THE ENDLESS POSSIBILITIES OF SPORT: Is there a more unpredictable endeavor than sports? Years ago in Indian Wells, Justine Henin coined her immortal phrase, “Impossible is nothing.” On Saturday night, Vasek Pospisil was everything.
YOU CAN’T MAKE THIS STUFF UP: How often does your opponent in tennis have the same name as one of your dogs? That happened for Kayla Day today, who took on Garbine Muguruza. “My mom named the dog,” explained Day. “We were watching…[Garbine]…play the Australian Open…four years ago on TV. We had just rescued this little dog from the shelter, and my mom was, like, ‘Wow, this girl is really good…I think I’m going to name my dog after her’…We’re not allowed to call her ‘Garbine’ anymore. It’s just ‘Bean’ from now on.”
Day was confident that “Bean” was rooting for her today, not Garbine. All of this prompted Joel Drucker to quip, “Well, every dog will have its day.”
DOES THAT MEAN SHE’S JADED NOW? After beating Day, French Open champ Garbine Muguruza said Kayla “reminds me of when I was young and playing well and was super motivated.”
A NEW DAY IN TENNIS: Mardy Fish retired a while back, but with Kayla Day coming into the game there will be no shortage of wordplay and headlines. Think: “Game Day,” “Kayla Will Have Her Day,” “It’s a Whole New Day,” “Day Breaks,” etc.
THE LONG AND NASTY ROAD: Novak Djokovic, who beat Kyle Edmunds today, will next play Juan Martin del Potro. If he wins, he’ll then probably face Nick Kyrgios or Alexander Zverev, and after that it might well be Federer or Nadal. If he gets through to the final, it might seem like a breeze.
GEE, I DIDN’T HAVE A SALAD NAMED FOR ME WHEN I WAS 22: The Sports Bar at Indian Wells features a Madison Keys salad: bed of lettuce, chicken and avocado.
YOU SAW IT COMING: In perhaps the biggest win of his career, Sam Querrey beat Rafa Nadal to win the title in Acapulco. Here, he lost to Donald Young 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.
MEET THE PARENTS: Asked about her parents, 17-year-old Kayla Day said, “My dad is more swagger-y and kind of funny. My mom is more, like…Eastern European.”
A PATRIOTIC AMERICAN: Kayla Day‘s mom is Czech, and the 17-year-old speaks fluent Czech – and occasionally eavesdrops on the great Czech players on tour. When Inside Tennis noted that Martina Navratilova came from Czechoslovakia and it wouldn’t be too bad if Petra Kvitova came to America, we wondered whether Kayla would stay here instead of taking off for the Czech Republic. She smiled and reassured us, “No, I’m a pretty loyal American.”
NOT SO FAST: Here at the BNP Paribas Open everyone was focused on how most of the top players – Federer, Nadal, Djokovic – had a lousy draw. In comparison, Andy Murray seemingly had a dream draw. Well, think again. Of the top stars, Andy was the first out.
FROM SUMMER STOCK TO BROADWAY: Tennis goes from some pretty modest venues to very big stages and back again. Let us explain: just three weeks ago Vasek Pospisil was losing the $100,000 KPSF Open final against China’s little-known Ze Zhang in front of maybe 200 fans wrapped around a court at Bay Club SF Tennis. Saturday night, Pospisil was in America’s second biggest tennis stadium at the BNP Paribas Open, wowing over 16,000 fans and upsetting Murray, the No. 1 player in the world.
• Pospisil said that his win over Murray last night equalled his 2014 doubles title with Jack Sock at Wimbledon as the highlight of his career.
• Murray has now fallen to two serve-and-volley players this year: Pospisil at the BNP Paribas Open and Mischa Zverev in Australia.
• Murray has now lost in straight sets in his opening match at the BNP Paribas Open in three of the last seven years. He’s only reached the semis once – in 2015.
• At certain moments it seemed like every Canadian south of the Arctic was in the stands hollering for Vasek Pospisil last night.
• Pospisil saved the day for Canadian tennis at a time when the injured Milos Raonic is again off the tour and Genie Bouchard lost her opening-round match in Indian Wells.
• Murray says it is possible that the serve-and-volley game might come back to a fair degree.
RAFA’S TAKEAWAY FROM DOWN UNDER: IT told Rafa Nadal, “We all have had wonderful things in our grasp that got away.” We then asked about the great Spaniard narrowly losing the Australian Open, where he was just three games from victory over Roger Federer in a match that many say was (along with Rafa’s win over Roger at the 2008 Wimbledon) the most memorable of our era.
The ever-gracious Rafa said, “[The final] was a great moment for the promotion of our sport. It was, for sure, important because [there] was a lot of expectation…To be part of it was great again. For sure I want to win, but overall I felt happy to be back in a big match like this. Against Roger, too. [It] was a moment that we will remember… [It will be a] part of the history of our sport. I enjoyed the match, and I think the fans [did], too. [It] was a great moment.”
DAVID TAKES DOWN GOLIATH: In the tradition of diminutive players ranging from Harold Solomon to Nikolay Davydenko to the brothers Rochus and David Ferrer, the 5’7” Yoshihito Nishioka scored a big win at the BNP Paribas Open, defeating 6’11” Ivo Karlovic 6-4, 6-3.
TEEN SPIRIT: The teen spirit of American tennis belongs to two California girls right now – NorCal’s 17-year-old CiCi Bellis and SoCal’s Kayla Day, also 17. While Day won the pair’s most recent match-up, Bellis was dominant in juniors. “She’s been doing so well,” Day says, when asked about Bellis, who recently had a quarterfinal run in Dubai that included a win over Aga Radwanska. “That kind of gives me confidence to know that I can also do it…because she’s, like, young, like me, and we are kind of just starting on the tour.”
FATHER FIGURES: Touchy-feely dads are in vogue these days – I feel your pain – but the BNP Paribas Open has seen a renaissance of SoCal-based tough love papas. Kayla Day said she’s picked up her on-court posture from her dad, who’s “pretty swagger-y.” Asked about his former coach, father Guy Fritz, Taylor Fritz said, “He’s a coach that’s tough…He tells you how it is…It’s tough to get a compliment out of him…I still want his approval, even though we don’t even work together anymore. I called him up the other day because I thought I was hitting really great. [I said] ‘Come over, watch me hit.’ He wasn’t as thrilled as I was, I guess, with how I was hitting (laughter)….[He’s] old fashioned…He’d tell me, ‘Go do your push-ups. Go do your chin-ups. Run some sprints’…I would be like, ‘I need a fitness trainer if you want to get me in shape.’ He’s like, ‘No, you can just do that yourself.’”
AND NOW FOR A HEALTH UPDATE: Mardy Fish’s six healthy habits are: get sleep, drink water, eat healthy, exercise daily, brush and floss, and make friends. And of course it helps if, just like Mardy, you have a fabulous backhand.