Aces and Faults: Just joining us in Indian Wells? Here's what you missed
INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- Aces and Faults recaps the week in tennis. Here's where we stand as the third round continues at the BNP Paribas Open.
Roger Federer: The Swiss beat Paul-Henri Mathieu in fairly straightforward fashion -- he was broken when serving for his opening-round mach but we'll let that slide for now -- and his pairing with Stanislas Wawrinka has injected some excitement into the men's doubles draw. Federer requested his doubles to be played on Stadium 2, and the crush of fans trying to get into the 8,000-seat venue created a line that snaked around the grounds. A healthy Federer is simply good for tennis, and the fans out here have had ample opportunity to see a legend. (UPDATE: On Monday afternoon, Federer advanced in singles with a 7-6 , 7-6  victory over No. 30 Dmitry Tursunov.)
Maria Sharapova: Most top players have looked a little rusty or underwhelming in the early rounds, but not Sharapova in her return from an Olympic layoff. Playing her first match since the beginning of February, she looked better than expected in easing past Julia Goerges 6-1, 6-4. If Sharapova continues to hit the ball as cleanly and consistently deep as she did against Goerges, she will have a chance to defend her title. She was scheduled to play Camila Giorgi on Monday afternoon. (UPDATE: Sharapova lost to Giorgi.)
Sloane Stephens: The 20-year-old American produced her best performance of the year in beating Ajla Tomljanovic 6-4, 6-1 in her opener. It was great to see Stephens play so aggressively and go for winners instead of working her defense, as usual. Her partnership with new coach Paul Annacone just might work out.
Lauren Davis: The 20-year-old from Cleveland not only held her nerve to knock out an injured Victoria Azarenka in the second round, but she also followed it up with a straight-set win over Varvara Lepchenko. It's the follow-up wins that we like to see.
Taylor Townsend: Maybe she should have been been on the U.S. Fed Cup team that lost to Italy last month. Townsend, 17, upset No. 49 Karin Knapp 7-6 (1), 6-1 for her second WTA main-draw victory and pushed No. 21 Flavia Pennetta before losing 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-3. Not bad.
The Indian Wells Tennis Garden expansion: When developers sat down with tournament owner Larry Ellison last year, they laid out a five-year plan for redevelopment and expansion of the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, which included a new Stadium 2 court, new practice courts and parking expansion. Ellison took it all in and had one simple suggestion: Get it done in 10 months. They pulled it off, much to everyone's amazement, and the new Stadium 2 court is the crowning achievement of all that hard work. It's a beautiful secondary court that integrates seamlessly into the current layout and includes, as everyone has probably heard, a Nobu, where diners can sit at a bar (for a $100 minimum) and nosh on world-class sashimi while overlooking the court.
Equally impressive is how Ellison & Co. have raised the bar on what sports fans can expect from a wireless data perspective at a major sporting event. The site has been equipped with fairly reliable free public Wi-Fi, and the tournament app is the best that I've used at any tournament, Slam or non-Slam. The tournament's Wi-Fi network allows streaming of high-quality video from four show courts, an ambitious service given the potential bandwidth issues. And, of course, you can't push fans to use their second screen if you're just going to drain their batteries. Free charging stations were available as well. It's all been incredibly well conceived.
Victoria Azarenka: I was sympathetic to Azarenka's decision to try to play Indian Wells in order to test the foot injury sustained in Australia, but that sympathy evaporated the minute she implied she was ignoring medical advice to play. When asked whether she had received medical assurances that she couldn't further injure her foot if she played, Azarenka said, "I'm too stubborn for that." She needs to take some time off and get her body right. Women's tennis needs Azarenka fully healthy and competing for the game's biggest titles.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga: The Frenchman is completely out of sorts. He still hasn't beaten a top-10 player since last year's French Open, and he was all over the place in his 6-4, 6-4 loss to Julien Benneteau in the second round.
American men: Fourteen American men started the tournament and only one, John Isner, survived past the second round.
German women: In the span of an hour on Saturday, Angelique Kerber, Sabine Lisicki and Goerges all lost in the second round, which came on the heels of Andrea Petkovic's loss to Giorgi a day earlier. The last German woman standing was 20-year-old Annika Beck. How'd she fare? The youngster was on the carb end of a 6-0, 6-0 thumping from Agnieszka Radwasnka.
Madison Keys: After a nice 6-2, 6-1 win over Tsvetana Pironkova in the first round, Keys lost 6-3, 6-3 to Roberta Vinci. And here's the kicker: That was Vinci's first victory of the year.
Mohamed El Jennati: The chair umpire had a very bad couple of days.
Photo of the week
Tournament photographer Billie Weiss captured this great shot of Nadal.
In case you missed it ...
• Along with Vinci, Francesca Schiavone finally got her first win of the season.
• Alize Cornet survived the heat and saved three match points to outlast Carla Suarez Navarro 6-7 (3), 7-5, 6-3 in three hours and 26 minutes, the second-longest WTA match of the season.
• Milos Raonic scrapped through his opening win thanks to 33 aces, and boy did he need every single one of them. He beat Edouard Roger-Vasselin 7-6 (4), 4-6, 7-6 (2).
• Caroline Wozniacki is working on a trial basis with Michael Mortensen, but her father still handles in-match coaching timeouts. Wozniacki said her father can communicate ideas faster than Mortensen.
• Jelena Jankovic did this:
Yes, this is Jelena #Jankovic hanging off the umpire's chair. Just because (she's up 63). #BNPPO14 #WTA pic.twitter.com/kVwcTkI0qg
-- TennisTV (@TennisTV) March 10, 2014
• Eugenie Bouchard defeated Sara Errani 6-3, 6-3 in the third round for her first victory over a top-10 player this year. The 20-year-old Canadian is also still receiving stuffed animals from her fans after the matches.
• Yet another Martina Hingis doubles comeback stalls: The 33-year-old and Lisicki lost 6-4, 6-7 (0), 10-6 to Ashleigh Barty and Casey Dellacqua.
• This happened late one night:
Djokovic bombs Dimitrov's presser, asks what his fav Sugarpova flavor is. “Flirty Sour.” #BNPPO14 pic.twitter.com/R7BDsr2o6S
-- Douglas Robson (@dougrobson) March 10, 2014
• How long will it be until we see a healthy Azarenka and Juan Martin del Potro?
• If the Grand Slams moved to a best-of-three format for the men, top singles players would surely litter the doubles draw and create more publicity for the sport and entertainment for fans. Good trade-off?
• With all the incredible improvements Indian Wells has made to its facilities and services, how will other top tournaments respond if at all?
• Can we please stop getting draws that put Ernests Gulbis and Grigor Dimitrov in the same section? This is the third time in a month they'll face off.