plan, to win Australia and Indian Wells. The goal was to be top 8 by after Wimbledon, so I’m there much, much faster.”

“I will make the plan for the remainder of the season, especially for the clay, after Miami, and then see also what the goals are because the goals are clearly changing after this dream start.”

“The way he’s playing is just so beautiful,” said finalist Wawrinka. “Everything looks perfect. He’s moving amazingly well. He has amazing touch. He’s doing everything you can do on the tennis court.”

“I think Stan can be very proud of his efforts here and the start to the year,” Federer said to media. “And the tournament he played here was great for him. He’s always struggled in the past in the desert. And then, for me, the dream run continues. The fairytale of the comeback that I have already shown in Australia.

“Again, I’m not as surprised as I was in Australia, but still this comes as a big, big surprise to me, nevertheless, to win here again and beating the players that I did and the way I did. I mean, couldn’t be more happy.

“It’s an absolute, huge start to the year for me. Yeah, last year didn’t win any titles. I don’t think I was in any finals except maybe Brisbane last year.

“The change is dramatic, and it feels great.”

Federer’s ranking will move up to No. 6 as of Monday.

Last February, 14th seed Vesnina was ranked No. 122 in the world and lost in qualifying at Indian Wells. Talk about a turnaround. She’ll be No. 13 in the world when the rankings come out on Monday.

Like her last year on tour, she had to battle back and Sunday was no different. The 30-year-old, who defeated No. 2 seed Angela Kerber and No. 12 seed Venus Williams on the road to making the final, talked about how she was mentally able to rebound from a set and 1-4 down:

“I was down the whole match except the first set. I was up with a break twice and I had set point. I didn’t use my chances there, and then she won the set and was 4-1-up.

“I was kind of fighting to just stay longer on the court, you know, just don’t give it so easy. I was telling to myself, You’re 4-1 down. Nothing to lose. Just fight for each game, you know, try to win every point, you know, try to deserve every point, because she will not give you anything.

“When I was down 4-2 in the third set, I know these kind of feelings when you’re having so much chances and you’re not using them, then your opponent will have one chance and she will use it.

“So I think that’s the situation what happened with Svetlana and me today, because she was up the whole match. She was up set 4-1, then 4-2 in the third. She had so many break points on my serve. She was 30-Love up couple of times on her serves.

“And I always keep coming back. I stick there, you know. I was just not giving anything, you know, that moment. I was just — I didn’t thought about, like, the end of the match. I was just thinking about how to kind of get back into the game. You know, I was just thinking about that.

“And when I broke her at 4-All and went to serve for the match, I had this in my mind. You know, I was, like, I’m not gonna give it. I went to serve, and I was, like, I never gonna lose this game.

“I don’t know how I have it in my mind, you know, serving for the championship point, championship game, you know, and don’t be so nervous, you know. I was really — that game, I was really calm. I was not thinking that if I’m going to lose this game it’s going to be 5-All. I was not afraid to lose, you know, maybe for the whole match. I was just trying to play.

“And I think Svetlana, end of the match, she was afraid to lose the match, and this is the difference maybe.”

The 31-year-old, two-time major champion and eighth seed Kuznetsova said: “I didn’t feel good today, because she was very aggressive, and I was a little bit out of my game. I was too far from the court, and I was running all the way, way behind, so the only thing I could defend. And I didn’t serve well.

“So I think that was overall the key points. Even I made it 7-6, 4-1 and was one break, and she kept being aggressive, and, yeah, I was too passive. I think that’s why I lost.”


BNP Paribas Open – Thursday Results, Friday Schedule


$7,913,405 (ATP)

$7,699,423 (WTA)

6-19 MARCH 2017


RESULTS – MARCH 16, 2017


Singles – Quarterfinals

[3] S. Wawrinka (SUI) d [8] D. Thiem (AUT) 64 46 76(2)

[21] P. Carreno Busta (ESP) d [27] P. Cuevas (URU) 61 36 76(4)


Doubles – Semifinals

[6] R. Klaasen (RSA) / R. Ram (USA) d G. Muller (LUX) / S. Querrey (USA) 62 64


Singles – Quarterfinals

[14] E. Vesnina (RUS) d [12] V. Williams (USA) 62 46 63

[28] K. Mladenovic (FRA) d [13] C. Wozniacki (DEN) 36 76(4) 62


Doubles – Semifinals

[6] Y. Chan (TPE) / M. Hingis (SUI) d [1] B. Mattek-Sands (USA) / L. Safarova (CZE) 76(7) 75

Hradecka (CZE) / K. Siniakova (CZE) d [2] E. Makarova (RUS) / E. Vesnina (RUS) 63 63



STADIUM 1 start 12:00 noon

ATP – [9] R. Federer (SUI) vs [15] N. Kyrgios (AUS)


Not Before 2:00 pm

ATP – [17] J. Sock (USA) vs [4] K. Nishikori (JPN)

ATP – [4] J. Murray (GBR) / B. Soares (BRA) vs [8] L. Kubot (POL) / M. Melo (BRA)


Not Before 7:00 pm

WTA – [28] K. Mladenovic (FRA) vs [14] E. Vesnina (RUS)

WTA – [3] Ka. Pliskova (CZE) vs [8] S. Kuznetsova (RUS)


Vesnina Stops Venus Williams to Reach BNP Paribas Open Semifinals

Venus Williams


(March 16, 2017) Elena Vesnina fought off six break points in the final game to defeat 12th seed Venus Williams 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 to reach the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open on Thursday in Indian Wells.

“I’m in the semifinal of BNP Indian Wells tournament, one of the biggest Masters Series tournament.,” noted Vesnina. “I guess I’m on fire. I’m enjoying myself on the court, and I’m really happy with my wins here.

“This win today against Venus really means a lot for me. It’s never easy to play against her. She’s a great champion and always fighting till the end.

“I’m really happy that I pulled this win.”

Vesnina came into the match after having beaten No. 2 seed Angelique Kerber in the fourth round.

Vesnina talked about Venus Williams’ impact on the sport of tennis: “She’s a great example of how you can love tennis. You know, for so many years, she brings so much passion and love to this game.

“She’s coming and giving everything, you know. She’s always fighting, always enjoying, smiling. You know, you can see she’s, like, little girl on the court, actually, enjoying more than half of the WTA Tour. And we have to learn from her, you know, how she’s appreciating what she’s doing.

“I think maybe it came to her maybe kind of few years ago. Maybe when she was young she was a bit different, but now she’s totally enjoying herself and she’s, like, inspiring everybody around her, you know, her and Serena, as well. Because really what they bring to the tennis, to the woman’s tennis, is just amazing.”

“It’s never fun to fall short. But, you know, I gave my all, ” said Williams.

“I chose to be here. That was my choice. I gave it my best today, and I’m looking forward to playing her again, hopefully healthy and 100%, and will have an opportunity to really show what I can do in these kind of matches.”

“Work is important and, you know, satisfying work is a big part of life, and it is satisfying. Days like today are frustrating when I want to do more and can’t do more or didn’t do more.

“But it’s wonderful to be able to live my dream and work is — you know, I try to separate it from my regular life, but it’s sort of one and the same. Of course I look at the bigger picture and realize there is more important things than the yellow ball, but it’s pretty up there.”

The Russian, seeded 14th will play the Frenchwoman, No. 28 seed Kristina Mladenovic for a place in the final. Mladenovic beat Caroline Wozniacki 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-2.

“Kiki is having a great season,” said Vesnina. “She’s on fire. She won her first maiden title in St. Petersburg and then she made final in Acapulco. I think now she beat two top 10 players on the way to the semifinal.

“So definitely she’s having a great season. It’s going to be tough match. She’s upcoming player. We played couple of times, but two, three years ago, and totally different story now.

“So we will see. I need to think how I need to play against her, because I have couple of thoughts on my mind. She’s a great doubles player, as well. You know, so she’s kind of player on all the court, you know. She can come into the net. She’s using the dropshots, slices.

“So it’s going to be difficult match, but on the other hand, it’s very exciting to play the semifinal match here in Indian Wells.”


Mladenovic, who will move into the Top 20 next week discussed the match in her news conference: “Caroline is a top player, former World No. 1. She’s also in very great shape. I mean, she had a very good start of the season, as well, won lots of matches.

“We played three times before today, and I always lost, especially that final in Hong Kong at the end of last year was very painful for me, like, very frustrating. I thought I was playing well that entire week and, in the final, I was just kind of exhausted and injured. And still, it was, like, a very long battle there. If I’m not wrong, it was almost three hours.

“Today I was just, like, okay, today I’m feeling good. When I woke up, I’m like, nothing is hurting. I’m good. I’m not injured. I was happy about that. I was, like, I want to give a fight there and have no regrets.

“I wanted to take my revenge, of course. It was not easy. Again, it was a tough battle and tough conditions. We played, yeah, two hours and a half. I didn’t start well at all the match.

“I thought, you know, when you lost three times against a player, it means that something is wrong and that you, like, don’t really like her game.

“But I was not playing good, but still I felt like I needed adjustments, actually. It’s first time for me playing on that huge stadium and conditions and everything. I just stayed actually very positive and composed, because I was out there battling with myself first, I think, because I wanted kind of too much, you know. That was all about.

“Then, yeah, I was just fighting mentally to find adjustment and to be close with her at the scoreboard, and eventually I got my chances. And I think I played really well the tiebreak.

“Yeah, I went for my game. I went for some variation. I think I played differently at some point, you know, trying to use more the court to make her run, as well. Because she was doing that pretty well to me. And also put some slices in my game, dropshots.

“And something new I put today was the serve and volley on such important points (smiling). I impress myself kind of (smiling). I was, Okay, great. What I’m gonna do now?

“Because every time I would serve good on the backhand, she would go, like, very deep and return well. I was, like, Okay, let’s just be creative here.

“And it paid off, and it gave me a chance to fight a third set. I think the third set was the best game of today for me.”

There were 11 breaks of serve in this match and Wozniacki regretted missing chances.

“I didn’t take some of my opportunities in the third set. I didn’t break her when I had the opportunity. I didn’t hold when I had the opportunity and, all of sudden, those games kind of slipped away.

“And she had some big forehands when she needed to and then, all of a sudden, I see myself down 5-2, and it could maybe have been different.”

Mladenovic will be the No. 1 French women player when the next rankings come out.

The other women’s semifinal will feature No. 3 Karolina Pliskova and No. 8 Svetlana Kuznetsova.

In men’s action, a pair of “Pablos” squared off for a place in the final four.

No. 21 Pablo Carreno Busta from Spain saved two match points to beat 27th seed Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay, 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (4).

“It’s my first time in the semifinal in a Masters 1000, but here in Indian Wells is — you know, for me, this tournament is one of the best, not just the Masters 1000, one of the best tournaments in the year and maybe one of the tougher, because all the people is playing here, all the top 20,” said the Spaniard.

“So I think it’s a really great result for me.”

“Always with Cuevas– with Pablo is I need to be very focused on my game, very aggressive, because his second serve or his kick, you know, the ball is bounce a lot. So I need to be aggressive and I need to dominate the points, because he’s really dangerous with his forehand.”

Stan Wawrinka

Carreno Busta will play No. 3 Stan Wawrinka who defeated No. 8 Dominic Thiem in the semifinals 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(2).

“I’m really happy,” said Wawrinka. “Again, tiebreak. The level was really high tonight. I’m really happy the way I was playing, the way I find a way to win it. He’s a strong player, really tough to play. I think in general we play both really high level, and the match was only one, two points.

“I think in the third set tiebreak I served really well. I was really focused to not give him anything. And, again, it’s a great win for me.”

“I think it’s a little bit experience, a little bit the confidence, a little bit thinking about what you want to do and just do it without thinking if you’re gonna miss or no.

“I think in those moments you need to trust your game and that’s what I did well. I was playing well. I could have lose the match, for sure. But, in general, I try to stay focused with my game, with my game plan, and don’t give in anything.

“I know also that’s when I play good tennis. I can beat anybody. So that’s give me a lot of confidence.”



BNP Paribas Open – Wednesday Results, Thursday Schedule



$7,913,405 (ATP)

$7,699,423 (WTA)

6-19 MARCH 2017


RESULTS – MARCH 15, 2017


Singles – Fourth Round

[15] N. Kyrgios (AUS) d [2] N. Djokovic (SRB) 64 76(3)

[3] S. Wawrinka (SUI) d [LL] Y. Nishioka (JPN) 36 63 76(4)

[4] K. Nishikori (JPN) d D. Young (USA) 62 64

[9] R. Federer (SUI) d [5] R. Nadal (ESP) 62 63

[8] D. Thiem (AUT) d [10] G. Monfils (FRA) 63 62

[27] P. Cuevas (URU) d [11] D. Goffin (BEL) 63 36 63

[17] J. Sock (USA) d M. Jaziri (TUN) 46 76(1) 75

[21] P. Carreno Busta (ESP) d [Q] D. Lajovic (SRB) 64 76(5)


Doubles – Quarterfinals

Muller (LUX) / S. Querrey (USA) d [3] H. Kontinen (FIN) / J. Peers (AUS) 67(2) 63 10-6

[4] J. Murray (GBR) / B. Soares (BRA) d J. Rojer (NED) / H. Tecau (ROU) 76(5) 64

[6] R. Klaasen (RSA) / R. Ram (USA) d N. Djokovic (SRB) / V. Troicki (SRB) 36 62 10-6

[8] L. Kubot (POL) / M. Melo (BRA) d [WC] N. Kyrgios (AUS) / N. Zimonjic (SRB) 61 63



Singles – Quarterfinals

[3] Ka. Pliskova (CZE) d [7] G. Muguruza (ESP) 76(2) 76(5)

[8] S. Kuznetsova (RUS) d [19] A. Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) 63 62



Doubles – Quarterfinals

[1] B. Mattek-Sands (USA) / L. Safarova (CZE) d S. Kuznetsova (RUS) / K. Mladenovic (FRA) 63 36 10-8

[2] E. Makarova (RUS) / E. Vesnina (RUS) d S. Aoyama (JPN) / Z. Yang (CHN) 62 61



STADIUM 1 start 11:00 am

WTA – [13] C. Wozniacki (DEN) vs [28] K. Mladenovic (FRA)


Not Before 1:00 pm

ATP – [21] P. Carreno Busta (ESP) vs [27] P. Cuevas (URU)


Not Before 5:00 pm

WTA – [12] V. Williams (USA) vs [14] E. Vesnina (RUS)


Not Before 7:00 pm

ATP – [3] S. Wawrinka (SUI) vs [8] D. Thiem (AUT)

ATP – [6] R. Klaasen (RSA) / R. Ram (USA) vs G. Muller (LUX) / S. Querrey (USA)

STADIUM 2 start Not Before 2:30 pm

WTA – Possible Court Change – [1] B. Mattek-Sands (USA) / L. Safarova (CZE) vs [6] Y. Chan (TPE) / M. Hingis (SUI)


Not Before 7:00 pm

WTA – After Suitable Rest – L. Hradecka (CZE) / K. Siniakova (CZE) vs [2] E. Makarova (RUS) / E. Vesnina (RUS)




Federer Beats Nadal, Djokovic Loses to Kyrgios at BNP Paribas Open

Roger Federer

(March 15, 2017) Ninth seed Roger Federer took out fifth seed Rafael Nadal 6-2, 6-3 in a fourth-round match at the BNP Paribas Open on Wednesday. This was the first time since the 2004 third round in Miami that they met so early in a tournament. For the Swiss, it was his thirteenth win over the Spaniard in thirty-six attempts. For the first time in their rivalry, it’s the third straight victory over Nadal for Federer. Federer beat Nadal in the final of the Australian Open at the end of January.

“It’s a nice feeling to win the last three. I can tell you that,” said Federer.

“But most importantly, I won Australia. That was big for me. On the comeback, I look back at that and think that was one of the coolest things I ever experienced in my career.

“Basel was special, too, for many reasons, because I used to be ballboy there. I never played Rafa prior to that finals.

“Then now, here, after the Australian hype, you know, to play here in America right away, all of them are very special.

“I mean, all the matches that we have played are unique in many ways for both of us, winning or losing. So I take it. Obviously can’t celebrate too long this time around. I have to get back to work in a couple of days.”

Federer broke Nadal’s serve a total of four times, twice in each set for the win in 68 minutes.

“The main thing he take the break in the first game, and I had break point in the next game and come back and he had a good serve,” said Nadal.

“When Roger have advantage, his serve is so good, he has a lot of confidence with his serve, he’s able to play much more relaxed, no?

“Worst thing in that match for me was from the beginning I was in disadvantage breaking the first game of the match, and then breaking the second game of the second set. So that’s so difficult to play against Roger this way.”

“It was all about coming out and trying to play the way I did in Australia,” said Federer to media. “I didn’t think it was going to be that possible, to be quite honest, because the court is more jumpy here or more rough, let’s say, so it’s hard to put the ball away.

“I have seen, as well, like against Johnson yesterday, when you serve well and stay on the offensive and you press, you can actually play some really good, aggressive tennis here.

“It’s hard to dig your way out of defense, because the ball doesn’t skid on you as an attacker, and I think I did well again today. You know, I said yesterday it was more a sprint than a marathon. So getting in the lead was crucial, and then staying on the offense and pressing was the goal for me.

“Once I got the break in the second set, obviously you had to be very careful you didn’t get down double break. And I was able to hold my serve, and he couldn’t find a way how to get into my service games more frequently. Next thing you know, it’s all over. It was a really good performance by me, I thought.”


Nick Kyrgios

Three-time defending Indian Wells champ Novak Djokovic had his 19-match winning streak at the tournament snapped by 15th seed Nick Kyrgios 6-4, 7-6(3).
“Well, the run was amazing,” said Djokovic. “I am very proud of it, obviously. It had to end at some stage. Unfortunately, it was today.

“Well, Nick, again, as he did in Acapulco earlier, few weeks ago, he served so well. Just wasn’t managing to get a lot of balls back on his serve, first and second, as well.

“So I guess that’s what made a difference.”

The number two seed fell victim to the Australian for the second time in two weeks. Kyrgios beat Djokovic in Acapulco.
“I guess conditions like today where the ball travels through the air very fast and it bounces very high, you know, it’s a gamble,” said the Serb.

“And on his first serves, to try to anticipate and read his serve, where he’s going to go 140 miles per hour down the T and also pretty good angle wide, so it’s hard to position yourself well. Let’s call it that way. It is a gamble.

“His second serve, if you think you’re going to have a look at it, you don’t, because he goes for it, as well. He didn’t make too many double faults.

“As I said, you know, in this kind of conditions, it’s quite suitable for the server. Puts a lot of pressure on your service games. You know, you need to deliver and you can’t fold, which I did in the opening game of the match. Obviously, the dynamic of the match already went his way in the first/second game.

“Yeah, it was hard to come back from that one, although I did have my chances, did have some 30-Alls and deuces. I don’t think I reached a break point, but I did have some close games on his serves, but I just wasn’t able to deliver what was important at that stage.”
Kyrgios hit 14 aces against Djokovic.

“I knew it was going to be a tough battle today,” said Kyrgios. “I knew he wanted to come out there and obviously after Acapulco to come out there and win.

“The conditions are completely different here than they are in Acapulco. I don’t think I served anywhere near as I did in Acapulco. I fought for every point, and obviously we were a bit — I think both of us were a bit nervous at times.

“I thought it was a pretty good match. I played the crucial points pretty well. Obviously I just served well again. Yeah, it was good to get through.”

Kyrgios will take on Federer for a place in the semifinals. Kyrgios is 1-0 against the 18-time major champion.

Stan Wawrinka

No. 3 seed Stan Wawrinka had to battle back from two breaks in the third set to defeat lucky loser Yoshihito Nishioka 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(4) to advance.

“Well, was really tough match, of course, ” said Wawrinka. “He served twice for the match. He had breaker in the third.

“I wasn’t playing great. I was not moving well at the beginning. I was a little bit hesitating with my game. I think in general in the third set I played better than the two first sets. I got, I would say, maybe to break a little bit quick especially at 5-5.

“But in general I was finding a little bit better my game. I was playing a little bit more aggressive. I was more calm, making more long rally.

“Again, I’m really happy to get through for sure. You have to be a little bit lucky when he served twice for the match, but I’m happy to fight well enough to give me a chance to play tomorrow night.”

Other men reaching the elite 8 of Indian Wells includes: No. 4 seed Kei Nishikori, who defeated Donald Young 6-2, 6-4,  No. 8 seed Dominic Thiem dominated No.  10 seed Gael Monfils 6-3, 6-2, No. 17 seed Jack Sock who won 4-6, 7-6(1), 7-5 over Malek Jaziri, No. 21 Pablo Carreno Busta, beating qualifier Dusan Lajovic, and No. 27 Pablo Cuevas knocking out No, 11 seed David Goffin 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.

Karolina Pliskova

In women’s play, Karolina Pliskova and Svetlana Kuznetsova advanced to the semifinals. In a very tight match, the No. 3 seed Pliskova defeated No. 7 Garbine Muguruza 7-6, 7-6.

“Definitely the best match for me in this tournament,” said the Czech. “Also, like, it was good player, so the level ultimately goes a little bit more up, little better player.

“So definitely from the baseline I think was fine. But, yeah, the way how I was finishing those sets, I’m not happy with that, because I was serving into both. In the second one I was serving twice.

“Even 40-15 up, I don’t think it can happen with my serve. Like, anything is possible in tennis, but I just have to serve few times. I had a good rally once on my forehand.

“So, yeah, a little bit unlucky, but, yeah, just not happy with the way how it finished, but happy how I, in the end, still stayed there.

“And the tiebreaks, especially in the second one was not easy, because I had in my head, I had some match points and I had 5-2. So, yeah, so happy that I stayed there and closed it in the second tiebreak, as well.

“And obviously my serve not really good today, as the whole tournament.”

Kuznetsova defeated Russian countrywoman Anastasia Pavyluchenkova 6-3, 6-2.


On The Call with ESPN’s Chris Evert and Brad Gilbert



    ESPN Tennis Analyst Brad Gilbert


(March 15, 2017) ESPN tennis analysts Chrissie Evert and Brad Gilbert spoke with media on Wednesday about a wide range of current tennis topics, focusing on the two big events this month with extensive ESPN coverage — the BNP Paribas Open from Indian Wells, Calif., and the Miami Open.  Highlights of the call, followed by the full transcript:



On:  The Women’s Field at Both Events, Without Serena.

  • Serena not being here and Kerber all of a sudden not playing at what the level she played at last year, one word jumps out: Opportunity. You know, there’s opportunity for every player. All of a sudden every player thinks about, you know what, I can make a deep run.” – Gilbert
  • And if you let nerves and everything affect you, it’s going to hold you back.  I think this prospect of the opportunity tightens up a lot of players, so who is going to be the one or two emerging players that get through this successfully. I think it’s all about the mental part, how are they going to handle the nerves.” – Evert


On:  The Men’s Top Stars Fending Off the Next Generation.

  • As long as I’ve been in the game of tennis, it is the most exciting time. You’ve got icons, the greatest players ever at the top who will go down in history, then you’ve got some very consistent players that have been in the top ten like Raonic and like Berdych and Nishikori and Cilic, and then you have the young guns that are so exciting like Zverev and Dimitrov and Nick Kyrgios. It’s not only a high level of tennis but it’s different generations, and it’s different styles, and it’s all different personalities. It just is so exciting right now. I’ve always sort of been a spokesperson for the women’s game, but I’ve got to say, I’m probably a little more excited about the men’s right now.” – Evert


On:  The Prospects of Madison Keys

  • But right now, it’s just great to see her back being healthy after a wrist operation. I still think she’s definitely going to win a Grand Slam, whether it’s this year or next year. I think it’s in the cards for her, and we all know the potential is there.” – Evert
  • I think the talent is there. I think her big thing to – for the next 12 to 18 months – is just to be healthy….So I think once she can get that worked out… I think that she’s incredibly underranked because with her talent level, she should be top five.” — Gilbert

On: Maria Sharapova Receiving Wild Cards for Upcoming Events

  • Maria has served her term, and she — this decision of playing is really within the rules as far as the wild card entry…You can’t blame the tournament really for wanting to be successful and wanting to enhance their tournament by having a big draw like Maria Sharapova. I think we’re making a big deal about it.” – Evert
  • “(W)ild cards are for the tournament directors to give to whoever they want…it’s completely within the rules and fair of the tournaments to reward whoever they want.” – Gilbert


For the men’s, what do you make of Novak Djokovic’s year so far? Two seasons ago we were saying he had one of the best seasons of all time, and right now he’s kind of playing inconsistently. Do you think it’s more of a mental thing? What does he need to do to kind of get back to where he was before even though he’s not playing poorly but up to the standards? And what did you see in Madison Keys’ return from surgery, and I guess what is her potential?
GILBERT: Well, I mean, the greatest thing about tennis and any sport is when you’re winning these matches, that’s a way of winning more, and that gets you three zero out of the game, and Djokovic dominated for so long, so many players just dreaded playing him, and then all of a sudden, since Wimbledon last year, you know, he hasn’t played to the same level that we’ve seen from him, and that changes the attitude of the players going out playing against him.

So the only way to get that back, you know, is go out there and dominate again. It’s not that his game has come down that dramatically, but it’s come down a little bit. He’s had some tougher draws. He’s had some injuries. So there’s definitely some reasons. He played well last night and has got a rough act today against Kyrgios. But he’s 29, going to be 30 in May. He’s still got time.  But like I said, the only way to get back to where he was is by winning these matches and then winning becomes contagious, and then that puts that element in the thought of the opponents like, damn, he’s not beatable?

Q. So has his domination peaked do you think?
GILBERT: Well, for the most it certainly has, but I’m not going to say that at 29 about to be 30 that he couldn’t all of a sudden get it back. 10 years ago or 15 years ago you say once a player starts turning 30, it’s very difficult that maybe you’re going to see another great chapter, but that doesn’t exist anymore. So many players are playing great into their 30s. You know, it’s entirely possible that he could get it back and have another run again. I mean, he’s got all the physical capabilities. He’s got the tools. It’s just a matter of being able to get it done. I certainly don’t think that that couldn’t happen again.

EVERT: I’m going to just add on to that. I think if there’s anybody in the past, any champion in the past you’d consider like machinelike, it’s been Novak, and I think to be No. 1 you have to be 100 percent focused physically, mentally and emotionally, and sometimes life gets in the way, and there are distractions. I think I agree with Brad; it has nothing to do with the physical game. The game is there, and I think that this is a guy who — I think the mental and emotional aspects, there have been some distractions. I don’t know what they are, but I think that probably has affected him more so than the physical.  But the game is there, and there have been signs this week that he still wants it, he’s still going for it. But you know, the competition is only going to get better, and at some point he’s got to really jump up to that extra level of focus again, the focus that he had really the last five years. Just it hasn’t been there for whatever reason.  So once he gets that worked out, and that could be just life intervening for a moment, once he gets that worked out, I think he’s going to go back to being the Novak that we’ve seen the past few years.

As far as Madison Keys is concerned, I think there, again, there were definite signs, especially in our match against Naomi Osaka that she played pretty flawless tennis, and last night against Caroline Wozniacki, I think you saw the rustiness a little bit more.  But I think that being back with Lindsay is a good thing. I think Lindsay has a similar style and a similar game to Madison, and I think where Lindsay can help her is just to be more patient and more consistent with her power, and I think she definitely can help her in these areas.  But right now, it’s just great to see her back being healthy after a wrist operation. I still think she’s definitely going to win a Grand Slam, whether it’s this year or next year. I think it’s in the cards for her, and we all know the potential is there. But it’s really up to her, when the time is right for her.

GILBERT: I’ll just add one thing on Madison. I think the talent is there. I think her big thing to — for the next 12 to 18 months – is just to be healthy. She just has been dinged up a lot, and obviously this was a major one, but that seems to be kind of her sticking point a lot of times in majors is getting hurt. So I think once she can get that worked out…I think that she’s incredibly underranked because with her talent level, she should be top five.

Q. I was hoping you could each weigh in on the ongoing debate about dopers getting an automatic entry into tournaments, and of course I’m referring to Maria getting the wildcard after her return to Germany in April. I’m wondering if you could weigh in on that.
EVERT: I’ve been reading a lot about that, too. I mean, Maria has served her term, and she — this decision of playing is really within the rules as far as the wild card entry. I remember many weeks I started out on a Wednesday playing a match, so it’s not like — first rounds aren’t on Wednesday. You can’t blame the tournament really for wanting to be successful and wanting to enhance their tournament by having a big draw like Maria Sharapova. I think we’re making a big deal about it, but the fact of the matter is she’s doing everything within the rules, and she has fulfilled her obligation of 15 months. I’m one to say I’m not critical of that decision that the tournament made whatsoever.

: I mean, wild cards are for the tournament directors to give to whoever they want. I get asked this all the time on Twitter and everybody’s opinion. It’s not really what my opinion is. I like to see some of the players positively and negatively are saying about Maria, and I think that’s for them to voice their opinion about what they think is fair. But it’s completely within the rules and fair of the tournaments to reward whoever they want. It will be interesting to see what the Slams do because they do a little more business with the ITF, and so will they — especially the federations, will they give her a wild card? Wimbledon is a club, so that’s different, but the tennis federations, the USTA, the Aussies, will the federations give her a wild card. But I like to see the players voice their opinion, and like I said, I think it’s completely up to the tournaments to do, the director, what’s best for his tournament.

Q. I would like each of you to comment on why we are having so much trouble getting a WTA player who can really consistently come up and challenge and establish herself as a legitimate threat. Now that Serena is not playing, of course, for the foreseeable future and Kerber is out again at Indian Wells, what are you seeing and what theories do you have about why it’s been so hard to get players who can play and consistently establish themselves a solid No. 2 or 3 or even a 1?
EVERT: Gosh, that’s a good question. I think a lot of the problem has been Serena Williams. I honestly think, as I look, especially the past five years, I think Serena has played at such a high level, and no one has been able to match her power and match her athleticism, and I think she’s at such a high level that the other players are two levels below.  We see slowly there’s been a catching up. I mean, Madison Keys is really the only one that I could see, Muguruza maybe but she’s been inconsistent, that even has any sort of power comparable to Serena. I mean, Naomi Osaka coming up has that power, but she’s very young and inconsistent.

I mean, it’s all about — so far it has been all about the power game, and even though Kerber — like I said, Kerber had a couple of really good matches against Serena, or one for sure, Wimbledon was good, too, but you’re right, she hasn’t been able to maintain that top form of playing relaxed and playing loose.  You know, so it’s the physical power, but I also think the fact that you said consistently, you’re right, you don’t see a player mentally so tough and so hungry match in and match out that really — I mean, the last player I saw that was Victoria Azarenka, and she’s been out of the game. Maria is and was one of the mentally toughest, but she’s been out of the game.  I just think it’s the superb superiority of Serena more than anything.

GILBERT: It’s a tricky thing. You know, obviously the women have had long history of somebody dominating the game. That doesn’t mean it always has to happen. When the Williams sisters at some point — heck, maybe they go until their early 40s, but at some point — at this moment, I can’t tell you a player who’s ready to step forward and is going to win five or ten Slams. That’s not to say that it can’t happen, but it’s becoming much more difficult, especially on the men’s and even more so on the women’s, that you’re seeing young players be able to do the things that they’ve been able to do in the past.

And I think the game has gotten more physically demanding, and I also think that especially the women’s side of the game has gotten deeper, and the word that you heard Chrissie say a lot is consistency, and that’s what you need to dominate is consistency, and you can’t have two or three good weeks, two or three bad weeks. Kerber had an amazing year last year out of nowhere, and now the expectation is can she do that again and then maybe she’s feeling that a little bit.

But I certainly don’t see anybody capable at the moment of being that next dominant player, but like I said, that doesn’t mean that it can’t happen or it won’t happen. It’s not like it’s just a given that that’s going to happen. We could easily have some period where you have six or eight Slams, six or eight different winners after the Williamses go. That’s just I think the way we’re headed now with the depth, and I’m just not ready to say somebody is ready to dominate.

EVERT: I also see, just thinking about it, I also see that the game is so different. I mean, the only — I feel that when you look at Simona Halep or you look at Radwanska, even if you look at Kerber to a certain extent, those players don’t have the power to blow people off the court. So I think it’s going to be tough — I think it’s going to be tough for Kerber even to keep the No. 1 ranking with how power is taking over the sport, but with power comes high risk.  That’s the thing. It’s high risk. Serena plays high risk. She’s had so much experience, and she’s been able to really now come to an age where she can be thoughtful on the court and she can really know how to handle, know how to harness that power well. But these other players that have the big power games, like I mentioned, Madison Keys or any of these players with the big power, Pliskova, they still are up and down because it is high risk, and they haven’t had the experience that Serena has had, and you can’t keep that up week in and week out.

I’ve said the last few years, I’m disappointed — it’s disappointing that somebody hasn’t stepped up to the plate, but we saw Azarenka step up last year. She really did. She won this tournament, she won Miami. She really started to show signs that she may be able to compete with Serena, and then she — fortunately for her has a baby, got pregnant and has a baby, so it’s all good, but she got out of the game.  Like Brad said, it’s tougher and tougher. There’s so many more distractions with money and endorsements and lifestyle, and it’s maybe taken away a lit bit of the hunger from these players, also.

Q. The last time we had one of these calls I think before the Australian Open, we were talking about how don’t count out Roger and Rafa, but we don’t really expect them to be lifting a trophy anytime soon. I went back and looked at the transcript. Patrick specifically said, Roger, he doesn’t see him winning any more majors.
EVERT: Well, you know what? That’s why Patrick is not on the call today!

Q. That’s right. That’s right. We don’t need his comments. We’ve got Brad now. I just want to know what Roger did down there, and Rafa making the final, what does that say about those two, and what does it add to the story line of men’s tennis that those two guys made it that far, and on the women’s side, following up on what we were just talking about, with Serena out and Azarenka out, Maria not back yet, what do you see from the women’s side coming into the Miami Open? Who do you see in the conditions here knowing about the swirling winds and everything that Miami has, who might be some of the contenders on the women’s side here?
GILBERT: Well, I’ll just say obviously about the Australian Open, with Djokovic going out early and then Murray going out in the top half of the draw, Roger just did what he had to do. He got better every match. It started with the first couple of matches, and then amazingly he pulled a rabbit out of his hat, and I was sitting courtside, from 3-1 down in the fifth set, I think that was the best five games of his entire career, and I think it was the most important win of his career.  It was just so great for the men’s game to have that final. I know that I was already talking about it in the third and fourth round, and ESPN were getting all mad at me, don’t talk about it; it’s like talking about a perfect game. I’m like, I’m that guy like if I was on the same team as the guy pitching the perfect game, I’d be sitting next to him and saying, isn’t it a fun moment. I wouldn’t be getting away from the guy. But I just think it was a great breath of fresh air.

And with Fed, he’s a young 35. Look at Tom Brady is 39. I mean, I think the one thing that we’re seeing is that athletes are figuring out what they can do in their training and technology and diet and they’re pushing the envelope. Derek Jeter had a fan base — these guys’ fan base, and Rafa, these guys are like the biggest global tennis icons I’ve ever seen and conduct themselves with the utmost class, and it’s just great to see for our sport.  I think that obviously the story lines now are massively changed for 2017 because obviously Murray and Djoker haven’t played like they’ve done, and Fed fans and Rafa fans are starting to get excited that their guys — who knows, maybe they’ll push the envelope back to the top spot.

EVERT: Yeah, I think my doubt with Roger has always been in Grand Slams three-out-of-five sets, putting together three or four big matches in a row, which is what you need to do to win a Grand Slam, and I think like Brad said, there was a little bit of an opening there without Murray. He didn’t have to beat Murray, he didn’t have to beat Djokovic, and the draw favored him. It opened up a little bit.  But if you put your money on Roger Federer for one or two key matches, he still can win those key matches, but it’s just the accumulation of three-out-of-five-set matches leading up to a final. That’s always been my concern at his — with Roger Federer.

But again, everything worked out for him very well. Nadal is playing so good. Nadal looks like he’s so good now, he’s got to be favored for the French Open, the way that Andy and Djokovic so far have played, unless Djokovic certainly as defending champion has a great shot and is going to be a favor, but you’d have to say Nadal has got a really good shot to win now 10 French Opens. He’s still there. You can’t count Roger out knowing how well he’s playing for Wimbledon. It’s just amazing how things can turn on a dime.

I just think Andy Murray played so much the last two years, and maybe that’s starting to have a little wear and tear on his body. Maybe he’s feeling it on his shoulders being ranked No. 1 very much like Kerber. I think the fact that her in this tournament, she showed none of the fearlessness and aggressiveness she did when she won the Australian or won the US Open. That No. 1 on your back always is a question mark.  Anyway, that’s my answer for that.  And the women’s, what was your question about the women?

Q. Yeah, who do you see emerging for the Miami Open with Serena out and —
EVERT: Yeah. You know, we’re Wednesday of this tournament so it’s hard to predict how — I’m looking at Wozniacki and Mladenovic are the two left in this tournament that have had the easiest road, and they’ve looked so good. I mean, they’ve looked pretty relaxed, and they’re playing some aggressive, consistent tennis.  I don’t know how you can — they started out the year well with good results, so I think that confidence is building with both these players.  Muguruza is getting stronger and stronger. She really looked shaky against Kayla Day, who by the way looked fantastic this tournament, the 17 year old. That was really the first match, big match I’ve seen her play, and I was very impressed with her power and her game.  But Muguruza is looking better and better.  I think Madison is only going to get better. But I think probably Wozniacki and Mladenovic, if I’m going to predict this tournament, I’m curious to see how well they do because they are on form here.

GILBERT: I’ll just say this: First of all, Venus…being that she’s got as much tape on her as I’ve ever seen and still winning matches…but Serena not being here and Kerber all of a sudden not playing at what the level she played at last year, one word jumps out: Opportunity. You know, there’s opportunity for every player. All of a sudden every player thinks about, you know what, I can make a deep run, and that one word that we’ve heard a lot is a lot of players have one good week and not, so there doesn’t have to be a consistency, so that leads to opportunity.

EVERT: Well, and how much do they want it.

GILBERT: I think if the consistency isn’t — I think they all want it badly. I think it’s a consistency issue, and now that Serena is not here, a lot of players feel like they can win this.

EVERT: Yeah, but Brad, if you want it, I mean — I remember being in this position. If you really want it, you put yourself — you make it happen. You really have a better chance of making things happen. And if you let nerves and everything affect you, it’s going to hold you back.  I think this prospect of the opportunity tightens up a lot of players, so who is going to be the one or two emerging players that get through this successfully. I think it’s all about the mental part, how are they going to handle the nerves.

Q. We mentioned Keys and how her potential is really high but she’s injured a lot. A similar situation on the men’s side, with Milos Raonic being up close to No. 1. If he’s not going to be one of the new guys to win a Grand Slam, then who will?
GILBERT: You know what, unfortunately that word, injury, it’s happening more. I mean, Nishikori is another young guy that’s had to battle a lot, so that’s obviously his $64,000 question is being able to stay healthy.  You can’t answer the questions for him what he can do until he has a whole season being healthy. So he’s a big guy. He’s probably 6’5″, 220 pounds, but that definitely is the No. 1 question for him is staying healthy.

So I can’t answer whether or not he will win or where he’s going to go or who’s going to be the next young person to do it because, you know, the big four, and then throw in Stan, have been incredibly stingy. Nobody born in the ’90s has been able to win a Slam. So it’s not like, you know, it’s happening. Everybody wants to know that, but it’s just a matter of when it’s going to happen, and then for — and then we’re going to have some of these guys that are much younger like Kyrgios and some other younger guys that maybe are going to have an opportunity maybe before Nishikori and Raonic. But you just don’t know.  But definitely he needs health, and that’s his No. 1 thing he’s got to be able to figure out.

EVERT: Yeah, I think I look at Kyrgios, and he’s very capable, and I look at Zverev, those two to me would be the next in line that might not happen until next year or the year after. But you know, I agree; it’s all about being fit. These three-out-of-five-set matches on a hard court just — your body is just being slammed every time, year after year after year, and it’s really becoming more and more important to stay in shape and heal your body and take those rests and rehab what’s sore and what’s injured. That part of the game is almost like 75 percent of the game now, and actually going out and playing is like 25 percent because it’s all about being injured now and being healthy with these long matches.  But I mean, when I look at the way Kyrgios has played this week, and I’ve always liked Zverev — well, in the last year I’ve liked him, so I predict one of those two is going to be the next one to win a Grand Slam.

Q. On the men’s side of who’s next in line, as far as the golden era of men’s tennis, I don’t know if it’s ever been better. Obviously the top five aren’t going anywhere, and then we’ve got DelPo and Nick and Ramos and Dimitrov and Zverev and even Jack Sock, who has surprised me lately. Talk about the golden era right now, what we’re experiencing in men’s tennis, the depth and quality, and then give me something — like Chrissie, add on to what you said about Nick and maybe Jack Stock about potential future winners.
GILBERT: I think it’s an amazing time for men’s tennis with the reemergence this year of Rafa and Fed, and we’ve got young faces, we’ve got older faces. The quality of tennis and the level — I think it’s off the charts.  But I guess everybody is just curious when somebody can break through and go all the way. But as a tennis fan right now, I think this is as good as it’s ever been, but I’m one of those people that feel like the sport is like a treadmill. I think maybe five or ten years from now, we’ll be saying, God, I can’t believe how good these guys are. Sports is getting better. Competition is getting better. And I just think it’s a really exciting time in the sport except if you’re born in the ’90s and you’ve wanted to win Slams already.

EVERT: I agree with Brad. It is, as long as I’ve been in the game of tennis, it is the most exciting time. You’ve got icons, the greatest players ever at the top who will go down in history, then you’ve got some very consistent players that have been in the top ten like Raonic and like Berdych and Nishikori and Cilic, and then you have the young guns that are so exciting like Zverev and Dimitrov and Nick Kyrgios. It’s not only a high level of tennis but it’s different generations, and it’s different styles, and it’s all different personalities. It just is so exciting right now. I’ve always sort of been a spokesperson for the women’s game, but I’ve got to say, I’m probably a little more excited about the men’s right now, I have to admit. I’m looking at these match-ups, and I just can’t believe that there are this many great players that are still around and that there are this many great players that are just starting out, and then you’re not even looking at — look at the Americans, Donald Young, look at when he’s doing, look at Jack Sock, look at Taylor Fritz. There’s even younger guns waiting in the wings to really explode into the mix.  I just have a big smile on my face when I talk about the men’s game right now.

Q. I’ve got one quick follow-up on Jack Sock. I saw him in Del Rey. I think he beefed up his weaknesses and fortified his strengths. I’m firmly a Jack Sock believer for the first time in years. Can he make a breakthrough this week or in the nearby future?
GILBERT: I think last night was maybe one of the best wins that I’ve seen from him. He came back from 4-1 in the third. He’s got a great draw, played Jaziri, so he’s got a great opportunity to make the quarters, and he’s making progress. He’s up to 18 in the world, and I think a big goal for him is to maybe finish the year in the top 12. I think he’s got one of the biggest forehands in the world. He moves tremendous. Yeah, so he’s making progress, a lot, in the last 12 months, and the big thing is can he make a deep run in a Slam. Can he make a quarters or semis this year, and can he make a semis of a Masters Series because that’s what you’ve got to do to make the top eight in the world and make London.  I do think those are realistic goals, and I think he right now is clearly the best American player.

EVERT: Well, and when I watched that match last night, I honestly could not believe how well he moves and how well he sprints to the ball. I don’t know anybody that I could say is quicker that I’ve seen is quicker than him as far as his movement, and I do think he has the best weapon in that forehand. He has the best forehand in the game I feel. He reminds me of a male Madison Keys in the way he plays. I mean, Madison, same thing with her forehand. I mean, she rivals it, and so does Jack.  Again, it’s all about maturity and it’s all about managing himself and his emotions on the court, and with all this experience and with some success, I think it’s going to come to him, and I would say the same thing with Kyrgios. You see he’s got every shot in the book, also, and as he gets older and more comfortable in his role and in his lifestyle and with fame, I think it’s all about the intangibles that he’s got to become a little bit more comfortable with, and I think that’s starting to happen now with him, and wouldn’t it be great to see. He’s at another level when he’s playing.

Q. I had a two-part question, first on Roger and Rafa and their great starts. Do you see anything technically that they’re doing differently? I know Federer is serving really well and Nadal leads the tour in second serve points, and then secondly, to follow up on all the stuff you’ve already said about Kyrgios, do you think in the way that Donald Trump was the chaos candidate, Kyrgios is like the chaos player, that he just thrives on chaotic craziness around him, or do you think that getting a coach would be dramatically better for him? He said this week that he’s not really thinking about hiring anyone.
EVERT: You know, Nick is a different kind of guy. He’s got a different approach to the game. I mean, I first remember a couple years ago or maybe he’s even saying it now, he said he doesn’t like to play tennis. He doesn’t even like the game. He’s been quoted as saying that. And I think that, again, I really deep down think that he does like the game, but he doesn’t especially like the attention or what goes on around it.  I mean, I think he’s basically a shy guy, believe it or not, and I’ve spent a little time with him down in BOCA, where he practices with — it’s so funny, he practices with our boys at the academy, and it’s like, I can’t believe that he’s practicing with 18-year-old kids as preparation for his Grand Slams. But he loves it. He loves practicing with the kids, and he has fun. Maybe so far that’s what he’s done.

As far as getting a coach, you know what, if he’s not in the right mindset, as it seems he’s not in the right mindset to get a coach, he shouldn’t get a coach. I think he’s got to — it’s got to be on his terms. He’s got to be ready. He’s got to make the commitment. He’s got to take responsibility for winning and losing, and he’s not probably at that point yet.  I’m like, give the guy time. Give him his space. Give him time. And I think it will happen because I do think he does love the game.  What was the first question?

Q. On Federer and Nadal and anything different you’re seeing.
GILBERT: I’ll piggy-back on Nick a little bit. I watched the performance last night against Zverev and what you’ll see tonight against Djokovic, this guy gears up for big matches, and he’s got a level and intangible that — I call it almost uncoachable in that he doesn’t feel like — you know, when he’s playing these unbelievable opponents, I actually think he’s more relaxed. I think that he sometimes struggles when he’s on the outside course and playing lesser opponents. All of a sudden you’ll see him tonight against Djokovic unbelievably focused and determined.

I do think there is nobody, anybody close to his talent level physically, and he is a closer. I mean, you give him an early break and he’s a closer for 25 and under. But the maturity and match in, match out, that’s something that he’s searching for, and I do think that at some point when he does want to add a coach, I think it could only help him. But he’s got to want to do that.  But I just sit there and like I said, last night, watch him and just marvel and his athleticism. I can’t believe for his size how well he can move, how explosive. He ticks all the boxes for me game-wise. But just there’s sometimes more to winning Slams and being great than just that.

I think about Fed and Rafa, the most amazing thing is both of them are still unbelievably motivated after all the time they’ve played to continue to play at this level. They both are playing healthy so far in 2017, and I also think that maybe, maybe they’re both starting to feel a little bit better about their games and where they’re at because the guys from the ’90s haven’t broken through, and for the first time, Murray has had a little bit of indifferent results the last couple months, and same with Djoker, so maybe that’s giving them more faith that all of a sudden there’s still more of a window for them.

EVERT: I’m going to piggy back, too. When you hear Roger Federer say my dream is to play another five years, you know that he wants to play, because it’s when they say, well, I’m thinking maybe another year, that’s when they’re thinking retirement, and that’s when they’re thinking maybe they’re losing what it takes. But when he says I’d like to play another five years, you know that he’s motivated and he’s ready to go.

And Nadal, I mean, that guy, you can still see it in his eyes. He still wants it. He’s still intense. He still wants that tenth French Open. The only other thing I can say about Kyrgios is remember he does have mentors like Lleyton Hewitt who’s advising him. He does have his manager, he does have his mom. It’s not a full-time coach, but he is getting advice, but at the same time, he is playing to his own tune, and when he gets in a point, he has that natural instinct as far as how to play a point. Like he’s not going to listen to anybody say go cross court, cross court, cross court, and then go down the line. He knows the ebbs and flows of a point, and he has that natural ability.

Q. Earlier we touched on Kerber. Can you just go back to that and talk a little bit about what she has to do mentally just to deal with the pressure of returning to world No. 1, especially when she’s heading to Miami now as the No. 1 and top seed and last year she struggled with the pressure of initially having the ranking, so now that she’s going back to the top, what does she have to do mentally to adjust?
EVERT: You know, for me it’s nothing really to do with the physicalities of her game. It’s not that the game is not there, the same game that she won the Australian Open with and the US Open with. I think it’s all in her head, and it is a big adjustment to have that No. 1 sort of bull’s eye on your back and to continue to play with the fearlessness and — the fearlessness, really, that it took for her to get there. And that’s what I saw. She went out of the box in big matches that she won last year, and by out of the box, what I mean is she took more chances. She played more fearless tennis. She went for more shots. She went for bigger serves. She went for bigger second serves. She really to me this year has gone back into the type of tennis she played two years ago when she was top five in the world but not No. 1.

She has to get back that aggressive mentality, and she’s got to really force it on herself because she’s not going to be No. 1 until she plays like she did at the US Open and like she did in Australia. So the tennis is there, but she’s got to get back into that frame of mind, and she’s got to work on that. Only she can do it. You can listen to a thousand people or the best coaches in the world, but only she has to come to terms with that.

GILBERT: I feel like her game is a lot about grit, determination, focus, competing, and she’s playing, Chrissie brings this up a lot about stress and feeling the pressure. All that matters is your opponent on the other side of the net, and what’s happening is opponents are playing against her freer because obviously she’s not dominating, and the one thing that I have noticed a little bit from her this year is she’s been flat starting matches. Like last night she was flat starting against Vesnina. I don’t care who you are, if you’re getting down consistently to start matches, it makes them tougher situations to come back, and the only way you get it back, her game. She’s not going to just go through everybody. But she has an unbelievable level of fighting, competing, of counterpunching and doing some fabulous things out there, and all those things for her to play at her level, she has to tick all the boxes to make that happen.

EVERT: I think she has — all those come naturally to her, and I don’t think she has to work on that as much as — she has to do with Wozniacki is trying to do now and that’s taking a few more risks and being a little more aggressive. Those two, I see their games similar as far as they’re unbelievable defense and counterpunchers, and it goes against their nature to really wind up and to attack right from the start. But they’ve got to learn to do that a little bit more.

Q. Brad, I wanted to ask you about Dominic Thiem, a guy maybe not with a top of personality but really a gorgeous game, kind of flying under the radar here, will be playing Monfils tonight, and Chris, wanted to ask you about rivalries which of course you know a thing or two about with Martina and just what really kind of makes that Rafa-Roger rivalry so special, sort of transcending the sport in a lot of ways.
GILBERT: I like “Home Team” a lot. I think nobody hits the ball bigger than he does. His forehand is massive, and for a guy who’s not that big, he can serve in the low 140s. He’s got an impressive game.  I think the biggest thing for him is to figure out his schedule sometimes. He seems like a few of these majors he’s played a little too much coming in, and he hasn’t been as sharp, and he said that he’s not going to change his schedule from last year to this year, so that’s something that — the big thing is learning how, for these young guys, to be able to peak for the majors. Obviously these great players know how to do it, and so that’s the biggest thing is learning that for these young players.  But game-wise, I think he is the most explosive offensive player, but I do think the one part of his game that he can improve is his defense. He can go through you, but you know, not everybody can always just go through you. So I’d like to see him add a little more willingness to play defense. It’s great on offense, but you’ve got to be able to do a little better when you’re on defense, and he’s got to learn to schedule a little better.

EVERT: As far as rivalries, the No. 1 word that comes to my mind is contrast, and I think that Martina and I had it in every way, shape and form, and I think Rafa and Roger have it, also. When you look at their style of play, you couldn’t have two more different players. You’ve got the flashy magician against the warrior, the player that’s going to grind it out. As far as personalities, they’re very different. As far as where they came from and how they were brought up, very different.  So it’s such a contrast that they each bring their own set of fans to the plate, and that is just great for tennis. I mean, it’s almost — I don’t know, it just expands the whole tennis horizon even more because they draw people that aren’t even tennis fans. They draw people that are sports fans, or they just draw curious bystanders because they’re so special, those two.

And also I think they’re both gentlemen and they’re both great for the game, and they’re both great sports. People like to see that and people like to see either of them win. I mean, there’s not a bad guy versus a good guy. They’re both good, great guys, but their style of play and their personalities just are so interesting because they play into one another.  And also the fact that there’s always that who’s going to win, because nobody — they don’t dominate each other. One of them doesn’t dominate the other one. It’s always like an interesting sort of question mark, who’s going to bring their A game to this match and who’s going to win this match. It’s all about the contrast.

GILBERT: To me, they’re everything that’s right in sports. I mean, they’re just two incredible competitors, classy guys. Don’t make excuses. And they have two of the most loyal fan bases I’ve ever seen globally. Their styles make you want to watch them play. I mean, one guy plays like a maestro, and the other guys you feel his heart and passion. So I just think that it’s must-see TV, and people that aren’t even really tennis fans want to see it.

I think the great thing about when they play, you’ll see so many athletes from other sports, geez, I’ve got to see Rafa courtside, I’ve got to see Roger courtside, and the feeling that people have when they have seen those guys play for the first time courtside, it’s just absolutely a treat, and like I said, these two guys conduct themselves with the utmost class that all tennis players should aspire to.

Q. Brad, how alarmed should Andy Murray’s fans be about his start to 2017? Or is it not surprising, given how much he played last year?
GILBERT: You know, everybody asks those questions any time that — all of a sudden you come down a little bit, and I can’t answer the question for him. The results answer the question. I think that he had an amazing run, and I’m not going to say that he overplayed or underplayed. He’s lost a couple of matches that — to Pospisil and to Zverev, and at the Aussies you never expect him to lose. But also that reminds you the great thing about tennis and sports. That’s why you lace up the sneakers. Every once in a while the underdog can come up with this incredible win, and it gives everybody hope.  It’s so early in the year, and I felt like last year he played his best tennis by far on the clay court season, and I think that sets everything up for him, so I do think that the clay court season once again will be a really important time for him to really set the time frame.  If all is said and if things don’t go well during the clay court season, then maybe we’ll reconvene, but I’m not ready to all of a sudden say that, okay, he’s not going to win a major this year and he’s going to really drop off. But I need to see the clay season, and I’m not worried, but a couple results that definitely have surprised you.

EVERT: I don’t think the fans should worry. I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it, Murray fans. You know, it’s all part of the game. You just can’t keep up a certain level forever, and very much like Djokovic has gone through, we saw Nadal go through it, also, and I think Andy — it’s not only last year, but look at how much he played last year with the Olympics, but look at the year before, he played a lot, and I think he has to work so hard, like Nadal, he has to work so hard, he doesn’t get very many free points, so he’s putting in extra work in his matches.  It doesn’t surprise me that maybe he’s a little weary at this point. It doesn’t surprise me at all. Any of us who have been through that grind and who have been No. 1 and who have played a lot understand that there are going to be times when you’re weary, times when you have letdowns, and it’s the mark of a champion that you get it back. It’ll be a nice challenge for him.




BNP Paribas Open – Tuesday Results, Wednesday Schedule



$7,913,405 (ATP)

$7,699,423 (WTA)

6-19 MARCH 2017


RESULTS – MARCH 14, 2017


Singles – Third Round

[2] N. Djokovic (SRB) d [31] J. del Potro (ARG) 75 46 61

[4] K. Nishikori (JPN) d [25] G. Muller (LUX) 62 62

[5] R. Nadal (ESP) d [26] F. Verdasco (ESP) 63 75

[9] R. Federer (SUI) d [24] S. Johnson (USA) 76(3) 76(4)

[17] J. Sock (USA) d [12] G. Dimitrov (BUL) 36 63 76(7)

  1. Young (USA) d [14] L. Pouille (FRA) 64 16 63

[15] N. Kyrgios (AUS) d [18] A. Zverev (GER) 63 64

  1. Jaziri (TUN) d [WC] T. Fritz (USA) 64 36 63


Singles – Fourth Round

[14] E. Vesnina (RUS) d [2] A. Kerber (GER) 63 63

[3] Ka. Pliskova (CZE) d [15] T. Bacsinszky (SUI) 51 Retired

[19] A. Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) d [5] D. Cibulkova (SVK) 64 36 62

[7] G. Muguruza (ESP) d [10] E. Svitolina (UKR) 76(5) 16 60

[8] S. Kuznetsova (RUS) d [21] C. Garcia (FRA) 61 64

[13] C. Wozniacki (DEN) d [9] M. Keys (USA) 64 64

[12] V. Williams (USA) d [Q] S. Peng (CHN) 36 61 63

[28] K. Mladenovic (FRA) d L. Davis (USA) 63 63


Doubles – Quarterfinals

[6] Y. Chan (TPE) / M. Hingis (SUI) d [4] S. Mirza (IND) / B. Strycova (CZE) 64 64

  1. Hradecka (CZE) / K. Siniakova (CZE) d L. Arruabarrena (ESP) / C. Liang (CHN) 64 60



STADIUM 1 start 11:00 am

ATP – D. Young (USA) vs [4] K. Nishikori (JPN)


Not Before 1:00 pm

WTA – [19] A. Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) vs [8] S. Kuznetsova (RUS)


Not Before 3:00 pm

ATP – [15] N. Kyrgios (AUS) vs [2] N. Djokovic (SRB)


Not Before 5:00 pm

ATP – [5] R. Nadal (ESP) vs [9] R. Federer (SUI)


Not Before 7:00 pm

WTA – [3] Ka. Pliskova (CZE) vs [7] G. Muguruza (ESP)


Not Before 8:30 pm

ATP – [10] G. Monfils (FRA) vs [8] D. Thiem (AUT)

STADIUM 2 start 11:00 am

ATP – [Q] D. Lajovic (SRB) vs [21] P. Carreno Busta (ESP)

ATP – [11] D. Goffin (BEL) vs [27] P. Cuevas (URU)


Not Before 2:00 pm

ATP – M. Jaziri (TUN) vs [17] J. Sock (USA)


Not Before 6:00 pm

ATP – [3] S. Wawrinka (SUI) vs [LL] Y. Nishioka (JPN)

ATP – After Suitable Rest – N. Djokovic (SRB) / V. Troicki (SRB) vs [6] R. Klaasen (RSA) / R. Ram (USA)

STADIUM 3 start 3:00 pm

ATP – [3] H. Kontinen (FIN) / J. Peers (AUS) vs G. Muller (LUX) / S. Querrey (USA)

ATP – J. Rojer (NED) / H. Tecau (ROU) vs [4] J. Murray (GBR) / B. Soares (BRA)

ATP – After Suitable Rest – [8] L. Kubot (POL) / M. Melo (BRA) vs [WC] N. Kyrgios (AUS) / N. Zimonjic (SRB)

STADIUM 4 start 2:00 pm

WTA – S. Aoyama (JPN) / Z. Yang (CHN) vs [2] E. Makarova (RUS) / E. Vesnina (RUS)


Not Before 3:00 pm

WTA – After Suitable Rest – [1] B. Mattek-Sands (USA) / L. Safarova (CZE) vs S. Kuznetsova (RUS) / K. Mladenovic (FRA


Venus Williams Reaches Quarterfinals of Indian Wells for First Time Since 2001 with Comeback Win

Venus Williams

(March 14, 2017) Venus Williams moved into the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Open for the first time since 2001 defeating qualifier Peng Shuai 3-6, 6-1, 6-3, winning the last four straight games. Williams returned to play in Indian Wells last year after refusing to play the tournament for 15 years. She lost in the second round last year.

Williams hit 40 winners with 40 unforced errors during the match.

“Today was final 16,” said Williams. “So advance to the final 8. There are 8 people left. One of us will win. So the odds are getting better.

“I have to focus. It’s not there yet. It’s just, like, getting closer. You know, your mouth starts to water, but it doesn’t mean you’ll get fed. So I have to get it in and try to win.”

“Wasn’t really sure how it was going to turn out today,” she continued. “There were some up-and-downs and errors. It was so frustrating. But I feel like I got my focus more in that second set and towards the end of the third, because — I don’t know. I’m just a competitor. So if things get closer, then I think my better tennis is going to come. Obviously, I don’t want things to get close. I want to try to run away with it.”

Williams will face off against  Elena Vesnina who upset No.2 seed Angelique Kerber  6-3, 6-3 for a place in the semifinals.

“I think she played good. I was not playing good,” said Kerber about her loss. “It was actually not my day. I was doing a lot of mistakes. I was not moving, actually, good. But it’s happened. I mean, she played from the beginning until the end good tennis, and she was aggressive. So, yeah, she took the game on her hand.”


No. 3 seed Karolina Pliskova moved into the elite 8 when 15th seed Timea Bacsinszky retired from the match trailing 5-1 in the first set.

Pliskova, who reached the semifinals here last year, will take on Garbiñe Muguruza. The Spaniard defeated Elina Svitolina 7-6(5), 1-6, 6-0.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova photo courtesy of Taste of Tennis

No. 19 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova fended off No. 5 Dominika Cibulkova 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 in a little over two hours to reach her first Indian Wells final eight since 2009.

“I always like to get revenges,” said the Russian to media.  The Slovak beat Pavlyuchenkova in Doha a few weeks ago. “Feels amazing, especially we just recently played in Doha and also three-set match. I felt like — I was really disappointed, though, even though it was really good level from the first till the last point.

“I thought I just didn’t convert my chances, and so really happy with the way I finished. I felt kind of good in the third set, as well.”


“The key was to, of course, be aggressive, which is my game, but at the same time, find the balance between being aggressive and not giving her a lot of easy shots, easy points, because she’s great fighter, and she’s always there. I know when she’s down in the score, she’s going for the shots.”

She’ll play countrywoman, No. 8 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova who beat 21st seed Caroline Garcia 6-1, 6-4.

More to follow…



BNP Paribas Open – Monday Results, Tuesday Schedule


$7,913,405 (ATP)

$7,699,423 (WTA)

6-19 MARCH 2017


RESULTS – MARCH 13, 2017


Singles – Third Round

[3] S. Wawrinka (SUI) d [28] P. Kohlschreiber (GER) 75 63

[8] D. Thiem (AUT) d [29] M. Zverev (GER) 61 64

[10] G. Monfils (FRA) d [20] J. Isner (USA) 62 64

[11] D. Goffin (BEL) d [22] A. Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) 76(3) 64

[LL] Y. Nishioka (JPN) d [13] T. Berdych (CZE) 16 76(5) 64

[21] P. Carreno Busta (ESP) d [16] R. Bautista Agut (ESP) walkover

[27] P. Cuevas (URU) d F. Fognini (ITA) 61 64

[Q] D. Lajovic (SRB) d [Q] V. Pospisil (CAN) 67(4) 63 75


Doubles – Second Round

  1. Djokovic (SRB) / V. Troicki (SRB) d [1] P. Herbert (FRA) / N. Mahut (FRA) 57 61 11-9

[3] H. Kontinen (FIN) / J. Peers (AUS) d A. Zverev (GER) / M. Zverev (GER) 63 64

[4] J. Murray (GBR) / B. Soares (BRA) d T. Huey (PHI) / M. Mirnyi (BLR) 76(3) 63

[6] R. Klaasen (RSA) / R. Ram (USA) d R. Nadal (ESP) / B. Tomic (AUS) 36 76(4) 11-9

[8] L. Kubot (POL) / M. Melo (BRA) d S. Johnson (USA) / V. Pospisil (CAN) 76(4) 67(4) 10-4

  1. Muller (LUX) / S. Querrey (USA) d F. Mergea (ROU) / A. Qureshi (PAK) 61 16 10-6
  2. Rojer (NED) / H. Tecau (ROU) d D. Evans (GBR) / A. Murray (GBR) 64 63

[WC] N. Kyrgios (AUS) / N. Zimonjic (SRB) d R. Bautista Agut (ESP) / F. Verdasco (ESP) walkover


Singles – Third Round

[2] A. Kerber (GER) d P. Parmentier (FRA) 75 36 75

[28] K. Mladenovic (FRA) d [4] S. Halep (ROU) 63 63

[Q] S. Peng (CHN) d [6] A. Radwanska (POL) 64 64

[9] M. Keys (USA) d N. Osaka (JPN) 61 64

[12] V. Williams (USA) d L. Safarova (CZE) 64 62

[13] C. Wozniacki (DEN) d K. Siniakova (CZE) 63 61

[14] E. Vesnina (RUS) d [25] T. Babos (HUN) 64 16 64

  1. Davis (USA) d J. Goerges (GER) 61 64


Doubles – Second Round

  1. Aoyama (JPN) / Z. Yang (CHN) d [7] V. King (USA) / Y. Shvedova (KAZ) 63 67(5) 10-8



STADIUM 1 start 11:00 am

WTA – [21] C. Garcia (FRA) vs [8] S. Kuznetsova (RUS)

ATP – [5] R. Nadal (ESP) vs [26] F. Verdasco (ESP)


Not Before 2:00 pm

WTA – [Q] S. Peng (CHN) vs [12] V. Williams (USA)

ATP – [24] S. Johnson (USA) vs [9] R. Federer (SUI)


Not Before 7:00 pm

ATP – [31] J. del Potro (ARG) vs [2] N. Djokovic (SRB)


Not Before 8:30 pm

WTA – [9] M. Keys (USA) vs [13] C. Wozniacki (DEN)

STADIUM 2 start 11:00 am

ATP – [25] G. Muller (LUX) vs [4] K. Nishikori (JPN)


Not Before 1:00 pm

WTA – [5] D. Cibulkova (SVK) vs [19] A. Pavlyuchenkova (RUS)

ATP – [15] N. Kyrgios (AUS) vs [18] A. Zverev (GER)

ATP – [17] J. Sock (USA) vs [12] G. Dimitrov (BUL)


Not Before 6:00 pm

WTA – [14] E. Vesnina (RUS) vs [2] A. Kerber (GER)

STADIUM 3 start 11:00 am

ATP – [14] L. Pouille (FRA) vs D. Young (USA)

ATP – [WC] T. Fritz (USA) vs M. Jaziri (TUN)

WTA – [3] Ka. Pliskova (CZE) vs [15] T. Bacsinszky (SUI)

WTA – [10] E. Svitolina (UKR) vs [7] G. Muguruza (ESP)

WTA – L. Davis (USA) vs [28] K. Mladenovic (FRA)

STADIUM 4 start 3:00 pm

WTA – [4] S. Mirza (IND) / B. Strycova (CZE) vs [6] Y. Chan (TPE) / M. Hingis (SUI)

WTA – L. Hradecka (CZE) / K. Siniakova (CZE) vs L. Arruabarrena (ESP) / C. Liang (CHN)


Angelique Kerber Survives, Venus Williams Thrives to Advance Fourth Round of BNP Paribas Open

Angelique Kerber

(March 13, 2017) Angelique Kerber avoided and upset, while Venus Williams dominated her opponent to reach the round of 16 at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California on a hot Monday.

Kerber survived France’s Pauline Parmentier 7-5, 3-6, 7-5. The German rallied from 1-4 down in the final set. An out call not made nor challenged by Parmentier, which could have given her a 5-2 lead in the final set made the difference.

“When I was 1-4 down in the third set, still to believe that I can change matches like this,” Kerber told media.
Kerber talked about her adjustments when coming back in the third set: “I think I was starting to believing in myself again and trying to taking this challenge and trying to playing point by point and not thinking what has happened before. Just going for it and trying to move in good, bring a lot of balls back, and going for it when I have the chance.”

“She is really tricky opponent. I mean, she played a lot of spin, especially from the forehand side. So I think that I need a little bit time to get used to it.

“And she was really playing good. I think we both play on a really high level. I mean, it was completely different match than I played here on my first round.”
Kerber will face off against Elena Vesnina next. The Russian defeated Timea Babos 6-4, 1-6, 6-4.


Seven-time major winner Venus Williams had few problems with the heat or her opponent, former French Open finalist Lucie Safarova, beating her 6-4, 6-2.

“I felt like I was being able to string points together, which of course puts pressure on my opponents if I’m not making as many errors,” Williams said.

“I felt really pretty good off the ground. This court is tricky as the ball stops, so a lot of the times you’re not hitting the ball where you think you’re going to hit it. So it definitely takes adjustments.”

“I don’t know if there’s enough time to adjust, anyway. You just kind of like deal with it. So it’s an interesting court.”

2015 winner and fourth seed Simona Halep lost to 28th seed Kristina Mladenovic 6-3, 6-3.

“I think I played obviously a great match, because you don’t beat a Top 5 player just like that,” said the Frenchwoman. “I felt the conditions were extremely difficult for both of us. I could feel that — I mean, I don’t know. 36 degrees, I think, that was pretty solid for playing tennis.

“We always had very tough battles. I was actually, head to head, 2-1. That’s not very often against a Top 5 player. I mean, at the change of ends, when I saw, like, 2-1, 30 minutes, I was, like, Great. This is going to last forever again.

“I think that match was a big win for me on the physical part, like, fitness part. I think I could see that, you know, the efforts there she gave me was like — because I was forcing her to give it to me, because I was there solid and hanging in there and putting sometimes balls back and being brave.”
This was her second Top 5 win this year, besting Karolina Pliskova in Dubai last month.

Madison Keys

No. 9 seed Madison Keys in her first tournament back from wrist surgery put on a demonstration of solid power against Japan’s  Naomi Osaka in a rematch from the U.S. Open, with the American Keys winning 6-1, 6-4.

Keys was asked if she had any expectations coming into the tournament:”Not very high,” she said. “I was, like, if I get a set, I’ll be happy. And a win — it’s always tough to come back and everyone is in the middle of their season. I definitely had really low expectations, which is probably why, when I was up there and serving for the match in the first round, I was, like, Oh, this is exciting. I didn’t think this was going to happen.

“Yeah, I’m just happy with all of it.”

A disappointed Osaka said, “I didn’t think anyone expected me to win. So at least I wanted people to see a good match. And I played terrible.”

Keys will take on Caroline Wozniacki in the round of 16. The Dane defeated Katerina Siniakova.

Number six seed Agniezska Radwanska lost to Peng Shuai, 6-4, 6-4.

American Lauren Davis was a winner over Julia Goerges of Germany 6-1, 6-4.

Stan Wawrinka

In men’s action, No. 3 Stan Wawrinka defeated 28th seeded Philipp Kohlschreiber 7-5, 6-3. Wawrinka is the highest seed left in the top half of the draw since No. 1 Andy Murray lost to Vasek Pospisil.

“It was a really good match,” said the Swiss. “I’m very happy, in general. First set was not easy, for sure, all the match, but in general I’m happy with my game. I need to every time to adjust a little bit in the return. It’s not easy.”
Wawrinka will be playing lucky loser Yoshihito Nishioka, who rallied from 6-1, 5-2 down to beat 13th seed Tomas Berdych 1-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4.
Asked about playing Nishioka, Wawrinka said: “I know him well. Like, in general, I know how he’s playing. I watch him a few times, not only here but last year, also.

“I know how he’s playing, more from the baseline, use his power. It’s going to be interesting. I never practice with him, so it’s going to be the first time we going to be against each other. So I’m sure it’s going to be a good match.”

“I was down 1-6, 2-5, and, you know, I tried to do my best, but today I couldn’t figure out how can I beat Berdych,” said Nishioka.

But down 2-5, I tried to find a way, and then I think he give me a little bit chances. So I find a way, and then just keep trying to every point. Then he show me, like, a little bit angry, a little bit feeling tired. So, you know, I figured out how to win from down 2-5.

“And then my body feeling like I cannot move, like, that much, but just stay on focus and try fight. And then I find a way.”
Andy Murray’s conqueror in his second-round match has been conquered – Vasek Pospisil served for the match at 5-3 in the third set, but could not close out the match. Fellow qualifier Dusan Lajovic won a 6-7 (4), 6-3, 7-5.

Other men’s winners included No. 8 Dominic Thiem, No. 11 seeded David Goffin and No. 21 Pablo Carreno Busta who moved on when 16th seed Roberto Bautista Agut withdrew from the tournament due to an abdominal muscle injury.

More to follow….