How they must suffer.
According to Tennis Channel commentator Mary Carillo, the fans were dreading a three-set match between Maria Sharapova and Lucie Safarova because they just wanted to see Nadal. If this is true, then the WTA has a real P.R. problem. If it isn't true but is the perception of someone in a major tennis media outlet, then the WTA has a real P.R. problem. You know, the kind that can't be airbrushed.
On a lighter note, Carillo cracked me up when she performed a Gabriela Sabatini "press conference moment" (you had to have heard this to appreciate it). It's true: Sabatini was very aware of her own fragility and didn't mind talking about it.
The match did go three sets, with Sharapova winning 6-4, 6-7, 6-2. It took her nine match points and almost three hours, partly because, toward the end, Safarova went all Pennetta on her and started whacking incredible winners to save match points. I got the feeling, after she survived Safarova, that Sharapova's spirits lifted in a way that could help propel her into her sixth Miami final. Before that can happen, though, she'll have some work to do.
The big news today, as far as I'm concerned, was that the top doubles seeds, Hsieh Su-Wei and Peng Shuai, and Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci, went out in the first round of play. Hsieh and Peng lost to Kimiko Date-Krumm and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, and Errani and Vinci lost to wild cards Garbine Muguruza and Carla Suarez Navarro. What a score, too: 7-6(7), 1-6, 12-10.
For most people, the big news was probably that Serena Williams had to go three sets against Caroline Garcia. Garcia, once she got herself going, struck the ball very well from the ground and didn't seem to mind who was on the other side of the net. Williams continued to look out of sorts, for lack of a better term. After the match, Rennae Stubbs said to her, "Tell me one thing that was good about that match for you." Williams replied: "Nothing."
Serena Williams just hasn't been herself lately. And when she isn't herself, the first thing to go is her footwork. Her next opponent is likely to be Sam Stosur, and things could get tricky for her, since Stosur doesn't mind hitting body serves and applying heavy topspin.
Garcia, by the way, has entered the qualifying event in Charleston.
Angelique Kerber made quick work of Tsvetana Pironkova, Ana Ivanovic beat Indian Wells champion Flavia Pennetta in straight sets, Ekaterina Makarova defeated Sara Errani (which means that Errani and Vinci are out of both events), and Petra Kvitova beat Donna Vekic--in straight sets. Kirsten Flipkens got a walkover from Sabine Lisicki, who is ill with flu. Flipkens' next challenge will be to play Sharapova.