If you haven't been to Indian Wells before, you should know that if you splurge on a "box seat" --which doesn't involve any box-type structure-- you also get admission to some of the best seats on Stadiums 2 and 3. There isn't a bad seat in the house on the side stadiums, but the priority seating area puts you not twelve inches above the courts. And it's absolutely worth the extra cash when you have days like this:
Almagro d. Berdych 6-4, 6-0.
This was about the cleanest match I've ever seen Nico play. When he's on, his ground game is massive. I feel like I need to repeat that: his game is massive. It was a pleasure to see his backhand at such close range--he generates amazing power from the core. In tomorrow's quarterfinal match against Novak he won't be able to use his cross-court backhand to exploit the backhand out wide the way he did to Tomas today. Where Berdych gets stiff when stretched out to his backhand wing, Novak gets extra supple. But from what I could divine about Novak from his match against Pablo Andujar, I'd say he's not quite in his immortal comfort-zone yet this week. If Nico can keep his head together and his serve as thumping and varied as it was this morning, he's in with a real chance. I'll be cheering for him.
I caught David Nalbandian on his way off court after defeating Jo Tsonga 3-6, 7-5, 6-3:
I didn't see this match (no Jo at all for me!) but I owe Nalby big-time for forcing a third set. Without him I would have had to chose between Rafa's singles match in Stadium 1 and Ryan on Stadium 2. But thanks to David, I got a Rafa-Ryan-Rafa afternoon.
Gilles Simon d. Ryan Harrison 7-6, 5-7, 6-1
Loved this match. It's great to see Gilles in such good form, and although he nearly drove Ryan bonkers, the kiddo hung in there longer than anyone expected. Ryan came back from 2-5 down in the second to force a third set--which was closer than the scoreline indicates. I'll be rooting for Gilllywater tomorrow, but looking forward to what's next from Ryan. ("Vamos Syndrome: The Harrison Strain" still in full effect.)
And last but certainly not least...
Rafael Nadal/Marc Lopez d. Leander Paes/Radek Stepanek 6-3, 7-5
I've got lots more photos from this delightful little match. I'll do a picasa or flikr type thing so you can all download them. I'll also write more about it, because it was a highly enjoyable experience. I got hit with a Rafa forehand winner! Also Rafa gave me a giant insect. Or rather, he brought a giant insect over to the sidelines and set it down in front of me. Also also, high quality doubles was played by all.
photos: Arienna Lee