Miami Diary: Friday April 2
Originally published on: 03/04/10 11:22
Stadium Court was packed to the hilt for the first men’s semi-final between former world No.1s Andy Roddick and Rafael Nadal. Despite some colossal serving from the 2004 Miami champion, Rafa took the first set 6-4 after regularly finding the lines with a masterclass of baseline groundstrokes. But A-Rod blasted back to win 4-6 6-3 6-3 and claim his 30th victory in Miami, still someway short of the 61 wins amassed by five-time champion Andre Agassi, but a crowd pleaser nonetheless. And in reference to his all-guns-blazing approach that saw him regularly charge the net against the 23-year-old, the American said: “It’s kind of like driving into head-on traffic.”
The women’s ‘battle of the Belgians’ semi-final on Thursday night started at 9.07pm and finished with a flourish two hours and thirty-four minutes later. Those that left Key Biscayne in the second set when Kim Clijsters held a commanding one set and 3-0 advantage could perhaps be forgiven for thinking the match was a foregone conclusion. But, unluckily for some, it turned into a belter as Clijsters finally claimed a 6-2 6-7(3) 7-6(6) victory at 11.42pm. After their duel, Justine Henin spoke of the ‘strange schedule’ that Clijsters would now have to contend with. “I mean playing so late and two days after you have to play in the day, I think it’s not gonna be easy,” said the 27-year-old, after bowing out of the tournament, before adding “I’m sure she has the possibilities to do it.” The seven-time Grand Slam champ twice had to play late matches this week: “I think it’s very late to start a tennis match. But that’s the way it is,” she lamented.
Gone are the days where the ladies were scheduled to play night matches before the men as a matter of course. Now that’s equality for you.
No peck please, we’re British
Despite the early demise of Andy Murray, Anne Keothavong, Elena Baltacha and Heather Watson – not to forget dubs specialist and Andy’s friend Ross Hutchins – there is still a Brit in action in Miami. Former Wimbledon tournament referee Alan Mills oversees a similar role at Crandon Park and he’s been visible courtside on the Stadium Court arena for much of the last ten days. Today he and Mrs Mills were out watching the men’s semi-final between Roddick and Nadal. When the camera focused on the pair for the ‘Sony Ericsson kissing game’ – which means if the camera relaying pictures to the big screen stops on you during the changeover, you must kiss your partner – he was far too British, or professional, to give her a peck.
Guess who’s back?
After an appearance courtside last night, Tiger Woods’ wife Erin was back on Stadium Court today to watch the Roddick vs Nadal clash. There were plenty of cameras focussed on the box Mrs Woods was in, but unsurprisingly, the ‘Sony Ericsson kissing game’ camera chose to avoid resting its gaze on her.
Ladies semi-final doubles action followed the men’s semi-final between Rafa and A-Rod. Nadia Petrova and Sam Stosur took on Chan and Jie Zheng. The stadium was pretty empty for a match that saw Petrova and Stosur take their second match point to book a place in the final after winning 6-1 7-5. The second semi-final saw fan-favourites Gisela Dulko and Flavia Penetta defeat Lisa Raymond and Rennae Stubbs 6-4 6-4, after Tomas Berdych had swept aside Robin Soderling in the men’s semi-final.
Traffic go slow
Crandon Park Tennis Center is located on the picturesque peninsula of Key Biscayne and traffic can only enter the Key via a single road (where toll-booths collect $1.50 as you enter). Happily they don’t make you pay to get out. But considering the sheer volume of fans, officials and players that descend on Crandon park, when the inevitable happens, it really must rate as one of the best places in the world to get stuck in a traffic jam.
Man of honour
Miami finalist Andy Roddick confirmed that he will be back in action on Saturday evening for the Champions for Chile event. ”I committed to that. I’ll honour that for sure. I’m excited about it”, he said, despite booking a place in the Sunday final for the first time since 2004. He will appear with Fernando Gonzalez, Gustavo Kuerten and Jim Courier in the fundraising effort for those affected by the Chilean earthquake. It will take place after the mouthwatering women’s final between Kim Clijsters and Venus Williams.