Monday, March 19, 2012

Azarenka & Federer Win at Indian Wells

Through sickness and streaks, two of the hottest players in tennis right now continued their excellent 2012 by winning the first Masters title of the year in Indian Wells. One has been solidifying her reign as the top woman player in the world while the other has been providing the old adage that age really is just a number.

Victoria Azarenka
and Roger Federer both won their 4th and 3rd title of the year respectively at the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells this weekend. Both were unsure coming into the tournament afflicted with viruses that seemed to have impacted many players these past few days, but they powered through and recovered just in time. For Azarenka, she withdrew from doubles and had a difficult time putting away her second round opponent only to dominate the rest of the tournament included routing Maria Sharapova for the fourth straight time in a final. Their final match-up, other than being a re-match of this year's Australian Open final, was also special in that it was a rare battle between the WTA's no. 1 and no. 2. Win the win, Azarenka extends her amazing unbeaten streak this year to 23-0. Up next for her and most of the other players is Miami where she is the defending champion. Sharapova, who had another solid showing especially taking out a resurgent Ana Ivanovic, will hope to avenge her loss there. It won't be easy though as Kim Clijsters, Serena Williams, and Venus Williams are all in the draw.

For Federer, he was clearly under the weather early in the tournament having to play from behind in his matches against up and comers Milos Raonic and Tomas Belluci. He found his mojo just in time in the quarters where he once again halted Juan Martin Del Potro's run (fourth time this year!). Amidst tricky weather conditions he then played a flawless match against his great rival Rafael Nadal to notch his 10th win over the Spaniard to make the finals where newly top ten ranked John Isner awaited him. The big and tall American kept his composure early on, but once Federer eked out the first set in a tight tiebreak, it was cruise control for the Swiss who ended up breaking Isner twice in the second set. This marks Federer's 73 title, a record fourth Indian Wells title. It also ties with Nadal with 19 Masters 1000 titles. It's also worth noting that in a span of less than 24 hours, Federer was able to avenge his only two losses this year (Australian Open SF to Nadal and Davis Cup to Isner). Finally, Federer now leads in ranking points accrued since the beginning of this year making his quest to retake the #1 ranking all the more reachable.

For his part, Nadal did lift a trophy this week when he won the Men's Doubles title with partner Mark Lopez. They beat Isner and Sam Querrey. Isner, who sufficed to say had a phenomenal tournament, had the unenviable task of playing Djokovic, Federer, and Nadal in a span of 24 hours. Top ranked Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond won the Women's Doubles title.

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