By Kevin Ware
INDIAN WELLS – It was a day of “firsts” on finals Sunday at the BNP Paribas Open. Flavia Pennetta won her first WTA Premier Mandatory title by defeating a hobbled Agnieszka Radwanska, and Novak Djokovic won his first title of 2014 by outlasting Roger Federer in a dramatic 3-set final. The respective paths to their titles couldn’t have been more different.
In an unexpected turn, Pennetta overwhelmed an injured Radwanska 6-2, 6-1 for the biggest title of her career. “After so many years and so much work and everything, this is the moment I was waiting for,” Pennetta said. “And it comes when you least expect it.”
Her surprise is understandable given the struggles she endured in 2013. Pennetta lost to countrywoman Francesca Schiavone in the first round of last year’s tournament: one of many bad losses she suffered after her return to the tour from wrist surgery in 2012. Thoughts of retirement crossed her mind.
“The day after I was in the garden running and talking with my physio, Max, almost crying because the feeling and everything was so bad. And now, after one year, we have the trophy.”
Pennetta played solid tennis, but never needed to do more considering the condition of her opponent. Radwanska’s knee has been hurting the past few days, but she hoped that she might still be able to compete.
“This is the sport that you’re always playing with some pain or injury or sore muscles,” Radwanska said. “But when the pain is so big that nothing is working, no painkillers, no tape. That means it is bad. Today nothing was working.”
“Unfortunately, it was too much pain. I tried because this is the final, and I thought, you know, maybe in one game was going to be better and I would just keep going, but that didn’t really happen.”
Disappointment at not being able to compete at her best level weighed heavily on Radwanska, her voice breaking as she wiped away tears during the trophy presentation. She apologized for not being able to run as much as needed to in order to compete. Judging by the supportive crowd response, no apology was necessary.
This is Pennetta’s 10th WTA title, and her first since 2010. With this win, Pennetta moves to No. 12 in the rankings. Radwanska remains in the No. 3 position behind Serena Williams and Li Na.
In the men’s final, Novak Djokovic had to fight tooth and nail to defeat a resurgent Roger Federer 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(3) for his first title of the year. It was a high-quality match that fittingly came down to a third-set tiebreaker to decide the winner.
Federer won the first set with skillful serving and masterful ball-striking on his forehand side. His first serve percentage was 74%, and he won 75% of his first serves and 71% of his second serves. Anytime you’re over 70%, odds are good for a victory. Federer also hit 12 winners to only 9 unforced errors. His defense was solid, and he craftily mixed backhand slices to keep Djokovic successfully out of any rhythm.
By comparison, Djokovic served at 59%, and won only 36% of his second serves. He also only hit 5 winners to 6 unforced errors. He was tentative, and mistimed many shots badly. Djokovic readily acknowledged his slow start.
“Yeah, it wasn’t a great start for me. First service game that I had I made a few double faults and unforced errors and allowed him a break. That was enough for the first set.”
“Roger is probably best in the world when he’s up. When he’s a break up, he wins his service games so comfortably and so fast that sometimes it’s very difficult to keep up. But I managed to stay composed and stay confident.”
The second set saw an obvious drop in Federer’s game, both in serve and unforced error count, as Djokovic found his footing. An early break in hand, it wasn’t long before Djokovic served out the set at 6-3 to take the match to a deciding set.
Federer’s level continued to fluctuate badly, and he gave up an early break in the third. But to his credit, he fought hard and stayed close enough to Djokovic to take advantage if any break opportunity presented itself.
The opportunity came at 5-4 with Djokovic serving for the championship. Federer pounced and immediately put him under pressure. A few minutes later with the break under his belt, Federer held serve at love.
Unfortunately for Federer, the third-set tiebreak was all one-way traffic for Djokovic. After over two hours of shot-making drama, he netted a backhand on match point to hand Djokovic the win.
This is Djokovic’s third Indian Wells title. It’s also his 42nd title overall, moving him ahead of Stephan Edberg, and his 17th Masters Series title. In a year where he’s failed to win a title – or make a final – until three months in, his relief afterward was palpable.
“I’m just very happy and thrilled to be able to win the first title in this season. It was the first final that I played this year. It was necessary for my confidence, and hopefully I can carry that into Miami and the rest of the season.”
Federer leaves the desert with confidence in his game, and an appreciation for his continued fitness. “I’m just happy I’m playing consistent tennis and I’m going deep in tournaments and I’m giving myself chances to win. So clearly would have been amazing to win here and win back to back tournaments with Dubai.”
“But I got very, very close, so it’s encouraging for Miami and for the rest of the season, no doubt.”
Kevin Ware was in Indian Wells covering the BNP Paribas Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his personal twitter @SFTennisFreak.
By Kevin Ware
 Novak Djokovic defeats Julien Benneteau 6-1 6-3
Benneteau played solid tennis to make it through to the quarters, but the odds were stacked against him in this match-up. With a head-to-head record of 1-5, and that one victory coming back in 2006, chances were slim that he’d be able to mount a sufficient challenge to the current World No. 2.
As expected, the first set was over in just 28 minutes and featured two breaks of the Benneteau serve. This wasn’t surprising with a first serve percentage 54%, and a second serve win percentage is 17%. As his struggles on serve mounted, Benneteau pressed on his groundstrokes, which only made matters worse.
In the end, Benneteau’s 10 winners to 32 unforced errors tell the final tale of this match. He served poorly and, as a result, had to go for too much in his shots against Djokovic. For his part, Djokovic played a clean and straightforward match. He hit 17 winners to 12 unforced errors, won 93% of his first serves, 6 of 8 net approaches, and 4 of 15 break points against the Frenchman.
This was a comprehensive win by all measures. It was also a more consistent performance from Djokovic, who has had issues with keeping his focus after jumping out to early leads. It was something he touched on in his post-match remarks.
“I felt like I was very focused on the court from the start, and it’s what I was looking for. First few matches I played good tennis but I had some ups and downs. Today was very stable from the first to the last point.”
When asked about the possibility of playing Isner in the semifinals, his two previous losses to Big John in Masters Series readily came to mind.
“I played John here a few years ago and I remember that match. 7-6 in the third, and also lost to him very close one in Cincinnati last year.”
“It’s very challenging because he doesn’t miss his serve too much, so you have to kind of be able to hold your composure, you know, from the first to the last point and be ready to play three tiebreaks. That’s all.”
 John Isner defeats  Ernests Gulbis 7-6(4) 7-6(3)
A John Isner win in two tiebreak sets is expected. An Isner win over Ernest Gulbis in two tiebreak sets by pressuring his opponent’s ground game is not. But that’s what happened in their BNP Paribas Open quarterfinal match.
Both players held serve through the first set leading up to the tiebreak. Leading 3-2 in the tiebreaker, Gulbis found himself on the losing end of a protracted rally with Isner. Rattled by the losing exchange, he gave up the next point on his serve after the change of ends. That’s all Isner needed to close out the first set tiebreak 7-4.
Isner surprisingly stumbled at the start of the second set by dropping his first service game at love, giving up the crucial early break. When asked about it after the match, he admitted to a little bit of a “checkout” after winning the first set. “I did. I didn’t play a great service game at all to start the second set.”
But to his credit, Isner kept his head down and worked to slowly chip away at Gulbis’ game (and confidence) before getting the break back when his Latvian opponent failed miserably to serve out the set at 5-4. After that, a second set tiebreak and eventual win was all but assured.
It was a surprisingly nervy performance from the rising Gulbis: a player with a ton of talent and bravado to match. Isner only hit 13 aces in the match, so he wasn’t aced off the court. He had chances to get into Isner’s service games when he got the ball back in play, but failed to win the key points in rallies.
Isner sensed Gulbis’ issues while also noting how his own game loosened up after dropping that first game. “I had chances to pull back even in that second set prior to that 5-4 game too, but I just stayed with it.”
“Once the second set started to get going, I started to see the ball better and I started to make more progress on his serve. At the same time, he got ‑ in my opinion, I think he got a little bit looser, as well, started making some more mistakes.”
With this win, Isner is projected to re-renter the Top 10. It also marks his fifth appearance in an ATP Masters Series semifinal.
[7[ Roger Federer versus  Alexandr Dolgopolov
H2H: Federer leads 1-0 (Ret)
 Novak Djokovic versus  John Isner
H2H: Djokovic leads 4-2
By Kevin Ware
(March 14, 2014) INDIAN WELLS – As tournament director and managing partner, Charlie Pasarell was instrumental in helping to build the Indian Wells tournament into the world-class event it has become. So it was more than fitting that he received his official International Tennis Hall of Fame ring last night on the Stadium 1 court, in front of an adoring crowd, before the start of the evening session.
Pasarell was inducted into the Hall of Fame last summer. But the International Tennis Hall of Fame has a wonderful tradition of presenting the ring at a home location that affords the best opportunity for the inductee to be surrounded by as many family and friends as possible.
The stadium ring ceremony was a public affair. The celebration dinner afterward, emceed by Pam Shriver, was much more intimate; attended by some Pasarell’s immediate family, as well as his extended family in the tennis community.
Also on hand were several other Hall of Fame members, many of whom spoke glowingly about their friend and fellow-inductee. Those in attendance included Hall of Fame President Stan Smith, Donald Dell, Bud Collins (pants as colorful as ever), Butch Buchholz, Brad Parks, Rosie Casals, Billie Jean King, Roy Emerson, and Mark Woodforde.
Pasarell, with his father and son looking on, was just as moved by this moment as he was at his official induction in Newport. After an encore viewing of his video tribute, and hearing the touching tributes of his friends, it was obvious to see how touched he was by this moment.
Looking out at the familiar faces, his voice at times struggling to control his emotion, Charlie offered a simple, “Thanks to all my friends who are here today. I’m touched by all the support.”
Photos from the private party held before the ceremony.
(March 13, 2014) INDIAN WELLS – In a rematch of the Australian Open final, top seed Li Na defeated Dominika Cibulkova 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, while Flavia Pennetta battled past Sloane Stephens 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 and will face off in the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open
The match which lasted 2 hours and 36 minutes improved Li’s record to 17-1 on the year. The woman from China lost just her first set during the tournament.
This is Li’s first WTA Premier event where she’s the top seed.
Everything for me is new, top seed, first time on the big tournament,” Li said
“Of course, you know, everyone looking different. Not like before if I come here, maybe like No. 6 or No. 7 seed.
“But I think I am handling very well, so just continue.”
With being the top seed and a two-time major winner Li is feeling special at Indian Wells.
“No, I feel like I’m much friendlier,” she said with a smile. “No, joke.”
“Even like practicing the fans were watching. But I think I find more fans supporting my husband, not for me. Even we are practicing, working out, if he hit a winner, everyone was like so happy.
“It was a pretty tough match today,” said Cibulkova. “I’m just disappointed a little bit that I didn’t win, because I had my chances today.”
“I think the biggest difference that I lost today was because her serve was better than mine.”
Flavia Pennetta had to endure a topsy-turvy two—hour and 26 minute match against Sloane Stephens. The Italian served for the match in both the second and third sets. She had to endure a dust storm with high winds and right herself after losing six straight games from the end of the second set to 0-3 in the third. Then she won six of the last seven games to seal the win on her fifth match point.
“I mean, we didn’t have a lot of fun today,” said the 32-year-old veteran. “We didn’t play our best tennis.
“Maybe in the beginning we play much better, and in the second set one, but the third was a disaster for both of us. I mean, I won. I’m happy because I get through this match, but I don’t have a good feeling right now. I mean, it’s normal. Outside it’s crazy now. It’s coming the wind from nowhere.
“But in the other part I’m really happy because I was down 3‑Love in the third, and I fight until the last point and the match was for me today.”
“I wasn’t playing my best at the beginning,” said Stephens. “It was a bit up and down, but I just tried to battle and stay in there. Second set was playing better and better. Then the wind came, which was pretty unfortunate.
“I just tried to do my best and fight and battle for every point. It was unfortunate that I lost.”
“It was a disaster,” the American said of the third set, agreeing with Pennetta who used those words during her post–match news conference “It wasn’t super fun, super frustrating, but that happens sometimes. You play tennis, so it is what it is.
“It really came out of nowhere. Like I don’t even know what happened. We just started the third set, and all of a sudden it was like ‑‑ it was like a windstorm. I don’t know. It was weird.”
Pennetta said her opponent has a bright future: “I think she’s already ‑‑ she’s 20, but she’s a good player. She have a lot of matches, important matches. She was in the semifinal already in a Grand Slam, so you are already a big champion for me.
“I mean, she’s one of the best players, of course. In the future, I think she will be one of the best, top 10, for sure.
“She has everything: unbelievable forehand; backhand; she improve a lot with the backhand in the last year; she’s powerful.”
“She play more or less like me, but she’s more powerful than me,” Pennetta said of her semifinal opponent Li Na. “I have to be real aggressive tomorrow to try to take the situation, but is not going to be easy.”
By Kevin Ware
(March 12, 2014) INDIAN WELLS – With a strong first-round win over Ivo Karlovic, and the loss of just two games to Andreas Seppi, it was a foregone conclusion that Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka would stretch his win streak to 14 matches for a spot in the BNP Paribas Open quarterfinals.
His opponent, Kevin Anderson of South Africa, had other plans; knocking out the World No. 3 in three sets 7-6(1), 3-6, 6-1. Anderson had previously lost to Wawrinka in their three previous meetings, but felt good about his chances in today’s R16 match because they were all closely-contested. This was particularly true of their last meeting at the 2013 Shanghai Masters.
Wawrinka won that tough three-setter by the slimmest of margins in a third-set tiebreak, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(5). One of the lessons that Anderson learned from that match was the need to be more aggressive. This was evident from the start with an early break of the Wawrinka serve.
“That was my game plan coming out. I had played Stan a few times before, most recently in Shanghai last year, and just being quite aggressive and not giving him too much rhythm from the back.”
That aggressive play was almost his undoing as his error count rose in the second set. It didn’t help that Wawrinka, appearing injured and on the brink of retirement at the end of the first set, came back from the brink to win the second set.
An awkward lunge at a backhand initially led to some tense moments as Wawrinka armed serves and swatted at backhands with limited range of movement. Wawrinka said, “It’s just tightness. And I was a little bit nervous and tight and tired.”
When asked if he’d thought of retiring, he brushed aside the injury talk. “No, never. As I said, the injury was not big problem at all. Not at all. Because I won the second set after.”
“I think I was negative all the match. I was complaining a lot about my serve, about the way I was playing, and with that, I don’t deserve to win matches. I think I should have been more positive with myself, just trying to find solution, because it was still a close match.”
Anderson got back on track in the third set, but can’t be happy with the stats sheet. He served 11 aces against 8 double faults, and a whopping 40 unforced errors against 34 winners. Still, he continues a run of good form that has seen him play some of the best tennis of his career.
Anderson struggled mightily with injury issues (and surgeries) just a few years ago. Now that the worst is behind him, he attributes much of his current success to having a few relatively healthy years to work on his game. “I have really put as much emphasis as I can on giving myself the right amount of breaks and, really fortunately, being in the position where I can pick and choose my tournaments has helped a lot.”
“Staying healthy is such an important thing. It sounds obvious, but if you’re not at 100% it’s really tough to compete. ”
Anderson will have his hands full with his next opponent, Roger Federer. But he feels more than up to the challenge.
“I have to come out and focus on my game and just do what I have been doing. I feel like I have been playing good tennis, and I’m going to definitely continue that tomorrow.”
(March 11, 2014) INDIAN WELLS – Novak Djokovic was tested in the middle set against Colombian Alejandro Gonzalez, but the Serbian pulled out a 6-1, 3-6, 6-1 win to move into the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open on Tuesday.
Other men advancing were 24th-seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia, who defeated 16th-seeded Tommy Robredo 6-4, 6-3; 30th-seeded Fernando Verdasco who beat No. 8 seed Richard Gasquet, 7-6 (5), 6-1 24th-seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia, who beat 16th-seeded Tommy Robredo 6-4, 6- and Roberto Bautista Agut stopped Jarkko Nieminen, 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (6).
On the women’s side. 2010 champion Jelena Jankovic defeated 2011 champion Caroline Wozniacki 6-3, 6-1 in the battle of former No. 1s. Also Advancing on the women’s side were No. 6 seed Simona Halep who stopped Eugenie Bouchard 6-2, 1-6, 6-4; Casey Dellacqua of Australia moved on due to Lauren Davis pulling out of the tournament due to gastrointestinal illness and Maria Sharapova conqueror Camilia Giorgi was dismissed by her Italian countrywoman Flavia Pennetta in 56 minutes 6-2, 6-1 to reach the quarterfinals.
Two-time Indian Wells champion Djokovic had 28 winners in the match against Gonzalez. The Colombian before this week had never won an ATP Tour level match until Indian Wells.
“I honestly haven’t seen him play ever before that,” Djokovic said of his opponent. “I got information from some other players, and my coach did preparations also for the match. You know, asked also a few players what his weaknesses and strengths are in the game.
“It took me a little bit to get used to it, you know, but I thought I played really well from the start. 6‑1, and then his opening few games, service games, I had break points, and then suddenly I just had a big loss of concentration and allowed him to win the second set for no reason.
“Bounced back better in the third, but I obviously cannot allow myself to have these particular concentration lapses in the match at this level ‑ especially in the next match when I’m playing Cilic, you know, a guy who is in really good form and I think has gotten better in last couple of months working with Ivanisevic.
“So I’m going to have to be on top of my game throughout the whole match in order to win it.”
Djokovic plays Mari Cilic next.
“I’ve played him (Cilic) several times on different surfaces,” Djokovic said. “We haven’t played each other for quite a long time.
“He started working with Goran, and as I said before, you can feel and you can notice the improvement in his game. He’s more aggressive. He comes to the net. He’s a big guy, and that’s what you expect from him is to serve big and to come to the net.
“He’s using his serve as a big advantage nowadays, and also I feel like he’s moving better on the court. He did before ‑‑ obviously he had this injury and then was absent from the tour for several months, but since he came back he’s a stronger player.
“I have been watching him playing some big matches. He won against Murray in Rotterdam in straight sets. He can definitely can play. And not just play, I mean, he can win against top players. That’s why I do not even for a second underestimate him.
“I’m coming into the match knowing that I’m going to have to be playing on top of my game in order to win that match. I’m going to get myself ready for it.”
Djokovic’s countrywoman Jelena Jankovic routed Wozniacki 6-3, 6-1. Depending on how other players perform, Wozniacki’s ranking could fall to No. 15 in the world.
“I lost to her the last I don’t know how many times, but I think right now I am playing some pretty good tennis,” Jankovic said of finally ending a five-match losing streak against the Dane. “I went on court, you know, trying to wait for my chances.
“Against her, if you go sometimes for too much you just make so many errors and you beat yourself. A lot of times it happened in the past.
“So I try to play solid and aggressive at the same time, wait for the right shots, and then execute. I did that pretty well. 3‑1 I kind of found my way, found my rhythm, and I was striking the ball very well out there and took control of the points.
“You know, I just did not let her play what she plays. That was very important. So I was pretty pleased with the way I played and how composed I stayed throughout the whole match.
“I kind of surprised myself, especially because of my back. Two nights ago I hurt my back, and yesterday did not hit at all. Had a lot of treatment. Could not put my shoes on and all these kind of things.
“So I went on court today not knowing how I was going to feel. You know, if I was going to be limited with my movement or if I was going to play my game.
“But I did, and I was surprised. I was so happy and pleased with how everything went.”
Jankovic will play second-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska in the quarterfinals.
(March 10, 2014) INDIAN WELLS – Photographer David Sweet (@DavidSweetPhoto) snapped photos all around the grounds and In the interview room of the BNP Paribas Open on Sunday and Monday for Tennis Panorama News.
(March 10, 2014) INDIAN WELLS – Defending champion Rafael Nadal fell to Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (5) in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open on Monday. It proved to be a bad day for defending champions as Maria Sharapova was upset on Stadium 1 in the match before Nadal.
It was just last month in Rio that the Spaniard beat the 27th seed for the title in straight sets. Coming into Monday’s match, Dolgopolov had never even taken a set off of the world No. 1.
“I feel great, I mean, as after every win, of course,” said the winner. “This one was bigger and I beat the defending champion, No. 1 in the world.
“I guess I just need to enjoy this evening and forget about it tomorrow and try to compete the rest of the tournament. I’m still in. That’s great, and I’m really happy I could manage to win today.
After splitting the first two sets, Dolgopolov took a 5-2 lead in the third.
Nadal rallied, taking the next three games. Both men held to take the match to a tiebreak.
Nadal grabbed a 4-2 lead in the tiebreak, Dolgopolov won the next three points for a 5-4 lead. Nadal evened it at 5-5, but then hit a ball long to give Dolgopolov the only match point he would need.
“I knew I’m playing well enough to win,” said the Ukrainian. “The point was just not to get too nervous. I knew he’s going to make me play that game and not miss much, and I just gave it away. That was all on me. I didn’t serve, didn’t play well, and I just tried to forget about that and come back.
“I think I did quite well service game at 5‑All, and the tiebreak was really good at the end for me.”
“I played bad,” Nadal said. “That’s all. Disappointed with the way I played. But that happens sometimes. Can happen, and it happens.
“I did all what I had to do to be in good shape. I worked very hard for the last week, week and week and a half. After Rio I had a few days off, three days off, to recover the back. Then I think I worked great. I think worked great and with good feeling.
“But since I started the competition here I didn’t find the right feelings. It’s true that I played against two opponents that probably didn’t help me to get the rhythm in the tournament. But that’s it. I was there. I saved tough situation the first day. Today I was close to save another one.
“But at the end, when you are on the limit, this thing happen. You can lose. I lost today. Congratulate him. He played I think better than me. That’s it. Life continues.
“Gonna keep working hard to try to be ready for Miami.”
“When I have two breaks in one set, normally I don’t lose the set,” Nadal explained. “He played great. He’s playing well, much better today. Had good tournaments in Rio, in Acapulco, so great what the things that he is doing.
“But today. At the end I have to analyze my part and opponent. I cannot talk about the opponent because what the opponent does is not in my hands. I can talk about what is in my hands, and what is in my hands I didn’t play enough solid today.
“I had enough breaks to win the match, but I didn’t play enough well from the baseline then to be solid with my serve. Is not a problem with my serve. Was more problem with my baseline shots. I didn’t go for the points. I played with too many mistakes.
“It’s a moment for the people to be proud a little bit for someone from their country,” Dolgopolov said, in reference to the political unrest going on between Ukraine and Russia.
“That’s good. As I said a lot of times, it’s good to make some results and make the people forget a little bit and have some happy moments in the news except the politics and all the bad stuff happening.”
“It’s good to make some results and make the people forget a little bit and have some happy moments in the news.”
Despite losing the match, Nadal let in total points – 95 to 88 and Dolgopolov had more errors 49 to 36.
The Ukrainian will play Fabio Fognini for a place in the quarterfinals.
(March 10, 2014) INDIAN WELLS – Qualifier Camila Giorgi stunned defending BNP Paribas Open champion Maria Sharapova 6-3, 4-6, 7-5 in the third round on Monday. The win marked the first time that the 22 year-old Italian ranked at 79th in the world wan a match over a top five player. For Sharapova it was her first loss to someone ranked below the top 30 since 2013 Wimbledon.
It was very far from a clean match from the Russian who committed 58 unforced errors to Giorgi’s 48 and hit 9 double-faults to the Italian’s 11. There were a total of 15 breaks of serve during the match.
“I did not play a good match at all, and, you know, I started very poorly,” Sharapova said. “Never played against her, but she’s someone that doesn’t give you much rhythm. She’s quite aggressive, but some shots she hits incredible for a long period of time. Sometimes they go off a bit.
“But, you know, if I’m speaking about my level, it was nowhere near where it should have been.”
“It was really good match,” Giorgi said. “I think so. I mean, wasn’t too consistent, but was great.”
“It was good because I was in the point in a good moment. It was really important even, but just in the third set was really important to do it, so I was happy.’
“When I’m in the court I don’t think about the crowd,” Giorgi said answering a questions about her possible nerves during the match. I just try to play my game and just keep going.
“If something, even if I miss, I just still going. I’m going my game. I don’t change it.”
Sharapova despite all of the errors, still had chances to win. At 4-4 in the final set the Russian was broken over a disputed line call. Her shot was called long and she raised her arms, which the chair umpire thought was a challenge, which showed the ball as out. Sharapova debated with the umpire and questioned who made the out call. The umpire disagreed and Sharapova was broken.
“Just because I heard the call from her box rather than from the line judge first, which wasn’t right at the beginning,” Sharapova said. “Then I asked her why that happened and she thought I challenged the ball, which I have no problem admitting if I challenged a call.
“Then she went with it and I had no challenges left. It’s not a big deal, but, I mean, I have no problem admitting if I challenged a call. I’m not sure why she wouldn’t believe me if I wasn’t challenging it actually. But I guess I was giving, you know, the hand gesture just because I had the out call from the sidelines rather than from the line judge.
“She says that the crowd has nothing to do with the match. And, yes, he did call the ball out before the line judge did, but that’s just external interference and that has nothing to do. Just have to keep playing, which is fine.
“And then she thought by doing that I was challenging the call, so…”
As for her opponent, Sharapova said: “I think if she played at this level for a consistent period of time I don’t think she’d be a qualifier here. I think that’s pretty obvious for everyone in this room.
“But that’s the thing with tennis, is that ‑‑ and I have said it so many times ‑‑ you’ve got to bring this type of tennis when you’re playing on center court or when you’re playing on Court 18. And especially when you’re just moving up and when you’re just getting that confidence and you’re playing well in Grand Slams, you’ve got to back it up.
“It’s a big challenge. It really is. Consistency is a big factor. But if she keeps it up, I mean, if she can play like that on a consistent basis, I mean, she will be a good player.”
Giorgi also commented about her consistency in order for her to be a seeded player at events down the line.
“I think so I need to keep going, to play tournaments and be more consistent, to play more, because last year wasn’t like this for problems, injury.
“But I think is more important to play many matches and get to be with these kind of matches that will help lot to my game.
“I was trying to just play my game, and maybe I accelerate more than the other set. I just play more aggressive. I think this was the point.”
Sharapova will see her ranking fall to No. 7 and possibly to No. 8 if Petra Kvitova makes the quarterfinals.
Giorgi will play countrywoman Flavia Pennetta in the round of 16.
More to follow…..