Saturday March 28 at the Itau Miami Open dawned cold (yes C-O-L-D), breezy and overcast, and while it warmed up (a little) and winds died down during the middle of the day, the clouds hung around keeping temps pleasant.
Crowds were astonishingly huge today, probably the largest I’ve seen in the nine years I’ve been coming to the Miami Open. That made just about everything tougher than normal–navigating the grounds, finding open seats at various courts, moving from point to point in a timely fashion. Everything had an added hassle today, but I guess that’s the price of success.
As for the tennis, the schedule was loaded, and with seating on the outer courts at a premium, good matches were going on everywhere pretty much at all times of the day. It made deciding on what to watch rather difficult. Ultimately, I managed to take in four matches today, which was a pretty full lid, all things considered.
First up was the singles second rounder on court 7 between Carla Suarez Navarro and Alize Cornet, who had dismantled Elena Vesnina in round 1 but who looked decidedly flat today, other than emotionally. It didn’t help matters that Suarez Navarro was extremely consistent off of both wings in blasting the error plagued and visibly distressed Cornet out of the water for a 6-0 1-0 lead before Cornet even managed a game. In Cornet’s second service game she drew a time violation warning for taking approximately thirty seconds between points, which was ironic considering she then spent a good couple of minutes arguing about it with the chair umpire. In set two, Cornet did briefly right the ship, breaking Carla twice in building a 4-2 lead before Suarez Navarro found herself again, closing out the match in straight sets, 6-0 6-4.
On court 9 a short time later was the resumption of the second round match between Angelique Kerber and Heather Watson, with Kerber up a set 7-5. Hev Watson started quickly with an early break, was quickly broken back, and that set the tone for a see saw battle that saw some good, contentious games, physical rallies, and hard fought points. It wasn’t always pretty, as both players committed their fair share of errors, Watson’s mostly on the forehand side, Kerber’s on the backhand. Watson toughed out the second set, 6-3, but fell behind 5-1 in set three before Watson roared back with a couple of breaks to get back on serve at 4-5 with a chance to knot it a 5-all, until dumping her serve with some overcooked forehands, the order of the day for her.
Court 10 was stacked with doubles matches today, each seemingly featuring a quality team or elite player, and that made for a full house there all day long. Finding a seat at court 10 was
nearly impossible all day long, but especially so for the tilt involving Simona Halep and Alexandra Dulgheru against Daniela Hantuchova and Karen Knapp. I think I got the last possible seat in the sardine can, seated next to a really nice Romanian girl and her boyfriend who came equipped with a huge Romanian flag, a Sharpie, and a real passion for Simona. She apologized for all of the trouble in finding a place to sit, and said “there’s a lot of Romanians here today.” After each point won by Halep and Dulgheru, my neighbor shouted, “Yessssss!!!”
I am completely perplexed as to why some continue to contend that singles is “more popular” than doubles among fans at the big tennis tournaments. It may or may not be true in some parts of the world. It certainly isn’t in the US. The doubles matches are consistently overflowing with spectators. Watson and Puig took on Garcia and Srebotnik today and the crowd outside the stands was at least a dozen rows deep.
As Garbiñe Muguruza and Carla Suarez Navarro were next up on court 10, against Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor and Olga Savchuk, I thankfully didn’t have to move or give up my seat. In fact, I was able to “trade up” and upgrade by moving up a couple of rows to the top of the stands to watch my team obliterate Torro-Flor and Savchuck 6-3 6-2 behind some dynamite serving by Garbiñe. One thing I learned from watching this one–you don’t lob over Garbi very easily. I don’t know how many times Savchuck tried it on one point but Muguruza swatted at least three of them back. As they used to say, she’s “One Tall Drink of Water.”
Final day in Miami for 2015 tomorrow.