These are times of confinement and drought for world tennis. Fans of this sport can only enjoy past games and not experience the excitement of the live show. Sometimes, however, taking a look at what tennis has left us never hurts. As a continuation of the 5 biggest surprises in Indian Wells, we review the most unexpected moments that happened in Crandon Park. They include surprises and bumps of the numbers 1, champions that nobody expected or the presentation in society of any other Grand Slam champion. These are the 5 biggest surprises in Miami:
2001 – Roddick defeats Sampras in his first major victory: A-Rod’s first big moment occurred in the third round at Key Biscayne, nothing more and nothing less than against the great tennis star of his country. In what could be considered a victory that gave way to a generational relay, a cheeky young Nebraska easily defeated a dull version of Sampras, which was beginning to show signs that the body was calling for a rest. Months later Sampras would hand over the witness to Federer at Wimbledon (where he had previously won 56 of 57 games), but none of that was known before reaching this duel. What was known was that the last time Pete gave in to a boy from 18 years it was in Rome’91, and that previously came from reaching the final of Indian Wells where only Agassi could with him. Roddick varied his services very well, showing himself absolutely implacable, and he entered the track repeatedly to go ahead and attack the second service of Sampras. In what he called the “best performance for the rest of his career” (at the time), Andy stole a whopping 29 points from service to Pistol Pete, who ended up throwing in the towel since giving up an early break in the second set. Roddick would end up giving up in the quarterfinals to Lleyton Hewitt.
2004 – Nadal defeats Federer in his first match: the first Fedal in history fell on the side of Nadal. Was it a sign of fate that these confrontations would continue? We don’t know if it was a premonition. That Rafa was still a tender cub to be tamed, whose roof was not yet fully confirmed. # 34 in the world at the time, he did not even have an ATP title in his baggage, but he was able to sign what could be the first great performance of his career against what would end up being his great historical competitor. Nadal’s numbers to serve that day are curious, signing almost a 80% of points earned with the first serve and without giving up a single break, and that is that manacorí served 81% of first serves. It is already known that if you do not have a great service, it is better to opt for solidity and security, and Rafa will surely apply the story. Roger would end up taking revenge on that double 6-3 a year later, in the tournament final, but the first chapter of this historic rivalry was for Rafa.
2005 – Clijsters completes the Sunshine Double: He had missed much of 2004 due to an injury that put his promising career in check. Just operated from a cyst on his wristKim Clijsters did not know what would happen to her passion. Would she be able to regain the level that led her to be world number 1 and finalist of two Grand Slams? When Clijsters arrived in the Californian desert to play his second tournament after his recovery, it was the world number 133. Even the most optimistic could not predict that weeks later, Kim would leave the United States with two titles in the bag. The Indian Wells machado was completed with a dream performance at Crandon Park, leaving on the way to Mauresm already Sharapova (# 2 and # 3 of the world, respectively) and giving a warning of what was to come. That year Clijsters finally won his first Grand Slam, but the first steps were forged months earlier. In addition, he would put his name in the history books: he became lsecond woman, alongside Steffi Graf, to complete the Indian Wells-Miami duo.
2013 – Haas greens laurels against Djokovic: the Serb came to Key Biscayne as world number 1 and in a box without Federer and Nadal. All set to get their first Masters 1000 of the year, according to logic. Tommy, however, had other plans. The German put on the villain cape on a cold night in Miami, where Djokovic’s forehand never got to temperature. Tommy’s tennis was a whirlwind that shook the Center Court, with enormous services to serve and a varied repertoire of cuts and rhythm changes that Novak was not allowed to set the cruising speed that his tennis is used to. It was one of those times when Tommy, plagued by injuries over the past decade, allowed himself to pull off his best tennis and show the world why he was No. 2 on the planet at the time. The victory was such a shock that Haas described it as “one of the best victories of my career”. The Teuton would end up giving in the semifinals of that tournament to David Ferrer, but his performance allowed him to get closer to the top-15 again.
2018 – Kokkinakis and the best victory of his career: Thanasi is another example of a player punished for injuries. Some, in fact, of a rather comical nature. One of them came because of her “vanity” or her excessive ambition, trying to boost your bicep muscles to look good in Nike designed tank tops. The fact is that, come 2018, the wake of one of the most promising races on the circuit seemed to be more than finished. Kokkinakis came and went between the Challenger circuit and the ATP … as long as injuries allowed. However, on that sunny afternoon in Crandon Park fate gave him everything he had taken from him. In front of a Federer who came to pass game balls in the final of Indian Wells against del Potro. What better way than to remove that thorn with a title, I would think. Thanasi was the 175 of the worldBut that day he played like a real top-30, showing his characteristic self-confidence, investing and dominating with his drive and taking the initiative of the points. It was, in addition, a symbolic defeat, since it dethroned Federer from the top of the ATP ranking in favor of Nadal. “I haven’t pressured him very much with his serve, but I didn’t feel it was necessary. I just needed to play my tennis and be very aggressive.” After a third set where Roger did not give a single break, it was Kokkinakis who showed security in the tie-break. Probably the best victory of his career and a good memory for someone who, today, does not know where a body will take him absolutely punished for physical problems.