So after coming back from my much-needed weekend away to attend a family function (Happy 80th Birthday Grandma!) and grab a break, I came back to some surprising and unsurprising results from Indian Wells. So what the hell does it all mean?
1. Rafa is virtually untouchable right now - The Mallorcan Matador added another title to his already hefty resume crushing Andy Murray 6-1, 6-2 for his 13th Masters 1000 crown, putting him one behind Roger Federer and four behind all-time leader Andre Agassi. He now holds a 21-2 record this season with his only losses coming to Gael Monfils + Andy. Can he put a stamp on March Madness and win the Indian Wells-Miami double for the first time?
2. Roger Federer is much further away from the top-ranking than he's ever been - The Swiss stylist lost to Andy for a fourth consecutive time since defeating the Brit baller at Flushing Meadows last year and we won't even go into his lopsided record against Rafa. Inevitably the 13-time Grand Slammer will run into one or both of these two ballers in any draw he enters. And, the word is out on how to beat Fed: get to his backhand and suffocate it. Oh, and don't worry about getting that first serve in because he won't attack the second.
3. Andy is much closer to the top-ranking than anyone else right now - It was his first tourney since recovering from illness and he still beat Fed and made the final. And, even though he was brushed aside in the final by Rafa it was a great result. He's def moving in the right direction, and with his game and mental strength growing by leaps and bounds every week he'll just be that much tougher to beat.
4. Novak Djokovic is faltering while Andy Roddick is rising - By going down in the quarterfinals to A-Rod, Nole lost out on another chance to defend a title this year after losing his Aussie Open crown in January in defeat to his American. The Serb's mental game is on the fritz and he's struggling to handle the pressure right now. A-Rod, on the other hand, is benefitting from coach Larry Stefanki's presence and is looking more like a top baller than Nole. His back hand looks solid and he's returning better than he ever has in his career. But can he take that next step and win a big final? That remains to be seen.
5. The second tier of boys are still pretenders - Gilles Simon, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Juan Martin del Potro, and Gael Monfils have some SERIOUS work to do. Get thee to the practice courts stat.
2. Ana is close to getting back on track - The former No.1 made her first final since Linz last October and seems to be benefitting from her partnership with new coach Craig Kardon. Ana's never done particularly well in Miami (best result = quarterfinals '05) so the expectations aren't high. Nevertheless, Ana is on her way to finding her best form and if she posts a big result in Miami, look for her to enter the clay season on fire.
3. Beware The Teen Queens - Victoria Azarenka, Caroline Wozniacki, and Anastasia Paylyuchenkova impressed in the desert and will only get better.
4. Jelena Jankovic + Dinara Safina need a break - With her game in tatters and mamma Snezana apparently dealing with health issues, JJ would be wise to pull back right now. The slidin' Serb plays her best when she's having fun on court but she hasn't been for a while now as evidenced by the MIA smile (and dare I say glitter.) As I've said before, the WTA Tour will be here when she gets back but it needs JJ to be in good shape. As for Dinara, her struggles have continued and her confidence seems to be waning. After winning a tough first set against Vika, she disappeared during the last two sets of their quarterfinal match without much resistance. These tough losses will only hurt that fragile mind even more. Step away.
5. The Williams sisters add the real drama to any ladies' draws at the moment - Without V or ReRe at Indian Wells, the ladies' draw was lukewarm at best and unbearable at worst. Kudos to Vera for winning the whole thing, but does anyone think she would've won if either sister had been there? No chance.
2. Thank GOD for online streaming!
(images via Getty)