Thursday, March 31, 2016

Volynets, 14, and Muljat, 15, oust high seeds

   Katie Volynets of Walnut Creek and Jessi Muljat of Sacramento upset high seeds on Wednesday to reach the girls 16 quarterfinals in the USTA International Spring Championships in Carson.
   Volynets, seeded No. 15, ousted No. 2 Marcella Cruz of Marlboro, N.J., 7-5, 6-1. No. 14 Muljat took out No. 4 Cameron Compall of Winnetka, Ill., 6-2, 6-0.
   But No. 3 Niluka Madurawe of Sunnyvale lost to No. 16 Vivian Cheng of Santa Monica, 7-5, 6-4.
   Volynets, 14, will face her doubles partner, No. 12 Cali Jankowski of Carlsbad. Jankowski beat Dasha Kourkina of Brooklyn, N.Y., 6-3, 6-3.
   Muljat, 15, will play No. 6 Peyton Stearns of Mason, Ohio. Stearns topped wild card Gabriella Price of Montebello, N.Y., 6-2, 2-6, 6-4.
    Meanwhile, No. 4 Sam Riffice of Granite Bay and No. 6 Michaela Gordon of Saratoga moved into the third round of the boys and girls 18s, respectively. Riffice is 17 and Gordon 16.
   In the boys 18s, Patrick Kypson of Greenville, N.C., knocked off top-seeded Ulises Blanch of Deerfield Beach, Fla., 6-4, 5-7, 6-4.
USTA INTERNATIONAL SPRING CHAMPIONSHIPS
In Carson, Calif.
(Northern California results only)
Boys
18 singles
Second round
   Sam Riffice (4), Granite Bay, def. Juan Alejandro Hernandez Serrano, Mexico, 6-2, 6-0. 
   Oliver Crawford (10), Spartanburg, S.C., def. Jenson Brooksby, Carmichael, 6-1, 6-2.
18 doubles
Second round
   Brian Cernoch, North Bethesda, Md., and Sam Riffice (5), Roseville, def. Arnav Dhingra, Darnestown, Md., and Nikolai Parodi, Takoma Park, Md., 6-1, 6-3.
16 singles
Third round
   Axel Nefve (2), Hinsdale, Ill., def. Stevie Gould, Corte Madera, 6-3, 7-6 (0).
Girls
18 singles
Second round
   Michaela Gordon (6), Saratoga, def. Melissa Plambeck, Bradenton, Fla., 6-0, 6-1.
   Jade Lewis (10), New Zealand, def. Camille Favero, Sacramento, 6-3, 6-4.
   Maria Mateus (3), Braintree, Mass., def. Sara Choy, Palo Alto, 6-1, 6-0.
16 singles
Third round
   Jessi Muljat (14), Sacramento, def. Cameron Compall (4), Winnetka, Ill., 6-2, 6-0.
   Katie Volynets (15), Walnut Creek, def. Marcella Cruz (2), Marlboro, N.J., 7-5, 6-1.
   Vivian Cheng (16), Santa Monica, def. Niluka Madurawe (3), Sunnyvale, 7-5, 6-4.
16 doubles
Second round
   Kacie Harvey, Braintree, Mass., and Jessi Muljat (4), Sacramento, def. Katya Hersh, Carpentsersville, Ill., and Lauren Lemonds, Indianapolis, 6-4, 1-6 [10-1].
   Vivian Cheng, Santa Monica, and Britt Pursell, Oceanside, def. Cali Jankowski, Carlsbad, and Katie Volynets (7), Walnut Creek, 1-6, 6-4 [16-14].

Monday, March 28, 2016

Ex-Stanford star Gibbs routed on big stage

Nicole Gibbs, serving in the BNP Paribas Open in Indian
Wells last week, lost to fourth-seeded Garbine Muguruza
6-1, 6-0 on Sunday in Miami. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Nicole Gibbs had been working for this her whole life.
   The 23-year-old former Stanford All-American was playing on the Stadium Court in the featured night match in a big tournament against a Wimbledon finalist.
   Unfortunately for Gibbs, fourth-seeded Garbine Muguruza of Spain crushed the wild card 6-1, 6-0 in 55 minutes on Sunday in the third round of the Miami Open.
   "Every athlete's dream to play on center under the lights," Gibbs tweeted. "Every athlete's nightmare for that to be the outcome. But (emoji) happens."
   The 22-year-old Muguruza, who lost to Serena Williams in last year's Wimbledon final, won 85 percent of the points on her first serve (18 of 21) against Gibbs and saved the only break point she faced.
   Gibbs had extended two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova to 6-4 in the third set in the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells last week as a qualifier.
   At 6 feet (1.82 meters), Muguruza and Kvitova are six inches (15.2 centimeters) taller than Gibbs.
   Gibbs, who lost in the first round of qualifying in Miami last year, will have to be content with $36,170 in prize money and 65 ranking points.
   Combined with the $67,590 she pocketed in Indian Wells, Gibbs earned more than $100,000 in the two tournaments.
   Gibbs also will improve her career-high ranking from No. 74 to about No. 70 when the new rankings are released next Monday. She began this year at No. 119.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Querrey quickly exits Miami Open; Bryans advance

Adrian Mannarino, playing last week in Indian Wells,
upended 29th-seeded Sam Querrey in the second
round of the Miami Open. Photo by Paul Bauman 
   Sam Querrey is already out of the Miami Open.
   One day after losing in the first round of doubles, the 29th-seeded Querrey fell to Adrian Mannarino of France, 6-7 (5), 6-2, 6-4 on Saturday in the second round of singles.
   Querrey, a 28-year-old San Francisco native living in the Los Angeles suburb of Santa Monica, received a first-round bye. He fell to 0-2 lifetime against Mannarino, a 27-year-old left-hander from France.
   Steve Johnson of Redondo Beach in the Los Angeles area and Querrey lost to Spanish left-handers Feliciano Lopez and Marc Lopez (no relation) 3-6, 6-3, 10-6 in the first round.
   It was the third consecutive first-round loss for Johnson and Querrey since a runner-up showing in Memphis.
   The Lopez pair reached the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells last week.  
   Fourth-seeded Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan, trying to win their third straight Miami Open doubles title and fifth overall, beat Inigo Cervantes and David Ferrer of Spain 6-3, 7-5 in the opening round.
   The Bryans, 37-year-old ex-Stanford All-Americans, will play Roberto Bautista-Agut of Spain and Viktor Troicki of Serbia in the second round.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Roundup: Miami, Bank of the West, World TeamTennis

Ex-Stanford star Nicole Gibbs, playing last week in the BNP Paribas
Open in Indian Wells, upset No. 27 Kristina Mladenovic on Friday
in the second round of the Miami Open. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Wild card Nicole Gibbs, who starred at Stanford, ousted No. 27 seed Kristina Mladenovic of France 6-2, 6-4 in 1 hour, 19 minutes on Friday in the second round of the Miami Open.
   As a qualifier in the Australian Open in January, the 5-foot-6 (1.68-meter) Gibbs had lost to the 6-foot (1.86-meter) Mladenovic 6-1, 7-6 (4) in the second round in their only previous meeting.
   Gibbs, a 23-year-old resident of Marina del Rey in the Los Angeles area, reached the fourth round at Indian Wells last week as a qualifier. She will face another 22-year-old 6-footer, Garbine Muguruza of Spain, on Sunday.
   The fourth-seeded Muguruza, the runner-up to Serena Williams at Wimbledon last year, outlasted 5-foot-3 (1.61-meter) Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia 6-7 (3), 6-3, 7-5 in 2 hours, 46 minutes on Friday.
   Gibbs is 1-0 against Muguruza, who retired from their second-round qualifying match in New Haven in 2012 while trailing 6-2, 1-0.
   U.S. wild cards Eric Butorac and Scott Lipsky, a 34-year-old former Stanford All-American, lost to Treat Huey, a Washington, D.C., resident who plays for the Philippines, and Max Mirnyi of Belarus 7-5, 6-3 in the first round of doubles.
   Bank of the West Classic -- Venus Williams and Agnieszka Radwanska have entered the July 18-24 tournament at Stanford's Taube Family Tennis Stadium.
   Williams has reached the Bank of the West final seven times, winning the title in 2000 and 2002. She is ranked 13th.
   Radwanska, the runner-up to Cibulkova in the 2013 Bank of the West Classic, is ranked second.
   Tickets to the Bank of the West Classic can be purchased online at bankofthewestclassic.com or by phone at (866) WTA-TIXS.
   World TeamTennis draft -- Three of the four members of the Orange County Breakers have strong Northern California ties.
   In addition to Gibbs and Lipsky, Orange County drafted Dennis Novikov of Milipitas in the San Francisco Bay Area. Novikov led UCLA to the NCAA final as a sophomore in 2013 before turning pro. The Breakers also picked Ally Kudryavtseva of Russia.
   Washington, meanwhile, appeared destined to win their sixth straight WTT title. Not only do the Kastles return International Tennis Hall of Famer Martina Hingis, future Hall of Famer Leander Paes, San Francisco native Sam Querrey, co-WTT Female MVP Anastasia Rodionova and Madison Brengle, they added ex-Stanford stars Bob and Mike Bryan and recently retired Mardy Fish.

Friday, March 25, 2016

On crummy motels, heat, Vika, etc. in Indian Wells

Eventual champion Victoria Azarenka begins
 a warmup session by tossing a football.
 Photo by Paul Bauman
   Random observations after spending three days in the middle of the second week at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, a suburb of Palm Springs:
   --The area features numerous swanky hotels. Then there was my motel in lovely Indio. I don't want to say it was cheap, but across the street was Silva's Radiator, and around the corner was the Riverside County Detention Center (they can't just call it a jail). Nothing says "resort area" like barbed wire.
   --I've attended the BNP Paribas Open annually since 2009, and I still can't get used to the "o" being silent in Coachella Valley, where the Palm Springs area is situated.
   --You don't have to be Dr. Oz or House to figure out why there's a pharmacy on seemingly every corner in the Ca-chell-a Valley. Because of the year-round warm weather, Palm Springs is, above all, a retirement community. 
   --Overheard as a female fan talked on her cellphone: "I want you to call your kidney guy for an appointment in two weeks." See what I mean?
   --Even in March, the temperature reaches the high 80s and low 90s in Indian Wells. Players have to be in phenomenal shape to battle for up to three hours; it's tough just to sit in the afternoon sun and watch the matches. Memo to self: Don't come here in July.
   --In fact, the players are unbelievably fit. Unlike their golf counterparts, pro tennis players can't afford to have an ounce of fat since their sport places a premium on movement and endurance.
   --When the sun goes down, though, the temperature is ideal.
   --It doesn't get any better than when you're sipping an ice-cold lemonade in a shaded seat, watching the best tennis players in the world in a beautiful setting and listening to The Beatles ("Drive My Car," "Good Day Sunshine," etc.) on the PA system during changeovers or between matches.
Stan Wawrinka's one-handed backhand
is the most beautiful shot in tennis.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   --Creedence Clearwater Revival ("Proud Mary") and Eric Clapton ("Layla") work, too. My wife hates CCR, but she teaches school and stayed home in Sacramento.
   --OK, so I'm old, too. But not retirement age yet.
   --The tournament volunteers are very helpful and friendly, contributing to the relaxed atmosphere.
   --Stan Wawrinka's one-handed backhand is the most beautiful shot in tennis. Richard Gasquet's, Dominic Thiem's and Philipp Kohlshreiber's are pretty sweet, too. 
   --It isn't just John Isner's 140-plus-mph (225-plus kph) first serve that's a weapon. In a 6-4, 7-6 (4) third-round victory over Adrian Mannarino, the 6-foot-10 (2.08-meter) Isner's second delivery consistently bounced over the head of the 5-foot-11 (1.81-meter) Frenchman, who grew increasingly frustrated.
   --In the next round, 5-foot-10 (1.78-meter) Kei Nishikori saved a match point in his 1-6, 7-6 (2), 7-6 (5) win over the ninth-seeded Isner. With his tremendous hand-eye coordination, the fifth-seeded Nishikori blocked back several of Isner's first-serve rockets to pull out the tiebreakers.
   --Two kids clamored for Nishikori to throw them a souvenir after he beat Isner. Nishikori tossed each of them a towel, and both kids ran off without saying thank you.
   --Eighteen-year-old Alexander Zverev, a 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) German whom Rafael Nadal touted as a possible future No. 1, also is impressive in the interview room. Zverev displayed candor, maturity and impeccable English after losing to Nadal in the fourth round. When asked about blowing a putaway volley while holding match point, Zverev admitted, "I missed probably the easiest shot I had the whole match." Regarding the possibility of reaching No. 1, Zverev asserted, "This is painful right now, but it doesn't change anything about the process."
   --Memo to "journalists": Please ask a question. "Talk about ... " and "Your thoughts on ... " are not questions.
   --By the way, when did "journalists" become "media members"? Why use two words when one will do, except to sound like a pompous jerk?
   --It didn't take long for 13th-seeded Gael Monfils to exhibit his renowned athleticism in his 6-3, 6-4 victory over Federico Delbonis in the fourth round. Monfils hit a seemingly impossible backhand with the ball behind him and won the point.
Alexander Zverev, 18, was impressive in the interview
room as well as on the court. Photo by Paul Bauman
   --Delbonis, who stunned second-seeded Andy Murray in the third round, has a bizarre hitch in his service motion. The 6-foot-3 (1.91-meter) left-hander from Argentina starts to toss the ball, brings his arm back down, then goes through with an unusually high toss. Didn't bother Monfils, though.
   --Novak Djokovic stood up several hundred fans who packed Practice Court 2 for his scheduled session at noon on Wednesday, a day off for him. By 11:30 a.m., the stands were almost full, and by 12:30 p.m., most of the fans gave up and left. Hey, Djoker, if you're not going to practice, don't sign up for the court. If something comes up, have someone in your entourage call the staff so the fans can be notified. As one of them said at 1:15 p.m.: "(Tournament officials) say he's still going to show up but his coach doesn't know when. Very considerate. Without the fans, you're nothing. Remember that." 
   --Just then, Victoria Azarenka arrived to warm up for her match that evening. The 26-year-old Belarusian, who lived in the Phoenix area for many years, began by running pass patterns along a baseline, catching footballs tossed by a member of her entourage and throwing them back. The 49ers might want to take a flier on her in next month's draft.
   --Djokovic went on to win his third straight Indian Wells title and record fifth overall. Azarenka upset Serena Williams for her second BNP crown. That morning, tournament director and CEO Ray Moore opened his big mouth about the women's tour. 
   --Former Stanford star Nicole Gibbs, who reached the fourth round as a qualifier, has the greatest stare in tennis. When displeased, she lowers her head and shoots daggers from her eyes. 
   --Gibbs is feisty, too. Two years ago, in a loss to fellow American Louisa Chirico in the second round of the FSP Gold River Challenger in Sacramento, Gibbs stomped on her racket because she didn't like the string tension. 
   --Players engage in a lot of wishful thinking when they challenge line calls. They're wrong about 90 percent of the time. Often, it's not even close.
   --Players weren't the only celebrities in the BNP Paribas Open. After one match, a woman insisted on having her picture taking with charismatic chair umpire Mohamed Lahyani.
   --Fans could putt on a small green set up by the Indian Wells Golf Resort in the shopping area of the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, the site of the BNP Paribas Open. One guy was taking practice swings and intently studying his putt. Hey, Bubba, putt the ball already. This isn't the Masters. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Bay Area's Bellis, Novikov fall in Miami Open

CiCi Bellis, 16, of Atherton lost to Monica Puig of
Puerto Rico in the first round of the Miami Open.
2015 photo by Paul Bauman
   San Francisco Bay Area residents CiCi Bellis and Dennis Novikov lost today in the first round of the Miami Open.
   Bellis, a 16-year-old wild card from Atherton, fell to Monica Puig, 22, of Puerto Rico 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 on the Stadium Court in a match that ended at midnight EDT.
   Novikov, a 22-year-old qualifier from Milpitas, succumbed to Dusan Lajovic of Serbia 6-1, 7-6 (5).
   Both Bellis and Puig faced 15 break points. Puig saved 10 and Bellis eight.
   Bellis, an amateur, will plunge from No. 219 in the world to about No. 262 when the next rankings are released on April 4.
   She reached the third round of the Miami Open last year, routing then-No. 32 Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan 6-2, 6-1 in the second round before losing to Serena Williams 6-1, 6-1. Williams went on to win the title for the eighth time.
   Bellis made international headlines in 2014 by stunning 12th-seeded Dominika Cibulkova in the first round of the U.S. Open. Cibulkova had advanced to the Australian Open final that year, falling to Li Na.
   Puig, who reached the Sydney final in January as a qualifier before losing to two-time Grand Slam singles champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, will face 13th-seeded Victoria Azarenka of Belarus in the second round.
   Azarenka, who received a opening-round bye, will be playing her first match since upsetting Williams on Sunday for her second title in the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.
   Novikov made his Miami Open debut this year. He turned pro in 2013 after leading UCLA to the NCAA final as a sophomore.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Gibbs advances in Miami; Bellis, 16, to face Puig

Nicole Gibbs, serving in last year's U.S. Open, continued
her strong play today in Miami. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Wild card Nicole Gibbs, a former Stanford star, continued her strong year with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan today in the first round of the Miami Open.
   It was the first victory in Miami for Gibbs. The 23-year-old resident of Marina del Ray in the Los Angeles region lost in the first round of qualifying last year in her Miami debut.
   As a qualifier in her previous two tournaments this year, Gibbs reached her second career quarterfinal, in Monterrey, Mexico, and the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.
   Gibbs also advanced to the second round of the Australian Open in January as a qualifier before losing to 28th-seeded Kristina Mladenovic of France 6-1, 7-6 (4).
   The 5-foot-6 (1.68-meter) Gibbs, ranked a career-high No. 74, will get another shot at the 6-foot (1.86-meter) Mladenovic, ranked No. 29, in the second round in Miami. Mladenovic, seeded 27th, received a first-round bye.
   Putintseva, a 5-foot-4 (1.63-meter) Moscow native, is ranked No. 58.
   CiCi Bellis, 16, of Atherton in the San Francisco Bay Area, is scheduled to play Monica Puig of Puerto Rico in the first round on Wednesday on the Stadium Court after the 4:30 p.m. (PDT) match between Juan Martin Del Potro and Guido Pella, both from Argentina.
   It will be the first meeting between Bellis and Puig, ranked No. 219 and No. 67, respectively.
   Bellis routed then-No. 32 Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan 6-2, 6-1 in the second round in Miami last year before losing to Serena Williams 6-1, 6-1. Williams went on to win the title for the eighth time.
   Dennis Novikov, 22, of Milpitas in the Bay Area advanced to the men's main draw with a 6-1, 7-6 (7) victory over Marco Trungelliti of Argentina.
   Novikov, ranked No. 153, will face No. 70 Dusan Lajovic of Serbia for the first time today. Novikov is making his Miami debut this year.

Rankings mover of the week: Nicole Gibbs (up)

Ex-Stanford All-American Nicole Gibbs plays in the BNP Paribas Open, March 7
through last Sunday, in Indian Wells. Photo by Mal Taam/www.malt.photo
   Nicole Gibbs, a former Stanford All-American, jumped 21 places to a career-high No. 74 in singles by reaching the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells last week as a qualifier.
   The 5-foot-6 (1.68-meter) Gibbs defeated Alexandra Dulgheru of Romania, 23rd-seeded Madison Keys of Boca Raton, Fla., and Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan in straight sets before losing to eighth-seeded Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
   It was the first time in three career matches that Gibbs has won a set against Kvitova.
   Gibbs, 23, was playing a two-hour drive east of her home in Marina del Rey in the Los Angeles area.
   Gibbs turned pro in 2013 after winning her second straight NCAA singles title as a junior. She also won the 2012 NCAA doubles crown with Mallory Burdette.
WORLD RANKINGS
   Players with Northern California ties ranked in the top 1,000 in the world (change from last week in parentheses):
Men
   Collin Altamirano, 20-year-old Sacramentan -- No. 821 in singles (-8), 968 in doubles (no change).
   Bob Bryan, 37-year-old former Stanford star -- No. 5 in doubles (no change), unranked in singles.
   Mike Bryan, 37-year-old former Stanford star -- No. 6 in doubles (no change), unranked in singles.
   Scott Lipsky, 34-year-old former Stanford star -- No. 43 in doubles (no change).
   Mackenzie McDonald, 20-year-old resident of Piedmont in San Francisco Bay Area -- No. 406 in singles (-29), No. 570 in doubles (no change).
   Dennis Novikov, 22-year-old resident of Milpitas in San Francisco Bay Area -- No. 153 in singles (no change), No. 163 in doubles (+1).
   Sam Querrey, 28-year-old San Francisco native -- No. 34 in singles (+2), No. 41 in doubles (-2).
   Matt Seeberger, 31-year-old San Francisco native and former UC Santa Cruz star -- No. 156 in doubles (+1).
   Dmitry Tursunov, 33-year-old resident of Folsom in Sacramento area -- No. 490 in singles (+91), No. 266 in doubles (-6).
Women
   Kristie Ahn, 23-year-old former Stanford star -- Career-high No. 202 in singles (+1), No. 439 in doubles (-1).
   Raquel Atawo (formerly Kops-Jones), 33-year-old San Jose resident and former Cal star -- No. 20 in doubles (-1).
   CiCi Bellis, 16-year-old resident of Atherton in San Francisco Bay Area -- No. 219 in singles (+12), No. 332 in doubles (-3).
   Alexandra Facey, 23-year-old product of Cameron Park in Sacramento area -- No. 616 in doubles (-5). 
   Kat Facey, 23-year-old product of Cameron Park in Sacramento area -- No. 616 in doubles (-5).
   Nicole Gibbs, 23-year-old former Stanford star -- Career-high No. 74 in singles (+21), career-high No. 124 in doubles (+1).
   Michaela Gordon, 16-year-old resident of Saratoga in San Francisco Bay Area -- No. 605 in singles (-1), No. 707 in doubles (-2). 
   Maegan Manasse, 20-year-old Cal junior -- No. 535 in doubles (-5), No. 759 in singles (-2).
   Maria Sanchez, 26-year-old Modesto product -- Career-high No. 68 in doubles (+7), No. 210 in singles (+2).
   Karina Vyrlan, 17-year-old Sacramentan -- Career-high No. 802 in doubles (+6).
   Carol Zhao, 20-year-old Stanford junior -- Career-high No. 168 in doubles (+3), No. 323 in singles (+3).

TV schedule, calendar

TV SCHEDULE
(All times in California)
Wednesday
   Live at the Miami Open, Tennis Channel, 7-8 a.m. (live).
   Miami, first round (men, women), Tennis Channel, 8 a.m.-8 p.m. (live), 8 p.m.-7 a.m. Thursday (repeat). 
Thursday
   Live at the Miami Open, Tennis Channel, 7-8 a.m. (live).
   Miami, first round (men), second round (women), Tennis Channel, 8 a.m.-8 p.m. (live), 8 p.m.-7 a.m. Friday (repeat). 
Friday
   Live at the Miami Open, Tennis Channel, 7-8 a.m. (live).
   Miami, second round (men, women), Tennis Channel, 8 a.m.-9 p.m. (live)

Saturday
   Miami, second round (men/women), Tennis Channel, 3-7 a.m. (repeat).
   Live at the Miami Open, Tennis Channel, 7-8 a.m. (live).
   Miami, second round (men), third round (women), Tennis Channel, 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday (live). 
   Sunday
   Live at the Miami Open, Tennis Channel, 7-8 a.m. (live).
   Miami, second round (men), third round (women), Tennis Channel, 3-7 a.m. (repeat).
   Miami, third round (men, women), Tennis Channel, 8 a.m.-9 p.m. (live), 9 p.m.-7 a.m. Monday (repeat). 
Monday
   Live at the Miami Open, Tennis Channel, 7-8 a.m. (live).
   Miami, third round (men), round of 16 (women), Tennis Channel, 8 a.m.-9 p.m (live), 9 p.m.-7 a.m. Tuesday (repeat).
Tuesday, March 29
   Live at the Miami Open, Tennis Channel, 7-8 a.m. (live).
   Miami, round of 16 (men), quarterfinals (women), Tennis Channel, 8 a.m.-9 p.m (live).
Wednesday, March 30
   Miami, quarterfinals (men, women), ESPN2, 10 a.m.-2 p.m, 4-8 p.m. (live). 
Thursday, March 31
   Miami, semifinals (women), quarterfinals (men), ESPN2, 10 a.m.-2 p.m, 4-8 p.m. (live).
   Miami, doubles semifinals (men), Tennis Channel, 10-11:30 a.m., 2-3:30 p.m. (live).
Friday, April 1
   Miami, semifinals (men), ESPN2, 10 a.m.-noon, 4-6 p.m (live).
Saturday, April 2
   Miami, final (women), ESPN2, 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (live).
Sunday, April 3
   Miami, final (men), ESPN2, 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (live).
CALENDAR
   Monday through April 3 -- USTA International Spring Championships, Carson, Calif.
   April 1 -- Stanford men at UCLA, 3 p.m.
   April 1 -- Cal men at USC, 3 p.m.
   April 2 -- Stanford men at USC, noon.   
   April 2 -- Cal men at UCLA, 3 p.m.
   April 3 -- Stanford women at Cal, 11 a.m.
   April 4-10 -- Easter Bowl, Indian Wells, Calif.
   April 15-17 -- Maze Cup (Northern California vs. Southern California juniors), Alpine Hills Tennis & Swimming Club, Portola Valley.
   April 16 -- Stanford men at Cal, noon.
   April 16 -- Cal women at Stanford, noon.
   April 16-17 -- Fed Cup semifinals, World Group playoffs (United States at Australia).
   April 16-17, 23-24 -- NorCal Junior Excellence, Rio Del Oro Racquet Club, Sacramento, Calif.
   April 20-24 -- Pacific-12 Conference Men's and Women's Championships, Ojai, Calif.
   April 27-30 -- Big West Conference Men's and Women's Championships, Indian Wells, Calif. www.bigwest.org.
   April 28-30 -- West Coast Conference Men's and Women's Championships, Claremont, Calif.
   April 28-May 1 -- Mountain West Conference Women's Championships, Fort Collins, Colo. www.themw.com.
   April 29-May 1 -- Mountain West Conference Men's Championships, Las Vegas. www.themw.com.
   April 29-May 1 -- Big Sky Conference Men's and Women's Championships, Gold River Racquet Club, Gold River, Calif., www.bigskyconf.com.
   April 29-May 2 -- USTA National Men's, Women's and Mixed 30 Indoor Championships, Spare Time Indoor Tennis Center, Gold River, Calif.
   May 13-14 -- NCAA Division I Men's and Women's Team Championships, first and second rounds at campus sites.
   May 19-24 -- NCAA Division I Men's and Women's Team Championships, round of 16 through finals, Tulsa, Okla.
   May 25-30 -- NCAA Division I Men's and Women's Singles and Doubles Championships, Tulsa, Okla. 
   May 22-June 5 -- FRENCH OPEN, Paris. 2015 champions: Stan Wawrinka, Ivan Dodig/Marcelo Melo, Serena Williams, Bethanie Mattek-Sands/Lucie Safarova, Bethanie Mattek-Sands/Mike Bryan.

BNP official resigns after criticizing female players

   One day after insulting female tennis players, Raymond Moore resigned Monday night as CEO and tournament director of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.
   "Ray let me know that he has decided to step down from his roles as CEO and tournament director effective immediately," tournament owner Larry Ellison said. "I fully understand his decision."
   Earlier, International Tennis Hall of Famer Martina Navratilova wrote in a text message to The New York Times, "It would be hard to imagine any women wanting to go and play at Indian Wells if Moore stays as the tournament director."
   The BNP Paribas Open was just recovering from a racially charged controversy involving Venus and Serena Williams in 2001. Serena vowed never to return but did last year, and Venus joined her this year.
   Moore, a 69-year-old former touring pro from South Africa, discussed the women's tour at a news conference before Sunday's women's and men's singles finals.
   "In my next life when I come back, I want to be someone in the WTA because they ride the coattails of the men," said Moore, who worked for decades to help build the BNP Paribas Open into the "fifth Grand Slam." "They don't make any decisions, and they are lucky. They are very, very lucky.
   "If I was a lady player, I'd go down every night on my knees and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were born, because they have carried this sport."
   Moore also referred to young standouts Eugenie Bouchard and Garbine Muguruza as "physically attractive and competitively attractive."
   Moore later apologized, saying his comments were "in extremely poor taste and erroneous."
   There has been no word of Moore's replacement. Ellison could turn a negative into a positive by naming a woman.
   Forbes magazine ranks Ellison, the co-founder and former CEO of Oracle software, as the fifth-richest person in the world with a net worth of $50.6 billion.

Monday, March 21, 2016

BNP official blasts women's tennis before finals

Novak Djokovic routed Milos Raonic for his third straight Indian
Wells title and record fifth overall. 2015 photo by Paul Bauman
   Novak Djokovic dominated.
   Serena Williams choked.
   Controversy erupted in Indian Wells.
   So what else is new?
   No. 1 seed Djokovic crushed No. 12 Milos Raonic, a 6-foot-5 (1.96-meter) Canadian, 6-2, 6-0 in 1 hour, 17 minutes on Sunday for his third straight BNP Paribas Open title and record fifth overall.
   No. 1 seed Williams, playing in her first Indian Wells final since a racially charged incident 15 years ago, committed 33 unforced errors and lost to No. 13 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus 6-4, 6-4.
   Before the finals, tournament director Ray Moore criticized women's tennis.
   "In my next life when I come back, I want to be someone in the WTA, because they ride on the coattails of the men," said Moore, a 69-year-old former player from South Africa. "They don't make any decisions, and they are lucky. They are very, very lucky.
   "If I was a lady player, I'd go down every night on my knees and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were born, because they have carried this sport. They really have."
   During ESPN's telecast, commentator Patrick McEnroe called for Moore to step down.
   "That was completely unacceptable," McEnroe fumed. "I'm livid."
   Djokovic broke the hard-serving Raonic, playing in his first tournament since suffering a thigh injury in the semifinals of the Australian Open in late January, five times.
   "He's the best returner probably of all time," said Raonic, who was treated for an undisclosed injury after the first set.
   Djokovic improved to 22-1 this year, losing only to Feliciano Lopez in the Dubai quarterfinals last month. Even then, Djokovic retired with an eye infection and severe allergy after dropping the first set 6-3.
   Djokovic went 82-6 last year, and only a loss to Stan Wawrinka in the French Open final prevented him from achieving the first calendar-year Grand Slam since 1969.
   Raonic went undefeated in the now-defunct SAP Open in San Jose, winning the last three titles (2011-13).  
Victoria Azarenka stunned a nervous Serena
Williams for her second Indian Wells title.
2014 photo by Paul Bauman 
   Azarenka, a former world No. 1 who is rebounding from injuries, returned to the top 10 for the first time since August 2014. She rose seven spots to No. 8.
   Williams and Azarenka have won four of the last six Bank of the West Classic titles at Stanford. Williams triumphed in 2011, 2012 and 2014 and Azarenka in 2010.
   Williams was jeered while beating Kim Clijsters in the 2001 final for her second Indian Wells title after her older sister, Venus, had withdrawn minutes before their scheduled semifinal. The crowd, suspecting the sisters didn't want to play each other, booed loudly, and their father, Richard, said he heard racial slurs.
   Serena vowed never to return but finally did last year, and Venus came back this year.
   "Obviously, the last time I was (in the final) was probably the worst moment of my whole career," Serena, 34, told reporters. "Not probably. Sure. To be back out there, which I never thought I would be, was really different and special. I was overwhelmed with emotions and nerves."
   It was the third straight tournament in which Williams suffered a stunning upset on a big occasion.
   Two victories from earning the first women's calendar-year Grand Slam, she lost to then-No. 43 Roberta Vinci of Italy in the semifinals of the U.S. Open.
   Trying to tie Steffi Graf for second place with 22 career Grand Slam singles titles, Williams fell to Angelique Kerber in the Australian Open final.
   Williams had been 4-0 against Vinci without surrendering more than four games in a set, 5-1 against Kerber with a four-match winning streak and 17-3 against Azarenka with a five-match winning streak.
   After Sunday's final, Williams condemned Moore's remarks.          
   "I don't think any woman should be down on their knees thanking anybody like that," she said. "I think Venus, myself, a number of players -- if I could tell you every day how many people say they don't watch tennis unless they're watching myself or my sister -- I couldn't even bring up that number. So I don't think that is a very accurate statement.
   "I think there is a lot of women out there who are very exciting to watch. I think there are a lot of men out there who are exciting to watch. I think it definitely goes both ways. I think those remarks are very much mistaken and very, very, very inaccurate."
   Moore later apologized.
   "I made comments about the WTA that were in extremely poor taste and erroneous," he said. "I am truly sorry for those remarks, and apologize to all the players and WTA as a whole. We had a women's final today that reflects the strength of the players, especially Serena and Victoria, and the entire WTA."
   Djokovic, responding to Moore's comments, argued that men deserve more prize money than women. Djokovic and Azarenka, who also won the BNP title in 2012, each pocketed $1,028,300.  
   "I think that our men's tennis world, ATP world, should fight for more because the stats are showing that we have much more spectators," Djokovic said. "I think that's one of the reasons why maybe we should get awarded more.
   "Women should fight for what they think they deserve, and we should fight for what we think we deserve. ... "
   Djokovic added that he has "tremendous respect" for female athletes and is "completely for women power."

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Djokovic continues domination of Nadal

Novak Djokovic beat Rafael Nadal 7-6 (5), 6-2
today in the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open
in Indian Wells. 2015 photo by Paul Bauman
   At least this one was close for a set and a half.
   Novak Djokovic continued his domination of Rafael Nadal today, beating his rival 7-6 (5), 6-2 in the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.
   The top-seeded Djokovic saved a set point while serving at 4-5 in the first set and won the last four games of the second set.
   "I work hard to be able to come up with the best game when it's the most needed," Djokovic, who will meet 12th-seeded Milos Raonic of Canada for the title, told reporters. "Obviously, today the first set was decided in one or two points; second set was very close. Midway through the second I broke his serve, and last three games I played very well.
   "So I'm just glad to overcome this challenge that is one of the greatest in sport, as it always is playing against Rafa. I'm taking the positives out of today's performance and hoping that I can finish off this tournament tomorrow with another great performance."
   Djokovic improved to 25-23 against Nadal, a three-time Indian Wells champion who was seeded fourth, in the longest-running rivalry on the ATP World Tour during the Open era.
   However, Djokovic has won the last six meetings, all in straight sets, and 10 of the last 11. Nadal had failed to win more than three games in a set in their previous three matches. The 29-year-old left-hander has slumped since missing the summer of 2014 with a right wrist injury and undergoing an appendectomy that November.
Nadal has lost to Djokovic six straight times
and in 10 of their last 11 matches. 2015 photo
by Paul Bauman 
   The 6-foot-5 (1.96-meter) Raonic, blasting serves at up to 146 mph, beat 15th-seeded David Goffin, a 5-foot-11 (1.80-meter) Belgian, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.
   Raonic went undefeated in the now-defunct SAP Open in San Jose, winning the last three titles (2011-13).
   Djokovic, seeking his third straight Indian Wells title and record fifth overall, and Raonic will play after Sunday's 11 a.m. women's final between Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka. ESPN will televise both matches.
   Williams and Azarenka have won four of the last six Bank of the West Classic titles at Stanford. Williams triumphed in 2011, 2012 and 2014 and Azarenka in 2010.
   Raonic is 0-2 in finals in Masters 1000 tournaments, the highest level after the Grand Slams. Djokovic will attempt to tie Nadal with 27 Masters 1000 titles.
   Djokovic, who has arguably the best return of serve in history, has lost only one set in five career matches against Raonic. In their last meeting, Djokovic won 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-2 in the quarterfinals of the 2015 Australian Open en route to the title.
   In today's men's doubles final, No. 7 seeds Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut of France topped No. 6 seeds and defending champions Vasek Pospisil of Canada and Jack Sock of Lincoln, Neb., 6-3, 7-6 (5).
   Herbert and Mahut, the reigning U.S. Open champions, became the first French team to win the Indian Wells crown since Arnaud Clement and Sebastien Grosjean in 2004.
   Americans Bethanie Mattek-Sands and CoCo Vandeweghe, playing in their maiden tournament together, defeated Julia Goerges of Germany and Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic 4-6, 6-4 [10-6] in the first BNP women's doubles final between unseeded teams since 2009.
   Mattek-Sands won her 18th tour-level doubles title, including two Slams, and Vandeweghe her first. Vandeweghe, a former Sacramento Capital in World TeamTennis, lives in the San Diego suburb of Rancho Santa Fe. The Capitals folded after their 28th season in the California capital in 2013. 

Djokovic, Nadal to renew rivalry in BNP semifinals

   On its website, the ATP bills today's semifinal between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal in the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells as an "epic battle."
   Yes, Djokovic leads Nadal 24-23 in the longest-running men's rivalry in the Open era, which began in 1968.
   And yes, they've combined to win 25 Grand Slam and seven Indian Wells singles titles.
   But Djokovic has won the last five meetings against Nadal, without losing a set, and nine of the last 10. In their last three matches, Nadal has failed to win more than three games in a set. In their last meeting, Nadal won three games total in the hardcourt final in Doha in the first week of the year.
   Djokovic, the No. 1 seed in Indian Wells, advanced to the semis with a 7-6 (2), 7-6 (2) victory over No. 7 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France on Friday. No. 4 Nadal dismissed No. 5 Kei Nishikori of Japan 6-4, 6-3.
   No. 12 seed Milos Raonic of Canada will face No. 15 David Goffin of Belgium in today's first semifinal at 11 a.m. PDT, followed by Djokovic vs. Nadal. ESPN will televise both matches.
   The 5-foot-11 (1.80-meter) Goffin is 1-0 against the 6-foot-5 (1.96-meter) Raonic, having won 6-7, 6-3, 6-4 in the quarterfinals of the Swiss Indoors in Basel in 2014.
   Meanwhile, Serena Williams reached the Indian Wells final for the first time in 15 years. The top seed, who boycotted the tournament for 14 years after a racially charged incident in 2001, improved to 10-0 against No. 3 Agnieszka Radwanska with a 6-4, 7-6 (1) triumph.
   Williams will meet No. 13 seed Victoria Azarenka on Sunday at 11 a.m. (ESPN) in a matchup of past Indian Wells champions. Williams won the title in 1999 and 2001, and Azarenka took the crown in 2012.
   Azarenka beat No. 18 Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic 7-6 (1), 1-6, 6-2 in Friday night's late semifinal.
   Williams is 17-3 with a five-match winning streak against Azarenka, a former world No. 1 who is returning to form after battling injuries.  
   No. 6 seeds Vasek Pospisil of Canada and Jack Sock of Lincoln, Neb., will try to win their second consecutive BNP doubles title when they face No. 7 seeds and reigning U.S. Open champions Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut of France today.
   Pospisil and Sock edged unseeded Spaniards Feliciano Lopez and Marc Lopez (no relation) 4-6, 6-3 [12-10]. Marc Lopez won the BNP doubles title with Nadal in 2010 and 2012.
   In today's women's doubles final, Americans Bethanie Mattek-Sands and CoCo Vandeweghe will play Julia Goerges of Germany and Pliskova. Both teams are unseeded.
   Mattek-Sands has won four Grand Slam doubles titles, two women's (with Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic last year) and two mixed (with Horia Tecau of Romania in 2012 and Mike Bryan in 2015).
   Vandeweghe and Tecau reached the Australian Open mixed doubles final in January, losing to Elena Vesnina of Russia and Bruno Soares of Brazil.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Azarenka, Pliskova breeze into BNP semifinals

   Victoria Azarenka and Karolina Pliskova made quick work of their opponents in the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Open.
   Azarenka, the No. 13 seed and 2012 champion from Belarus, blitzed unseeded Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia 6-0, 6-0 in 67 minutes on Thursday in Indian Wells.
   Rybarikova, at No. 97 the lowest-ranked BNP quarterfinalist since No. 99 Jamie Hampton in 2012, was treated for a right leg injury after the first set.
   "I think the key today was the start," Azarenka told reporters. "I really started aggressive, taking opportunities and I felt like I was in full control.
   "I think in the second set she wasn't feeling really well, but it was important for me to stay in the moment and keep dictating. It's easy to lose focus and pay too much attention to your opponent."
   Pliskova, seeded 18th, dominated unseeded Daria Kasatkina, an 18-year-old Russian, 6-3, 6-2 in 63 minutes.
   Pliskova also reached the doubles final with Julia Goerges of Germany. They will face Americans Bethanie Mattek-Sands and CoCo Vandeweghe, playing near her home in the San Diego suburb of Rancho Santa Fe. Both teams are unseeded
   In tonight's women's singles semifinals, top seed and two-time champion Serena Williams will face No. 3 Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland at 7 PDT, followed by the 6-foot (1.83-meter) Azarenka against the 6-foot-1 (1.86-meter) Pliskova. ESPN2 will televise both matches.
   Williams is 9-0 against Radwanska, and the series between Azarenka and Pliskova is tied 1-1.
   On the men's side, No. 12 seed Milos Raonic of Canada reached the BNP semifinals for the second consecutive year, and No. 15 David Goffin of Belgium advanced to his first ATP Masters 1000 semifinal.
   Raonic topped No. 13 Gael Monfils of France 7-5, 6-3, and the 5-foot-11 (1.80-meter) Goffin eliminated 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Marin Cilic of Croatia 7-6 (4), 6-2.
   Raonic, 6-foot-5 (1.96 meters), lost to Roger Federer in last year's semis after beating three-time champion Rafael Nadal in the quarters.
   Monfils was trying to become the first Frenchman to reach the semis at Indian Wells since Guy Forget lost to Jim Courier in the 1991 final.
   Goffin survived four set points in the tiebreaker against Cilic, the 2014 U.S. Open champion, and saved 11 of 12 break points.
   "It's good that in tennis you can find some solution against big players like Marin or Milos or (John) Isner,” Goffin said. “Maybe I'm quicker. I think I can take the ball earlier. I have other weapons. That's why tennis is a nice sport.
   "I'm really happy with the way I managed the important points. I think it was the key of the match, to win the first set and to be more relaxed in the second.”
   Goffin won in straight sets for the first time in his four tournament matches after receiving a first-round bye. He saved two match points against 18-year-old wild card Frances Tiafoe of the United States in the second round and edged third-seeded Stan Wawrinka 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (5) in the fourth round to end a 14-match losing streak against top-10 players.
   The other two men's semifinals are scheduled for this afternoon. No. 4 seed Nadal will meet No. 5 Kei Nishikori at noon (ESPN), followed by No. 1 Novak Djokovic against No. 7 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France (Tennis Channel).
   Djokovic has won the last two Indian Wells titles and four overall.
   In a men's doubles semifinal, No. 7 seeds and reigning U.S. Open champions Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut of France nipped eighth-seeded Edouard Roger-Vasselin of France and Nenad Zimonjic of Serbia 4-6, 6-3 [10-6].
   No. 6 seeds and defending champions Vasek Pospisil of Canada and Jack Sock of the United States are scheduled to play unseeded Feliciano Lopez and Marc Lopez of Spain today in the other semifinal.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Defending champ Halep, Wawrinka fall in BNP

   INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- Defending champion Simona Halep and No. 3 seed Stan Wawrinka exited, and No. 4 Rafael Nadal and No. 5 Kei Nishikori barely survived on a day of high drama in the BNP Paribas Open..
   Halep, seeded fifth, fell to top seed and two-time champion Serena Williams 6-4, 6-3 in Wednesday night's featured  match in 16,100-seat Stadium 1. They were scheduled to meet in last year's semifinals, but Williams withdrew minutes beforehand with a knee injury.
   Williams' older sister Venus had done the same before they were to meet in the 2001 semifinals. Fans unleashed a torrent of boos, some allegedly made racial comments, and both players boycotted the tournament for the next 14 years.
   Just as Venus had in 2001, Serena won Miami two weeks after Indian Wells last year.
   Venus returned to the BNP Paribas Open this year as the 10th seed but lost to qualifier Kurumi Nara of Japan in the second round after receiving a bye.
   After last year's withdrawal, Serena said: "It feels really good to get that win (against Halep). She obviously has been in good form the past couple years."
   Still, Williams improved to 7-1 against Halep.
   "She played really well today," said Halep, who pronounced herself healthy after she had encountered a series of physical problems this year. "I have to get better to be closer to her."
   Wawrinka, a two-time Grand Slam singles champion, lost to 15th-seeded David Goffin of Belgium 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (5). Wawrinka nearly pulled off an amazing comeback after trailing 6-3, 4-0 and then 5-2 in the third set.
   Wawrinka led 4-2 in the tiebreaker, but Goffin won the next three points. At 5-5, Wawrinka sailed a putaway overhead at the net way long. On the next point, he netted a forehand off a running cross-court forehand by Goffin to end the match after 2 hours, 25 minutes in 90-degree heat.
   "Well, not too great a day, not too great a level," lamented Wawrinka, who applauded the crowd and signed a couple of autographs on his way out of 8,000-seat Stadium 2. "I didn't have the rhythm yet. Was a match without a brain, let's put it that way."  
   The fourth-ranked Wawrinka had not lost a set to the 5-foot-11 (1.80-meter), 150-pound (68-kilogram) Goffin in their three previous matches, although they had played four tiebreakers (all won by Wawrinka).
   Goffin, who saved two match points in his second-round victory over 18-year-old wild card Frances Tiafoe of the United States, reached his second ATP Masters 1000 quarterfinal and first on hardcourts. He also advanced to the Rome quarters on clay last year.
   Goffin, ranked 18th, had been 1-25 against top-10 players with a 14-match losing streak against them. He beat then-No. 9 Milos Raonic in the Basel quarterfinals in 2014.
   Both Nadal and Nishikori saved match points in their victories.
   Nadal, who has won three singles and two doubles titles at Indian Wells, held off 18-year-old Alexander Zverev 6-7 (8), 6-0, 7-5 in 2 hours, 34 minutes in Stadium 1.
   Nadal trailed 5-2 in the third set against the 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) German, whom the Spanish star has touted as a future No. 1. Zverev netted a putaway forehand volley while serving at 5-3, 40-30.
   "I missed probably the easiest shot I had the whole match," Zverev moaned.
   Showing his inexperience, Zverev fell apart after that, dropping 14 of the next 15 points for the match. Nadal, though, displayed his trademark tenacity.
   "Is a great victory," crowed Nadal, who has slumped since winning the 2014 French Open for his 14th Grand Slam singles title (tied for second all-time with Pete Sampras behind Roger Federer's 17). "I'm very happy about it. I am especially happy about the mentality on court, the spirit of fight during the whole match, believing that I can win a match during the whole time even in the tougher situations."
   Nishikori, 5-foot-10 (1.78-meters), withstood 23 aces by 6-foot-10 (2.08-meter) John Isner to prevail 1-6, 7-6 (2), 7-6 (5). Nishikori, who escaped a match point at 5-6 in the third set, reached the Indian Wells quarterfinals for the first time in eight appearances.
   Isner upset world No. 1 Novak Djokovic to reach the 2012 final, in which he lost to Federer. The Swiss star missed this year's tournament while recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery.
   Djokovic, who has won the last two Indian Wells titles and four overall, and Nadal are the only remaining past men's champions. Both are in the top half of the draw. The top-seeded Djokovic will meet No. 7 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and Nadal will face Nishikori.
   The bottom half will produce a first-time Indian Wells finalist. No. 10 Marin Cilic will play Goffin, and No. 8 Gael Monfils will take on No. 12 Raonic.
   Serena Williams will play third-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska, the runner-up to Flavia Pennetta in 2014, in one semifinal. Radwanska will rise one notch to No. 2, tying her career high, after beating eighth-seeded Petra Kvitova 6-2, 7-6 (3) on Wednesday.
   The other semifinal will be determined today. No. 13 seed Victoria Azarenka, the 2012 champion, will meet unseeded Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia, and No. 18 Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic will face unseeded 18-year-old Daria Kasatkina.
   In the men's doubles quarterfinals, No. 8 seeds Edouard Roger-Vasselin of France and Nenad Zimonjic of Serbia edged No. 3 Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan 4-6, 6-1 [14-12]. The Bryans, who starred at Stanford in the late 1990s, won the Indian Wells title in 2013 and 2014.
   Roger-Vasselin is the baby of the group at 32. Zimonjic will turn 40 in June, and the Bryans will be 38 next month. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Beleaguered Nadal avenges Australian Open loss

Rafael Nadal has vehemently denied a doping allegation
against him. File photo by Paul Bauman
   INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- Rafael Nadal doesn't need any extra motivation.
   He treats every match as if it was his last. The same goes for practice.
   Still, Nadal had plenty of incentive today in the BNP Paribas Open. The 29-year-old star recently was accused of doping, and he was facing a player who ousted him in the first round of the Australian Open in January.
   It added up to a 6-0, 7-6 (9) victory by Nadal, the fourth seed and three-time champion at Indian Wells, over fellow Spanish left-hander Fernando Verdasco in the third round. Nadal saved five set points in the second-set tiebreaker.
   The 32-year-old Verdasco, who reached a career-high No. 7 in the world in 2009 and won the now-defunct SAP Open in 2010 in San Jose, knocked off Nadal 7-6 (6), 4-6, 3-6, 7-6 (4), 6-2 in a 4-hour, 41-minute baseline battle in Melbourne.
   "I lost matches similar to this one in Australia, in Bueno Aires, in Rio de Janeiro, so it's important winning sets like this for me,” Nadal said. “I feel lucky to win the tiebreak, and at the same time I think at the end of the tiebreak I played well with not many mistakes and going for the points.
   “So it is an important victory for me. Two match wins here, tough ones. That's something that stays in my mind and helps.”
   Nadal is trying to regain his confidence amid a prolonged slump. He has lost in the third round or earlier in his past three Grand Slam tournaments, and the last of his 14 Grand Slam singles titles (tied for second all-time with Pete Sampras behind Roger Federer's 17) came in the 2014 French Open.
   In the wake of Maria Sharapova's positive drug test, former French Minister for Health and Sport Roselyne Bachelot last week leveled a doping charge against Nadal.
   "We know that Nadal's famous seven-month injury (layoff in 2012) was without a doubt due to a positive drug test," Bachelot said on French television. "When you see a tennis player who stops playing for (many) months, it is because he has tested positive and because they are covering it up. It is not something that always happens, but yes, it happens more than you think."
   Nadal has heard similar allegations before.
   "You know what? I heard a few times again about the doping, and I'm a little bit tired of that," responded Nadal, who this week vowed to sue Bachelot. "I am a completely clean guy. I work so much during all my career, and when I get an injury, I get an injury.
   "And (I) never had no temptation of doing something wrong. I believe in the sport and in the values of the sport. It is an example for the kids. If I am doing something that goes against that, I will be lying to myself, not to my opponents."
   Nadal will face 18-year-old Alexander Zverev, a 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) German, for the first time on Wednesday for a quarterfinal berth. Zverev, ranked 58th, dismantled Frenchman Gilles Simon, seeded 16th and ranked 19th, 6-2, 6-2 in 67 minutes.     
   “He’s a clear possible future No. 1,” Nadal said. “He’s an amazing player. He has all the shots and very good physical performance. He’s tall, has a good serve – first and second – great shots from the baseline, forehand and backhand.
   “He has everything to become a big star, and he’s playing well. He already won matches against (Grigor) Dimitrov and Simon (this week). I know it’s going to be a very tough match. I’m happy the way I played today in the first set, so if I can keep going the same way tomorrow, I hope to have my chances.”
   Top seed and two-time defending champion Novak Djokovic also advanced, beating 27th-seeded Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany 7-5, 7-5. 
   It was a rough day for players with Northern California ties, though.
   No. 31 seed Sam Querrey, a San Francisco native living in the Los Angeles suburb of Santa Monica, lost to No. 7 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France 6-3, 6-4.   
   Qualifier Nicole Gibbs, who turned pro in 2013 after a stellar three years at Stanford, fell to No. 8 seed and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. It was the first time Gibbs, 23, has won a set in her three matches against Kvitova.
   In an all-American doubles quarterfinal, No. 8 seeds Raquel Atawo (formerly Kops-Jones) of San Jose and Abigail Spears of Colorado Springs, Colo., bowed out to unseeded Bethanie Mattek-Sands and CoCo Vandeweghe 7-5, 6-1.
   Kvitova will play No. 3 seed Agnieszka Radwanska in the singles quarterfinals. The other matchups are No. 1 Serena Williams vs. No. 5 and defending champion Simona Halep, No. 13 Victoria Azarenka against unseeded Magdalena Rybarikova and No. 18 Karolina Pliskova vs. unseeded 18-year-old Daria Kasatkina.
   Williams withdrew from her scheduled semifinal against Halep in last year's BNP Paribas Open with a knee injury.

Delbonis shocks Murray at Indian Wells

Second-seeded Andy Murray said he has never played
his best at Indian Wells. File photo by Paul Bauman
   Difficult conditions, a tricky opponent and perhaps physical and mental fatigue were too much for Andy Murray to overcome on Monday.
   Seeded second in the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, Murray lost to Federico Delbonis of Argentina 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (3) in the third round during the day session in 16,100-seat Stadium 1.
   Murray had 44 unforced errors, 25 winners and no aces in the 2-hour, 46-minute match. Still, he led 4-2 in the third set and 2-0 in the tiebreaker before Delbonis won seven of the last eight points.   
   “The conditions here, I have just struggled with throughout my career," Murray, citing wind and high-bouncing balls, told reporters. "I have never really felt that I played my best tennis here."
   Murray has had mixed results at Indian Wells. He has reached one final (2009), two semifinals (2007 and last year) and two quarterfinals (2010 and 2013). But he also has lost in the second round three times (2006 in his first appearance, 2011 and 2012) in addition to his early exit this year.
   Delbonis, a 6-foot-3 (1.91-meter) left-hander, is ranked 53rd. He defeated Roger Federer on clay in the 2013 Hamburg semifinals in their only meeting. 
   Murray has had an emotional past few weeks. In his first event since becoming a father on Feb. 7, he led defending champion Great Britain to a 3-1 victory over Kei Nishikori and Japan in Birmingham, England, on March 4-6 in the first round of the Davis Cup.
   Delbonis will play No. 13 seed Gael Monfils of France on Wednesday for a quarterfinal berth.
   In the second round of men's doubles, third-seeded Bob and Mike Bryan coasted past Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain and Viktor Troicki of Serbia 6-2, 6-2. The Bryan twins, who starred at Stanford in the late 1990s, won the Indian Wells title in 2013 and 2014.
   Meanwhile, Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia ousted No. 7 seed Belinda Bencic of Switzerland 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, and No. 18 Karolina Pliskova whipped No. 14 Ana Ivanovic, the 2008 champion and 2009 runner-up at Indian Wells, 6-2, 6-0 in 49 minutes.
   Pliskova reached the final of the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford in August, losing to Angelique Kerber of Germany. Kerber stunned Serena Williams in the Australian Open in January for her first Grand Slam title.
   Americans Bethanie Mattek-Sands and CoCo Vandeweghe knocked off No. 2 seeds Hao-Ching Chan and Yung-Jan Chan of Taiwan 7-6 (3), 6-3 to reach the doubles quarterfinals. 

Monday, March 14, 2016

Qualifier Gibbs gains fourth round at Indian Wells

Ex-Stanford star Nicole Gibbs, beating No. 23 seed Madison Keys on Friday,
dispatched Yaroslava Shvedova 6-0, 6-4 on Sunday in the third round of the
BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells. Photo by Mal Taam/www.malt.photo
   Working with a new coach has worked wonders for Nicole Gibbs.
   The 23-year-old qualifier and former Stanford star dispatched Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan 6-0, 6-4 on Sunday in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells.
   Gibbs improved to 17-4, including qualifying matches, this year. She has lost only 11 games in the tournament, winning two sets at love.
   In Gibbs' only previous appearance in the BNP Paribas Open, she lost in the first round last year as a wild card. Roger Smith has tutored Gibbs since the U.S. Open.
   "He's helping me to see the game differently," the 5-foot-6 (1.68 meters) Gibbs, who stunned No. 23 seed Madison Keys on Friday, said on bnpparibasopen.com. "I'm not crediting myself with that. He just knows the game so well. Sees it so well. Gives me unbelievable game plans. We have just been working really hard on making me more of an all-court player and a little bit less defensive."
   But Smith offers more than strategy.
   "We make a good team," added Gibbs, who will soar from No. 95 to a career high of at least No. 75 after Indian Wells. "He's a really supportive person, just really, really positive. He kind of complements my personality really well. We get along really well, which hasn't always been the case with my coaches in the past. I can be really stubborn. I can be a little difficult sometimes. He's been really great in that sense."
   Gibbs, who won three two NCAA singles titles and one in doubles in her three seasons at Stanford (2011-13), will play eighth-seeded Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic on Tuesday for a quarterfinal berth.
   Kvitova, a 6-foot (1.82-meter) left-hander and two-time Wimbledon singles champion, defeated Gibbs in straight sets in both of their previous meetings. Most recently, Kvitova won 6-3, 6-4 in the second round of last year's U.S. Open.
   "I do feel like I've gotten to see what her level is like," said Gibbs, who reached the third round of the 2014 U.S. Open. "Both matches have definitely been in her favor but competitive, so I'm just looking to hopefully get a read on her serving early in the match. Let's see if I can make it into a slightly better match this time around."
   On the men's side, No. 31 seed and San Francisco native Sam Querrey beat Thiemo De Bakker of the Netherlands 7-6 (5), 6-4 in the second round.
   Querrey has won one title (Delray Beach) and reached two semifinals in his last three tournaments. He'll take on seventh-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France on Tuesday.
   Tsonga is 3-1 against Querrey, including a 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-7 (4), 6-3, 14-12 victory in the second round at Wimbledon in 2014.
   In a matchup of Aptos (Calif.) Challenger champions, No. 30 seed Steve Johnson  (2012) of Redondo Beach in the Los Angeles area defeated John Millman (2015) of Australia 6-4, 6-2.
   Meanwhile, the top seeds in men's and women's doubles lost.
   Jean-Julien Rojer of the Netherlands and Horia Tecau of Romania fell to Lukasz Kubot and Marcin Matkowski of Poland 7-6 (6), 3-6 [10-6] in the first round.
   Defending champions Martina Hingis of Switzerland and Sania Mirza of India exited against Vania King, a former Sacramento Capital in World TeamTennis from Long Beach, and Alla Kudryavtseva of Russia 7-6 (7), 6-4.
   Also losing were No. 2 men's seeds Ivan Dodig of Croatia and Marcelo Melo of Brazil to Juan Martin Del Potro and Leonardo Mayer, both of Argentina, 6-3, 6-2.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Czech bounces No. 2 seed Kerber at Indian Wells

Third-seeded Bob and Mike Bryan celebrate with their trademark chest bump
after edging Rafael Nadal and Fernando Verdasco on Saturday in the first round
of doubles in the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells. Mal Taam/www.malt.photo
   Angelique Kerber, it appears, is still reveling in her stunning Australian Open title.
   Seeded second, the 28-year-old German left-hander lost to Denisa Allertova of the Czech Republic 7-5, 7-5 on Saturday in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells.
   Kerber, who received a first-round bye, is 1-3 since shocking Serena Williams in the Australian Open final on Jan. 30 for her first Grand Slam title. She also won the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford last August.
Angelique Kerber
2014 photo by Paul Bauman
   The 23-year-old Allertova, ranked 64th, recorded her second victory over a top-5 player. She ousted then-No. 2 Simona Halep in the quarterfinals at Guangzhou en route to the final, in which she lost to Jelena Jankovic 6-2, 6-0, last September.  
   One day after nine women seeded between No. 10 and No. 29 lost, three of the top six exited. No. 4 Garbine Muguruza of Spain fell to Christina McHale of Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 7-5, 6-1, and No. 6 Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain pulled out with a right ankle injury.
   Meanwhile, eighth-seeded Raquel Atawo (formerly Kops-Jones) of San Jose and Abigail Spears of Colorado Springs, Colo., reached the doubles quarterfinals with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over wild cards Allertova and Petra Kvitova, also from the Czech Republic.
   In the second round of men's singles, No. 15 seed David Goffin of Belgium edged Frances Tiafoe, an 18-year-old wild card from the Washington, D.C., suburb of Hyattsville, Md., 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (2).
   Tiafoe reached the semifinals of the $50,000 Fairfield, Calif., Challenger last October.
   No. 3 doubles seeds and former Stanford stars Bob and Mike Bryan nipped Spanish left-handers Rafael Nadal and Fernando Verdasco 3-6, 7-5 [10-8] in the opening round in front of more than 6,000 fans in 8,000-seat Stadium 2.
   The Bryan twins won the title in 2013 and 2014, and Nadal teamed with countryman Marc Lopez for the 2010 and 2012 crowns.   

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Venus stunned in return; Gibbs upsets Keys

Venus Williams, playing in the 2014 Bank of the West Classic
at Stanford, lost to qualifier Kurumi Nara on Friday in the sec-
ond round in Indian Wells. It was Williams' first appearance
in the tournament in 15 years. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Venus Williams' long-awaited return to Indian Wells lasted one match.
   Playing in the prestigious tournament for the first time in 15 years, the 10th-seeded Williams suffered a stunning 6-4, 6-3 loss to qualifier Kurumi Nara of Japan on Friday in the second round. All seeds in the BNP Paribas Open received first-round byes.
   Williams, who at 6-foot-1 (1.85 meters) is one foot (30.5 centi- meters) taller than Nara, took her loss in stride.
   "It was enough of a fairy tale to come here and play," Williams, 35, told reporters. "A win would have been nice, but that means I have to come back and play next year. I would definitely love to come back."
   Williams' younger sister, Serena, returned to Indian Wells last year for the first time since a racially charged incident involving both in 2001.
   Serena, seeded No. 1 this year, dismissed qualifier Laura Siegemund of Germany 6-2, 6-1 in 63 minutes.
   Venus Williams was the highest of nine women's singles seeds to lose Friday. No. 23 Madison Keys, a semifinalist in the 2015 Australian Open at 19 years old, fell to qualifier Nicole Gibbs of Marina del Rey in the Los Angeles area.
   It was Keys' first match since she suffered a left leg injury in a fourth-round loss to Zhang Shuai in the Australian Open in January.
   Gibbs, a 23-year-old ex-Stanford All-American, will face unseeded Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan on Sunday in the third round. Shvedova beat 11th-seeded Lucie Safarova, last year's French Open runner-up to Serena Williams, 6-3, 6-4.
   Safarova was playing in only her second match since October after battling a bacterial infection.
   On the men's side, wild card Mackenzie McDonald, a UCLA junior from Piedmont in the San Francisco Bay Area, lost to qualifier Vincent Millot of France 6-1, 6-3 in the first round.
   In the opening round of men's doubles, Steve Johnson of Redondo Beach in the Los Angeles region and San Francisco native Sam Querrey fell to Frenchmen Jeremy Chardy and Fabrice Martin 6-4, 6-3.
   Johnson and Querrey reached the semifinals of the U.S. Open last September, shocking top-seeded Bob and Mike Bryan in the first round.