Upon arrival at Crandon Park this morning, I happened upon Elena Vesnina taking an early morning jog under the trees near the Grandstand and rear practice courts. Actually, she was jogging in tandem with her doubles partner, Ekaterina Makerova, and they were giggling and it sounded as though they might be trading jokes about something.
The Daily Draw Sheet news items today said that Ana Ivanovic got to swim with the dolphins at the Miami Seaquarium, and Maria Sharapova made an appearance at the WTA All-Access Happy Hour at the Ritz-Carlton on Key Biscayne.
I was patrolling the alley between court 1 and courts 3 and 6 this morning when who should give me a big wave and “Morning! How you doing?” but Nick Bollettieri. I really wanted to ask him why his academy teaches the screaming that’s becoming such a blight on the game these days, but I replied in kind with a “Morning, sir!”
I made the decision early to spend the day chasing down players on the practice courts, taking photos and shooting video, and despite the growing number of fans in attendance each day this week, I was able to track down an awful lot of them. In the morning, Richard Williams was out overseeing his daughters’ practices–Venus on court 5, Serena next door a little later on court 4. Caroline Wozniacki stepped over after finishing up on 4 to say hello to Venus, and they chatted for a moment before Wozniacki hit for awhile with Yaroslava Shvedova. Lucie Saferova and Alize Cornet were practicing together on court 6 around the same time, with the stylish and dramatic Cornet always entertaining, even in practice.
Later in the day, the court 4-5-3-6 corridor got very, very crowded when Roger Federer, Andy Murray, Rafa Nadal and Ana Ivanovic were all out at the same time, with the autograph seekers out in droves. Fortunately, I was able to sneak onto the stands at court 6 to snap a few shots on Ana before things got gridlocked in this area.
I spotted Heather Watson, and Ajla and Hana Tomljanovic on practice Courts D and C, respectively, at different times of the morning, and a star studded quartet of Li Na, Jelena Jankovic, Petra Kvitova and Sara Errani took over the central practice court area near the food court plaza in the early afternoon. After Petra and Sara finished their practice, Eugenie Bouchard and Nastassja Burnett hit for awhile as Li and Jankovic soldiered on with their practice in front of a good sized crowd. Several people saw me taking photos and asked me for IDs of the ladies, and ranking info, so it was fun getting the chance to do a bit of commentary.
Later in the afternoon, I found Garbiñe Muguruza practicing with Carla Suarez Navarro down by the Grandstand. Mesmerized by her beautiful groundstrokes, I sat and watched for probably forty-five minutes, or until I had worked up the nerve to ask her for a photo when she was done hitting.
The only match I watched today, or I should say, partial match, was the second set of Tomljanovic-Mladenovic. Tomljanovic won the first set tiebreak after an up and down last couple of games of set 1, then Kristina took a rather long bathroom break as Ajla practiced her serving and hit some forehands into the open court to stay loose. When Mladenovic returned, Ajla broke to go up 2-1, but lost her serve in the next game and had to break Mladenovic at 3-all for the decisive break in the match. Tomljanovic served well most of games I sat in on, though she was letting her forehand get loose with a number of errors that missed long. Kristina looked a bit out of sorts. I’m not sure if she was ill, or injured, or what the reason was for the extended break in between sets, but she didn’t look particularly strong on serve, and while she broke Ajla a couple of times, it wasn’t enough as Tomljanovic served well in the key games, when closing out the sets.
That’s all for today. More goodness from the 2014 Sony tomorrow.