Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

Federer makes it 19


By Greg Rusedski

The Indian Wells masters series is always a difficult event for the players. They have to get used to playing in the desert air as the ball travels a little quicker and further than you expect. Thus they have to move quicker, tighten their racquet strings, or put more top spin on the ball to bring it into court. That is why the top players like to arrive as early as possible.

Roger Federer came into the event in great form having won Rotterdam and Dubai. Rafael Nadal on the other hand hadn’t played a match in 40 days and it would be interesting to see if he was rusty. Novak Djokovic had been playing well all year, even though he lost in the semi-finals in Dubai to Andy Murray. Djokovic looks very confident, he is not as concerned about winning every event as he was last year. He is comfortable being world number 1 and looks more focused on winning majors. This year expect him to balance out his schedule more and play a little less tennis.

Murray went out again for the third straight year in his first match. He lost to Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, the world number 23. Garcia-Lopez played great and Murray couldn’t do much about it. Murray thought he did not move as well as he would have liked but that is also in part adjusting to the conditions. I expect Murray to have a good run next week in Miami. Lendl is back in the camp to make sure Murray is going to be back on top form.

Nadal and Federer both looked sublime all week and set up a rematch of the Australian Open semi-finals, which Nadal won. Federer dominated Nadal 6-3 6-4. The conditions in Dubai and Indian Wells are perfect for Federer with the ball flying through the air that much quicker. I still believe that Rafa has the advantage against Federer in five set matches, even with Federer playing so well since that loss at the Australian Open.

Roddick leads movement for ATP change


By Martyn Herman 

Andy Roddick on Friday insisted that tennis players must adopt “one voice” to push through changes to the ATP Tour but that may not be as easy as it seems despite the general feeling of solidarity.

Pity Brad Drewett, the new chief executive of the men’s Tour, who has the job of trying to keep everyone happy, grand slam champions, journeymen, tournament organisers, sponsors and TV.

So many story lines at Indian Wells


The first Masters Series event of the year in Indian Wells, California was absolutely brilliant: so many story lines. How would Rafael Nadal play in his first ATP event after his injury in the Australian Open? Could Novak Djokovic continue his unbeatable form this year having won in Australia and Dubai? How would Andy Murray play after his 1st round loss in Rotterdam? Could Juan Martin Del Potro get back to his best form again after winning Delray Beach earlier this year? Would Roger Federer win Indian Wells for a record 4th time?

Andy Murray of Britain reacts to losing a point against Donald Young of the U.S. during their match at the Indian Wells ATP tennis tournament in Indian Wells, California, March 12, 2011.  REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

Murray played poorly and lost his first match to American qualifier and world number 143, Donald Young. He didn’t seem into the match and played very passively to lose in straight sets. This sort of performance asks more questions about his mental state after losing again in the finals of the Australian Open in January. He needs to get back on track in Miami because he is in danger of losing his world number 4 ranking. This means he could face Nadal, Federer, or Djokovic in the quarter-finals of events instead of the semi-finals. Let’s hope for a good run in Miami because this could set the tone for the rest of the year for Murray. He needs to play more proactively. Also a change of direction with either a new coach who has worked with the very best or a mentor who has won majors. He needs some freshness brought to his tennis. It has to be fun again.