Did somebody watch the television coverage of this year’s Sony Open and say that nobody’s here?!
You couldn’t tell from the huge crowds today everywhere you looked at Crandon Park. People. From almost every conceivable nationality. In every direction. A patchwork of colors, blending into constantly diffusing shapes like a kaleidoscope. People. The Sony’s Sea of Humanity began building to its escalating annual weekend crescendo today, and most matches, it seemed, had enthusiastic and energetic crowds that were packed in the stands to near capacity. And if they weren’t overflowing, they certainly will be by the weekend.
Today’s WTA schedule at the Sony was loaded. A veritable smorgasbord for the tennis connoisseur, whether you were into singles, doubles, highly ranked players, mid ranked players, qualifiers, journeywomen, glam players, you name it, they were all holding court today. The morning practices found, among others, Caroline Wozniacki, Venus Williams, Tsvetana Pironkova out for a pre-match jog, and Martina Hingis, the latter in a pickup doubles match.
At 11AM, I took in the 2nd round match between Sorana Cirstea and Tsvetana Pironkova. As noted, the crowds have been huge here this week, and what those with an axe to grind or an agenda to promote don’t want to acknowledge is that the people from all around the world who pay a lot of money to spend a day or two or more at an event like this are here as their primary vacation or part of a larger vacation, because they are true tennis fans, and they follow their players religiously, whether they play on Stadium Court or out in the boonies on court 7, like the group of Romanian fellows who were all too happy to cheer wildly this morning for Sorana in her match against Tsveti, and who were rewarded during the second set with a brief visit from Simona Halep, which undoubtedly made their trip.
As for Sori and Tsveti, Sori lost 6-3 6-3 today in a match that she seemed to dictate, yet somehow wound up losing rather decisively. Cirstea certainly had the stronger and harder hit groundies, but Pironkova’s found the court far more often. The longer the rallies went, the more they favored Pironkova. The games, particularly in set one, were close–the set easily could have swing Sori’s way with one or two game or break points played a little smarter and/or safer. The second set was not as close, Pironkova pulling away in the end.
After the Cirstea-Pironkova match I had just enough time to take in a bit of Sloane Stephens’ practice on court 4 in front of a pretty large crowd of fans before settling in for an entertaining doubles match on court 10 between the German pair of Goerges and Groenefeld and Hradecka and Krajicek, which was settled in extra innings in a third set ten point tiebreak, 2-6, 6-3, 11-9. Goerges saved match point at 8-9 with some clutch serving that gave the Germans the decisive match point.
Flavia Pennetta, fresh off of her Indian Wells title, played Olga Govortsova in front of large and boisterous crowd on court 2, and after the doubles I was able to sneak in and find a seat to see the last half set of Flavia’s straightforward 6-3 6-3 win.
With so many choices on the schedule today (others playing included Serena Williams, Ana Ivanovic, Maria Sharapova, Angelique Kerber, Sabine Lisicki, Petra Kvitova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Lucie Saferova), it was a practical impossibility to make it to see everything, especially allowing for standing in cues to wait for changeovers.
As fan fave Sania Mirza is now a doubles specialist, I decided to prioritize and bypass some fairly high profile singles matches to watch her in what turned out to be another pretty entertaining, and very well attended match between Black / Mirza and Chan / Chan of Taipei. Black and Mirza rolled through the first set and Sania served for the second at 5-4, but was broken for one of two times on the day to level the match and provide Chan and Chan the opportunity they needed to extend the match. Playing a seven point tie break for the right to play a ten point tiebreak, Chan and Chan took the second set, and even forged a brief lead in the 3rd set breaker before Black and Mirza went on a roll to get to 9-4 with 5 match points. The crowd favorites lost the next four, making things tight at 9-8, before Cara Black put it away on a nice poach, to the relief of a happy crowd.
After the day session finished, Maria Sharapova took the court at 7:30 PM against Japan’s Kurumi Nara, and while Nara proved feisty, she didn’t really have the firepower, or the vocal chords, to go toe to toe with Sharapova, who won 6-3 6-4, overcoming an early break in set two.
Other winners on day four included Angelique Kerber, Petra Kvitova, Ana Ivanovic, Sam Stosur, Caroline Garcia, Coco Vandeweghe, Sara Errani, Ekaterina Makarova, Lucie Saferova, Kirsten Flipkens, Sabine Lisicki and Donna Vekic.
Still having a bunch of problems posting photos from the hotel this week, due to a poor wi fi connection, but I promise, I will get them all up eventually, along with the video I shot this week.
That’s it for today. See you Friday at the Sony Open!