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Rivard: Party crashers in Indian Wells

Oct 19, 2021
written by: Paul Rivard
written by: Paul Rivard

After a year’s hiatus due to COVID-19, the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells returned to its idyllic setting in the California desert.

Everything was in place for a blissful homecoming, but a bunch of party crashers turned the women’s and men’s events on their respective heads.

The ATP tournament got rolling with Medvedev (No.2), Tsitsipas (No.3), Zverev (No.4), Rublev (No.5), Berrettini (No.7), Ruud (No.10), Auger-Aliassime (No.11), Hurkacz (No.12), Shapovalov (No.13), Sinner (No.14) and Schwartzman (No.15). The Top 15 (minus Roger, Rafa and Nole) was out in full force.

Fast-forward to the semis. In the mix were Norrie (No.26), Dimitrov (No.28), Basilashvili (No.36) and Fritz (No.39).

Startling, to say the least. Organizers and broadcasters likely glanced at each other with raised eyebrows, wondering where all their headliners went. But tennis being the fantastic sport it is, you just never know how a tournament will pan out. Granted, it’s rare that so many wonders occur at one event, but that’s the game for you!

It’s not fun to watch the top seeds get picked off early, but there was some consolation in knowing the championship had made history: never in 280 Masters 1000 events (31 years) had there been four finalists ranked outside the Top 25.

In the end, the top honours went to Cameron Norrie, who netted a three-set victory over Nikoloz Basilashvili (3-6, 6-4, 6-1) and his 47th win in 2021 (47-20), which places him second behind Tsitsipas (51) and ahead of Ruud (46), Medvedev and Zverev (45) and Djokovic and Rublev (42). Know what else? Norrie shares a seat with Djokovic as the players with the most final appearances this season (6).

And there’s one more thing: besides instilling new hope in the UK tennis fans who’ve been waiting for the next Andy Murray, Norrie secured the biggest title for a former college player since 2018.

On the women’s side, the final four—Ons Jabeur (No.16), Paula Badosa (No.27), Jelena Ostapenko (No.30) and Victoria Azarenka (No.34)—were all from outside the Top 15.

At the outcome of a three-hour marathon (7-6 (5), 2-6, 7-6 (2)), Paula Badosa posted an emotional win to raise the most important trophy of her career thus far.

WTA and ATP rankings: the movers and shakers

The season may be winding down, but the rankings are still red hot.

In the WTA, Paula Badosa, the newly-crowned champion in Indian Wells, moved up from No.27 to No.13. And in yet another first for her, Ons Jabeur of Tunisia ascended to No.8 to become the only Arab woman ever to enter the Top 10.

And our Canadians? Leylah Fernandez progressed by one to No.27. That’s only five spots behind Bianca Andreescu, who fell back.

Neither will play for Canada at the Billie Jean King Cup by BNP Paribas Finals in Czechia from November 1 to 6. Rebecca Marino, Carol Zhao, Françoise Abanda and Gabriela Dabrowski make up our national squad.

In the ATP, No.12 Félix Auger-Aliassime and No.15 Denis Shapovalov each fell by one.

On the heels of his dream week in Indian Wells, Cameron Norrie climbed 11 places to No.16.

And let’s talk about Hubert Hurkacz’s admittance to the Top 10.

It makes him the first Polish man in 44 years to break into the upper reaches of the ATP (since Wojtek Fibak became No.10 in 1977) and effectively boots Roger Federer out.

Hubert Hurkacz hits a backhand
Photo : Peter Staples/ATP Tour

Currently recovering from yet another knee surgery, the Fed Express played 14 matches this year (9-5) and won’t be back until next season. He’s spent most of his career in the Top 10, dropping out only once for 12 weeks, between November 2016 and January 2017, after knee surgery.

Federer, out and about

More on the Maestro: his recovery seems to be going well and he may be on track to start training soon.

Last weekend, Mirka Federer and her husband were among the superstar guests (along with the likes of Beyoncé and Jay-Z, Pharrell Williams and Omar Sy) at the wedding of Alexandre Arnault and Géraldine Guyot on the Venice island of San Giorgio Maggiore.

Who exactly are the happy couple? Géraldine Guyot is the founder of fashion label D’Estrëe and Alexandre Arnault is a Tiffany & Co. executive and the son of LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault, the world’s third-richest man, whose fortune is estimated at about $185.6 B according to Forbes.

Guess whose face is on a shoe!

After the legendary Stan Smith tennis shoe created in honour of the two-time Grand Slam champion, Adidas has just released a very similar version of the kicks in collaboration with World No.3 Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Launched while Tsitsipas was still fighting it out in Indian Wells, the sneaker is only available in Europe and Japan for now but should be dispatched to North America soon.

I don’t know about you, but when I look at that image of him on the tongue of the shoe, all I can see is…

What’s in a name?

Tennis player Thierry Champion was never really a champion. In his career, he competed in only one final, which he lost.

But the 55-year-old isn’t the only person to have a name that’s particularly well suited to their occupation—something known as an aptronym.

UK journalist Chris Goldsmith recently Tweeted about a variation on the theme: fishy tennis players. It was a fun exercise, especially since the list includes one of our own.

Dennis Trout (USA)

Tuna Altuna (TUR)

Katie Codd (USA)

Lauren Herring (USA)

Sharon Fichman (CAN)

And tennis commentator Gigi Salmon (GBR)

In no time, a follower named Rebecca mentioned former No.7 Mardy Fish.

From my own survey of the tennis world, I was able to glean a few fun names.

Rhiann Newborn (USA): so, so young.

Arianna Zucchini (ITA): vegetarian?

Emerald Able (USA): a lot of self-confidence.

Katie Volynets (USA): great net game.

Olympe Lancelot (FRA): hero, for sure.

Tennys Sandgren (USA): enough said.

And, finally, a Dutch player whose name seems more fitting for a race car driver: Indy De Vroome.

Get in touch with me!

Email: privard@tenniscanada.com

Twitter: @paul6rivard

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