Venus Williams couldn’t turn it around, falls to Elena Vesnina in quarterfinals

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By Leighton Ginn

Elena Vesnina has been following Venus Williams closely, so she knew there could be trouble in that third set of the BNP Paribas Open quarterfinal on Thursday, based on history.

“I saw previous matches that she was down with match point with a set point, and I was like, ‘Uh-Oh, it’s coming back again. I’m going to be another victim of Venus,'” Vesnina said laughing. “I don’t want. I want to win this. I want this match.”

Vesnina was able to hold off Williams, despite down love-40 on her serve in the final game, holding on for a 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 victory to advance to the semifinals. She will face Kristina Mladenovic, the lowest seed in the semifinals. No. 3 Karolina Pliskova will face No. 8 Svetlana Kuznetsova in the other semifinal.

In her post-match press conference, Williams alluded to having an injury issue that had slowed her up.

“I would just like to be healthy just like the next human being,” Williams said. “You beat your body up in sport, and I want to play these big events. I don’t want to be at home watching. It’s frustrating either way, not to be 100 percent or to watch at home. Which one do you choose?

“I chose to be here. That was my choice. I gave it my best today, and I’m looking forward to playing her again, hopefully healthy and 100 percent, and will have an opportunity to really show what I can do in these kind of matches.”

Vesnina noticed that Williams didn’t seem like herself early in the match.

“In the first set, it was a little bit unexpected,” Vesnina said. “When I was up 3-Love in the first set, she was missing some easy shots. She looked tired and slow on the court. Then, all of a sudden, she started moving around, hitting great shots, winners from all over the place.”

In Friday’s semifinal, Vesnina knows she’s got a tough match against one of the hottest players on tour. And after her quarterfinal win, Vesnina had a doubles match to play.

“It’s going to be difficult match, but on the other hand, it’s very exciting to play the semifinal match here in Indian Wells,” Vesnina said.

 

 

 

 

Kristina Mladenovic defies past to reach BNP Paribas Open semifinals

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By Leighton Ginn

Judging my her previous four appearance at the BNP Paribas Open, it would be a stretch to predict that Kristina Mladenovic would make a deep run at Indian Wells.

And on Thursday, it seemed unlikely that she would get past Carolina Wozniacki, a former champion and No. 1 player that she had never beaten in three previous meetings.

But this isn’t just any tournament for Mladenovic.

She beat Wozniacki, the 2011 BNP Paribas Open champion,  3-6, 7-6, 6-2 to reach her first semifinal. Earlier in the tournament, she beat No. 4 Simona Halep, the 2015 BNP Paribas Open champion.

Coming into the tournament, Mladenovic had won a title in Russia and reached the finals in Acapulco right before coming out to Indian Wells.

“It feels great, obviously. It’s a lot of matches and it’s like the longest kind of string of winning matches I had so far in my career, and it feels great,” Mladenovic said. “Every day I go out there on the court, in the gym practicing, it’s for moment like that. So I’m not getting too excited. I’m just super satisfied that I am on that kind of stages right now and trying to use my chances.

” Yeah, I’m enjoying my time on the court, and very happy.”

Mladenovic will face Elena Vesnina, who beat Venus Williams 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 on Thursday.

Until the first set Thursday, Mladenovic hadn’t lost a set in the tournament. With the victory, Mladenovic will crack the top 20 for the first time in her career.

To get to the semifinal, Mladenovic took a big gamble in the second-set tiebreaker by coming in to serve-and-volley.

“Because every time I would serve good on the backhand, she would go very deep and return well,” Mladenovic said. “I was, like, ‘Okay, let’s just be creative here.’ And it paid off, and it gave me a chance to fight in the third set. I think the third set was the best game of today for me.”

 

 

 

With a new coach and a new outlook, doubles champion Vasek Pospisil upset No. 1 Andy Murray in singles

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By Leighton Ginn

INDIAN WELLS — Vasek Pospisil said comparing his doubles title at Wimbledon and Saturday night’s upset of No.1 Andy Murray is something he can’t really do.

But he can say that beating Murray 6-4, 7-6 is a high point of his singles career.

“Obviously to beat the No. 1 player in the world is incredible,” Pospisil said. “I mean, it’s the biggest win of my career, and I’m just thrilled right now.”

In order to get into the main draw, Pospisil had to play through qualifying. But since the off season, Pospisil made several necessary changes after struggling throughout 2016.

With the work he put in, Pospisil began to feel the drive that he was losing during his difficult 2016.

“I had a tough year last year for many, many different reasons. I feel the last couple months I really found my hunger and my motivation to be back on the court training hard again,” Pospisil said. “I have been very pleased with that, more than anything, the last few weeks, the last couple of months.

“I felt like a big result was coming, because I believe in my abilities, but just kind of had to put the pieces together again.”

One of his additions was Mark Woodforde, the doubles great who lives in nearby Rancho Mirage.

While Woodforde was one-half of the Woodies, one of the winningest doubles team that is in the Hall of Fame, Pospisil liked that Woodforde was a top singles player as well.

“He has a lot of wisdom and he’s been around for many years,” Pospisil said. “I felt like he could help me kind of discover more about my game and how I want to play. He’s been a great addition, and I’m very pleased with the progress that we have made so far.

“Obviously everything takes time. So the first couple months we were still learning a lot about each other, and now it seems that things are going the right direction.”

 

 

No. 1 Andy Murray faces lots of questions, has few answers after another early loss at BNP Paribas Open

3-11-17 Andy Murray

 

By Leighton Ginn

Andy Murray didn’t have many answers for upstart Vasek Pospisil’s game, or for reporters following his 6-4, 7-6 loss in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open. It was the third time Murray, who is the No. 1 player in the world, has lost his opening match at Indian Wells.

“I don’t know exactly why it is, because in practice here normally I play pretty well,” Murray said of his struggles in the California desert. “And then some years I played well. Some years  it just hasn’t quite happened for me. I don’t know exactly why that is. I don’t know if it is the conditions here. I really don’t know why I haven’t played my best here over the years.”

But Murray did have a good idea of why he struggled Saturday night against Pospisil as he had problems with his serve and was broken repeatedly.

The start of the year hasn’t gone well for Murray. He had also lost to Misha Zverev in the fourth round of the Australian Open, who plays a serve-and-volley game similar to Pospisil.

Murray didn’t think the style of play was a problem.

“My results in my career have been fantastic against serve-and-volley players, so, you know, maybe it’s something I need to practice a little bit more,” Murray said. “I have never really practiced playing against serve-and-volleyers in my career. But when I have come up against them, it’s normally been a game style I have enjoyed playing against.

“Today, it wasn’t so much the serve-and-volley that was the problem. It was my own serve, rather than not sort of getting enough opportunities when he was serving. So I think that was more the problem tonight.”

 

 

 

 

French Open champ Garbine Muguruza said she’s still hungry for the sweet success of another Grand Slam title

3-10-17 Garbine Muguruza

By Leighton Ginn

INDIAN WELLS — When Garbine Muguruza said winning her first Grand Slam title wasn’t a culmination, but a beginning for her.

“Once you taste the sweet honey, you want more,” Muguruza said Friday after her second-round victory over Kirsten Flipkens, 6-2, 6-3 in the BNP Paribas Open. “Obviously every time I go to a Grand Slam, I’m superexcited. … You’re more motivated.”

Many, including Muguruza, consider the BNP Paribas Open the “Fifth Slam.” However, Muguruza said she’s more trying to gain her bearings.

She didn’t get many matches to start the year, and then she played the exhibition on Monday night at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Coming into Friday, she knew she had a difficult opponent in Flipkens. So getting the victory was a relief.

“I didn’t compete in a while,” Muguruza said. “I think it was a difficult match. I think she’s very talented and she can hit some critical shots and she can be tricky. I’m happy because it was not a first, easy match, like a first round. It was a big win for me, actually.”

In fact, while speaking of opening-round wins and majors, Muguruza said the first ones are always the most difficult, despite playing higher-level opponents in the later rounds.

Case in point for Muguruza is her first round at the French Open, where she was pushed to three sets against Anna Karolina Schmiedlova. Then Muguruza wouldn’t drop another set on her way to the title, which included a straight-sets victory over No. 1 Serena Williams.

“I think the first matches of a Grand Slam are the key matches,” Muguruza said. “I felt that when I went there to French Open and I had a tough round, first one, third set, weather, it was such hard conditions.

“It’s those first matches that are the ones that really you see who is the best player.”

The previous year, Muguruza reached the quarterfinals of the French Open, as well as reached the finals of Wimbledon. So even though she had a difficult opening match, Muguruza always felt she was good enough to win the title.

“It’s true two previous years I lost in the quarterfinals, and I’m, like, I’m not far,” Muguruza said. “I think I’m good on clay. I think I’m playing well. Maybe one year I can go farther than quarterfinals.”

In the third round, Muguruza will face the youngest player in the field, American Kayla Day, who upset 32nd-seed Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 6-4, 5-7, 7-5.

The 17-year-old Day was the U.S. Open junior champion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fritz talks about father’s influence on him and CoCo Vandeweghe after first-round win at BNP Paribas Open

 

By Leighton Ginn

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — Taylor Fritz knows not to go to his father Guy for positive reinforcement.

So no matter how impressive Fritz was Friday in beating Benoit Paire in the first round of the BNP Paribas Open, he knows his dad will not be as positive as he probably would like to be.

“He’s not easy to give a compliment,” the younger Fritz said about his dad. “He really tells you how it is, which annoyed me at times, because I’d want some confidence and he’d just be, like, No. It’s really tough to get a compliment out of him.”

At 19, Fritz has built up considerate buzz as a rising star on the men’s tour, with huge weapons in his serve and forehand. It’s a standard of Guy Fritz players, which could also be seen on the women’s tour.

CoCo Vandeweghe’s first coach was Fritz and his brother Harry. In January, Vandeweghe reached the semifinals of the Australian Open before falling to Venus Williams in three sets.

“My dad is obviously an amazing coach. He completely developed both of our games from the start to when we basically turned pro,” Taylor Fritz said. “He is a great service coach. You look at both of our games (and) serves is a huge focal point in our game.”

“He’s been able to help a lot of people with their serves in the past, and he’s just a guy that loves the game and wants to help people who he thinks can be good. He’s pretty selective with who he picks. Obviously, I made the cut because I’m his son.”

Fritz described his father as old-fashioned. He talked about their differences on getting a fitness coach, which Fritz now has through the USTA.

The victory on Friday was Fritz’s first in the main draw of the BNP Paribas Open. Two years ago, he lost in qualifying and last year he lost in the first round to another rising American talent, Frances Tiafoe.

The Indian Wells area is a second home to Taylor Fritz, and his father and uncle made a name for themselves in the area. Father Guy started the junior college program at College of the Desert, which became a national power. Uncle Harry started the program at Palm Desert High School.

Fritz also has strong tennis genes from his mother Kathy, who was a top-10 player on the women’s tour who won seven titles.

While Fritz thrived under his father’s coaching, he said it could be tough at times when he was looking for reassurance.

“Tennis is a lot of confidence, in my opinion. So I always wanted someone who was just going to make me think I’m the best player ever, even if I’m not. Someone who is just going to fill me up with compliments, tell me how good I am,” Taylor Fritz said. “I always wanted his approval. I still want his approval, even though we don’t even work together anymore. I called him up the other day because I thought I was hitting really great. Come over, watch me hit. He wasn’t as thrilled as I was with how I was hitting.”

“I’m sure he’s happy to see me win here. I’m sure he’s happy to see me playing good tennis, even if he doesn’t want to tell me.”

 

 

Roger Federer still riding high on Australian Open victory, so brutal draw is not a problem at BNP Paribas Open

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By Leighton Ginn

One reporter asked Roger Federer what he thought about his “Draw of Death” at the BNP Paribas Open during the media day on Wednesday.

The path for Federer to win a record fifth BNP Paribas Open title is full of daunting matches.

Seeded No. 9, Federer path gets hairy in the fourth round with a possible rematch of the Australian Open final against long-time rival Rafael Nadal. If Federer gets to the quarterfinals, he could face three-time defending champion Novak Djokovic.

The semifinal could be No. 4 Kei Nishikori or former US Open Marin Cilic.

As far as Federer is concern, he said he came to Indian Wells to play the top players, and what round he plays them doesn’t concern him.

In addition to the questions about the draw, Federer was asked about his unlikely Australian Open title, which increased his record to 18 Grand Slam singles titles.

“I was watching everything (online) after it was done and that was fun,” Federer said. “It still seems like it’s a topic, which is great. I still feel like it was just yesterday. I still feel like I’m on Cloud 9. Things are terrific.

“I’m happy if I’ve made people happy. I know I’m not just playing for myself these days. There’s so much to it. I think that’s why this victory felt as good as it did for me. The rest of the year will be quite relaxing, to be quite honest.”

 

 

 

 

With Serena Williams out, BNP Paribas Open women’s draw loses some luster

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By Leighton Ginn

Just a day after the draw was announced, world No. 1 Serena Williams has withdrawn from the BNP Paribas Open, citing a left knee injury.

In addition to Indian Wells, Williams has also withdrawn from the Miami Open.

The tournament sent out two Tweets with quotes from Williams.

: “Sadly, I have to withdraw from… Indian Wells and Miami Open. I have not been able to train due to my knees.” ” in the first Tweet.

: “[I] am disappointed I cannot be there. I will keep moving forward, continue to be positive. I look forward to being back”

With Williams’ withdrawal, Angelique Kerber will regain the No. 1 ranking on March 20. Williams needed to reach the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open to retain the No. 1 ranking.

The tournament was already missing Maria Sharapova, who will finish out her drug suspension at the end of April, defending champion Victoria Azarenka, who is on maternity leave, and Petra Kvitova, who suffered injuries after a home invasion in December.

 

 

Are you ready to Shag baby? Artist captures the fun and cool times of a fantastic era in vivid colors

By Leighton Ginn

Shag is the nickname of artist Josh Agle, whose paintings combine Mad Men style and Austin Powers flair.

His art is fun and I’m just happy when I’m in his shop.

On Dec. 10. the Palm Springs store on 725 N. Palm Canyon (next to TRIO restaurant) will host its annual Holiday Party from 7-9:30. Agle will be there to unveil “The Three Coats” and to sign merchandise and personalize your prints. Limited edition prints of “The Three Coats” will be available for a special price.

For more information, you can call (760) 322-3400 or go to Shagstore.bigcartel.com

Below is a vignette that was shot in October.

 

 

A Fabulous weekend for The Face That Changed It All, Beverly Johnson

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By Leighton Ginn

With a fabulous weekend, it only made sense that Beverly Johnson ended up at Just Fabulous.

Johnson, the first woman of color to be on the cover of Vogue, was at Just Fabulous in North Palm Springs for a book signing of her memoire, “The Face That Changed It All.”

A Rancho Mirage resident, Johnson was a fashion pioneer and had a weekend full of recognition.

On Thursday, Dec. 1, she joined championship boxer Timothy Bradley, Palm Springs police chief Bryan Reyes, philanthropist Nelda Linsk, and Palm Springs mayor Robert Moon for the tree lighting ceremony.

On Dec. 3, Johnson was the Grand Marshall of the Palm Springs Festival of Lights parade, joining Reyes and Linsk. Earlier on Saturday, Johnson received her star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars.

The weekend ended with Johnson doing a book signing at Just Fabulous, where she took time out to star in this video.

The book includes her encounters, including Bill Cosby, Mick Jagger, Warren Beatty, Jack Nicholson, Mike Tyson and Chris Noth, Mr. Big in “Sex and the City.”