The ladies that ruled in the desert!

Everyone wants to be there and at Indian Wells this year hundreds of players turned up and a theme which occurred from day 1 until day 14 was that the ladies rocked it but who took the deserved headlines at recognition down in the Californian dessert?

Serena Williams

I mean, where else do I start? Serena Williams. She came back with two wins and what a comeback it was. Just her presence on the court sends shivers down your spine and for opponents it must be quite daunting know the greatest of all time is on the other side of the court.

Venus Williams

37 years old and still at the top. Venus was defeated in her semi-final against Kasatkina. A tournament which holds so much history for her, it’s always great to see Venus go far in tournaments she is a fighter and I love that!

Daria Kasatkina

Fearless throughout the fortnight in California. Her coach called her an artist and she showed that with her variety and power she has a no-nonsense style and it was effective on route to the final, a real advert for the future of women’s tennis.

Naomi Osaka

Talking about an advert for women’s tennis this lady put on a stella week of tennis and her performance and composure in the final was nothing short of outstanding! The way she played was beautiful to watch and I will come onto her game in the next few days.

Victoria Azarenka

One strong lady! To have gone through what she has gone through is tough, to play one tournament in 9 months is tough but she has kept herself fit and dedicated to returning and looked sharp against Heather Watson just match time needed to get use to that rhythm again!


Amanda Anisimova

One of the stories of Indian Wells, the 16 year old secured wins against Pavlyuchenkova and Kvitova showing great skill and a very planned out performance especially against Kvitova which is tough to do on a hard court but at the age of 16 quite unbelievable!

Sachia Vickery

No fear again. Her performance against Garbine Muguruza in particular was outstanding. Down a set and 0-4 and turned it around to win. She just went for it and that`s what I love! Too many players in this situation would just sit there and take the loss but she was relentless and left Garbine speechless!

Caroline Dolehide

The 19 year old showed heart and determination throughout her stay in California and that`s all you ask for at times. She saw off Shelby Rogers and Dominika Cibulkova before really rattling Simona Halep in three sets the first player to do that at this years tournament she rattled through the rest of her shorter than expected stint.

A new champion, returning champions, mum’s, veterans and new stars!

The women ruled at Indian Wells!!!


Fearless! Osaka dominates to secure first WTA title!

No fear, both ladies going into what would be the biggest finals of their respective careers to date showed no fear in getting there. Both ladies deserve a hell of a lot of respect for what they have done over the last few months.

Both are young, driven, committed and fearless as they 100% believe in what they are doing but it hasn’t always been the case. They have matured a lot over the last 6 months. I watched Osaka a year ago in Melbourne and she just lost concentration and belief when it wasn’t going her way and with Kasatkina performances have been a bit hit and miss but since her withdrawal from Qatar where she played an odd match she has turned on the style starting with a win against Muguruza despite being a set and a break down and saving three match points turned it around for the win.

This week saw Kasatkina defeat Venus and Kerber and Osaka saw off Pliskova and Venus!

As expected nerves were there from both to begin for just a couple of minutes exchanging breaks of serve. Both began to settle and find their rhythm looking fearless until score-board pressure sunk in with Kasatkina losing that belief she has had all week! It was weird to see, the forehand began to leak errors and serve wouldn’t stand up for her whilst Osaka down the other end was re-directing the backhand perfectly and from 4-3 closed out the set 6-3.

The period of domination did not stop there with the youngster taking a 3-1 lead in set two and before you know a forehand down the line secured a 4-1 lead as the Japanese star looked on route to her first career title having being 0-1 in WTA Finals and 0-4 in Challenger Finals!

The head of Kasatkina continued to shake and at a point where she needed to react she didn’t with Osaka holding to love and one game from winning Indian Wells.

It continued to get messy for the Russian who hit a smash long but a backhand down the line secured the game for Kasatkina asking the serve it out question of Osaka. Question asked, test past, title won!



Thrashed! Kasatkina takes 58 minutes to see off Kerber 6-0 6-2

Well, quarter finals don’t go more one-sided than that!

In Qatar I watched Daria Kasatkina take on CiCi Bellis and during the match which Kasatkina lost 5-7 1-4 having retired with an injury I said she ran out of ideas and I stand by that.

Her performance against CiCi lacked any thought. She continued to go to that backhand slice as she couldn’t generate much else in the game and it began to become tough to keep in rallies.

However a complete turnaround in recent weeks, the talent has always been there but chanelling her game is tough for a lot of up-coming players however with wins against Muguruza of late and this week Kerber and Wozniacki at Indian Wells without dropping a set she is proving to be a tough opponent who doesn’t let you rest.

Dasha performed really well against Kerber, she used her variety and we are seeing her cement her game and against a player like Kerber to have her rattled with the way she has performed this year is a great compliment to how she played.

She picks her opportunities on shots and you just have to sit there and say ‘too good’. The forehand irritated Kerber, the spin and bounce she got on it teased the former world number who couldn’t capatalise and in a match where you win 6-0 6-2 the focus does get pulled towards the player who lost.

Kerber didn’t play great at all but the focus should be on Kasatkina for such an experienced performance for someone just 20 years old and it bothered Kerber and she couldn’t react to make herself competitive in the match for longer than a couple of games at the beginning of set two where she started to drive the forehand and shouting ‘Come on’ but big credit to Daria who didn’t let winning the first in 22 minutes 6-0 let her level drop, she knew she had a job to do still and it can be one of the toughest things in tennis when you win a set 6-0 to stay focus if anything there is more pressure but she has fun.

It was what I would call relentless and it’s quite fitting she loves watching Barcelona who have been relentless for years in European football. Her coached called her an artist and she is certainly showing us that at Indian Wells!



Hyeon Chung making a name for himself once again!

Hyeon Chung was one of the stand out performers in Melbourne now the South Korean is at it again with wins against Berdych and Cuevas the 21 year old is now in his first Masters 1000 quarter final.

I first seaw Hyeon play at the backend of last year when he took part in the inaugural Next Gen finals in Milan. I was impressed with his movement and shot selection to have his game what I would call stable at this stage in his career is great.

Quite a lot of players when they burst onto the scene are fearless and everything works but for Hyeon over the past year he has steadily improved his game and does look the real deal.

He made his name in Melbourne at the beginning of the year with a beautiful performance against Novak Djokovic winning 7-6 7-5 7-6.

Chung 7-6 7-5 7-6 Djokovic – A masterclass against one of tennis’ masters!

I said in the piece I don’t like comparing up coming players with those on the tour as they all bring something different the court but with the greatest of the respect what caught my eye was the movement, it was some of the best movement I have ever seen on a tennis court.

He has an array of weapons at his disposal and can mix up the forehand, explore a two handed backhand and a slice as well as anticipation at the net as well!

chung fh

This was one of my favourite shots in his win against Djokovic; the movement, the stretch and that forehand it was unplayable!

Quarter finals of Indian Wells, Miami next and then onto clay where with his movement and game can be very effective on what is set to be a big year!



Halep 7-5 6-1 Wang – Cahill’s pep-talk vital as Simona turned on the style

After a shaky performance against Caroline Dolehide in the previous round you wouldn’t have blamed Simona Halep for being nervous and you could see the panic in her game from the first ball desperate for a good start.

The first four games of the match went with serve, the following four were all breaks of serve and you could see the panic and rushed game Simona was forcing and that was the issue she was trying to force it.

At 4-4 in the first set Simona called on coach Darren Cahill who gave a masterclass!

He sat down and said;

“what are you thinking?”

Halep replied “just tell me how to play”

This was the frustration from the first 8 games and something we saw a lot of at the beginning of the last year before their temporary split and he controlled this exchange perfectly.

To the point Darren said “Your the one making all the unforced errors”


That got a reaction from the world number one and the Australian coach then gave great advice.

He asked her why she was just going for it and not working the ball. He said the shots are there but your just going for it, work it, work her and begin to dominate.

What followed was a complete turn-around!

To Simona’s credit she took it on board and it did take a few games to lose that frustration but immediately you saw her working the ball and like I said credit to her and also Darren for that exchange during the on-court coaching session.

In the second set she was scarily good, she just went for it by working the wall and when she’s able to pick the forehand down the line and add top spin cross court forcing you wide she means business and that performance was an announcement to the rest of the field that she has turned up!


Borna Coric finding form in the desert!

Borna Coric is one talented tennis player. It feels like the 21 year old has been around for so long. He has multiple wins over Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal and last year picked up his first ATP tour title in Morocco and his biggest Grand Slam win against Alex Zverev in New York.

I would say he has been steady over the past year or so. He had this burst and did well but as ever it will fizzle and it’s a tough road back.

I don’t think Coric sometimes gets the credit he deserves. He hasn’t been at his best but has kept a good ranking and seems to have channelled his game.

When you burst onto the scene as a youngster you try every trick in the book,Β  it is natural and now you can start to see what type of player he is.

He is using the backhand more smartly to get himself into a controlling position but without going too much for it. He looks to back into the forehand centre of the court which is more natural, the top spin he gets on it allows him to move forward if the time is right and he takes chances better now.

If i had to be a little picky I think the backhand could be more of a weapon, despite seeing off Agut easily there were a few times you saw him in the middle of the court and think to yourself go down the line with the backhand (he did once and produced a stunning winner) which would complete his game and with consistency I see no reason why he can’t break into the top 25 by the end of the season.




Serena – “I’m playing with nothing to lose, only to gain”

Serena Williams’ comeback to the tour was special, it was the mother of all comebacks. She may only won one match and lost to sister Venus last night but to have her back is incredible for women’s tennis.

She looked sharp but also said she had no expectations on herself which was odd for her as time will improve her game and movement.

Listening to Serena after her win against Diyas was one of the best press conferences I have ever seen. She controlled the room and had everyone listening!

I’m always interested in listening to Serena. She is the sports greatest ever champion and she is still so humble and thankful which is so refreshing.

One of the things she did say was “I’m playing with nothing to lose, only to gain”.

Of course there will be visible frustration if things aren’t working in matches as it would for anyone and we even saw that this week in Indian Wells.

The expectations may be shorter and has nothing to lose. The fact that she is playing tennis again after what she has been through is a major achievement in itself.

The level of expectation may not be there but the passion will always!