Indian Wells, California — The biggest names in tennis took to the courts in the doubles draw at the BNP Paribas Open.
Rafael Nadal of Spain teamed up with countryman Marc Lopez for the second match of the day on Stadium Court 1. Roger Federer took to the courts with fellow Swiss player, Stanislas Wawrinka while Scotland’s Andy Murray once again partnered with his brother, Jamie Murray.
Nadal and Lopez are the defending champions here and they showed why with a tough 7-6 (5), 7-6 (2) win over the all Polish team of Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski.
Nadal showed great hands at net, successfully fending off fast reflex volleys throughout the match. Fyrstenberg and Matkowski played a more traditional style of doubles and controlled the net well when playing two-up. However, Nadal’s groundstrokes separated him from the rest as he hit blistering passing shots Fyrstenberg and Matkowski had no answer for. Nadal’s partner, Lopez, took note and upped the pace of his forehand in the second set, racking up some impressive winners of his own.
The team of Federer and Wawrinka look almost unstoppable, even against a team of proven doubles veterans like Max (the Beast from the East) Mirnyi and Daniel Nestor. The Swiss pair rolled through both sets with a convincing 6-1, 6-2 win.
Federer’s serve gave Mirnyi and Nestor trouble, while Wawrinka continued to show the same impressive serve and volley form he displayed on occasion during his run to the semifinals of this year’s Australian Open.
Day turned to night while the Murray brothers battled it out on Stadium Court 2 against the Brazilian team of Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares. The Scott’s got off to a strong start, taking the first set 7-5. The Brazilian’s stepped up their level in the second set and closed it out 6-3. As the match progressed to the deciding tiebreak, the two teams battled closely until the score reached 5-5. It was then that the Murray’s put together a string of points and pulled out an insurmountable lead, finally closing out the breaker 10-6.
Serbia’s Novak Djokovic and Viktor Troicki also got off to a successful start in doubles with a 6-3, 7-5 win over the Argentinean team of Juan Ignacio Chela and Juan Monaco.
With so many big names in the doubles draw, it was great to see the stands packed again for doubles matches. For the players, it is a chance for them to secure a solid ranking with a fellow countryman in order to qualify for the 2012 Olympics in London, England.
Wimbledon is just around the corner (June 22) and here at Tennis Warehouse, we are getting in the mood by making picks on who’s going to be the last one standing. The office mates make 2 picks, their favorite and a dark horse. So, what’s at stake here? A trophy? Money? No, what’s a stake is more valuable than all of that, it is intangible and priceless: pride and office bragging rights. (Maybe a beer or two)
The rules are simple: pick 2 players, a favorite and a dark horse. The dark horse needs to be seeded out of the top 10. As I reveal each pick, I will share with you my thoughts on the player and give odds on them winning the championship. (Note: these odds are completely made up in my head; there is absolutely no scientific research behind this. Zip. Zero. None.)
Fav: Novak Djokovic. I think he has a damn good shot at winning. He has all the shots and he moves well. Plus, since it’s in England, heat shouldn’t be an issue. Odds: 8-1
DH: Mardy Fish. Made it to the QF at the Queens Club, so that’s a plus. But he gets minus points for beating my dark horse earlier this year. Odds: 93-1
Fav: Juan Martin Del Potro. A big man with a big game. He’s the youngest player in the top 10, so he’s got age on his side. Odds: 11-1
DH: Ivan Lubijic. The man speaks 3 languages: Croatian, Italian and English. Odds: 95-1
Fav: Andy Murray. Coming off a win at the Queens Club, this guy is hot. The switch to the Head Youtek Radical racquet might just give him the advantage he needs. Odds: 9-1
DH: Marin Cilic. He claims grass is one of his favorite surfaces, lucky for him, Wimbledon is on grass! Odds: 84-1
Fav: Rafael Nadal. Sure he has tendonitis in both knees, but after watching that epic Finals match in 2008, I’m not putting anything past him. He’s gotta be hungry after that French Open loss. Odds: 1-2 (Come on, he’s my pick, I had to give him the best odds)
DH: James Blake. OK, so I don’t really think he can win this, but he’s my favorite player. Big forehand, speed, shot making ability BUT so frustrating to watch. Odds: 90-1
Fav: Roger Federer. What grace, what elegance. Fred Astaire with a racquet. This guy’s not bad at tennis, huh? Odds: 4-1
DH: Tommy Robredo. Off to a great start in ’09 (32-11), but most of that was on clay. Let’s see what he can do on the lawn. Odds: 124-1
Next time, I’ll unveil the women’s picks. Here’s a small hint at my pick; it’s Venus Williams.