Victoria Azarenka: Loud Statement
Unquestionably the leading contender, backed up with superb work ethic, all-court prowess and improved point-to-point intensity. Angelique Kerber in Australia notched a remarkable upset, akin to Buster Douglas taking out Tyson. But Azarenka is Joe Frazier, hopefully set for more thrillers versus the champ.
Novak Djokovic: Business As Usual
Utterly smothering all rivals (more accurate: peers). Balance, footwork, movement – a game built from the ground up. And the swings are darn good too. Will be fascinating to see how and if players ponder ways to take him down other than crack bold winners the way Stan Wawrinka did at Roland Garros last year. Or is that the only way?
Rafael Nadal: Status Uncertain
The grit and the desire remain. What wavered during Indian Wells was the quality of Nadal’s play – perhaps most of all, his ability to generate the kind of sustained depth that makes him one of the greatest players tennis history. Spring clay season coming soon and in due time, life, liberty and the pursuit of Roland Garros title number ten.
Young Americans: Bringing Out the Best in Each Other
The first round match between 18-year-old friends and rivals Taylor Fritz and Frances Tiafoe had a hearty intramural quality to it. Here was Fritz, splashing into double-digits with a ranking of 80 in the world. Tiafoe, ranked 177, was primed to jump right into the arena, taking out Fritz in three engaging sets. Enjoy the skills of America’s 2020 Davis Cup team?
BNP Paribas Open & Indian Wells Tennis Garden: To Seek Out New Worlds
Why even try to be the fifth Slam? Why not just settle for being an off-the-chart experience for players and fans? High stakes in a relaxed setting makes attending it sublime. Each year, be it with players, facilities or special events, the tournament adds more dimensions that raise the bar for tennis all over the world.