Miami awoke to wind gusts of 45 mph and squally rains that moved through about 8 AM, and left Key Biscayne a bit damp this morning. Fortunately, the rain moved offshore pretty quickly, and play got underway without too much of a delay.
With a portion of the women’s first round matches being played today, and the men’s and women’s second round of qualifying also being played, today was a busy day at Crandon Park, with the Grandstand Court seeing its first action, hosting a slate of women’s first round matches featuring Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Francesca Schiavone, Yaroslava Shvedova, Monica Puig and Alisa Kleybanova. Throw in Sony Open Kids Day, and it made for a pretty hectic Tuesday.
With the early crowds filtering in to see the first matches of the day, those out practicing early were prime photo ops. Eugenie Bouchard was uncharacteristically all by herself on the main practice court area, where I found her shortly after my arrival. That’s got to be some kind of record. It wasn’t long before the photo hounds and the paparazzi caught up to her, however. I had about five minutes alone watching her practice before I heard a group of star struck fellows amble up and ring up their buddies with the news that “Genie is here!”
Schiavone and Carla Suarez Navarro walked over and started hitting on the same court shortly after. With the morning rain, I think most of the early practice times were scratched, as I saw a number of doubled up practice courts all day, and practices where pairs of players took turns serving and returning a few serves at a time, so that four players effectively could use the practice court at once to work on singles drills. Svetlana Kuznetsova, Ana Ivanovic, Sam Stosur and Yvonne Meusburger were four such players practicing this way on court 4 in the morning.
Impressed by Monday’s win in the first round of qualies, I wanted to watch Nastassja Burnett’s second round qualifying match against Patricia Mayr-Achleitner. Though it turned out to be a fairly interesting three setter, the story was really the more consistent play of Mayr-Achleitner and the far too numerous unforced errors by Burnett. though she spanked a number of winners, and played aggressively when she had to, erasing a 2-5 deficit in the second set to level the match at one set all from 1-6 2-5. But all credit to Mayr-Achleitner, who served well, and took advantage of her opponent’s mistakes for a 6-1 5-7 6-1 win.
I caught the last couple of games of the Govortsova-Goerges matches on court 9, but by the time I peeked in, Govortsova had won the first set in a tiebreak and was up a break in the second set, and Julia looked extremely tired. Perhaps yesterday’s dramatic battle with Michelle Larcher de Brito took too much out of her. I caught her practicing earlier in the morning under cloudy skies and cooler conditions and she looked okay, but by the end of the Govortsova match, in sunny conditions with the temperature hovering at about 80 degrees, Goerges looked spent. Govortsova looked efficient enough on her serve games, at least the two I saw. Govortsova 7-6 6-2.
In the afternoon, I made several rounds of the practice courts to see who was out doing what. Domi Cibulkova was practicing with Sam Stosur in the main practice area, Madision Keys and Christina McHale were on court C, and so was Eugenie Bouchard, practicing for the second time today, this time in front of a much larger crowd. I also spotted Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova over on court D.
Funny moment of the day: while walking back toward the main cluster of match courts from the “front side” of the park, where courts 4 and 5 are located, I looked up and saw Caroline Wozniacki, bag on shoulder, running toward me headed in the opposite direction. Since the only practice court in that direction used by the women was court 4, where Vinci had just unloaded her gear, I put two and two together and figured Caro was late for a very important practice date. Hi Caroline! Bye Caroline! She smiled, kind of embarrassed, like she was running through an airport trying to make a connecting flight. About twenty yards behind her trailed four or five kids, all lugging those giant autograph riddled tennis balls, one of them shouting, “C’mon, I’ve got her!”
Monica Puig hung on to beat Magdelena Rybarikova in the Grandstand in the late afternoon, finishing around 6PM, in a dramatic 2nd set tiebreak in front of a partisan and enthusiastic home crowd. The Miami resident was thrilled with the hometown support she received, thanking the crowd, which included many of her family and friends.
First part of Tuesday’s photos now up on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/28300821@N05/sets/72157642582713283/
More to come.
With that, my Tuesday at the 2014 Sony Open came to a close. Wednesday of the first week brings the first night matches, which are always fun. Lots of tennis on tap. It should be a great day in Key Biscayne! See you tomorrow!