The 2007 Pacific Life Open had a different winner for the first time in four years in the men’s division. The number one player in the world, Roger Federer who has won the Open the last three years was upset in his first match by Argentine, Guillermo Canas. All the players seemed shocked yet more relaxed after Federer’s loss. In the end the number two player in the world, Spaniard Rafael Nadal beat the up-and-coming Serb Novak Djokovic 6-2, 7-5 to win his first tournament in nine plus months. This is Nadal’s first title since he won the French Open last year. The 19 year old Djokovic won the hearts of the fans with his effort and play during the tournament while earning his ranking into the top 10. The crowd of 14,525 at the final broke the record attendance with a final account of 303,398. This record marked the first 300,000 plus attendance for any tennis event outside the grand slams.
A few of the record-setting highlights include the tournament being televised for more than 2,000 hours in over 200 countries around the world; more than 400 local, national and international journalists and photographers were onsite covering the tournament; travel package sales rose an impressive 37% compared to last year; www.PacificLifeOpen.com had more than 1.75 million unique visitors over the course of the two weeks; there were 200 challenges on Stadium Court with regards to the new Electronic Line Calling system, with players winning 39% and losing 61% of the time; the tournament being named the 2006 Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Tournament of the Year by the players for the second year in a row; and more celebrities than ever before came out including Melinda and Bill Gates, Gwen Stefani, Gavin Rossdale, Elizabeth Shue, Dr. Phil, Tommy Bahamas model Andy Lucchesi, Pacific Life Open owners Billie Jean King and Chris Evert, Greg Norman, Barbara Sinatra, Jeanette King and Boris Becker. In addition to the on-court success, a record level of fundraising took place off-court during the tournament. The Champions Volunteer Foundation, the primary beneficiary of the Pacific Life Open raised $120,000, which will be distributed by the Foundation to more than 25 various charities across the Coachella Valley at the end of this year. Also doing some fundraising on-site was Theralase, a medical laser system for the safe and effective treatment of pain, musculo-skeletal conditions, wounds and nerves. They raised $6,520 for the National Junior Tennis League of the Coachella Valley through treatments given to patrons. One other area where records were set was in the participation by volunteers (935) and ballkids (235). Of those volunteers and ballkids a few were exceptional in their duties at this year's event. Walter Goldsmith, the Chairman of Player Services, won the Julie Copeland Award, which is given to the volunteer of the year. He received an all-expenses paid trip from Steve Furgal International Tennis Tours and the Pacific Life Open to the 2007 US Open. Gabrille Weissmann and Alex Greene, who were selected as the Ballkids of the Year, will have the opportunity to work as ballkids at the Legg Mason Classic, which will be held this summer in Washington, D.C., as part of a ballkids exchange program the two tournaments run. Fans and tournament organizers are already looking forward to the 2008 Pacific Life Open, to be held March 10-23, and to setting more records. The Pacific Life Open, a two-week combined ATP Masters Series and Sony Ericsson WTA Tour is held annually at the beautiful Indian Wells Tennis Garden, located near Palm Springs in Southern California's lush desert oasis. For information about the tournament or travel packages call 800-999-1585 or visit PacificLifeOpen.com.
In the women’s final Daniella Hantuchova won for the second time here defeating former US Open Champion Svetlana Kuznetova 6-3, 6-4.
In the men’s doubles Martin Damm and Leader Paes beat Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram to capture the doubles title as the #1 Bryan Brothers team went out early.
All the players had to endure the heat of the desert with temperatures reaching from the high 90s to the low 100s.
Federer did not look like his usual self making many unforced errors while Canas played superbly and served really well. Canas, a former top 10 player was a lucky loser to get into the main draw. He returned to the tour late last year after serving a 15 month suspension for testing positive for a banded substance. That suspension was reduced from two years when he appealed it. He looked very fit and his speed was impressive. Unfortunately he had a let down in his next match vs. Carlos Moya and lost in straight sets.
Other early upsets included James Blake, Lleyton Hewitt, Marcos Baghdatis, Tomas Berdych and Mikhall Youzhny all ranked in the top 20.
Other players that looked impressive were Andy Murray, Tommy Haas, David Ferrer, Andy Roddick and Juan Ignacio Chela. Chela got to the quarterfinals and played Nadal tough but was broken at 5-5 in each set to bow out . Third seeded Roddick looked great reaching the semi-finals but was ousted by nemesis Nadal 6-4, 6-3 while Murray fell to Djokovic 6-2, 6-3 in the other half of the draw. Roddick looked impressive early on and came up with a big with vs. Ljubicic as Jimmy Conners looked on (Both pictures above). In the best and most exciting match of the tournament Murray beat Haas in three sets, the last in a tie breaker. Haas had a couple match points yet Murray overcame a leg injury after falling during the second set. Haas seemed to have the match in control but Murray did not give up even after taking a 15+ minute injury time out to recover. At the press conference after the match Murray was very appreciative of Haas’ behavior during the injury timeout. Haas quickly went over to Murray to see if he was OK after his fall which showed great sportsmanship. In a one on one sport with such competitiveness it was great to see a situation like this happen. I talked to Murray after he beat Haas and after he beat the number four seed Davydenko in the previous round. I asked him about the different strategies and game plans he and coach Brad Gilbert utilized. Murray told me each opponent is different and will Davydenko he mixed things up and forced the Russian to make many of the errors. While playing Haas he was going for more shots especially after his injury. I predict big things from the 19 year old British player whose current ranking is 14. If he stays focused and healthy, look out. It seems he can get rattled at times as he was obviously upset about some calls and the instant reply system. His coach, Brad Gilbert, will be very helpful with any issues from his long time playing & coaching experience. Haas has had a great start to 2007 and looked in control but admitted getting nervous while also dealing with cramping in his legs vs. Murray.
The only top ranked player to miss this tournament was Mario Ancic of Croatia.
More updates and new information will be posted on the Pacific Life Open for the 2008 Tournament as it gets closer. In the meantime, please go to their website for more at www.pacificlifeopen.com