RAYMOND MOORE STEPS DOWN ASCEO AND TOURNAMENT DIRECTOR OF THE BNP PARIBAS OPEN“Earlier today I had the opportunity to speak with Raymond Moore,” said BNP Paribas Open Owner, Larry Ellison. “Ray let me know that he has decided to step down from his roles as CEO and Tournament Director effective immediately. I fully understand his decision.”“Nearly half a century ago, Billie Jean King began her historic campaign for the equal treatment of women in tennis. What followed is an ongoing, multi-generational, progressive movement to treat women and men in sports equally. Thanks to the leadership of Billie Jean, Martina Navratilova, Venus Williams, Serena Williams and so many other great women athletes, an important measure of success has already been achieved. I’m proud to say that it is now a decade long tradition at our tournament at Indian Wells, and all the major tennis tournaments, to pay equal prize money to both the women and the men.”“I would like to personally thank all the great women athletes who fought so hard for so many years in the pursuit of equal prize money in professional tennis. And I’d like to congratulate them on their success. All of us here at the BNP Paribas Open promise to continue working with everyone to make tennis a better sport for everybody,” concluded Ellison.
(March 20, 2016) Novak Djokovic destroyed Milos Raonic 6-2, 6-0 to win his third straight and a record fifth BNP Paribas Open title on Sunday.
He now has a 17-match win streak at Indian Wells with the three-peat. His record in the desert is 46-6. The world No. 1 improves his record on the year to 22-1.
Raonic admitted that a few games into the match he was hampered by an injury. He took a medical time out after the first set.
Djokovic broke the hard-hitting Canadian’s serve five times during the 77-minute match.
This marks Djokovic’s 27th Masters 1000 title. He is now tied with Rafael Nadal for the all-time lead.
Raonic had a medical issue which began a few games into the match.
Despite the loss the 25-year-old Raonic was upbeat about his tournament performance:
“There is a lot of positives to take away. Right now it’s very disappointing, but at the end of the day, until two weeks ago I didn’t do any side-to-side movement and I didn’t play any points and all these kind of things.
“To be here playing in one of the 12 most important tournaments in our year in the final is great progress forward. I look to sort of keep that going forward and, you know, trying to be healthy and trying to get better every day.”
“I need to work harder (to beat Djokovic),” he said. “I need to execute better. My way that I go about things, I think I’m on the right track. I think it’s about putting the things, putting the things together, being effective, which today I wasn’t able to do.
“I think I have it within me, but obviously I need to reach a lot deeper to find that execution.”
Raonic is 14-2 on the year having won the Brisbane International beating Roger Federer in the final. This was Raonic’s third Masters 1000 final.
“I’m just glad to be able to raise the level of my game as the tournament progresses, and that’s something that I have been doing in the last two years particularly on the big events,” Djokovic said.
“I have been managing to win most of the big matches against top 10 players. You know, obviously I have a certain routine and certain preparation for these big matches that works for me, again. Everybody is different. But I have been — I will try to follow that kind of routine and get myself in that state of mind where I’m able to get the best out of myself when it’s most needed.”
(March 20, 2016) Victoria Azarenka beat Serena Williams 6-4, 6-4 to win the BNP Paribas Open for the second time. The win moves Azarenka back into the top ten when the rankings come out on Monday. She was last in the top ten in August of 2014.
Azarenka broke Williams at love to start the match and held on to win the first set.
In the second set, Azarenka went up two breaks on Williams. At 3-0 Williams broke her racquet.
Azarenka took a 5-1 lead, but Williams won the next three straight games, having break points, when Azarenka served for the match a second time. The woman from Belarus held to close the match 6-4, 6-4.
Williams made 33 unforced errors during the match.
It was Azarenka’s first win over No. 1 Williams since she beat her for the Cincinnati title in August 2013. She move to No. 8 in the world.
Asked about reaching the top ten again, Azarenka said: “Feels good just to be able to, you know, see the work that I have put in and it’s paying off. But not just, you know, this year. Just everything that I have been through in the last years, it makes it more special.
“I just want to keep going. I just want to keep going. I want to keep improving myself as a player. I was very, I would say, brave to go for things that I haven’t maybe done as much before in the matches.
“I was more aggressive. I started to use my serve the way I wanted to use my serve. Sometimes it doesn’t work necessarily, like couple of matches this week. But having that big goal in mind and going after it, that’s something that makes the momentum shift on the big stages.”
Azarenka, with the win became the first to beat Williams in four different finals.
“I’m very honored to play against the best player in the world,” Azarenka said. “That’s what I said on the court. I really mean that. She’s absolutely transformed women’s sport. Her and Venus brought something unique and lifted it up.
“You know, the power, the intensity, you know, the records that I’m pretty sure she’s gonna break at some point. But just to be able to watch that and get inspired, for me, that’s more important. I mean, I’m happy that I won and I’m going to — next time we play I’m going to try to win again, but just being able to play on big stages against the best player, that’s something that I want to do every single week.”
For Williams, this was her second year was back at Indian Wells after a 14-year absence which ended last year.
“I think overall it was a good result for me just to be able to be back and to be able to play, in general, Williams said.
“Yeah, I think that overall was just really, really good. Obviously I didn’t win and that’s not the result I was looking for, but I think looking at the big picture it’s just I definitely didn’t expect to be on that stage again.
“The last time I was there (in the final in 2001) was probably the worst moment of my whole career. Not probably. Sure.
“To be back out there, which I never thought I would be, you know, was really different and special. You know, it was just — I was overwhelmed with, I think, emotions and nerves. Obviously I think everything kind of played a part.
“But for me it wasn’t about winning. It was just about, as Raymond said, coming back out here and doing well. No shade.”
Williams also addressed comment made by Tournament Director Raymond Moore that the WTA was riding the “coattails” of the men’s tour.
(March 20, 2016) At the BNP Paribas Open Indian Wells Tennis Garden CEO Raymond Moore told the media in a Sunday morning news conference that WTA players “ride on the coattails of the men.” Here are some excerpts from the news conference:
How about the WTA side? Now you are one of the four premier mandatory. Would you like to be set apart from the other tournaments, as well, or are you happy…
RAYMOND MOORE: No, I think the WTA — you know, in my next life when I come back I want to be someone in the WTA, (laughter) because they ride on the coattails of the men. They don’t make any decisions and they are lucky. They are very, very lucky.
If I was a lady player, I’d go down every night on my knees and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal were born, because they have carried this sport. They really have.
And now the mantle is being handed over to Djokovic and Murray and some others. You know, that’s good. We have no complaints. You know, we pay equal prize money. Do all those things. We don’t have any complaints.
But we are one of the four premier mandatory events. They haven’t said anything about changing that system.
Q. This used to be a three-man show. Now it’s a one-man show. Does that mean you never needed those two other guys (Laughter)? How have you reengineered this whole thing?
RAYMOND MOORE: Well, you know, Bill, to answer that, I think last year I had my 35th birthday, and now look what I look like. Steve leaving me here has contributed to my aging.
No, listen, you know, Charlie and Steve and myself and other people, everyone is passionate about this event. We sat and discussed concepts, where we wanted to go, and we are all at one.
If Charlie, Steve, and I were in here there would be no disagreements on concept and what we want to do with the sport.
Q. You said that there were six superstars in this game. I presume that’s four top men.
RAYMOND MOORE: Yes.
Q. And Serena?
RAYMOND MOORE: And Maria.
Q. Now Maria is out of the picture for…
RAYMOND MOORE: For a while.
Q. For a while. What’s that say about a sport that has one superstar?
RAYMOND MOORE: Well, I don’t think you can look at it that way. I mean, Maria is a superstar. She’s an incredible superstar. Well-known throughout the world, everywhere. She may be sidelined for a while. She made a huge mistake and hopefully she doesn’t pay that price, you know, the ultimate price, career-ending suspension or anything like that.
So we sit and wait for a while or to make a decision and give their judgment.
But Serena and Maria are superstars. In the world, they are by far the two best-known female athletes, no question.
Q. What does it say that there isn’t enough competition for them?
RAYMOND MOORE: Well, you know, it’s just one of those things where one lady has come in and dominated. You know, you can’t provide for that. Serena, as I said earlier, is arguably the best female player of all time. Certainly has always been in the conversation for maybe the top three. Some people may say Steffi Graf, Margaret Court, Chrissie, Martina. I think those are the five.
But she’s in there. If she stays healthy and interested, I think she’s going to beat Steffi Graf’s Grand Slam take.
But you know what? I think the WTA have a handful – not just one or two – but they have a handful of very attractive prospects that can assume the mantle. You know, Muguruza, Genie Bouchard. They have a lot of very attractive players. And the standard in ladies tennis has improved unbelievably.
Q. By attractive, you mean physically attractive or competitively attractive?
RAYMOND MOORE: No, no, no, I don’t — I mean both. They are physically attractive and competitively attractive. They can assume the mantle of leadership once Serena decides to stop.
I think they’ve got — they really have quite a few very, very attractive players.
Q. Your attendance is probably not going to go above last year.
RAYMOND MOORE: Right.
Q. Why is that? Is it obvious it’s Federer and Sharapova? How do you take an event like this and continue to grow it when that number gets so big?
RAYMOND MOORE: Well, it’s always hard when you get a huge number to increase on it.
This year our number is not quite as big as last year, but it’s very, very close. There are a number of factors. You know, we lost two days at the beginning. We lost Monday, the first Monday when it was cold, and we had 5,000 less people that day.
Big night, the Salute to Heros night when Serena was playing. We had rain at a terrible time; 5:00 to 7:00 it rained. That’s when people would be coming out to see the matches.
The afternoon session had to be extended. Serena, instead of playing at 7:00 was playing at 9:00. Walkup crowd wasn’t what we expected. We thought we would have a sellout crowd that night. All indications were we would have.
So we lose those two sessions. Then, you know, there’s no doubt about it, Roger and Maria not being there, I mean, to improve on that number we need walkup crowd to support us. Walkup is dependent on the matchups, who can play.
And, you know, as a tournament director when you’re doing the schedule and you’ve got two superstars at your disposal, I could put Roger one night and Maria another night. It changes the attendance equation.
And then there are a whole bunch of other factors. We don’t know how much they weigh into the stock market crash; the Canadian dollar is so low. You go through all these factors. They are all one spoke in the wheel of reaching major attendance records.
But having said all of that, I think we’re gonna be roundabout 40,000 people, which is right on the heels of last year’s.
So the way I look at it, this is the second-highest attendance we have ever had in 41 years of the tournament. So I’m very, very happy with the attendance numbers.
If a couple years ago we were sitting at this wonderful breakfast and chat and someone said, Well, Steve will be gone in a couple of years, and the tournament’s not going to have Maria and it’s not going to have Roger; Serena and Venus will be playing. What would you say and just talk about the change of life.
RAYMOND MOORE: Well, you know, things change. You have to adapt. And just now that you just jogged my memory, another thing that happened with us with attendance, we lost 15 seeded lady players in the first round, including Caroline Wozniacki and other like superstars that could have helped us.
But that happens. Venus. Venus lost in the first round. You know, would have helped us greatly if Venus had gone deep in the tournament. When we did the draw I saw she was in the same section as Serena, so if she had won through the two of them would have played in the 16s, I think.
Think if we put Serena against Venus at night that we wouldn’t have had a sellout? Sure we would have.
That’s what I’m saying. That’s what happens. We’ve got a really solid fan base. To get to those little extra numbers, you need to have the matchups with the players. That’s unpredictable.
Serena Williams, who lost the final to Victoria Azarenka 6-4, 6-4 was asked to react to Moore’s comments after the match in her news conference:
You just shared a beautiful moment on the court with CEO Raymond Moore, and he said earlier today, quote, if I was a lady player, I would go down every night on my knees and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were born. They have carried the sport. What’s your reaction to that comment and the controversy it’s created?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I don’t understand why I always have to answer questions about controversy like this (laughter.) Obviously I don’t think any woman should be down on their knees thanking anybody like that.
I think Venus, myself, a number of players have been — if I could tell you every day how many people say they don’t watch tennis unless they’re watching myself or my sister, I couldn’t even bring up that number. So I don’t think that is a very accurate statement.
I think there is a lot of women out there who are more — are very exciting to watch. I think there are a lot of men out there who are exciting to watch. I think it definitely goes both ways. I think those remarks are very much mistaken and very, very, very inaccurate.
Q. Do you feel like there is maybe a misunderstanding behind how people are interpreting that in some way?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, if you read the transcript you can only interpret it one way. I speak very good English. I’m sure he does, too.
You know, there’s only one way to interpret that. Get on your knees, which is offensive enough, and thank a man, which is not — we, as women, have come a long way. We shouldn’t have to drop to our knees at any point.
You have led women, and Venus also, have led women through a lot of struggles. Are you surprised in 2016 that’s issues and complaints and sexism are still cropping up?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I’m still surprised, especially with me and Venus and all the other women on the tour that’s done well. Last year the women’s final at the US Open sold out well before the men. I’m sorry, did Roger play in that final or Rafa or any man play in that final that was sold out before the men’s final? I think not.
So I just feel like in order to make a comment you have to have history and you have to have facts and you have to know things. You have to know of everything. I mean, you look at someone like Billie Jean King who opened so many doors for not only women’s players but women’s athletes in general.
So I feel like, you know, that is such a disservice to her and every female, not only a female athlete but every woman on this planet, that has ever tried to stand up for what they believed in and being proud to be a woman.
Q. What was your reaction when you saw it? You said you saw the transcript.
SERENA WILLIAMS: “Really?”
Q. How did it come to your attention?
SERENA WILLIAMS: (Laughter.)
Actually, I love that quote.
How did it come to my attention? Well, unfortunately, you know, sometimes we — if someone makes irrational comments or if something unfortunate goes on in the sport, you know, everyone hears about it. I’m on social media enough to hear about it.
The BNP Paribas Open issued a statement from Tournament Director and CEO Raymond Moore:
“At my morning breakfast with the media, I made comments about the WTA that were in extremely poor taste and erroneous. I am truly sorry for those remarks, and apologize to all the players and WTA as a whole. We had a women’s final today that reflects the strength of the players, especially Serena and Victoria, and the entire WTA. Again, I am truly sorry for my remarks.”
Q. I must do my job and ask you whether you heard the comments that Mr. Moore made.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I did.
Q. As a woman who has put all you have into this sport, could you reflect on those, please?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I think it’s something that, again, we have to work through as women. Men don’t get those comments. I don’t want to address or insult anybody like we got a little bit.
But I have just spoken to Paul, [sic] and he apologized. My thing is I don’t understand any man comments in general towards women, because as simple as that, every single person on earth was brought and was born by a woman, right?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I think that’s a good comment and I think people should remember that sometimes.
Q. I want to also ask you this as someone who has followed you with great joy.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Thank you.
Q. Throughout your career. Let’s face it. You and other women were criticized harshly for the sounds they made on court, while men, from Jimmy Connors onward, basically were not. Did that ever cross your mind, that there was a gender difference and a response there?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I think it’s still a problem in the world. It’s not just in sports. It’s in business. We try to talk about the equality. Sometimes it just gets unrecognized. I think what women do best is rise above those comments. You don’t hear complaints or bad comments towards men.
From my perspective, if we rise above that and keep working hard in everything we do, we’re better. We’re better at taking opportunities and being graceful. Why do you have to make the comment? Who cares? Who cares? Simple as that. Just to make more drama or jokes?
I mean, if that makes that person feel better or bigger or whatever, it’s a pretty sad person, I think. Because if you’re happy you don’t care what other people do. You just take care of you.
I think that’s more important to focus on us. That’s what women players and examples like Venus and Serena and other players have been doing for — you know, we got it from Billie Jean King where she proved everybody, Hey, look at me. I started something, so let’s go after it.
So I think it’s our duty to keep just working hard through whatever comments there is. We’ve got to rise above that.
Q. You commented about the grunting at Wimbledon last year, your reaction to it. Do you think this is something you have embraced more as you have gotten older in this sport, embracing this role as being a leader for women through your status as a top athlete?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I believe in giving back to a sport that gave me so much. I’m very passionate. I see how hard it is to make something out of yourself and stand your ground, so I believe that it’s my duty for players maybe after me or during this time to really have this respect for our sport.
I think that comes with it. Through the years, yeah. The comments, the grunting. I, don’t care about this. I could give less of shit about it.
Because to me, I work my butt off on the court to try to win the match. And whatever it takes, I’m going to do it.
Q. Do you think that Raymond Moore’s apology is a little disingenuous given the nature of the comments he made just a few hours previously?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I’m trying not to think about it. As all my other comments, I’m not gonna bring somebody down. I’m just gonna rise above that.
Today I think it was a great match. It was a great day for women’s sport. Isn’t it international happiest day or something like this? That’s what I heard. Why can’t we just be happy and enjoy and support each other, because that’s what the world is missing a little bit.
It’s the support towards each other. Not just bashing and, oh, who is prettier or who is this, who has more, who has less.
Let’s just take care of each other.
Q. The tournament director, Ray Moore – there was some controversy today – saying women players should go down on their knees and thank the men for carrying the sport. I was wondering what your thoughts are on that comment.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: (Smiling.) I don’t know what to say. I heard about it. Obviously it’s a very delicate and sensitive subject to talk about. Women deserve respect and admiration for what they are doing. You know, equal prize money was the main subject of the tennis world in the last seven, eight years.
I have been through that process, as well, so I understand how much power and energy WTA and all the advocates for equal prize money have invested in order to reach that.
I applaud them for that. I honestly do. They fought for what they deserve, and they got it. On the other hand, I think that our men’s tennis world, ATP world, should fight for more, because the stats are showing that we have much more spectators on the men’s tennis matches.
I think that’s one of the, you know, reasons why maybe we should get awarded more. But, again, you know, we can’t complain because we also have great prize money in men’s tennis is at the right moment in the right time.
Look, I don’t know what Raymond Moore was exactly referring to when he was saying that, but this is all I can say from my perspective.
Q. But you don’t think the prize money should be equal if it was up to you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Listen, again, my answer to you is not yes and no. It’s women should fight for what they think they deserve and we should fight for what we think we deserve. I think as long as it’s like that and there is data and stats available and information, you know, upon who attracts more attention, spectators, who sells more tickets and stuff like that, in relation to that it has to be fairly distributed.
Q. So if the stats show at some point that women’s tennis attracts more tennis, men should get less?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Q. One of the great things about our sport is not only WTA and ATP, but the entire interaction of men and women in this global sport, do you think you’d be here today without your first coach, Jelena?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, I wouldn’t be. That’s why — you know, don’t get me wrong. As I said, I have tremendous respect for what women in global sport are doing and achieving.
It’s knowing what they have to go through with their bodies, and their bodies are much different than men’s bodies. They have to go through a lot of different things that we don’t have to go through. You know, the hormones and different stuff, we don’t need to go into details. Ladies know what I’m talking about.
But it’s really for great admiration and respect for them to be able to fight on such a high level. Many of them, you know, they kind of have to sacrifice for certain periods of time, you know, the family time or decisions that they make with their own bodies, you know, in order to play the tennis and to play the professional sport.
So I appreciate that. I have had a woman that was my coach, and that was a huge part of my tennis career. I’m surrounded with women. I’m very happy obviously to be married with one and to have a child. (Smiling.)
I’m completely for women power.
Q. Do you think the language that Ray Moore used was offensive? He said that if I was a lady player I’d go down every night on my knees and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal were born?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I think we — yeah, we have to be fair to say that it’s not politically correct. I mean, it was maybe exaggerated a little bit, but that’s just my opinion.
21 March 2016
ATP Statement Regarding Raymond Moore’s Comments & Equal Prize Money
Following Raymond’s Moore recent comments, ATP Executive Chairman & President Chris Kermode said:
“Ray Moore’s comments towards women’s tennis were disparaging and made in poor taste, as Ray has subsequently acknowledged. The ATP fully supports equality across society, while at the same time acknowledging that we operate in the sports & entertainment business. The ATP seeks to achieve fair compensation for its players by setting minimum prize money levels for ATP events in accordance with the revenues that are generated from men’s professional tennis. The ATP also respects the right of tournaments to make their own decisions relating to prize money for women’s tennis, which is run as a separate Tour.”
Statement by Katrina Adams, Chairman of the Board, CEO and President, USTA, in response to the comments of Raymond Moore:
“The USTA and the US Open hold player equality as one of our bedrock principles. As the first Grand Slam to award equal prize money, we have endeavored to lead the way for gender equality in sports. We appreciate the hard work and incredible skill demonstrated by all those at the professional level, and the USTA hopes these tremendous athletes help to inspire the next generation of boys’ and girls’ players in this country. There is no place in this sport for antiquated, sexist or uninformed ideologies, and the comments made yesterday in no way reflect the beliefs of the vast majority of those in the tennis world.”
(March 19, 2016) INDIAN WELLS, California – Novak Djokovic continued his winning streak against Rafael Nadal beating him 7-6 (5), 6-2 on Saturday to reach the BNP Paribas Open final for the third straight year in a row. He has now beaten the Spaniard six times in a row, with his last loss coming in the 2014 French Open final. The world No. 1, whose streak in Indian Wells is up to 14 in a row will going be going for a record fifth title and a “three-peat” on Sunday when he faces Milos Raonic for the title. Raonic defeated David Goffin 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 to reach his third Masters1000 final.
Djokovic has now lifted his record over Nadal to 25-23.
In the first set Djokovic and Nadal exchanged breaks of serve before getting to the tiebreaker. Djokovic raced out to a 5-2 lead, thanks to three straight errors by the 14-time major champion.
In the second set, Nadal held off Djokovic until the sixth game when the Serb broke serve to go up 4-2 and holding serve for 5-2.
In the eighth game, Nadal fought off five match points before a forehand long gave the match to Djokovic.
“It could have gone either way, the first set, but I managed to stay composed and serve well in important moments and just believed that I can win,” Djokovic said.
“We had a very long first set. It went over an hour and ten minutes, I think. It’s not the first time. I know it’s very physically demanding when I get to play Nadal.
“I think I have had a couple of break points 4-3-up first set and didn’t use that. He had his chances, as well. He had 5-4, set point.
“So it was quite even coming into tiebreak. You know, tiebreak I was 5-2 up; came back to 5-All with some great defense and great points. Then I just served well and hung in there. You know, I made him play an extra shot.
“So I think, you know, 5-All, 6-5, those points, you know, in the tiebreak, I mean, have decided a whole set, because more or less if you look at the first set it was quite even.”
“I think I played well for a set and a half; then I think he played well the last,” Nadal said. “I played bad again with my serve on 3-2, and then he finished playing well the last two games. Played at high level.
“I had my chances in the first set. I felt for a moment that I was competing at the highest level possible. At the beginning of the tiebreak and at the end of the first set with some Love-15 that I had, I made a few mistakes with my forehand. That’s the only thing.
“I believe that with a little bit more of confidence with my forehand at the end of that first set will be a better chance.”
“Today was closer than the last couple of times against the best player of world, so was a very positive week for me,” Nadal continued.
“That’s the way. I gonna try to follow this way to keep going with this level. If I am able to play weeks in a row at this level, then you start to think about the chances to compete for everything.”
In the other semifinal, the Canadian Raonic hit 10 aces in his win against the Belgian, raising his 2016 record to 14-1. Raonic won the Brisbane title, beating Roger Federer in the final.
“Milos is probably playing the best tennis that he has ever played,” Djokovic said. “I think looking at his performances this year, winning in Brisbane, playing semis of Australian Open, and then coming back off injury and playing already in finals here, it’s quite impressive.
“His serve was phenomenal before the start of this season, but this season it seems like he has improved even more, especially the second serve. He’s going for it more. He’s not giving you the same look.
“That’s a very strong weapon that — an advantage that he possesses in his game that he obviously tries to leverage in the matches. I’m aware that it’s gonna be very tough to return his serve, but if I manage to neutralize his serve, get many returns back in play, I think I have a good chance from the baseline.
“I also need to have decent first-serve percentage in, because I don’t want him to, you know, take the advantage of my second serves and, you know, start stepping in too much.
“Yeah. I saw he’s aggressive, trying to take the initiative from the first shot off his serve, which is natural because his serve goes 140 miles and gives him a lot of easy shots.
“Yeah, I will try to prepare myself tactically, analyze his game with my team. You know, we are playing finals, so I’ll try to also use the experience that I have had playing in many Masters Series finals in this tournament, as well. If I’m not mistaken, he’s going for his first.
“But, you know, even though he hasn’t played too many Masters finals, he’s still very strong mentally. He’s very calm on the court. He’s very composed. He’s showing, I would say, mental character virtues that are characteristic, I would say, for maybe some more experienced and older players.”
“Definitely have been playing higher level this year, but I think also when I have had those difficult moments or let’s say some kind of crisis throughout matches, I have found solutions better,” Raonic said.
“Against Novak it’s a difficult matchup. I think that I have added good things to my tennis that can help me in that aspect. It’s going to be important to control the center of the court; obviously be the one that’s moving less. I think I’m going to have to do a better job of stepping up like I did in that third set with forehands earlier on and not being content with just putting it through. Not expecting sort of the match to be given to me.”
“I have obviously a big challenge ahead of me, but I have been pretty good this year at finding solutions.”
Djokovic is 5-0 against Raonic.
7-20 MARCH 2016
RESULTS – MARCH 18, 2016
Singles – Quarterfinals
 N. Djokovic (SRB) d  J. Tsonga (FRA) 76(2) 76(2)
 R. Nadal (ESP) d  K. Nishikori (JPN) 64 63
Doubles – Semifinals
 V. Pospisil (CAN) / J. Sock (USA) d F. Lopez (ESP) / M. Lopez (ESP) 46 63 12-10
Singles – Semifinals
 S. Williams (USA) d  A. Radwanska (POL) 64 76(1)
 V. Azarenka (BLR) d  Ka. Pliskova (CZE) 76(1) 16 62
ORDER OF PLAY – SATURDAY, MARCH 19, 2016
STADIUM 1 start 11:00 am
ATP –  D. Goffin (BEL) vs  M. Raonic (CAN)
ATP –  N. Djokovic (SRB) vs  R. Nadal (ESP)
Not Before 4:00 pm
WTA – Doubles Final – J. Goerges (GER) / K. Pliskova (CZE) vs B. Mattek-Sands (USA) / C. Vandeweghe (USA)
Not Before 5:00 pm
ATP – Doubles Final –  V. Pospisil (CAN) / J. Sock (USA) vs  P. Herbert (FRA) / N. Mahut (FRA)
(March 18, 2016) INDIAN WELLS, California – Serena Williams had to rally in both sets before advancing to the Indian Wells final defeating No. 3 seed Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4, 7-6(1) on Saturday night.
Radwanska was a point away from a 5-2 lead in the first set when Williams won seven straight games to take a 6-4, 3-0 lead.
Radwanska got back on serve and broke Williams to serve for the second set at 6-5. Williams broke back and sent the set to a tiebreak, which Williams dominated.
Williams hit 41 winners in the match to her opponent’s 18.
“I just made a few errors in the beginning and then just started to get a bit more pumped up toward the middle,” said the world No. 1.
“Well, in the first set she served pretty much every ball to my forehand. I started reading it, so she obviously changed her strategy, which is obviously — she’s a very smart player, so she knows that you just can’t go into the match and just do the exact same thing against anybody for the whole match.”
“I think it was pretty good match,” said the woman from Poland. “I started very well. Unfortunately I didn’t took chances I had in the first set, so many break points I couldn’t even count.”
“Think it was a really good match. I think we both played very well.
“In important moments she played really amazing shots. I think maybe I just didn’t really step enough in some of the important moments that I have a chance.
“Then she took it and it was too late. But I think that was really match in that kind of level that we have ranking.”
Williams returns to the BNP Paribas Open final for the first time since 2001. She returned to play the tournament last year after not playing it from 2002-2014. “Definitely didn’t think I would be in another final here ever,” Williams said. “Then last year just really, really bad luck. I felt devastated that I wasn’t in the final or at least even being able to play.
“After the last final I had here, I never pictured myself being back. So it’s interesting feeling.”
“Well, hopefully it will be very different than last final,” Williams said smiling. “But my goal is just to be out there, and I think it’s kind of cool that I can really close the door by being in the final again.
“So I think it’s something that really kind of came full circle.”
In the other women’s semifinal, Victoria Azarenka defeated Karolina Pliskova 7-6(1), 1-6, 6-2. Williams has a 17-3 record against the Belarusian.
Djokovic held off No. 7 seed, Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6(2), 7-6(2) while Nadal stopped No. 5 seed Kei Nishikori of Japan 6-4, 6-3 in the earlier semifinal.
Djokovic served for the first set at 5-4, but Tsonga broke serve, but the Serb recovered to win the set in the tiebreak.
“Well, it was definitely very challenging to play in these kind of conditions with Jo that was in form this week,” Djokovic said.
“I thought, you know, being a break up and couple of break points for double break in the first set, you know, I felt playing well, very solid; had the match under control; serving 5-4, 30-Love.
“All of a sudden, not putting a first serve in. He started mixing up with a slice and decided to play a bit different tactically. That got me off a little bit, you know, the balance and the rhythm.
“He started playing better. He started swinging more freely from the forehand corner, especially. Yeah, it was very close.
“But, you know, I take positives out of today’s match, the fact that I have played somebody that was feeling good throughout the week, somebody that serves very, very big and plays very, you know, quick and efficient, precise forehands, you know, that gave me a lot of trouble today to win in straight sets and to win in two tiebreaks, I think it’s gonna help definitely my confidence and, you know, mentally I will take that.”
Djokovic, who earned his 20th win of the year, has only dropped one set during Indian Wells this year and that was to Bjorn Fratangelo.
In an era dominated by Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, Tsonga was asked to compare them: “They all are really good. I mean, if you have to count Grand Slam, it’s maybe Federer. If you have to count number of title, it’s maybe Federer.
“And then you have two guys who are just amazing. Rafa was the best on clay for 10 years, and Novak, he’s now the actual best player, I think, because he’s No. 1 since a while now. So it’s tough to compare.
“Yeah. Anyway, they will be part of history, and for sure for a long time. Yeah, they’re good players.”
In Nadal’s quarterfinal match, the Spaniard, rallied from a 1-3 deficit in the first set, taking five out of the next six games to close it. Nadal took a break lead in the second set in which his Japanese opponent broke him right back, to make it 4-3 in Nadal’s favor. Nadal won the next two games to seal the match.
“I never thought impossible for Kei playing at this level,” Nadal said. “He’s an amazing player, one of the best players, and he’s able to play at highest level, no?
“He started so quick hitting all the balls very well, very aggressive, and serving great, no?
“Then I think he started to miss some first serves and I was returning very well the second set serve, returning very aggressive. That was so important, I think, in my opinion. The development of the game, no?
“So my return was so important, and at the same time I think I served — my serve was enough good for this match.”
“I think the beginning I was stepping in little more and was hitting using my forehand,” Nishikori said. “My serve was hitting really good serve, first serve, second serve, and maybe he start hitting more deep. I start backing up a little more.
“You know, I think everything changed after, between that first set. Yeah, thought I had couple chances first set and second set, too, but, yeah, some unforced errors. And, yeah, he played good tennis.”
Nadal is set to play Djokovic for a place in the Indian Wells final. He spoke about the potential match-up with the Serb. The last time they played in Doha, Nadal only won three games.
“I think the (Doha) result was so easy. The game was not that easy, no?
“But is obvious that Novak played unbelievable, and when he plays that way, so difficult to stop him. Nothing to say about that match than offer congratulations to him. Tomorrow is another day. He’s a clear favorite because he’s winning all the matches almost every time.
“So I am here to, as I said, enjoy the match of tomorrow, to enjoy the victory of today against a great player. That’s something important for me. Semifinals before the tournament start is a very positive result for me. Tomorrow is an opportunity to play against another top player and enjoy that fact.”
Djokovic talked about the Doha result: “Well, that’s definitely one of the best matches I have played against Rafa. I will try to take a close look at that match and what I have done right.
“But, again, you know, we have to consider the different — completely different conditions. We played in Doha on a bit quicker surface. The balls were not bouncing as high. It was night. It was colder than here.
“Tomorrow is going to be very warm. Ball bounces very high, which he, you know, prefers, because the spin, rotation that he generates with his shots is, you know, really big.
“The court is picking that rotation up here with the bounce. He likes the conditions, actually. We played against each other here several times and always close matches.
“Well, I’m hoping I can deliver my best game tomorrow.”
Djokovic on playing Nadal:
“Well, completely different matchup against most of the players that I play against this week. He’s a great competitor, a great fighter. He’s been getting himself out of trouble a few times this week and showing why he’s one of the best players in the history of the game.
“You know, he never gives up. He always makes you play an extra shot. Always makes you earn the win. You know, I’m going into tomorrow’s match knowing what’s expecting me and I know how to get ready.
“I won the last couple times we played against each other, so maybe that can give me a slight mental advantage coming into the court.”
“But, again, everything is open. It’s semifinals. We both have won multiple times titles here, and hopefully we can come up with some good tennis.”
Nadal goes into his semifinal match against Djokovic with a 23-24 record. The last time Nadal defeated Djokovic was int eh 2014 final of Roland Garros, the French Open.
Djokovic is looking to win a fifth BNP Paribas Open title, while Nadal is looking to get his fourth trophy there.
BNP PARIBAS OPEN – INDIAN WELLS, USA
7-20 MARCH 2016
RESULTS – MARCH 14, 2016
Singles – Third Round
F. Delbonis (ARG) d  A. Murray (GBR) 64 46 76(3)
 S. Wawrinka (SUI) d A. Kuznetsov (RUS) 64 76(5)
 T. Berdych (CZE) d B. Coric (CRO) 61 76(3)
 R. Gasquet (FRA) d  A. Dolgopolov (UKR) 26 62 61
 M. Cilic (CRO) d L. Mayer (ARG) 64 63
 M. Raonic (CAN) d  B. Tomic (AUS) 62 30 Retired
 G. Monfils (FRA) d A. Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) 61 63
 D. Goffin (BEL) d G. Pella (ARG) 46 63 62
Doubles – Second Round
 B. Bryan (USA) / M. Bryan (USA) d R. Bautista Agut (ESP) / V. Troicki (SRB) 62 62
 V. Pospisil (CAN) / J. Sock (USA) d T. Bellucci (BRA) / G. Pella (ARG) 63 67(6) 10-5
P. Kohlschreiber (GER) / D. Thiem (AUT) d L. Kubot (POL) / M. Matkowski (POL) 62 46 10-5
F. Lopez (ESP) / M. Lopez (ESP) d J. Isner (USA) / M. Raonic (CAN) 64 75
Singles – Third Round
M. Rybarikova (SVK) d  B. Bencic (SUI) 64 36 63
 R. Vinci (ITA) d  E. Svitolina (UKR) 61 63
 T. Bacsinszky (SUI) d E. Bouchard (CAN) 62 57 62
 V. Azarenka (BLR) d [WC] S. Zhang (CHN) 64 63
 Ka. Pliskova (CZE) d  A. Ivanovic (SRB) 62 60
 J. Konta (GBR) d D. Allertova (CZE) 64 61
 S. Stosur (AUS) d C. Mchale (USA) 64 26 64
D. Kasatkina (RUS) d M. Puig (PUR) 64 36 76(2)
Doubles – Second Round
B. Mattek-Sands (USA) / C. Vandeweghe (USA) d  H. Chan (TPE) / Y. Chan (TPE) 76(3) 63
 T. Babos (HUN) / Y. Shvedova (KAZ) d Y. Xu (CHN) / S. Zheng (CHN) 64 75
 A. Hlavackova (CZE) / L. Hradecka (CZE) d M. Gasparyan (RUS) / M. Niculescu (ROU) 75 62
S. Errani (ITA) / O. Kalashnikova (GEO) d [Alt] K. Bondarenko (UKR) / O. Savchuk (UKR) 76(5) 57 10-8
ORDER OF PLAY – TUESDAY, MARCH 15, 2016
STADIUM 1 start 11:00 am
ATP –  S. Johnson (USA) vs  K. Nishikori (JPN)
WTA –  A. Radwanska (POL) vs  J. Jankovic (SRB)
ATP –  R. Nadal (ESP) vs F. Verdasco (ESP)
WTA –  S. Williams (USA) vs [Q] K. Bondarenko (UKR)
Not Before 7:00 pm
ATP –  N. Djokovic (SRB) vs  P. Kohlschreiber (GER)
Not Before 8:30 pm
WTA – M. Rybarikova (SVK) vs  R. Vinci (ITA)
STADIUM 2 start 11:00 am
WTA – [Q] N. Gibbs (USA) vs  P. Kvitova (CZE)
ATP –  J. Isner (USA) vs A. Mannarino (FRA)
ATP –  D. Thiem (AUT) vs  J. Sock (USA)
ATP –  S. Querrey (USA) vs  J. Tsonga (FRA)
WTA –  V. Azarenka (BLR) vs  S. Stosur (AUS)
Not Before 6:00 pm
WTA –  R. Atawo (USA) / A. Spears (USA) vs B. Mattek-Sands (USA) / C. Vandeweghe (USA)
STADIUM 3 start 11:00 am
ATP – A. Zverev (GER) vs  G. Simon (FRA)
ATP –  F. Lopez (ESP) vs  R. Bautista Agut (ESP)
WTA – B. Strycova (CZE) vs  S. Halep (ROU)
WTA –  Ka. Pliskova (CZE) vs  J. Konta (GBR)
WTA – D. Kasatkina (RUS) vs  T. Bacsinszky (SUI)
STADIUM 4 start 11:00 am
ATP –  P. Herbert (FRA) / N. Mahut (FRA) vs D. Nestor (CAN) / R. Stepanek (CZE)
ATP –  J. Murray (GBR) / B. Soares (BRA) vs D. Inglot (GBR) / R. Lindstedt (SWE)
ATP – [Alt] J. Chardy (FRA) / F. Martin (FRA) vs [PR] J. Del Potro (ARG) / L. Mayer (ARG)
STADIUM 6 start 2:00 pm
ATP –  E. Roger-Vasselin (FRA) / N. Zimonjic (SRB) vs D. Goffin (BEL) / J. Sousa (POR)
WTA – A. Klepac (SLO) / K. Srebotnik (SLO) vs  T. Babos (HUN) / Y. Shvedova (KAZ)
Djokovic was asked about his views on Maria Sharapova and her situation. The five-time major winner announced on Monday that she failed a drug test at the Australian Open. Sharapova tested positive for meldonium, a drug she says she’s been using for 10 years for different health issues. Meldonium became a banned substance in January under the WADA code.
“Well, it’s been the talk of the tennis world for the last couple of days, and this kind of news caught us all by surprise. I think I can talk about, you know, Maria and her situation from two perspectives, Djokovic said.
“First as a friend, somebody that knows her for a long time, of course I do feel sorry about what’s happening with her. I know that, you know, she has always been very responsible and aware towards herself, towards the sport, very disciplined, very kind of hard working, hard-working ethics, and love what she does.
“You know, she believes and still does believe that the hard work really pays off, and that’s what gets her titles.
“So as a friend, you know, I really hope that she will find the best possible way. I thought she was very courageous and was very human, brave of her, to go out and take the responsibility and say what has happened. She did admit that she made a mistake with her team, and I think, you know, you don’t have to blame ^ WADA for anything.
“It’s completely normal to expect that under these circumstances, you know, the player that has made this mistake has to suffer certain kind of consequences, and I’m sure she’s aware of that. She has approached this very maturely. I really admire that.
“On the other hand, from the different perspective, I talk as somebody that is involved in professional tennis and sport for so many years that always believed in clean and fair sport.
“So I do — I do hope that — I mean, obviously I can’t speak about the details because I don’t know. I know as much as you guys know whether or not she was aware of the changes. But certainly if there was a mistake and if she was caught to be positive on the doping for a certain substance, then there should be certain kind of, you know, consequences for that.
“But, again, I’m not here to talk about, you know, whether or not she needs to be away from the courts for certain periods of time. You know, I leave this to WADA and antidoping agency and, you know, organizations that are responsible for that.”
Djokovic admitted that he never heard about Medonium, the drug Sharapova took which was banned by WADA since January.
“No, I never heard of that medication,” he said. “Just one more thing I wanted to say, because I feel like in the sport in general there is maybe a conviction with many athletes that maybe medications and certain substances can make you feel healthy or, you know, feel better.
“I don’t believe in that kind of short-term process. I believe in long-term balance and harmonious health and well-being that is achieved, you know, with — from different aspects.
“I wouldn’t say that there is a magic potion or elixir that can make you feel better. No, I never heard about that substance.
“And regarding e-mails, I have to be frank that I don’t read them all. I do have the team of people that is working with me and that, you know, I have faith 100%, and if there is any significant changes that I need to be aware of, I am aware of. They do let me know.
“We communicate of course on a daily basis between the medical team, between the marketing team, or, you know, operational team. There is always something that needs to be discussed.”
“Now, I don’t know what the pros and cons are of this medicine, but it can happen to many people if it’s only a case of negligence, of Maria and her team of not really paying attention to the change,” said the world No. 1.
“Now, whether or not she was informed before or not, I don’t know that. I think the communication may be from the side of the governing bodies of tennis maybe should be a little bit better in terms of involvement of maybe ATP, as well, because I feel like maybe sometimes ATP is stepping on the side because it’s a matter of ITF and WADA.”
“I’m just saying there are maybe ways to improve the communication so that these things don’t happen in the future, because what has happened with Viktor Troicki was also something that was very debatable,” Djokovic said.
“I know him since I was seven years old, so I know — I know him like my own brother, so I can, you know, claim that he has never — has done or taken something that, you know, would be banned. Which he didn’t, as well. He was banned for 18 months for kind of refusing to give the blood sample that day, and he got the verbal confirmation from that lady that was working for WADA that he can do that because he was feeling bad.
“So because of this, you know, small certain situation and circumstances and negligence of somebody, you know, a player suffers for 18 months’ ban. Those kind of things, you know, need to be communicated better I think in order not to kind of damage the player’s career.”
Djokovic admitted that there have been times that he’s had a health issue and a doctor has prescribed something and he’s refuse to take the medication, because he did not know if it contained a banned substance or not.
Djokovic comes into Indian Wells dealing with health issues of his own over the past few weeks. He had to retire from a match in Dubai due to and eye infection. He played Davis Cup over the weekend and led Serbia to the quarterfinals.
“It was a couple of not easy weeks for me health-wise, but it was due to a lot going on on the court and off the court that, you know, caused maybe a weaker immune system that was more prone to those kind of infections” said Djokovic.
“Has happened first time honestly in my life to have some kind of an issue with an eye. Yeah, after that it was the Davis Cup. It was not physically very easy those three days, but all in all, I feel good. I feel already adjusted to the time zone of the West Coast. I have been here for already several days.
“You know, going back to normal. Hopefully I will be able to play at my best from the beginning.”
Djokovic comes into the tournament looking to win his fifth BNP Paribas Open title, which would set a record.