Thursday, March 15, 2012

Ivanovic and Sharapova advance to Indian Wells semifinals

15th seed Ana Ivanovic beat 7th seed Marion Bartoli in 6-3, 6-4 today at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. I wasn't able to watch it all, but it was obvious that Ivanovic's serve was really working, and it was also obvious that Bartoli wasn't feeling too well. The illness at this tournament has, unfortunately, been a major part of the narrative.

I was around long enough to get an earful of sexism from Ivanovic's coach, Nigel Sears, who suggested she "wear the pants" because "you like to wear the pants." Commentators on Tennis Channel thought it was funny; I don't find anything amusing at all about the assumption that taking charge is a male quality.

In the second of today's quarterfinal matches, Maria Sharapova defeated Maria Kirilenko, but only after they played for over three hours and five minutes, and broke each other twelve times. For quite a while, Sharapova played into Kirilenko's fondess of hitting sharp forehands up the line. Eventually, Kirilenko fell apart. She put herself  back together toward the end of the match, but it was too little, too late; Sharapova won 3-6, 7-5, 6-2.

There was some drama in this match. Ever since the 2011 U.S. Open final, chair umpires appear to have discovered the hindrance rule. Kirilenko broke it by cracking her racquet on the court three times to propel herself on--only she did it during a point. It didn't seem (to me) like a conscious hindrance, but it was not an appropriate thing to do. The umpire called it, and then proceeded to just chew Kirilenko out. Kirilenko had to serve after that, and she had a surprisingly good hold.

This was a cranky umpire. She got testy with Sharapova over the Spidercam, then was unpleasant again with Kirilenko over a coaching request. And then there was the fact that Kirilenko virtually disappeared after the second set, which probably didn't do much to endear the chair umpire to her.

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