Driving Miss Raducanu

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Bill Simons

BOB’S THE BOSS, PAT’S THE PRESIDENT: Bob Bryan is America’s new Davis Cup Captain. He replaces Mardy Fish. Pat McEnroe is the new president of the International Tennis Hall of Fame. He replaces Stan Smith. Dan Faber has replaced Todd Martin as the Hall of Fame’s CEO.

PAUL’S THE PLAYER: Aussie Open semifinalist Tommy Paul reached the Acapulco final, and after his 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 win over Pole Hubert Hurkacz, he’s now through to the Indian Wells fourth round. That matches his best ever Indian Wells result. He’ll next have a North American face-off when he plays Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime.

THE GREAT DANE WITHOUT SUCH A GREAT ‘TUDE: Denmark’s Holger Rune is a great teen with a not-so-great ‘tude. He got into a rather nasty spat with his fellow Scandinavian, Casper Ruud, at Roland Garros, and asserted, “I can live, even without his respect.” In November, en route to his Paris Masters title, his much older foe Stan Wawrinka called Rune a baby. Today, the great Swiss star, who’s in the twilight of his Hall of Fame career, again faced the rising Danish star, who’s No. 8. Rune struggled with his ankle and had yips on his overhead. Still, he managed to save a second-set match point. But the second greatest player in Swiss history broke his rival, who’s 18 years younger. He soon won their third-round battle. 

But there was more excitement to come. At the net, the teen taunted his elder, “You’ve got nothing to say now?” “Huh?” Wawrinka responded.

“You’ve got nothing to say now?” Rune repeated. “What do you want me to say?” replied Wawrinka, after Rune shook the ump’s hand and walked away. 

UKRAINIAN’S PANIC ATTACK STIRS CONTROVERSY: Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko confided that she withdrew from her match with the Aussie Open champ Aryna Sabalenka from Belarus due to a “panic attack,” after a conversation with WTA CEO Steve Simon relating to tensions due to Russia’s invasion of her homeland.

“The reason for the refusal [to play] was a panic attack,” Tsurenko told Big Tennis Ukraine. “Officially, it will be written as breathing problems and, one might say, hysteria…A few days ago, I had a conversation with…Steve Simon, and I was absolutely shocked,” said the 33-year-old. “He told me that he himself does not support the war, but if players from Russia and Belarus support it, it is only their own opinion, and the opinion of other people should not upset me…I was completely shocked by this conversation…When it was time to go to the court, I had a panic attack and I simply could not go out there. I just broke down mentally.”

Tsurenko noted that the exchange caused her and other Ukrainians players to ask for a conference call with the WTA board. Tsurenko has lost by walkover or retirement in nine of the last 18 tourneys she’s played.

The WTA issued a statement saying that first and foremost, they acknowledge “the emotions of…Ukrainian athletes…We are witnessing an ongoing horrific war…and the WTA has consistently reflected our full support for Ukraine and strongly condemn the actions…by the Russian government…[But] a fundamental principle of the WTA remains, which is ensuring that individual athletes may participate…based on merit and without any form of discrimination…”

MY BORING LIFE – COCO GAUFF: The No. 6 player just turned 19, so Gauff’s mom flew in from Florida to celebrate. And yesterday we spoke with Coco, noting that birthdays are a time to reflect. And, while virtually all teens grapple with issues, Gauff seems to be living the dream. We asked her to give us a little insight into “the state of the Coco.” She said, “I’m for sure living my dream…The on-court part is glamorous…off-court, I always tell people my life is boring. That’s part of the reason why I’ve never done any filming or behind-the-scenes stuff. Sometimes, I literally just don’t leave my room.

“I’m living the dream, but that’s my dream. Like, I don’t want to be outside – I guess there’s a phrase, I don’t know if you guys heard of that…I enjoy this balance of being extroverted in certain situations and introverted in certain situations. There is no other life that I would want other than mine right now.”

Coco then reflected on her two younger brothers. “You learn almost more from kids than you do from adults,” she said, “because they’re so unbiased and carefree…Especially my brother Codey – he’s 15. He has this really confident but low-key persona. That’s something I try to emulate on court. [When I was 15] I was more animated. Now I have a little of his persona…My brother knows he’s good at what he does. I feel that’s something that I needed to learn.

“My youngest brother, Cameron, is so positive and happy. They call him ‘the happy kid in the light,’ because he really wakes up every day with a positive attitude. The only time he’s in a bad mood is if he’s hungry. Other than that, he’s always looking at the positives…Why can’t I think like this kid all the time?”

DRIVING MISS RADUCANU: One of Inside Tennis’s common questions to international touring pros is what they like the most about America and what they like the least. Today Emma Raducanu replied, “I’ve been loving my time here. Now the weather is great. It’s so easy, so functional. You can drive everywhere. I love driving, personally. I can just go on drives. The roads are so wide and you can just pull up and park and do your business, and it’s not like a nightmare trying to parallel park. I love just the ease…Everyone is really friendly here, which is really nice and warm.”

We followed up, asking, “But what about us driving on the wrong side of the street?

“Yeah,” Emma replied, “I had to get used to that a little bit. The first few times I was driving out here I was drifting a little bit – driving on the wrong side, or the right side, whatever. But I’m getting used to it more now.”

A British writer asked, “Do you do the American thing of not indicating whenever you change lanes?”

Emma responded, “What I don’t understand is the stop junction signs, how it’s one car and then another, but who decides who arrived first? Like turning right when [the light is] red, it’s like, what’s going on?”

The always informative New York Times promptly told the Brit, “It is clockwise, by the way.”

“Is it? That’s good to know.”

“Whoever gets there first,” continued the Times reporter. “Then it’s supposed to go clockwise.”

“Okay. I’ll keep that one in mind.”

But another reporter couldn’t help saying, “Okay, I’m going to stay away from where you’re driving.”

IGA’S SCARE: Iga Swiatek is back doing her “Swiatek thing.” She won in Doha, reached the Dubai final and in her first Indian Wells match demolished Claire Liu 6-0, 6-1. Tonight things seemed to be in cruise control as the WTA No. 1 went up a set and a break against the considerable Bianca Andreescu. But the 2019 US Open champ, who’s No. 36, stormed back, broke often and forced a second set tiebreak.

There the cream rose to the surface. Iga hit out and hit deep. And, as red and white Polish banners and red and white Canadian flags flew in a brisk breeze, Swiatek unleashed a flurry of punishing shots against her gritty, appealing, slightly older, overmatched foe. Iga dropped just one point in the tiebreak as she won 6-3, 7-6 (1) to reach the third round, where she’ll face another US Open champ, Emma Raducanu. Swiatek has yet to play a three-set match this year.

MUTUAL ADMIRATION SOCIETY: Jessica Pegula, 28, and Coco Gauff, 19, have been vastly successful – and part of their success is their admiration of each other. Pegula said, “I love Coco – she’s great. I love her team and her family. We’ve spent a lot of time together and we make it entertaining. She’s fun to play with, she’s so athletic and dynamic and has all these starlike qualities…She’s very mature, well-spoken and has a really good head on her shoulders. 

“With her, tennis is definitely not life or death…She has a good balance of everything…She’s definitely really close with her family, which keeps her very grounded. Then she’s kind of the star on court. So it’s cool to see how she’s balanced at a young age…Credit to her parents…What she’s done at such a young age is pretty crazy…We’re a little bit opposite, but that’s why we work well together. Our personalities mesh and she says I help keep her calm.”

For her part, Coco said, “Oh, she’s so nice…As a person Jess is probably one of the best out there, especially where she comes from [her dad is a billionaire]…She could just tell everyone, like, ‘F off (smiling).’

“But, no, she’s like one of the nicest people ever. She deals with all my antics…she’s like my on-tour older sister, she’s always positive, telling me…’Go for your shots, keep doing that.” Off court…I enjoy spending time with her. A lot of times I’ll just wait around to see what she’s doing just so I can talk to her longer, because I really enjoy being around her. I’m grateful I can be her doubles partner.”

Sadly for American fans, Japan’s Miyu Kato and Indonesia’s Aldila Sutjiadi rained on the Gauff-Pegula parade today, narrowly downing the American duo 6-4, 4-6, 12-10.

GO FIGURE: Taylor Fritz played doubles last year at Indian Wells and went on to win the doubles title. He confided that the reason he’s playing doubles this year is that he’s superstitious – he didn’t want to change a winning formula.

JUST WONDERING: Will Rafa ever play Indian Wells again?

ALWAYS A GOOD DAY: It’s always a good day when, during an Indian Wells changeover, they blast a song by the late, great tennis fan, Aretha Franklin.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “You travel all over the world, but there’s no place like home.” – Court announcer Andrew Krasny to Southern California’s Taylor Fritz

FAREWELL SIR ANDY: Andy Murray had thrilled fans by scoring two Indian Wells victories. But tonight in a battle of Brits, young Jack Draper, 21, took out Scotland’s favorite 35-year-old warrior 7-6(6), 6-2.

Also reporting: Vinay Venkatesh



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