Sunday, March 22, 2015

Move over, Nicole Kidman

Simona Halep is the new Queen of the Desert. Her coronation, however, was a shaky, exhausting affair. Halep won the 2015 BNP Paribas Open title by defeating Jelena Jankovic 2-6, 7-5, 6-4. It's the 3rd seed's biggest title ever, but she won it by playing some of her most uninspiring tennis. Her victory, however, puts her in the number 1 spot on the Road To Singapore.

Halep looked sluggish and flummoxed by Jankovic in the first set, when the 18th seed was forcing her to go for shots that resulted in repeated errors. Jankovic took that set with ease, all the time hitting a barrage of beautiful overheads that gained her point after point. In the second set, Jankovic was up a break on three different occasions, and served for the match at 5-4.

But Halep wouldn't let go, and won the set 7-5. By this time, Jankovic had resorted to the version of herself that mutters and complains and nitpicks at whatever is handy. The final set began with steady play from both opponents, but then turned into a series of service breaks. Halep finally held for 5-3, but was broken--not at all surprisingly--when she served for the match. But she broke back for the victory when Jankovic collapsed, double-faulting on match point.

It was a final and JJ was in it, so of course, there was so much more going on. Chip Brooks was the Serb's coach for the match, and their conversations were something to cringe over. Halep had to take a medical timeout because of a problem with her foot. The chair umpire got mixed up and called a double fault after a first serve. Halep's coach refused to go through with his interview with Pam Shriver when he discovered that--oh my goodness!--there was a microphone involved.

Not many things went right, as Jankovician chaos reigned over the proceedings. However, I should also point out that Jankovician cheer reigned over the trophy ceremony, as JJ explained that she and Simona were "running like dogs," and that she was grateful to the physios for doing her hair.

Of course, the twists and turns started before the match even began, with world number 1 Serena Williams having to withdraw from her semifinal against Halep. Williams, who had not played in Indian Wells in 14 years, was forced to withdraw because of a right knee injury. The top seed herself made the announcement to the crowd at the conclusion of the Jankovic-Lisicki semifinal.

Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza, playing together for the first time, won the doubles title. Hingis and the Forehand of Fire upset 2nd seeds Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina 6-3, 6-4. The champions didn't drop a set throughout their stay in Indian Wells. The pairing of Hingis and Mirza had the look of success before they even took to the court, and with a start like this, one can only imagine what's next for them.

The news about Serena dominated, but there was other big news: Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci announced that they have split. We should probably never be shocked by the dissolution of any doubles team, but it was hard not to be stunned by this announcement. Errani and Vinci comprise the number 1 doubles team in the world, and they've ended the past three years with that ranking. In their official statement, the Italians--who are also best friends--had this to say: 

"We invested lots of energy, both mental and physical, to achieve our goals, which we are very proud of, therefore we now feel the need to rest and catch our breath.

"It's our common purpose to start new individual career paths and set brand new goals to try to reach, also for you to enjoy and take pride in."


Unknown said...

A nice write up. I always enjoy your unique perspective and writing style :)

It is sad that Errani and Vinci have ended their partnership. Any idea if they will continue playing doubles or not?

Sabey said...

I am so pleased for Simona. This was a must win for her and I think that winning it while not playing her best tennis will be an even bigger confidence boost.
Like you I am really surprised by the breakup of Vinci and Errani and not surprised by what a great team Mirza and Hingis are.

Diane said...

Thanks, Omair!

My best guess is that Errani and Vinci will continue to play doubles, though I haven't heard any news (or rumors) yet. If one of them were to stop playing doubles, it seems that would be Errani, since her singles career is in better shape than Vinci's.

You're righht, Sabey--winning I.W. while playing at a not-too-hot level should really help Simona. Maybe it will be a turning point. I feel bad for JJ, though. She was so close.