photo credit:Richard Messenger
The Indian Wells Open is set for the Men’s Singles Semi Finals. The 1st semi final will be played at 12 noon on Stadium 1 on Saturday 20 March between (20) Ivan Ljubicic and (3) Rafael Nadal. The 2nd semi final will follow straight afterwards and is between (7) Andy Roddick and (6) Robin Soderling.
In the quarter finals Croatia’s Ljubicic a former World No.3 was in great form throughout his 3 set victory over Juan Monaco. Ljubicic was in command last time he played Nadal moving a head 6-2 and having points for a double break of serve in the 2nd set before succumbing to injury. Ljubicic possesses a great serve and he has the type of attacking game that can defeat the defending champion in straight sets. Ljubicic turned 31 yesterday and hopes to celebrate with a victory over Nadal to add to his win over No.2 seed Novak Djokovic and already best career result at Indian Wells.
Ljubicic is really motivated and seems poised to upset Nadal after his quarter final win the Croat enthused, “The conditions suits my game perfectly. It’s nice and dry. The ball goes through the air pretty quickly. The court is slow enough so I can return well, as well. It’s just perfect… Since 2004 I haven’t lost on outside courts and played at least fourth round since then. So it’s definitely the favorite place for me to play matches, of course.”
Nadal is trying to equal Roger Federer with 16 Masters 1000 titles and defend his Indian Wells title. The 6 time Grand Slam singles champion has not won a tournament for 10 months ago when he won the Rome Masters 1000 event (Rome Open). The 23 year old Spaniard was in top form for the 1st set and a half of his quarter final match against No.19 seed Tomas Berdych. Berdych out played Nadal for the 2nd half of the 2nd set but could not quite take it to a final set even though the momentum had shifted his way.
Nadal won the 2nd set in a tie-break and after his quarter final victory said about Ljubicic and the semi final,“I like be here and I like to have a match to fight to try to be in this final. Any opponent is going to be really difficult, even is one of these big opponents with big serve. He’s playing well with from the baseline. It’s gonna be difficult match. I think I am playing well too, no? I’m gonna try my best to try to be in this final.”
Local favourite Andy Roddick is playing in acting calm and controlled on court which is not always the case. When he is in his current frame of mind he records his best results. Most recently Roddick was in control when he went ever so close to winning the 2009 Wimbledon Championship. The 27 year old American is now 11-0 against Tommy Robredo who cooled off after playing the best I have ever seen him play to just edge the conqueror of Federer, Marcos Baghdatis in 3 sets. Roddick is pictured above preparing to launch up into his serve.
After his quarter final win Roddick said, “I felt pretty good. I feel like I’m playing really well on my own serve. I think I’ve been broken once, but I don’t know that I’ve had that many break points against me throughout the week. That’s always a good thing in that holding that easily makes my returns better.” The holder of the fastest serve has won 41 of his 42 service games thus far.
Roddick has won every Masters 1000 title in North America including Montreal, Cincinnati and Miami except Indian Wells. He will needs to make his first final after making the semi finals on 4 occasions by recording his first victory over Soderling, who has won both matches that they have played thus far. The 25 year old has made continual progress over the past 12 months achieving his best results in all categories of tournaments including beating Rafael Nadal at the 2009 French Open and going on to make the final. The 1.93cm Soderling is currently at his career highest ranking of World No.7 and seems poised to set up a possible rematch against Nadal.
The aggressive Soderling looks to be playing well and truly at a high enough level to defeat Roddick. Soderling went up 5-0 against last years Indian Wells runner-up Andy Murray before winning 6-3. In the 2nd set Soderling was up 5-3 and held double match point to break Murray for a second time in the 2nd set. Soderling tightened up and Murray came back to force a tie-break before Soderling clinched the match. The highlight being his screaming double handed backhand winner up the line to bring up double match point again.
Afterwards the most improved player on the ATP Tour said, “I was pretty sure before the match that it is almost impossible to outpower Andy because he’s moving really well and he puts everything back. I really felt it the first game, which was a crucial hold for me. And then after that, I started to play not as aggressive and I was waiting a little bit for my opportunities, and it worked pretty well.”
Soderling needs to make the most of his opportunities against the Roddick serve. There is so little between these two at the moment that it should be a great match with a tie-break or 2 highly likely. If Roddick can continue to be calm that will lend itself to him being relaxed and loose enough to serve well under pressure. Soderling showed in the semis that these are huge matches for him and he is feeling the pressure. Soderling is playing better than Roddick once the rally commences but will need to conquer the battle with this mind.
OCA’s predictions are a Ljubicic versus Roddick final for the 2010 Indian Wells Men’s Singles event.
Stay tuned to this tennis website for further information and results at Indian Wells for both the men and women’s events. Click this link for more details -> Indian Wells 2010: Mar 12-21.
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