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Entries in BNP Paribas Open (29)

4:54PM

Palm Springs Life: What's in Brand? Plenty in Tennis

By Art Spander
Palm Springs Life

Hollywood figured it out almost as soon as there were movies: Fame sells.

You didn’t need actors who knew Shakespeare — not that it wasn’t acceptable — but actors and actresses who were known. The two worst words for box office weren’t “No talent,” but “Who’s he?” The same thing for golf and tennis.

Read the full story here.

Copyright 2016 Desert Publications. All rights reserved.

7:27PM

Delbonis and the desert: a bad combo for Andy Murray 

By Art Spander

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — He once beat Roger Federer, and that was three years ago when Federer still was near the top of his game. Nobody had heard of Federico Delbonis until then. He was 22, trying to work his way up the rankings, a no-name from Argentina.

Few have heard of him since. Then, whoosh, Delbonis struck again. Handled the serves and psyche Monday of the man ranked No. 2 in the world, Andy Murray. This plot of desert land 15 miles east of Palm Springs seems as alien to Murray as the surface of the moon.

“It’s just the conditions here,” said Murray. He didn’t mean the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, where the annual BNP Paribas Open is held annually. He meant the Coachella Valley, where the sun shines — the high temperature was 79 — the wind blows, there are a zillion swimming pools and maybe a half-zillion golf courses. Most visitors are enthralled.

But not Murray, who fell 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (3) to Delbonis, ranked 51 slots below him.

“I think a lot of the results I have had here over the years,” said a slightly perplexed Murray, “suggest I haven’t played my best here.”

He’s a Scot, but he once trained in Spain and spends a great deal of time in Miami, where the tennis tours go next. The dry air here, the slower courts, Murray contends, affect his game of booming serves. The man won Wimbledon, in 2013, the first British male in 75 years to be a champion at the All England Club. But it’s apparent he won’t be a champion here.

“I got into winning position,” said Murray, who had a 4-1 lead in the third set, “and didn’t take it. I think one of the reasons is because I didn’t serve like I should serve.

“I have the capability to serve 135 mph, but my first serve speed would have been 100, 105. I didn’t feel comfortable going for my serve. I felt like every time I went for it, I missed it. I didn’t have control of that shot at all.”

And so in his first tournament (other than Davis Cup team competition) since reaching the finals of the Australian Open, the 26-year-old Murray places only two matches.

Delbonis grew up on clay, and while there are hard courts at Indian Wells, they are not as slick or fast as, say, Flushing Meadows or certainly the grass at Wimbledon. “I feel good,” said Delbonis, “the surface is not too fast. For me, I can slice in that kind of court.”

He certainly sliced up Murray. It’s like facing a knuckleball or slow-curve pitcher when you like to hit fastballs. And no matter what you try, you still can’t make solid contact.

“I made adjustments,” said Murray. “For one, I stopped going for my first serve. I tried to get a higher percentage of serves in, which maybe was not the best decision. I did manage to get myself into a winning position. Also I started returning from way farther back ... I think with the return it worked. The serve didn’t work so much.”

In any sport, it’s a question of forcing the other player or team to play your game. Delbonis did just that. Murray’s backhand is strength, along with the serve. Delbonis went to Andy’s forehand. There’s so much that goes into tennis, as there is into football, baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer. Keep the opponent off balance.

“Yes, of course,” Delbonis agreed when asked if his strategy was to play to Murray’s forehand. These guys have coaches who scout as well as teach. They know the other guy’s weaknesses, not that they’re always able to take advantage.

“I know his backhand is pretty good,” Delbonis said of Murray, “when he’s quiet in one side. I know I have to play, hit harder to his forehand to get a good hit or a good position on the court, to be aggressive or to move it to him, because it is one of the keys to get a good point.”

Murray, who had played outdoors for five weeks until arriving at Indian Wells, said he did not underestimate Delbonis. “I thought he moved better than what I thought,” said Murray.

If that sounds a bit confused, well, after another tough day in the desert, so is Andy Murray. Again.

9:40AM

Palm Springs Life: Serena Starts Slow, Finishes Fast

By Art Spander
Palm Springs Life

She’s the world No. 1, as the public address announcer bellowed several times before the first shot and after the last, and although not outwardly arrogant, the 34-year-old Williams well understands her place in the sport, indeed in all of sports.

When she was asked if, not having competed in an event since a finals loss at the Australian Open the end of January, she wasn’t tournament-ready, returned with, “I’m tournament-ready. I have been playing professional tennis for over 20 years. Yeah, if I’m not tournament-ready now, then I’m never going to be. It’s time to think of other jobs. Maybe I can become a reporter.”

Read the full story here.

Copyright 2016 Desert Publications. All rights reserved.

1:28PM

Palm Springs Life: Slow Return Tests del Potro's Patience

By Art Spander
Palm Springs Life

He had lost, which was understandable. And given the circumstances, acceptable.

Yet, this time Juan Martin del Potro was been beaten by the man across the net, Tomas Berdych, not his own body.

Read the full story here.

Copyright 2016 Desert Publications. All rights reserved.

7:30PM

Palm Springs Life: Novak Djokovic Is the Whole Package

By Art Spander
Palm Springs Life

He is the best in the game right now, No. 1 in men’s tennis, a ranking earned, not bestowed, which perhaps is the reason Novak Djokovic seems less intimidated by the position — you know the adage, nowhere to go but down — than invigorated by it.

“My thinking, my approach,” he said in response to a question of what should we expect, “is not that I have to win this, I’m supposed to win this, but I’m going to believe in myself, and I carry the confidence that has brought me to where I am at this moment.”

Read the full story here.

Copyright 2016 Desert Publications. All rights reserved.