Indian Wells, CA – Andy Murray came into this week’s BNP Paribas Open with plenty of rest and ample energy. The Scot spent all of February training and preparing himself for the upcoming masters events in Miami and did not play Dubai this year. This was a scheduling change that was probably brought about because of his poor outing here last year, losing in his opening round match to Guillermo Garcia-Lopez after a deep run in Dubai the week prior.
Murray went down 5-1 in the first set to Russian Evgeny Donskoy before mounting a serious momentum-changing run of four straight games. In a titanic service game from Donskoy, Murray had multiple break points but Donskoy always managed to come up with a forehand or volley winner. Murray was stymied time and time again by big flat serves that sped up due to the high temperatures on court.
But Murray, the great competitor that he is, turned the match into an all out war of the legs. Hitting high-arching groundies, he moved Donskoy until the Russian could only flail at running forehands and stab at backhands. Murray was in his prime form at this point, knocking off easy shots and simply playing the cat and mouse game. Murray held on to win the next two sets decisively 6-2, 6-2 and looks to have worked through the rust that might have developed over February. A much better start for Murray to simply make it through his first match this year but still plenty of tennis to be played.
What in the world has gotten into Irina-Camelia Begu? She has one WTA title (Tashkent 2012) and a couple of other finals (Marbella 2011, Budapest 2011) -- but those were bottom-tier events. And, here, she has beaten two Top Twenty players, Ekaterina Makarova and now Lucie Safarova.
Tennis fans in Georgia are in for a treat as five players in the top-100 of the WTA rankings and 17 of the top-150 are on the entry list for the 2014 Tennis Classic of Macon. If you haven’t heard, the stakes will be higher in 2014 with more prize money, ranking points and the pressure of playing for a berth in the 2015 Australian Open hanging in the balance.
After a quarter century of questionably-successful exploits, the USTA Player Development (PD) division is, once again, making a change. Patrick McEnroe no longer sports the PD crown, and the National Board has begun the search for a successor. Having spent the last two decades watching regime after regime take the PD division’s reigns – only to drop them a few years later after effecting policies that have yet to produce a US Champion – I’m inclined to offer some thoughts...
US Open champion Marin Cilic has claimed the fifth spot at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. The Croat will make his debut at the year-end event as he joins Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka in the elite eight-man field at the prestigious tournament, to be held at The O2 in London from 9-16 November.