Escudé, Gasquet, Tsonga

Thanks a lot to Cindy for sharing photos and story of her stay at Indian Wells:

I went to the Indian Wells tournament with my sister-in-law. We had General Admission tickets for the first three days, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. We saw lots of players and some really good tennis.

An overview of part of the Indian Wells Tennis Garden taken from the top of Stadium 3. You are looking at Stadium 1 and the one shady place on the whole site…the treed lawn.

BNP Paribas Open Indian Wells March 2014

We spent all of our first day watching the practise courts. You can see how close you can get to the players! Here is Feliciano Lopez.

BNP Paribas Open Indian Wells March 2014

Fernando Verdasco, who was practising with Feliciano Lopez.

BNP Paribas Open Indian Wells March 2014-2

Flavia Pennetta:

BNP Paribas Open Indian Wells March 2014-3

Pennetta was practising with Sara Errani:

BNP Paribas Open Indian Wells March 2014

Tommy Haas:

BNP Paribas Open Indian Wells March 2014

Haas was practising with Grigor Dimitrov:

BNP Paribas Open Indian Wells March 2014

Petra Kvitova:

BNP Paribas Open Indian Wells March 2014

And here is Roger Federer! We had to sit in the adjacent practice court to see him! He gets a crowd! We had hoped to see Roger and Wawrinka play doubles but would have had to get to the stadium a couple of hours earlier.

BNP Paribas Open Indian Wells March 2014

Stefan Edberg, now Roger Federer’s coach:

BNP Paribas Open Indian Wells March 2014

Eugenie Bouchard:

BNP Paribas Open Indian Wells March 2014

Vasek Pospisil was practising with Feliciano Lopez in the afternoon.

BNP Paribas Open Indian Wells March 2014

Here are Richard Gasquet and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga having a rest in their practise:

BNP Paribas Open Indian Wells March 2014

Stan Wawrinka:

BNP Paribas Open Indian Wells March 2014

Andy Murray was practising with Wawrinka:

BNP Paribas Open Indian Wells March 2014

Photos and text by Cindy

More Indian Wells pics:

Pete Sampras

The second-ever World Tennis Day took place on Monday 3 March 2014. World Tennis Day aims to promote tennis and increase participation among players around the globe, and this year’s celebrations were centred around exhibitions featuring Grand Slam or Davis Cup champions, on three different continents:
Li Na vs Sam Stosur and Tomas Berdych vs Lleyton Hewitt in Hong Kong
Pat Cash vs Ivan Lendl and Andre Agassi vs Pete Sampras in London
Bob and Mike Bryan vs John and Patrick McEnroe, and Andy Murray vs Novak Djokovic in New York

For the first time this year an event was organized in London, and obviously I couldn’t miss that! Read my recap below and stay tuned for more pics and videos.

Cardio tennis demo

To start the evening, a demo of cardio tennis, a group fitness activity featuring fast paced drills and games. It combines the best features of tennis with cardiovascular exercise.
It does not require tennis skills, but is all about keeping your heart rate up, burning calories and having fun. The main purpose is to get fit.

Cardio tennis

Cardio tennis

Ivan Lendl vs Pat Cash

First highlight of the evening, the one-set match between 9-time Grand Slam champion Ivan Lendl and Wimbledon 1987 champion Pat Cash.

The Ivan Lendl from today is really different from the somewhat cold and robotic player he was back in the days. Believe me or not, Lendl was the real entertainer of the event, he kept talking and joking with the crowd and his opponent.

Ivan Lendl to Pat Cash:

Are you ok? I am supposed to be the old guy!

Cash attacked the net and Lendl demonstrated his back-court skills: drop shots, passing shots and powerful backhands. The Australian took the set 8-6.

Pat Cash, Andrew Castle, Ivan Lendl and Jonathan Ross:

Pat Cash and Ivan Lendl

Ivan Lendl

Ivan Lendl

Ivan Lendl

Pat Cash

Pat Cash

Pat Cash

Pat Cash

Below, Ivan Lendl being interviewed by fellow legend Mats Wilander:

Ivan Lendl

ITHF rings ceremony

The International Tennis Hall of Fame Class of 2014 was announced on Monday, newly elected Hall of Famers are: three-time Grand Slam champion Lindsay Davenport, wheelchair tennis pioneer Chantal Vandierendonck, former USTA President Jane Brown Grimes, legendary coach Nick Bollettieri and the “voice of Wimbledon”, John Barrett.
Chantal Vandierendonck and John Barrett were in attendance in London and were honored in a special ceremony.
One of the early stars of wheelchair tennis, Chantal Vandierendonck was the Esther Vergeer of the 90’s: she was the first Wheelchair Tennis World Champion in 1991, she won seven US Open and five Paralympic medals. She is the first Dutch tennis player to be inducted to the Hall of Fame.
A former British Davis Cup captain, John Barrett was the “Voice of Wimbledon” on the BBC from 1971-06. His wife, former top-ranked player Angela Mortimer Barrett, was inducted into the Hall in 1993. Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf are the only other married couple in the ITHF.

Shown below: ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti, Hall of Fame Chairman Christopher Clouser, Vice Chairman of the Nomination commitee Ingrid Lofdahl Bentzer, Chantal Vandierendonck and John Barrett.

Chantal Vandierendonck with John Barrett

They were then joined on court by Ivan Lendl, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi who received Hall of Fame rings.

Said Christopher Clouser:

“These one-of-a-kind rings are a symbol of all that they have accomplished and their legacy in the sport.”

Ivan Lendl

Pete Sampras

Andre Agassi

Gordon Reid vs Marc McCarroll

Next, British wheelchair tennis players Gordon Reid and Marc McCarroll took to the court to play a championship tie-break. World number 3 Reid won easily 8-3 over world number 12 McCarroll.

Wheelchair tennis follows the same rules as able-bodied tennis. Except the ball is allowed to bounce twice. The second bounce can be either inside or outside the court boundaries.

If you get the opportunity, don’t hesitate to go watch some wheelchair tennis, it is highly entertaining. You can read here and here about my day at the London Paralympics in 2012.

Gordon Reid

Gordon Reid

Gordon Reid and Marc McCarroll

Andre Agassi vs Pete Sampras

And finally, the match everyone was waiting for: Andre Agassi vs Pete Sampras.
With contrasting styles and temperaments, they played each other 34 times from 1989 through 2002, with Sampras winning 20 of their matches. They played some memorable matches like the 2001 US Open quaterfinal, 2002 US Open final. Their rivalry was the Nadal-Federer of the 90’s.

Of the four Grand Slam champions that played that evening, Pete Sampras was the only player I had never watch playing live before, and I enjoyed watching his smooth serves and volleys.
Sampras struggled a bit at the beginning but from what he said after the match, he doesn’t play much tennis these days. I guess it’s easier to find back your rythm when you play from the baseline than when you play serve and volley.
Agassi took the match 6-3 7-6 on a Sampras double fault.

There was not much interaction with the crowd and despite what they said it’s obvious these guys will never be friends, they just tollerate each other.

Pete Sampras, Elaine Paige and Andre Agassi:

Pete Sampras, Elaine Paige, Andre Agassi

Pete Sampras

Pete Sampras

Pete Sampras

Pete Sampras

Andre Agassi

Andre Agassi

Andre Agassi

Sampras and Agassi lap of honor:

Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi

Despite the (really) high price of the ticket I really enjoyed this evening of tennis featuring four tennis legends. A suggestion for next year: what about Rafter-Ivanisevic and Becker-Edberg matches?

More pics and videos of the matches Cash-Lendl and Agassi-Sampras:

Li Na

‘Dare to aim higher than the sky’ means daring to set higher expectations for myself. I believe where there is determination, there will be self-transcendence. Dare to make a breakthrough and dare to challenge all is my call for our young generation. Self-transcendence is success.

Nike had a T-shirt printed with this message ready for Li Na to wear at post-match events. The message was also seen on Nike’s social channels and will be on the front pages of newspapers throughout China, including in Li Na‘s hometown of WuHan.

Li Na

Source: Nike

Dominika Cibulkova, Chris Evert, Li Na

Li Na overcame a break down in the first set to defeat Dominika Cibulkova 7-6 6-0. It is the second Grand Slam title for the Chinese, who won the Roland Garros 2011 title, defeating Francesca Schiavone in the final.

Li Na’s funny speech:

Dominika Cibulkova was smiling despite the defeat, she can be proud of her performance during the tournament:

Dominika Cibulkova’s road to the final

Dominika Cibulkova

Round Opponent Score
R1 Francesca Schiavone 6-3 6-4
R2 Stefanie Voegele 6-0 6-1
R3 Carla Suarez Navarro 6-1 6-0
R4 Maria Sharapova 3-6 6-4 6-1
QF Simona Halep 6-3 6-0
SF Agnieszka Radwanska 6-1 6-2

If 2011 French Open champion and 2-time Australian Open finalist Li Na was one of the favorite for the title, the presence of the diminutive Cibulkova in final was all but expected.
Ranked 24, her best result at a Grand Slam so far had been a semi-final at Roland Garros in 2009.

Cibulkova has won all but one of her matches in straight sets, including three in one hour or less. She is looking to become the first player outside the top 10 since Serena Williams seven years ago to win in Melbourne Park.

Li Na’s road to the final

Li Na

Round Opponent Score
R1 Ana Konjuh 6-2 6-0
R2 Belinda Bencic 6-0 7-6
R3 Lucie Safarova 1-6 7-6 6-3
R4 Elena Makarova 6-2 6-0
QF Flavia Pennetta 6-2 6-2
SF Eugenie Bouchard 6-2 6-4

Li Na has reached the Australian Open final for the third time in four years: she lost to Kim Clijsters in 2011, a few months before capturing her maiden Grand Slam title at Roland Garros; and she was defeated by Victoria Azarenka in another thrilling match last year.

Li Na was pushed to the brink in the third round by Lucie Safarova, who had a match point to win in straight sets. An unforced error by Safarova allowed the world number four, back into the match and the tournament.

Li Na – Dominika Cibulkova head to head
Year Tournament Surface Winner Score
2008 Antwerp Carpet Li Na 6-4 6-3
2010 Madrid Clay Li Na 6-2 3-6 7-5
2012 Rome Clay Li Na 6-1 7-6(4)
2013 Toronto Hard Li Na 7-6(1) 6-2

Li Na appears as the huge favorite of this final: she’ll play her fourth major final overall and Cibulkova only managed to win a set in their four previous meetings.

Who will win between Li Na and Dominika Cibulkova? Please share your thoughts.

Photo credit: Ben Solomon/Tennis Australia