The startling results from Indian Wells certainly kept us on our toes, much like Maria in the picture above (she looks considerably better in the pose than we do, though).  We’ll cast a glance back over the most momentous events from the desert and tell you who has Ad-In, who has Ad-Out, and who stands at Deuce.


Ljubicic:  Asked who was most likely to defeat Djokovic, Nadal, and Roddick en route to a Masters Series title, not many fans or analysts would have mentioned the aging Croat.  But he found a superb serving rhythm, flattened out his forehand, and capitalized on almost all of the opportunities that he received.  In a tournament famous for surprises, his title ranks high on the list.

Jankovic:  Seemingly deflated and demoralized against Errani, the smiling Serb regrouped stunningly to record comfortable straight-set wins over Kleybanova, Stosur, and Wozniacki–not a murderesses’ row but a challenging trio nonetheless.  Perhaps her reconnection with the Bolletieri team will help her turn around the recent slump.  She struck the ball more cleanly and with more confidence during the last three matches in the desert than she had since mid-2008.  Let’s hope that she capitalizes on her momentum from this title over the next few weeks and that the other two Serbs soon follow her trail back to the top.  Two years ago, Ivanovic won this title before winning the French Open; will Jankovic repeat her compatriot’s feat?

Soderling:  The author of the Greatest Upset Ever proved once again that he’s more than a Nadal-killer, expertly stifling Lopez and Tsonga before dismantling an off-key Murray in the quarters.  He nearly reached his first career Masters Series final, and surely it’s only a matter of time before he does.

American men:  Although he won’t be satisfied with falling to Ljubicic in a tight final, Roddick produced the best performance that he has ever enjoyed in the desert.  He didn’t lose his serve in five of his six matches here, but perhaps the most encouraging news was his ability to navigate sub-par stretches of play in the semis before finding a way to win against Soderling.  Despite an exhausting Davis Cup weekend in Belgrade, Isner followed up his recent success with two commanding wins and a tenacious performance against Nadal in the fourth round.  Querrey smoothly handled the dangerous Jeremy Chardy before falling to Isner; the two teamed to reach the doubles semifinals.  Michael Russell knocked off Andreev before testing Murray.  And James Blake, probably in the twilight of his career, delivered an inspiring win over Ferrer and nearly ousted Almagro.  Does this veteran have another impressive result or two in him?

Baghdatis:  He was the Canas of 2010, ambushing a slovenly Federer in a third-set tiebreak.  In his case, however, the upset extends an invigorating resurgence that began with his run to the Sydney title.  The sometimes overly sober men’s game could benefit from the presence of another carefree personality like the Cypriot near the top.

Kleybanova:  Not only did she knock off Kim Clijsters in a Baghdatis-like third-set tiebreak, but she followed up the win with a stirring comeback against Suarez Navarro.  Future top 10?  Probably not.  Still, she’ll likely become a top-20 regular and intimidating dark horse at most of the significant events.

Stosur:  Taking over the Aussie mantle from Lleyton Hewitt, the third-best serve in women’s tennis will reach the top 10 for the first time.  She produced a resolute win over defending champion Zvonareva while charging to the doubles final.  Her nuts-and-bolts style may not be beautiful to watch, but it’s effective against the WTA rank-and-file.

Larry Ellison: The new sponsor demonstrated his commitment to the sport by appearing at the tournament every day from the third round forward.  Also, he focused his attention on the tennis (rather than socializing with his neighbors) and tastefully refrained from promenading onto the court during the trophy ceremonies.


Hit for Haiti:  The exhibition fulfilled the main purpose for which it was designed:  raising money.  As a demonstration of goodwill and grace among tennis superstars, however, it fell just a little short.

Federer:  Kudos to him for showing up at the event despite his recent illness and for attempting to calm troubled waters in the Hit for Haiti.  Moreover, he delivered the best point of the exhibition with a spectacular series of reflex volleys.  That night witnessed his best tennis of the tournament, unfortunately.

Nadal:  He showed flashes of his old self against Isner and Berdych as well as more positive body language.  The puzzling, passive loss to the Croat revealed that Rafa still isn’t quite the same, however, especially in terms of controlling his once bullet-proof nerves.  He said that he never should have been in the deciding tiebreak in the first place, and he was right.  On a positive note, he won the doubles title by defeating top-seeded Nestor and Zimonjic in the final.

Wozniacki:  It may sound harsh to put a finalist in this category, but she didn’t face anyone scarier than her BFF Radwanska and yet recorded just two straight-sets wins in the tournament.  Against Jankovic, it became painfully apparent that she still lacks a point-ending shot and that she hasn’t developed the mind of a champion, two shortcomings that will cost her dearly in pivotal matches until she addresses them.  Consistency is commendable, but if you don’t move forward in this fast-paced sport, you’re moving backward.

Tennis Channel:  The network’s round-the-clock coverage was a vast improvement over the lackadaisical efforts of Fox Sports in recent years.  Nevertheless, its decision to televise a men’s match replay (Murray-Russell) rather than a live women’s match (Kleybanova-Suarez Navarro) was inexcusable. 


Djokovic:  His loss looked better in retrospect after Ljubicic won the title, yet he barely escaped Kohlschreiber in a comedy of errors during the preceding round and should at least have challenged the Croat.  After the draining Davis Cup tie in Belgrade, one didn’t expect him to be at his crisp, scintillating best.  At the same time, though, top players find a way to pull through a match even when they’re tired and frustrated.  He doesn’t seem like the world #2 right now.

Murray:  He’s going to climb past Nadal into the 3rd spot after this tournament, but his performance here did little to merit it.  The Scot slumped and pouted through two ugly victories against Seppi and Russell, profited from an injured Almagro, and then offered listless target practice for a fiery Soderling.  Whatever he was practicing in Dubai didn’t seem to have paid off.  Or maybe he was preoccupied with choosing Great Britain’s next Davis Cup captain.  Either way, he’ll be feeling the heat in more ways than one when the action shifts to Miami.

Cilic:  The latest tower of power from Croatia churned through a mediocre first set, finally got the chance to serve for it…and then didn’t win a game for the rest of the match.  He turned down a request for a press conference after his loss to Garcia-Lopez with the comment that he had “nothing to say.”  Neither do we, Marin. 

Belgians:  Who would have guessed that Wickmayer would win the same number of matches as Clijsters and Henin combined, or that the number would be two?  For the sake of the WTA and these much-hyped comebacks, let’s hope that the waffles are better in Miami.

Russians:  The event started ominously for them when top-seeded Kuznetsova hit herself rather than her opponent off the court.  It didn’t get any better when Sharapova’s elbow and Davydenko’s wrist developed their own agendas.  Defending champion Zvonareva didn’t defend for long.  The engaging and wacky Youzhny must have had a premonition, for he didn’t even come.  But the collective train wreck entered the domain of comedy when Dementieva lost not because her own serve was too weak, for once, but because her opponent’s was.  Yes, you read it correctly.

Azarenka:  The Belarussian bombshell continues to bemuse.  Either she is severely testing Serena and Venus, or she is meekly exiting to the likes of Schiavone and now Martinez Sanchez.  Like Murray, the pressure will be on her in Miami, where she defends an important title for the first time in her career.

Myself:  My crystal ball took a substantial hit during this tournament, although coming out ahead of the fortunetellers.  Let’s look forward to smoother seas (no hurricanes, please) in Miami.  Nevertheless, scanning the rest of this list, I seem to be in some decent company, don’t I?

Check back tomorrow for a rankings update!  🙂