BNP PARIBAS OPEN: A New Day in the Desert

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SAME OLD AMAZING SHOTS: A reporter complained to Aga Radwanska that tennis is getting boring because because every year she wins the Shot of the Year Award.

NADAL’S AUSTRALIAN OPEN TAKEAWAY: Inside Tennis mentioned to Rafa Nadal that two of the most memorable matches of recent times were his 2008 win over Federer at Wimbledon and his loss to Roger in February in Australia. We added, “We all have had wonderful things that are in our grasp, but they get away. What are your reflections on the Melbourne final?”

“I almost don’t forget about it,” replied Rafa. “It was a great moment, I think for the promotion of our sport. It was, for sure, important because was, you know a lot of expectation about this match. For me, personally, 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. So was a big moment that we will remember. I think is something that gonna be part of the history of our sport. I enjoyed the match, and I think the fans [did], too. So was a great moment.”

A RIVER RUNS THROUGH ROGER: In Australia, Roger Federer dismissed fishing. But a quote from one of the greatest fishing movies ever – “A River Runs Through It” – expresses Roger’s genius as beautifully as any other comment: “At that moment I knew, surely and clearly, that I was witnessing perfection. He stood before us, suspended above the earth, free from all its laws like a work of art, and I knew, just as surely and clearly, that life is not a work of art, and that the moment could not last.”

A NEW DAY IN THE DESERT: In the next-wave sweepstakes of American tennis, 17-year-old CiCi Bellis reps NorCal while Kayla Day, also 17, reps SoCal. Both players have been junior No. 1s. While Bellis has posted some strong results lately, reaching the quarters in Dubai with a win over Aga Radwanska, here in Indian Wells she fell in the first round to Belgium’s Kirsten Flipkens. Instead, it’s been the lefty Day’s day in the desert – she’s beaten Kurumi Nara and the hard-hitting vet Mirjana Lucic-Baroni – at 35, more than twice her age – to reach the third round.

SWAGGERY AND SCHWEENIE: After her second-round win, Kayla Day was asked her where she gets her on-court swagger. “My dad – he’s pretty swaggery,” she replied. Day also revealed that she has three dogs, one of which is a schweenie – a cross between a Shih Tzu and a Dachsund.

HOW DO YOU SOLVE A PROBLEM LIKE MARIA? She isn’t at Indian Wells, but Maria Sharapova is a big topic of conversation at the BNP Paribas Open, with her return to the tour at Stuttgart imminent. At a pre-tournament press conference, France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga didn’t mince words about what kind of welcome the banned Russian should receive from tennis authorities and the tour.

Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images
Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

Asked about whether the French Tennis Federation should award the two-time champion Sharapova a wildcard to Roland Garros this year, Tsonga said, “You know, for me it’s something special when you invite somebody who did the wrong things. I would not do that.” Asked why he wouldn’t give Sharapova a wildcard, the Frenchman explained, “I mean, it’s like if you give a sweetie to a child who did the bad things. They’re going to do it again….It [giving Sharapova a wildcard] sends the wrong message.”

For her part, Angelique Kerber said that she thinks it’s strange that Sharapova has gotten a wildcard for Stuttgart when German players are working so hard and playing Fed Cup to try and restore German tennis.

LOOK BACK IN ANGER: Like Sharapova, Marin Cilic has suffered a ITF ban during his career, and the 2014 US Open champ still harbors bitter feelings about it. “I had a really bad experience and they [the ITF] did really bad things,” he said.

TAYLOR FRITZ: HUSBAND, DAD AND ATP PROSPECT: Taylor Fritz – big serve, huge forehand, wavy hair and big ambitions – may be struggling with the ups and downs of pro tennis, but the 19-year-old has no shortage of life experiences. Last year he married his high school sweetheart Raquel Pedraza, and earlier this year the couple had a child. To the best of our knowledge Fritz is the first teenage father to play the tour. But he shrugs off any notion that it’s a burden, pointing out this his wife takes on all the considerable duties required of parenthood, allowing Fritz to keep up his routine of a two-and-a-half-hour practice on a daily basis at the Carson Center in Los Angeles, followed by gym work and physical therapy.

Tennis certainly is a family tradition for the Fritz clan – today Taylor spoke of the brilliance of his father, who coached both him and Coco Vandeweghe to prominence. A real ace on the serve, his dad, Guy Fritz, is also old-school and a bit of a tough love specialist, who, no matter how often Taylor may fish for compliments from him, is reluctant to give them. Plus, his dad is not exactly into cutting-edge fitness protocols. Instead he’ll tell his son to do some push-ups or run some laps and leaves it at that. Taylor, who beat the injured Frenchman Benoit Paire handily today, next will face a huge challenge in No. 6 seed Marin Cilic.

FROM RUSSIA – WITH LOVE? Svetlana Kuznetsova, who recently claimed that if she could have a selfie with anybody it would be Russian president Vladimir Putin, says that the current joke in Russia is that Putin sent Trump to America to be president.

LOVE, BELGIAN STYLE: We’re waiting for a guy to accidentally get pictured with the wrong woman. In the meantime, poor Rotterdam runner-up David Goffin misspoke in the awards ceremony when he said, “I’d like to thank my team, family, girlfriends. Girlfriend, sorry, without the s.”

WIN SOME, LOSE SOME MORE: It only took nine years for Memphis Open champ Ryan Harrison, who turned pro at 15, to win an ATP tournament. But at Indian Wells he fell in the first round to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Damir Dzumhur.