Entries in BNP Paribas Open (29)


Palm Springs Life: Fritz Fizzles at BNP Paribas Open

By Art Spander
Palm Springs Life

Taylor Fritz didn’t have his serve Thursday — hey, sometimes Andy Roddick and Pete Sampras struggled — but he did have his sense of perspective. After Fritz was whipped by the other young American hotshot, Francis Tiafoe, 6-3, 2-6, 6-3, in their first-round match of the BNP Paribas Open, he was asked how long it would take him to get over a loss.

Until that moment, most of Fritz’s comments in the media room were the sort expected from a disappointed 18-year-old: that he made too many mistakes; that he usually handles pressure very well. But the recovery time after a defeat?

Read the full story here.

Copyright 2016 Desert Publications. All rights reserved.


Palm Springs Life: Even in Absentia, Maria Sharapova is Hot Topic

By Art Spander
Palm Springs Life

This was the scenario at the BNP Paribas tournament Wednesday (March 9): The ladies who were there, if not yet playing — champions such as Angelique Kerber, who just won the Australian Open, and Petra Kvitova, who has two Wimbledon titles — were compelled to talk about the lady who wasn’t there.

That, of course, would be Maria Sharapova, who pulled out Indian Wells with a sore forearm — that’s forearm, not forehand — before it was announced she had failed a drug test and faced a suspension from the game.

Read the full story here.

Copyright 2016 Desert Publications. All rights reserved.


Federer’s longevity was well-planned

By Art Spander

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — The temperature was 89 degrees when Roger Federer finished another match without figuratively working up a sweat.

The man seemingly never grows old. He’s 33, which in tennis age is somewhere between remembering what used to be and reminding yourself to retire.

Unless you’re Federer, who said he planned his career to last and not flame out.

And, despite traveling with a wife and two sets of young twins, he figuratively carries no baggage.

Doesn’t carry his opponents either. On Sunday, he beat some poor kid named Diego Schwarzman, 6-4, 6-2. That’s a problem for tennis: the nobodies — Schwarzman, a 22-year-old Argentinean is ranked 63rd — get sent in like cannon fodder to face the stars.

It’s like a high-school kid trying to guard Stephen Curry. You lose confidence as quickly as you lose matches.

Yes, everyone started down there. In his postgame musings to the big crowd at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden’s 16,100-seat Stadium Court, Federer recalled his first appearance 15 years ago in the tournament now called the BNP Paribas Open.

“I was way out there,” he said pointing to an unseen court of the desert complex east of Palm Springs, “in a sandstorm.”

Once a player breaks through, finally gets beyond the first and second rounds, earns enough points to get matched against someone of, for that moment, his or her own skill, it all changes.

For Federer, an emotional player as a teenager in his native Switzerland, the great leap was when he defeated Pete Sampras, a seven-time champion, in the fourth round at Wimbledon in 2001.   

Suddenly Federer was the player the other guys had to get past. And they rarely did.

He took Wimbledon seven times. He has a men’s record 19 Grand Slams. And if he’s still not at the summit, occupied now by Novak Djokovic, No. 2 is impressive. And reassuring. 

“I’m very happy,” said Federer. “I was feeling good in practice. Today I was moving well, which is the key on this surface (slower hard courts) because the easy shots and easy points are not going to happen here like they maybe do in Dubai or Australia or the indoor season.

“So I always have to adjust my game accordingly.”

It was Justin Gimmelstob of the Tennis Channel, a one-time ranked player, who asked Federer if he were surprised by his longevity.

“I organized my career this way,” said Federer, who later in the mass press conference went into greater detail.

“The idea,” explained Federer, “was always trying to be around the game a long time.”

To his satisfaction, to the satisfaction of tournament organizers, the idea was realized.

If the fault of tennis, using an unintended play on words, is that it’s difficult for the young players to move ahead, the other side is that fans cheer for the favorites, not the underdogs. They come to see the stars, to see Federer, Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal, all winners on Sunday.

Without team loyalty, tennis needs individuals who not only are champions but are famous. Federer meets that requirement.

He does Mercedes commercials. He does espresso machine commercials (for the Swiss company Jura Capressa). And he did in Schwarzman in 1 hour 3 minutes.

“Whatever we do, we will plan long-term,” Federer said, alluding to a template designed by him and his advisers. “Sure we can chase money or more tournament victories. We can play more frequently, more often, train harder.

“But we decided to stay around 20 tournaments a year, which is a lower number . . . I want to play good. I want to play injury-free if possible. Of course, we all play hurt. But the goal was to stay around a long time. I think I did get inspired by seeing 32-year-olds, 35-year-olds. They almost did a favor that I could play against them. Would they have retired at 28, I would never have seen them on tour.”

He saw them. Now we continue to see Roger Federer, graceful, elegantly smooth, popular. Every point he scored drew an overwhelming roar. You felt sorry for Schwarzman.

The Tennis Garden is owned by Larry Ellison, and does he need to be identified? (A couple of nights ago, in the first row, John McEnroe sat between Ellison and Bill Gates. Nobody was diving for dropped change.)

“He likes to talk about tennis,” Federer told Gimmelstob about conversations with Ellison, “and I like to talk about other things. He doesn’t just sit there and act like, ‘Uh, I own the tournament.’ He really knows the details.”   

So, in a different way, does Roger Federer, Mr. Forever.


Bleacher Report: Introspective Serena Williams Embraces Role Model Chance in Indian Wells Return

By Art Spander
Featured Columnist

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — She’s spoken out before. Well, shouted out. At a linesperson during the 2009 U.S. Open. Endless invective. Serena Williams was never afraid to show her passion.

Or now after years of boycotting one of the more important tennis tournaments in the world, her compassion.

Read the full story here.

Copyright © 2015 Bleacher Report, Inc. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.


Los Angeles Times: Serena Williams is a little nervous in return to Indian Wells

By Art Spander
Los Angeles Times

It was all about timing and about Time, the magazine. It was about the act of forgiveness, which Serena Williams, after the years and the memories, said she at last found a reason to offer.

Fourteen years ago, in 2001, Williams, a teenager but already a champion, was booed at Indian Wells, booed in a final by a crowd angry that in the scheduled semifinal two days earlier older sister Venus defaulted moments before the start because of announced knee tendinitis.

Read the full story here.

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times