Today I went to the Sony Open in Key Biscayne, FL (near Miami) for the first time. This is a Masters ATP 1000 and a Premier Mandatory (or something to that effect) for the WTA. In other words, all the top players are there just like at a slam but the men only play 2 out of 3 sets and there’s no mixed doubles or junior ITF tournament.
Today 2nd round matches were played. It’s a great day to go because all the seeds are starting to play and there are matches everywhere on the grounds. I went with a tennis buddy, Vesna. We are both huge Roger Federer fans so after we practiced yesterday made a last second decision to go see him and it was worth it.
Federer played around 2pm…the women’s match preceding his match between Vinci and Barbara Zahlova-Strykova went nearly 3 hours (Z-S won 75 in the third against a struggling Vinci). Federer played Ivo Karlovic who is abotu 6’10”, about Isner’s height. Federer won the toss and elected to receive and for some reason Karlovic chose to serve on the sunny side the first game…and was broken on his only double fault of the match. That was pretty much the set, as Fed only lost one point on serve the rest of the set! He really looked sharp and was ready to pounce on any opportunity. A lot of serves though went unreturned, that’s what happens when your tall opponent is getting in a high percentage of first serves and is serving out of a tree. Fed’s backhand pass down the line was particularly impressive. It’s not easy to pass a guy with Ivo’s wingspan but he did it repeatedly. The second set Fed had one chance, up 40-15 at about 4-4, but Karlovic hit some good serves and volleys and the set went to a tiebreak which Fed won 74. He ended the match winning all but 3 points on his serve! Then, at the interview stage there was a video of fans (mostly femaie) telling Fed how much they’d missed him last year when he skipped this event (the boys said they loved his backhand, the women how much they loved him!). It was cute but Fed was caught off guard and said he wasn’t retiring any time soon.
We headed off to see other matches after that one…saw a bit of Dimitrov…does look a lot like Fed in the way he hits the ball but is less intense and more erratic. Before we went to see Fed we looked in on Bouchard/Svitolina and Bouchard was well in control when we left and did win the first set 62 but lost the next two sets. She seemed to be off on her serve but otherwise looked pretty good, though she won some hard fought, close games to win that set…had she lost them the set could have gone another way.
We also saw both Wawrinka and Nadal practicing when we first arrived, around 11; later on we saw Lisiki and HIngis practicing for their doubles (it worked, they won) and saw Raonic and Berdych practicing (Berdych let loose with a fantastic, shoe skidding running forehand pass that drew a big cheer from the crowd) and saw Hewitt. I also saw McHale and Keys practicing; McHale lost 76 76 to Kanepi while Keys beat Hantuchova 2,4.
We peeked in on Sock/Harrison in doubles; they were playing another American wild card team and were down 41 when we left and it was pretty dull doubles, no one could return serve, but Sock/Harrison won 75 64. They looked like they thought they would walk all over the other team but Harrison in particular was struggling on return and at the net. Sock is really a good volleyer though.
Nick Bolletari was there signing his autobiography.
It was extremely warm in the afternoon. I think it feels hotter watching than playing.