Alexandr Dolgopolov is one of those players that I try to see whenever I'm at a tournament. (Check out my encounter with him last year here.) His serve is a bit unorthodox, but he makes it work, and the combo is fun to watch. Unfortunately, he lacks consistency. One set he'll play incredible…the next, it's as though he's mentally checked out. As a spectator, it makes for some interesting viewing. I first started watching Dolgo in 2011 when the SDP Junior Editor noticed him and predicted he was a rising star. Sure enough, by 2013, he broke into the top 15 on the ATP tour. I'm not sure whether he's had some injuries, but his ranking has dropped into the 70s. He's still young and has lots of tennis to play -- and possibly have that big breakthrough, which I would be really excited to see.
April 18, 2015
This photo really epitomizes Spanish player David Ferrer. Currently ranked #7 on the ATP tour, he plays hard and is intense. Always. It's a great combination for a tennis fan! Tennis commentator Brad Gilbert refers to Ferrer as "Little Beast", since he's just 5'9" and prowls the court with the ferocity of…well…a beast. This was the first time I saw Ferrer play in person and he was lots of fun to watch. Incredible player. Believe it or not, he's 33 years old -- which, more or less, is considered geriatric in the tennis world. But, he's maintaining the intensity and sharpness..and keeping pace with the young guns. Go Little Beast!
April 17, 2015
We're taking a brief break from tennis for a weather shot. This was taken on Key Biscayne early in the evening as a storm was rolling in on the Atlantic Ocean. The multiple shades of blue and grey were incredible. I barely had enough time to take this photo before the skies opened up. Crandon Park, where the Miami Open is played, is about 1.5 miles away and as soon as the storm reached land the night matches were rained out. But, the bad weather ended up working in my favor because more matches were squeezed in the next day (which was beautiful weather-wise), when I was roaming the tournament grounds. We'll return to the courts tomorrow with an incredible Spanish tennis player. (If you're thinking Rafa…think again!)
April 16, 2015
I was really looking forward to seeing Canadian tennis player Eugenie Bouchard at the Miami Open. Currently ranked #7 on the WTA tour, she's experienced an amazing past couple of years, reaching the semi finals in two grand slams and the finals at Wimbledon last summer. The tennis world has high hopes for her. But, since losing Wimbledon, she's been on a downward spiral. Apparently, that's somewhat common for a young tennis player (Genie just turned 21) who suddenly is thrust into the limelight where expectations for success are heightened -- and the tennis world is watching their every move. The top players adapt.
Yesterday, I mentioned that if a player is going to have a meltdown it will happen in Miami. Right from the start of the match, Genie was off her game…and on an emotional roller coaster. While there were occasional glimpses of her incredible athleticism, those were quickly replaced with fits of despair (and even what appeared to be tears) until, at last, she completely lost it and smashed her racquet. Not once…but three times. What was especially unfortunate was that she was still in the match.
It seems Genie is in a mental fight with herself. In this photo, she's taking the walk of shame, carrying her mangled racquet off the court after losing in straight sets to an opponent ranked around #100. I sure hope she's able to pull it together, turn it around, and start winning again.
April 15, 2015
Mikhail Youzhny is a Russian tennis player who currently is ranked #58 on the ATP. Here he's returning a serve from Kei Nishikori (see yesterday's post) on the grandstand court during the Miami Open. A few years ago, Youzhny was ranked as high as #8 and he's always interesting to watch.
There seems to be something about Miami that draws out fits of rage in tennis players. (Perhaps the relentless scorching heat has something to do with it. Just a thought...) Anyway, Youzhny is infamous for his Miami Meltdown in 2008 when he bashed his racquet against his forehead with such force that blood trickled down his face. It happened on this very court. I missed that display in person; however, it's memorialized on YouTube if you're interested you can watch it here. I'm pleased to report that he played well during this match and kept his emotions in check.
April 14, 2015
As part of my annual personal March Madness, once again I headed down to Miami for the big tennis tournament. Although the event seems to be having a bit of an identity crisis (this year it was the Miami Open; last year it was the Sony Open; and the year before that, the Sony Ericsson), it was a lot of fun, as always. Out of the gates, we saw this guy, Kei Nishikori. Currently ranked #4 in the world, he's the most successful Asian tennis player in history. He also was the runner up in the U.S. Open finals last year. And, Kei just happens to train right here in the Sarasota area! In this shot, he was playing Russian Mikhail Youzhny on the grandstand court, and as you can see…he was rather focused on the task at hand.
April 12, 2015
After a long work week, this was just what the doctor ordered Friday night: a serene sunset at Myakka State Park. The swirls of lavender, peach, lemon and tangerine were incredible..and, I think, enhanced because of smoky conditions in the distance. Hope everyone is having a good weekend!