Tournament Match Reports

2015 Itau Miami Open March 29

Middle Sunday was crisp, cool, and sunny, and while play was limited to only five courts–Stadium, Grandstand, 1, 2, and 7–the schedule was loaded with as many as six scheduled matches on some courts, promising a long day of play lasting late into the night. The shocker of the day was the ouster of Men’s No. 2 seed Rafa Nadal, which disappointed the hugely partisan Latin crowd here in Miami, but women’s top seed Serena Williams had no such trouble with promising young American star Ci Ci Bellis, winning in straight sets, 6-1 6-1. The day started off with an interesting clash in the Grandstand, between Romanian No. 3 seed Simona Halep and Italian Camila Giorgi, who can hit the stuffing out of the ball which is great when it goes in, but…. Today, not enough of her shots found the mark, ultimately, and Halep’s consistency, grit, movement, and fitness paid big dividends as she overcame deficits in both sets to prevail 6-4 7-5 in front of a hugely partisan crowd. I’ve got to confess, while I’ve never been a huge fan of Halep’s, I do admire the progress she has made in the past few years, and her fans obviously hold her in the highest regard. She appears to be something akin to a national heroine for Romania, and in an rather odd twist for tennis these days, her appeal actually seems to cross national boundaries, as fans of all ethnicities and nationalities were cheering hard for her in the matches I saw this week. Cheers of SIM-o-NA! SIM-o-NA! SIM-o-NA! echoed thoughout the Grandstand every game. While it was mostly fun to be part of this environment, at times it was a little excessive, bordering on intentional interference, as some fans screamed and yelled during some breathtaking and potentially momentum shifting rallies late in the match. On a smaller court, I don’t think there’s any question the Chair would have told them to be quiet during play out of consideration for the players. Elena Venina and Ekaterina Makerova easily dismissed Daniela Hantuchova and Karen Knapp in the doubles, on court 7, 6-2 6-2, in the early afternoon, before the wind started gusting and wreaking havoc in the 3rd round singles match between Sara Errani and Garbiñe Muguruza. Errani got out to an early lead, courtesy of some errors and rather tired looking shots by Muguruza, before Garbiñe began fighting her way back into the first set, ultimately breaking back and taking the first set with some clutch serving in the wind, and some beautifully placed passing shots off of both the forehand and backhand sides, deep into the corners. Muguruza took the first set 6-4. Errani adjusted better to the even gustier conditions in the second set, jumping ahead with another earlier break and never letting Garbiñe capitalize on her break point chances. Errani won the second set 6-4, and jumped out to a quick lead in set 2, ultimately pulling away from a tired and defeated looking Muguruza whose day could be summed up by the words “error prone.” Errani prevailed, 4-6, 6-4 6-1. Upon arriving in the morning, I found Venus Williams practicing, and during one break, she spent a few moments playing with her puppy. Maybe it was just me, but I found this so incredibly touching. Venus Williams 2015 Itau Miami Open March 29 One final surprise remained for me after I left Crandon Park for the final time in 2015. When I returned to my hotel this evening, as I was walking in, who should be walking out but Agnieszka Radwanska, apparently on her way out to dinner or some other engagement for the evening. She smiled, probably noticing my “Miami Open” lanyard and tickets, and yes, if I had been quick enough on my feet to say anything, I would have, could have, should have said something positively clever, but instead stood there dumbfounded, like I normally do around girls. Oh well, next time… So I guess this puts a wrap on my Miami Open adventure for 2015. If this is my last Miami Open, it sure has been a blast.  Adios Amigos.

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