Our weekly guide to who’s hot and who’s not in tennis.
Remember those gluten-filled days when Djokovic could hardly function in the heat? There were moments during the Miami final when everyone was transported back to what we might call the Bread and Pizza Age. Djokovic was puffing, breathing hard, really looking as though he was feeling the conditions in south Florida. But that was only between points. When the points were being played, there was not much wrong with how he was moving, or striking the tennis ball. He won a very lop-sided first set against Andy Murray – 6-1 – and then a tiebreak. So the first three months of Djokovic’s season haven’t been as spectacular as this stretch was last year – he was beaten in the semi-finals of Dubai and Indian Wells – but they were never going to be. Now for the clay.
For a long time, the cheap shot at Radwanska has been that she is a budget version of Martina Hingis. With her victory over Maria Sharapova in the Miami final, Radwanska suddenly looks that bit more deluxe (though no one is about to suggest that the girl from Krakow is getting close to the Swiss’s achievements). What’s been the difference this year? Perhaps that her father, who used to travel with her as her coach, was only in Miami as “a tourist” (they still work together when she’s at home in Poland, but outside her home country, she is coached by someone outside the family).
She has only lost to one opponent this season – four times to Victoria Azarenka. Her victory would have been that bit sweeter if she had beaten Azarenka in the final. And what of Maria? Sharapova has played in three most important finals this season – the Australian Open, Indian Wells and Miami – but on each occasion she has been given the microphone first, to make the runner-up’s speech.
For becoming a surf bum. “The first wave I stood up on and rode to the beach, I thought, ‘This is what I am going to do for the rest of my life.’ I knew right then and there I was just hooked,” he told CNN.
“It’s so hard to explain until you go out there and you surf -you can’t really explain what surfing does to you. For me it’s my meditation. People do yoga, they go on their runs and they see it as their way to release and for me it is getting in the ocean. Some of the things I have seen in the ocean – whales and dolphins on a wave I’m on, a dolphin underneath you – it makes you feel so small but also at the same time that you are part of something so special. It’s an incredible thing, it’s amazing surf.”
“The landscape has changed,” an executive of the WTA told the New York Times at the weekend, when discussing grunting. Andrew Walker, the vice president of communications, pointed to the “increase in negative fan reaction and an increase in media coverage, and we made a determination that the landscape has changed, we owed it to the fans to take a look at it.” The WTA have discussed this at board level and are developing a long-term plan.
So what’s actually going to happen to the shriekers, the wailers and the screamers? “If junior players start getting docked points for excessive grunting, they won’t care what their role models do. If we get the proper education and enforcement, it will resolve itself.”
Rafael Nadal’s knees
To watch Nadal running around at the weekend, you had to fire up his viral advert with Cristiano Ronaldo. It is to be hoped that the pain – which prevented him from playing his semi-final with Murray at Crandon Park – subsides in time for the clay-court season.
Should the Frenchman have faced the possibility of sanctions for suggesting, after his defeat to Nadal in the quarter-finals, that umpires have a pro-Rafa bias? In other sports, such comments would not have been tolerated.