Report from the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells: Friday 16 March
by James Handal

The BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells hosted six incredible matches today, Friday, March 16. As the tournament advances toward the finals this weekend on Saturday, March 17 and Sunday, March 18, today's six matches pitted many world-ranked tennis players against each other.

Four singles matches were played today. Most notably, in the men's singles quarterfinals, Roger Federer played Juan Martin del Potro and Rafael Nadal played David Nalbandian. Federer's match against del Potro was quick. In just 69 minutes, Federer beat del Potro 6-3, 6-2. In the first game, del Potro tried to challenge Federer's serve which was called in. Hawkeye was not working due to a dropped internet connection, so the chair umpire allowed the "in" call to stand (as the rules dictate). Del Potro was clearly upset and told the umpire the serve was out. The umpire replied, "I believe you," but would not allow a replay of the point. It has been reported that during the next change-over, Del Potro told the umpire that he was now unable to play.
Then, later in the first set, in the final game, Federer served and the ball was called out. He challenged the call, and Hawkeye, which was then working, showed that the serve was in. When del Potro heard this, he turned his racquet around and pretended to shoot the video board.

Then Nadal and Nalbandian took center court. Three years ago at Indian Wells, Nalbandian held 5 match points over Nadal before being shut out in the third set. On Friday, a packed stadium, which included BNP owner Larry Ellison, watched as Nalbandian dominated the first set and most of the second. Nalbandian had momentum on his side and kept the pressure on. Nadal had many unforced errors, a total of 15 in the first set. Although Nalbandian threw everything into the match, using his best shot, his two-handed backhand, Nadal dug in and raised his game. Nadal tied the second set to five games all, then won that set. Nadal prevailed in the third set to win the match 4-6, 7-5, 6-4. Nalbandian won his spot against Nadal by beating two Top 10 players to reach the quarterfinals in Indian Wells. He beat Tsonga 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 and Tipsavervic 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. This match with incredible rallies was the most exciting match on Friday and represented two players who were well matched but very far apart in the rankings.

In the women's singles semifinals, Victoria Azarenka beat Angelique Kerber 6-4, 6-3 in the first evening match. Then later Friday night, fans got ready for what could be a another loud and very exciting match between two former tournament champs, Maria Sharapova and Ana Ivanovic. Although the first set began with competitive rallies and both women playing well, Ivanovic had her trainer treat her lower back and hip on court and then she walked off court to receive further treatment in the middle of the first set. During the evening matches, the temperatures cooled down considerably and the wind picked up as rain and winds are predicted by forecasters for this weekend in the desert. Sharapova won the first set 6-4 and Ivanovic was up one game in the second, but retired due to the hip injury. The women's final on Sunday will match the No. 1 and No. 2 players in the world. No word yet on whether or not ear protection will be supplied by the tournament; we encourage you to bring your own.

Doubles semifinals today featured both men's and women's matches. Americans John Isner and Sam Querrey beat No. 2 seeds Max Mirnyl and Daniel Nestor 6-4, 6-2. Isner and Querrey advance to the finals to play Spaniards Rafael Nadal and Marc Lopez on Saturday.

In women's doubles, Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond defeated Iveta Benesova and Barbora Z. Stryvova 6-1, 6-2. Huber and Raymond advance to the finals to play 2011 defending doubles champions Sania Mirza and Elena Vesnina on Saturday.

Saturday's schedule at the BNP Paribas Open includes the men's and women's doubles finals, plus the exciting men's singles semifinal matches of Novak Djokovic against John Isner and Roger Federer against Rafael Nadal.