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!



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!


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!



16 year old Amanda Anisimova ends Petra Kvitova’s 14 match unbeaten run!

Indian Wells is never full of stories and Sunday night provided another as Petra Kvitova’s unbeaten was brought to an end by 16 year old American Amanda Anisimova.

From the first moment of the match she showed no fear and an astute game plan against one of the toughest opponents on the tour who crushes the ball so well but she arrived and put her game out there!

You can see on the first break point she manages to construct her first thought is ‘I have to move Petra’.


If you let Petra sit in the middle of the court and spray ground strokes for fun you are in for a short time on court but she utilised that flat backhand she has to pull the two time Wimbledon wide and took advantage of that opening up the court for the forehand winner (the old one, two) so effective!

I wish I had a graphic to show the shot placement of Anisimova during the match, it was near on perfect! The height of the ball, the depth and the angles she created really ruffled Kvitova. I’ve put this together below to show where she made an impact.

I’ve put this together below to show where she managed to hit the ball with the backhand (red) and forehand (yellow) moving the ball around the court freely.

fh bh animisova

It was a stunning performance and to come up with it at 16 is a credit to her, even some of the tour veterans struggle to implement a game plan against Petra which is effective throughout and cope with what she can throw at you!


Venus v Serena – Why meeting No.29 is the most important

In 2001 this was not Tennis paradise it was hell. Venus Williams withdrew from her semi-final at Indian Wells with injury meaning received a walk-over into the final. On the day of the final Serena was booed throughout the match which she won in three sets against Kim Clijsters and her father Richard and sister Venus were also booed and claims were made of racist comments made towards them.

Venus and Serena skipped Indian Wells for 14 years. Serena returned in 2015 and Venus in 2016. On return both received standing ovations and cheers from the crowd welcoming them back to the event.

Now in 2018, Venus at the age of 37 continues to defy the odds with her stunning level of tennis and Serena at the age of 36 who recently got married and gave birth is on one hell of a return to the women’s tour!

A match-up at Indian Wells is quite fitting. Unfortunately someone’s tournament will come to an end in round three.

This match will have soo much feeling attached to it to see these two on court in 2018 with everything they have been through, it’s quite stunning!

Expectations? I wouldn’t put any on this it’s all about enjoyment and it will be a incredible match up which I expect to take centre stage at night as they meet for the 29th time on the tour.