Your Call, 3.12

Thursday, March 12, 2009 /by

Maria Alright.  Mouth-flappin', backhand-slappin; rapper wannabe Vince Spadea will kick off the action at Indian Wells today, on the stadium court at 11 am (going up against Igor (the Vladivostok Killah) Kunitsyn. That's for all of you who are sick of all things Federer and/or Cahill. The rallying cry of the day is "Game on!"

Two of the more intriguing matches on my radar today will be Kei Nishikori vs. Ivan Ljubicic (feature match on the stadium tonight) and Feliciano Lopez vs. Michael Llodra on stadium 2 this afternoon. I like the first match-up because it presents up-and-coming Nishikori with a good opportunity to count coup on a blooded, top-tier veteran - a task that may be made easier by the ups and downs Ljubicic has experienced since his outstanding year, 2005 (when he finished no. 5 in the world).

I like that second match-up because of its potential for great shotmaking and the kind of charisma you get when you've got a stud muffin playing a charismatic screwball. I think we'll see a lot of balls-to-the-wall attacking tennis when Lopez and Llodra begin hurling thunderbolts at each other, and that's not exactly coin of the realm on the ATP Tour these days.

And in the last match of the day on the stadium, Maria Sharapova makes her long-anticipated return to tournament play, albeit only in doubles.

Enjoy today's action; I've got a lot going on here at the office and may not be able to get back with you until tomorrow.

PS - Can anyone identify the affable, gnome-like dude in this photo?

- Pete

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