Federer was exceptional in the Men’s, I really never thought we would see the days of him playing at this level again. He was absolutely devastating against Nadal, crushing him 6/2 6/3 in the last 8, I mean when did that EVER used to happen?? The recent success is being put down to standing inside the baseline and as a result taking the ball lower and earlier especially on the backhand, this area has been previously targeted by Rafa. It really is all out attack when it’s like this and poor old Rafa just didn’t know what had hit him here. He wasn’t at his best but Federer wouldn’t and didn’t allow any of it as he constantly kept Rafa off balance and wrong-footed. It will be really interesting to see them play on the clay this year, as Rafa would still go into that as a fairly strong favourite. Could be very interesting as references to ‘cracked the Nadal code’ seems to be the new ‘wagony’ remark for commentators. It should have set up a barnstormer of a quarter-final with Nick Kyrgios who was awesome against Djokovic. The Ozzy showed again his big game temperament, hitting second serve aces, I mean FFS come on, different gear that Nick lad! It was lights out from Kyrgios with a display of patience and raw power combined. He’s fantastic to watch when in this form and shows just how good he can be. Sadly food poisoning made him withdraw prior to his encounter with the fed-ex. Nick will be looking to go well in Miami next week and I like his chances. Federer coasted past Sock in the semi’s, the American had some tough matches early in the week after coming from the brink against Dimitrov and edging out an impressive Malek Jaziri. He then beat Nishikori, who continued to be at odds with the surface and his game openly in interviews. In the final against Stan, Federer always looked to have too much for his opponent, despite going a break down in the second, the only time he lost his serve during the event. Stan was forced to over press by the end, coming up with a few too many errors as a result of Federer’s onslaught. Wawrinka had been pushed close several times in the lead up to the Final. The Japanese Yoshihito Nishioka served for it twice against him, he’s picked up some useful results of late and his hustle here was brilliant, but his first serve deserted him when he needed it most and Stan took the breaker by blitzing a few winners. The quarter-final against Thiem was more like it, the classic heavyweight contest. Both players doing what they do best and just going for it. Stan edged this in a final set breaker before comfortably beating Pablo Carreno Busta in the semi. PCB making his first master series semi, taking advantage of Murray’s early loss and saving match points against Pablo Cuevas in the previous round. The Uruguayan had already taken out David Goffin who will feel he should have again made more of his draw but Cuevas is certainly looking confident again after his win in Brazil, this bodes well for the clay court swing, for both Pablo’s concerned. Federer, on the other hand, goes into Miami as a favourite to make me eat my words again about backing up in these tournaments, he leads the field due to the withdrawals of Murray and Djokovic with elbow injuries. He has no doubt benefited from the fact the top two seem to be some way away from full fitness right now and his lay off at the end of last season means hes still fresh. There is however, no denying they might have struggled to live with him irrespective of this such has been the barrage of winners from the Federer racket!
Well, I said that I fancied an upset in Women’s and I was right about that. Kuznetsova was on my shortlist, I’d love to say Vesnina was as well. She edged a tight, in every sense of the word final against her fellow Russian. Ultimately Vesnina was the player going after her shots with a lot more regularity and looked to be aggressive more often that not. Kuznetsova put in a surprisingly poor performance really, especially after the week she had but she looked the edgier when it counted here, losing a 4/2 lead in the decider. The courts certainly suited both players, both able to penetrate their shots through the slower courts in California. Vesnina’s flat forehand reaping the rewards in particular. In her last 3 rounds previous to this she ousted Kerber, Venus and Mladenovic. Kerber was poor again and should have gone to Parmentier previously. Venus looked to be struggling with her fitness all week, aside from the tape on her elbow and thigh she wasn’t moving well. She showed guts to go several rounds more than she should have. Mladenovic was my fancy in that bottom half and with wins over Halep and Wozniacki, both showing her power with devastating effect I thought I was in! Her performance against Vesnina was that dodgy effort she still seems to throw in now and again, however, she continues to play some very good tennis right now. Kuznetsova got through the top half after beating Karolina Pliskova in the semis. The conditions just looking that bit slower than the Czech would like and Kuzzy has plenty of variety in her game once in the point. Svitolina blew a decent chance here after losing to Garbine Muguruza, I’m starting to think the Spaniard might be ever so slightly turning the corner again, let’s see how she fares in Miami. Svitolina just lacked the killer instinct and paid the price, it’s certainly the part of her game she needs to work on as well as the second serve which gets eaten up alarmingly! We already knew this about the Ukranian from previous efforts, though. Aggie Radwanska bowed out early again as she continues to have a slump in form, the tricky Shuai Peng taking care of her in the last 32. The two weeks go to Vesnina though, more known for her doubles achievements, this is only her 3rd singles career title and by far and away her biggest. It sees her jump to 13 in the world.
Andy Del Potro