The rain made an appearance twice today at the Sony Open, albeit briefly, but it didn’t cause any lengthy delays or postponements, and actually helped keep the weather conditions a little cooler under mostly cloudy skies.
A brief heavy downpour shortly after the gates opened for early access at 9:30 AM put down a lot of water in a short amount of time, but the grounds crew and ball kids did an amazing job getting the match courts ready to play by 11 AM sharp. When play did start, Indian Wells champ Flavia Pennetta took on Ana Ivanovic on a mostly packed Grandstand Court, and though she started well with a break of Ana’s serve and a 2-0 lead, Ivanovic quickly righted herself behind a heap of blazing forehand winners and dominated the rest of the first set, winning 6-4, and racing to an early lead in set two before coasting home, 6-4 6-3.
As usual, weekend at the Sony is almost impossible to ‘enjoy’ if you like to see a lot of tennis. With so many people, you are reduced, in a very practical sense, to forming a viewing strategy and picking and choosing a few matches you want to watch. Either that, or you will spend your day “match hopping” from changeover to changeover, to get a taste of several different matches, much like ESPN’s or Tennis Channel’s television coverage.
With Garbi Muguruza and Carla Suarez Navarro receiving a wildcard to play doubles in Miami, and drawn to play the number three seeds and four time grand slam doubles titlists Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci, I desperately wanted to watch this match, which was the fourth of four scheduled doubles matches on court 8 today. Well, if you know anything about doubles matches at ATP/WTA events, they are enormously popular, among the most sought out and coveted matches which spectators seek out to watch. It may not seem intuitive or logical, but if you keep your ears open, almost anyone in the crowd will eventually clue you in as to why–recreational players who are tennis fans play doubles at their clubs and they identify with pro doubles, find it more interesting and strategic, and find singles to be rather boring by comparison. Don’t shoot the messenger. That’s not my argument, but it’s what I hear throughout the crowds at doubles matches, which are always filled to capacity.
So, starting toward the end of set two of the second match on court 8, between Hsieh and Peng and Date-Krumm and Zahlavova Strycova, I started maneuvering for a seat. Lingering near the entrance while the tiebreak was going on, I slipped in as a few people exited when that match finished, and was lucky enough to grab a seat on the net second row from the top for the ATP doubles between Peya/Soares and Anderson/Bhupathi. After a set of that one, it rained, enough to get the court pretty soaked and suspend play, and everyone ran for cover, so I headed for the food court umbrellas until the rain passed, chagrined that all of my hard work for that prized seat had gone for naught. Knowing that everyone was going to head back to court as soon as the rain stopped, I didn’t wait, and made it back just in time to upgrade my seat by one row, top center, right on the net. I even had some paper towels to dry the seat.
The rest of the afternoon passed without interruption from the weather, and while we were packed into court 8 like sardines, the action was superb. Peya/Soares won a thrilling third set tiebreak 10-8, and then the Spanish wildcards produced a real shock by ousting their far more experienced and accomplished Italian counterparts, 7-6 1-6 11-9. This was a really fun match to match, especially since just about everybody in attendance thought the result was a foregone conclusion. It wasn’t without controversy, however, as Garbiñe’s match winning forehand was called long by the baseline judge and overruled by the chair, to a cascade of boos and vulgar name calling from many in the crowd who were vehement that Errani and Vinci had been robbed.
The final point shouldn’t take away from what was a fantastic effort, however, and a superb tiebreak. Down 8-9, facing match point, Garbiñe came up with two clutch serves and some breathtaking rallies, the first lasting nearly twenty shots as she went toe to toe with Errani and tied up the breaker at 9-all. When Carla and Garbiñe prevailed two points later, the Italians’ supporters went nuts, the smaller, but vocal Spanish contingent in the crowd went bonkers over the win, and I heard some new four letter synonyms for “chair umpire” that I had never heard before.
That’s pretty much it from Crandon Park today. As I said, the crowd was enormous. It was hard just moving from place to place without getting run over. I imagine tomorrow won’t be much different.
Last day in Miami tomorrow. Here’s hoping it’s a great one!