March 20th, 2015
Friday Tennis Blog: Serena On Tonight; ATP Player a Dope; More
DON’T LET THE DOOR HIT YOU IN THE BUTT
It’s two strikes and you’re out for Wayne Odesnik, who upon testing positive for doping for the second time in his career received a 15-year ban this week. Andy Murray tweeted, “Bye bye Wayne…Good riddance.” Andy Roddick tweeted, “I hate that he has a US flag next to his name when he’s cheating. Good riddance.” It was revealed the 29-year-old tested positive for several banned substances, including steroids, this past December. He announced his retirement following the doping reveal but proclaimed his innocence. Odesnik, who last month saw his alleged steroid doc jailed, said he “unknowingly ingested a contaminated over-the-counter supplement,” and insinuated he would possibly be pursuing legal action against the anti-doping authorities. The ban goes through 2030.
SERENA AND SLOANE AT INDIAN WELLS
Serena Williams and Sloane Stephens did their awkward “frenemies” dance this week leading up to their meeting at Indian Wells, where Serena was forced to dig deep in a 6-7(3), 6-2, 6-2 fourth-round win. Asked to describe Serena, Stephens said, “What do you call it…when you work with someone? A colleague. There you go. She’s a colleague.” Stephens, who had called Serena a mentor before a rift in their relationship, beat Williams at the 2013 Aussie Open. “Oh, [Serena’s Twitter followers] hate me,” Stephens said. “They are the first people to get blocked on my Twitter. I am the queen of blocking.” Serena after the win took the high road in complementing the up-and-coming Stephens. “I’ve always said that I think that she can be the best,” Williams said on court after their match. “I think she’s proven it time and time again. I have a lot of respect for her, she’s a really good player.”
CANADIAN 14 YEAR OLD SCHOOLS PROS
Young women are documented in developing earlier on the WTA circuit, and you generally don’t see young breakthroughs on the men’s side, where strength and fitness challenges are usually too much for early-teen breakthroughs. But that changed this week when Canadian 14-year-old Felix Auger-Aliassime won three qualifying matches to reach the main draw at the ATP Challenger event in Drummondville in Canada. En route he beat Aussie veteran Chris Guccione, becoming the youngest Challenger-level tournament qualifier in 10 years. Auger-Aliassime withdrew from his main draw first round citing an abdominal strain, but is now on Canada’s watch list, buoying an already-healthy Canadian national team boasting Milos Raonic and Vasek Pospisil.
Serena on Late Friday Night Stage in Indian Wells
It’s not unfamiliar territory as world No. 1 Serena Williams is the last American man or woman standing going into the weekend at the BNP Paribas Open Indian Wells.
The Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., resident will take on No. 3 seed Simona Halep in the semifinals at 11 p.m. (EST) today.
At last year’s WTA Finals, Williams lost to Halep 6-0, 6-2 in round robin play, then rebounded to beat her in the final.
“Those matches were totally different,” Williams said. “What I take out most is to be ready. I expect her to be playing an incredible game. I don’t think I was necessarily ready for that the first time. I’m ready for her to be the great player that she’s capable of being.”
The other women’s semifinal will see No. 18 seed Jelena Jankovic vs. No. 24 Sabine Lisicki.
Men’s quarterfinal action on Friday will see No. 2 Roger Federer vs. No. 9 Tomas Berdych, and No. 3 Rafael Nadal vs. No. 6 Milos Raonic.
They Said It
“You studied for the test, you should have to take the test.”
— Tennis Channel commentator Tracy Austin speaking out against the WTA’s on-court coaching rule
“Our sport is declining [in Great Britain]. That’s a fact a lot of people have trouble accepting but the reality is the truth. We had nearly a million monthly players back in 2008-2009, and this year we had 694,000. So it’s tough for us to say our sport is growing. It is not growing.”
— Michael Downey, chief executive of the Great Britain’s Lawn Tennis Association
“That’s who she is. She is a forgiving person.”
— Caroline Wozniacki on friend Serena Williams ending her 14-year boycott of the Indian Wells tournament
Tennis on TV This Weekend
(times subject to change)
3-5pm — ATP Indian Wells (live), ESPN
5-7pm — ATP Indian Wells (live), Tennis Channel
9-11pm — WTA Indian Wells (live), Tennis Channel
11pm-1am — WTA Indian Wells (live), ESPN2
2-7pm — ATP Indian Wells (live), ESPN
10:30pm-12am — ATP Indian Wells (live), Tennis Channel
2-6pm — ATP/WTA Indian Wells (live), ESPN