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Tennis Paradise

Sue recaps her latest visit to the Indian Wells Tennis Gardens to see Roger strut his stuff

Hello everyone,

Tennis is paradise in the Coachella Valley. More and more beautiful. The organization is top notch as well. Is it the only major tournament not near a big city? Exciting but serene.

I was keeping an eye on the weather there before the trip. Ten degrees colder than normal. Luckily the days were perfect, not too hot. The nights were cold, especially with the wind blowing down from the snow-peaked mountains. I was wearing four layers with a blanket on my lap one night.

We flew Air Canada this time using air miles as always. It got us there earlier in the day and the flight home gave us more time, leaving at 7 pm on Wed March 13th. I noticed the plane was a 737 Max 8.

Hmmm, didn't I see something about that on the news? Wasn't there a crash somewhere? Oh, just forget about all of that, it's vacation time! More on that later.

Arriving early on Thursday, March 7th, we had all day to shop for food and read by the pool. We stayed in the same cute inn in Palm Desert as last time. A short drive to the tennis grounds.

A Korean woman runs a very tight ship but makes a great breakfast every morning. The next day was shopping, by the pool and out for a nice Mexican dinner. We had planned on going up the Aerial Tramway into the mountains but the roads were washed out because of a massive storm.

Ready For Four Days of Tennis!

Welcome to Indian Wells

I love the tennis garden so much. In the car rental line-up, I was talking to people from Florida – they prefer Indian Wells to Miami. I saw some great matches this year.

big screen indian wells

First up was Felix Auger Aliassime over Tsitsipas. We had tickets in Stadium One day and evening for four days. Saturday and Sunday in the best seats and two days in the loge.

Stadium One Indian Wells

We saw all the Canadians play too. Managed to end up in stadium 2,3 and 4 as well. They offer different looks and closeness to the court.

Stadium 3 Indian Wells

Shapovalov against Cilic on Stadium 3

We then saw Djoker lose. He has such a bad temper one doesn't always see on TV. Zverev looked awful. Many players were fighting a virus. Serena retired.

Also saw Bencic beat Osaka. I was really impressed with her game. Andresscu beat Wang and ended up winning the whole F'ing thing as she said in her presser.

We try and see the players we haven't seen before, so we fit in a lot of matches. A little crazy. One night we sold our tickets. Nadal was playing, they love him in Indian Wells too.

Another night we stayed to watch the matches in stadium two and couldn't unload the Djokovic match tickets on Stadium One. No one was interested!

Roger Time

Now to Roger. He has this aura about him that is mesmerizing. Right, guys? There is always an excitement in the air when he's playing. The crowd is always silent during play, not like the USO.

Practice Courts

We saw a bit of his practice one day but as the tournament progresses, so do the crowds. Never an autograph. Close a few times but…

First up is Gojowczyk who beat Seppi in the first round. Fed blew through the first set and found the second more competitive. Wearing his Wimbledon whites was a bit of a surprise.

federer-gojo

The whole family there, really a fun match to watch up close. Roger never seems to look up at the crowd and he never noticed Sampras in Larry Ellison's “Royal Box”.

Up next was Stan. Roger in blue had full control of the match and it appeared another tough loss for his fellow countryman. Some entertaining points in this match!

A small rant here. Why oh why do the American tournaments have both William sisters (ranked 10 and 43) on centre court for EVERY match they play. Being held hostage to the insanity. Got to go to the outer courts to find the top woman players!

rolex-indian-wells

With Tuesday night matches over, it's time to leave. I would say the last time I see Fed live.

Back to the mundane. Our flight leaves at 7 pm the next day. Off to the room to get caught up with the wine.

No rush to leave the next day. We don't have to check out until 1 pm.  Meander our way back to the airport in Palm Springs, early dinner there and on our way.

BUT, I never go on a trip without some sort of drama. Remember the creep who had a microphone and probably a camera in the Airbnb? Well, a little voice in my head said, “Check the flight status“.

But why should I? I'm supposed to receive notification from the airline about delays etc. So, I looked and of course – the flight was cancelled!

Back in the recesses of my mind is something about a downed aircraft.

We hightailed it to the airport. The airline was not taking any phone calls and the ticket counter was empty!

Finally finding someone, we were told they had no authority to help us out at all. All hotel rooms miles around are pretty well booked solid, no cars to rent!

They said, “try United”. But they are unable to book us on a flight. We have to go to their website and do it ourselves. Hello, isn't this a ticket counter in an international airport?

Ok, let's try Westjet. OMG, they had two seats left on a plane leaving soon!

Dropped off the car, checked the bags and made the flight. How lucky was that? Later in the day when it was too late, I received notification that the flight was cancelled. I wonder what happened to everyone else on that flight? All those aircraft grounded and a huge storm in the midwest.

I sat on the plane feeling so fortunate. Another trip to Paradise to see the Maestro and a way home on an older 737.

Sue

Jonathan

Huge fan of Roger Federer. I watch all his matches from Grand Slam level right down to ATP 250. When I'm not watching or tweeting about tennis I play regularly myself and use this blog to share my thoughts on Federer and tennis in general.

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61 Comments

  1. On non Tennis questions, did they airlines resolved/compensated for cancelled flight or still in Limbo? Not at all sounding good to hear these kind of customer handling…

    1. I guess ticket refund is a no brainer. But compensation, I doubt it. Not really their fault, so they’ll be saying we’re asking Boeing for recompense first.

      Looks like the Max will be grounded for a while. Especially if the Ethiopian Airlines one is caused by the same fault.

      1. That is the kind of $hit that happens when there are fundamental design flaws that one later tries to correct with some extra device. People seem to forget that there is absolutely no way one can go against the physical laws of nature.

      2. Yeah to a degree but it’s not a design flaw as such. All aircraft with wings under the engine pitch up, just the Max is more prone to it.

        As usual, the media are just looking for headlines with all this. It’s more a flaw in a solution that works but wasn’t implemented correctly nor communicated well. Which of course is not very good at all from Boeing and they have a lot of questions to answer. Even more so if it was rushed through and not properly tested.

        The 737 is a great aircraft though. But the bigger engines meant they had to be moved forward in the Max as the landing gear is fairly short (risk of bashing them on the runway during crosswind landing). That changed the aerodynamic characteristics of it and made entering a stall condition more likely. All aircraft that have engines underwing pitch up when you put on a lot of thrust. The Max more so due to the bigger engines and where they are located. To help the pilots avoid stall scenarios they introduced the MCAS system that trims it down when it believes the aircraft is approaching a stall. But it’s not been well implemented (relies on one sensor, continues to trim after X seconds if the AOA is still deemed too high regardless of pilot input, arguably has the ability to move the stabiliser more than it should)

        The tragic Lion Air one was the typical Swiss cheese model where everything aligned and it went very wrong. Pilot error, lack of training, lack of communication from Boeing, faulty sensor, poor maintenance from Lion air, poor communication/logging from the previous flight.

        The flight before is another Swiss cheese moment. The same problem that would have ended in disaster only to be solved by a Pilot sat in the jump seat, how lucky would you feel right now if you were on that flight. Blocking that final hole in the cheese. I guess the problem is the holes aligned a bit too easily…

        The Ethiopian one, remains to be seen so I won’t speculate.

  2. “He has this aura about him that is mesmerizing. Right, guys?” – Absolutely! Really glad you had a fab holiday and Roger time twice. Had a great view of him dazzling in white, didn’t you? Thanks for the story and such informative photos, love them.
    Disappointed in you not to get the selfie with him, Sue.

  3. It sounds as though you had a wonderful time Sue, rather annoying and worrying about the travel arrangements at the end, but at least you got home safely. How many times have you seen Fed live now?

    1. Gee Annie, I started going to Indian Wells in 2011. Almost 20, I think. Then saw him play in Seattle and USO. Never get tired of it at all.

      1. Goodness Sue,you are truly a most stalwart fan!Does any particular match,stand out?I have only seen Fed live 4 times,but my favourite is always going to be Basle.They just love him so much there.And it is so well organised.Well,I guess it would be😋

      2. I suppose the matches that stand out are the Match for Africa in Seattle with Bill Gates and Isner. The whole day was so much fun. Another one 2012 IW vs Raonic. It went 3 sets and the crowd was crazy. That year Fed was super sick and the match before he was sweating, looked green. Don’t know how he played. That year he wore a blue shirt that I loved and beat Nadal in the semis. Loved that match too but on TV. Another is 2013, wearing bright orange, 3rd round playing Dodig. I saw him injure his back. It was so bad he couldn’t sit down during change overs. He tried to hide it from Dodig and won the match. Next up was Nadal, Fed could hardly move. Stayed out there for the fans.
        I’ve never seen an epic final live. I go for the sure thing. Oh, and doubles with Stan in 2011.

      3. He beat Stan after Dodig then lost to Rafa. So played 2 more matches with the bad back.

        Stan really should have won that day, he always loses to Fed when he has a bad back!

      4. Picky, picky. Yes, I forgot about that match vs Stan. Seems Stan decided he wasn’t going to win anyway. Nadal had a light green shirt that year that didn’t breath. Everyone sweating like a pig. That whole year was a mess, wasn’t it? In retrospect, he should have taken a block of time off to heal his back. Instead Fed played clay after Wimbledon and made it even worse.

  4. Nice report, thanks, Sue. Just a shame about the number of huge adverts interspersed in it every few lines, but then I guess you can’t have everything!

    1. Oh yeah, there’s an ad say “Meet Local Rich Mature Women”. Is it Sue? Thought of the photo, with a blond lady sitting on a couch and smiling at me 😆

  5. Hey, because I bought the tickets through airmiles, Air Canada are unable to refund because the tickets weren’t purchased directly from them. I now will try a different way. All of this is done on line so feel sorry for people who don’t have a computer. For the first time, I didn’t get cancellation insurance for the airmiles. Figures.

    1. Ah ye airmiles booking, forgot that. Pay for insurance and never need it, then stop and need it. I reckon you might be able to get them back though?

      I just saw Air Canada grounded their Max Fleet until July.

      1. I put in a “complaint” with the info. So, we will see. I don’t feel too optimistic tbh. The return ticket was 210 USD. No need to declare bankruptcy until the credit card bills arrive.
        Yes, I don’t think the Canadian gov’t will be satisfied until this issue is fixed for sure.
        Actually, the Max8 has very little leg room and not enough bathrooms per passenger. Older 737 more leg room but no in flight movies etc.

      2. Yeah the rules with points are always a bit weird. Is it an Air Canada credit card you use to get them? Or transfer them into their scheme? I’ve only ever used Amex to collect then moved to SAS or KLM but fortunately never had any cancellations or changes. I like how you still have to pay taxes on top of using points lol.

        You should definitely get the 210 back though?

        I’ve been on a Max8 once, was pretty good, overhead bins are a better design. I’d get on one again no problem, it’s a very safe plane and going to be the safest airliner in the sky after all this scrutiny.

      3. I have an airmiles point card. I can use it when I shop at certain stores. I also have a couple of credit cards (Amex and Mastercard) that give me airmiles when I use them. I do most of my travelling this way. I got a Platinum Amex card and a 2000 airmile bonus for signing up. The next year I cancelled the card. If you know how to get the most out of it, it’s worth doing. But, taxes are extra of course. Do you have a system like this in the UK or just miles from flying?

      4. Yeah, there are a few ways to build up frequent flyer points here.

        I took out an Amex to get the 20k points when you spend 3k in the first 3 months a while ago. Then after a year I cancelled it and moved them all into Flying Blue, got me a return flight in Europe.

        I did the same last year with a business Amex with a similar deal. No brainer really if you can hit the spend threshold without having to buy stuff you don’t need.

        Avios points with British Airways are pretty popular and Amex do a card specifically for those but I never fly with BA as their hubs are in South of UK so rarely flying into there.

  6. Nice write up Sue, it’s good to know rich people!:) Glad you were able to see the Fed in action, sounds like he is very focused and efficient. How would you describe his physical appearance in person. I hear you on the W sisters, were stadiums full for those matches?

  7. Hey Stuart, No, I don’t know rich people,ha. He looks awesome in person as the drool runs down my chin. Tall stature, broad shoulders, fit, nice smile…..and on. No, the stadiums weren’t full, Venus on stadium one 3 out of 4 days I was there. It’s Roger and Rafa that fill the stadiums.
    Actually, on Tuesday, Venus was scheduled again for stadium one. They decided to fit in the rest of Djokovic Kohli match. So, they decided not to empty the stadium before the evening session because they were already an hour behind. It felt like they didn’t dare move Djoker or Venus. So, all the day session people could have hung out in the washroom and got a free evening session watching Fed vs Stan.

  8. Haha love the comment about not finding any takers for the Djokovic match.
    I went to IW once a few years ago and since I fly in from Bali it’s a really expensive and time consuming proposition, so I won’t be able to do it again. IW is indeed tennis paradise. Also if anyone is wondering..they have the parking situation completley in control…thousands of parking spaces and very very well organized.
    Thank you for the lovely story Sue!

    1. Do you live in Bali, Donna?

      Once I won Wimby centre court tickets for 4R in the first row behind the photographer. Imagine, I was ecstatic with the prospect of seeing Fed live for the first time. Then my dream was crushed the day before when the order of play announced. He would play at the court 1 instead. Noooo!
      Nadal was World No.1 that year and he was going to play Delpo. So I went around asking to exchange the tickets. NOBODY wanted. Nobody gave the chance to see Roger out, of course.
      So I had to put up with watching Dull/Delpossum 🙁
      Jonathan was also there, I believe?

  9. I’m drooling reading about all these lucky people that have seen Roger
    on multiple occasions…..so good to read and have to applaud the Fans
    that are so well organised, glad that it was all worthwhile. My one
    and only time seeing him live was when he beat Sampras at Wim., I
    know Sampras was a great force in tennis but not my favourite, who
    could know that I would change from being a tennis fan to a Fedfan,
    it’s wonderful to see all the same banners etc., following Federer around
    the world and mind blowing to think of the many at home making a quick
    cuppa during changeovers!!

    1. Ah very cool, you saw Fed before he was really on the scene. Not many fans can lay claim to that. I remember watching it on TV then cheering for Henman next round 😀

      1. I only *know* that I’ve seen Roger live twice – Olympic doubles at Wimbledon, and WTF against Gasquet a year or so later. Apart from that, none of my attempts have succeeded. I may have seen him earlier at Wimbledon when he was in the juniors or only just on the Tour, but I never used to annotate my programmes in those days, so I can’t be sure (I do now – you never know who you might see before they were famous!)

      2. I think you’d remember though if you had?

        I couldn’t name every player off the top of my head who I’ve seen play, but if someone said the name or reeled off a list I reckon I’d get virtually everyone including all the ones seen walking around outside courts at Wimbledon.

      3. I’ve been going to Wimbledon since (just) before Roger was born! I’m hardly likely to retain the name of every junior I’ve seen in passing, especially back in the pre-internet days, when it was a lot more difficult to hear about good prospects before they started making a name for themselves 🙂

  10. Thanks a lot for the fan story, Sue 🙂 and the pictures are nice.
    You should have asked Roger to sponsor  a Net Jets plane for you or Larry Ellison to lend you his plane… to go back home. As a faithful Fedfan, you deserve it…
     🛩😊🎾

    1. Nah, not a good way of looking at it. The guy has clearly gone in with the idea of making Fed look better now than he was in his prime.

      He turned pro in 1998 and had little success until the early noughties. So you can basically remove a ton of tournaments from the data set.

      Maybe in smaller blocks, it would be interesting. 1998-2002. 2003-2007, 2008-2012 and so on.

      1. Yeah, Roger’s early career wasn’t really eventful. His game and career started to take place slowly since about 2001.

  11. Interesting. I see Thiem has lost to Hurkacz. Another player bringing his A(A)-game to Federer and then falling apart next match?

  12. Fed deals with Hurkacz in straight sets and then Thiem loses to him.None of these younger players seem to have
    any consistency,capable of spoiling the party and then disappearing.

  13. Thanks a lot, Sue, must have been terrific to be there and see him. How interesting that he has an “aura”, but true as it comes over even on the screen. Loved reading details about the other players too and seeing your super photographs.

  14. Quite an interesting story here about the IW trip. The Fed match went on until 8 , pretty late for people in the Uk and Europe…it was very tight. Fed had a weak service game, but then held mostly safely, he just couldn’t break his opponent. Federer also made a lot of unforced errors, I think mainly because of getting used to the surface (looks slowish, similar to Indian Wells). Anyway he gutted out a tough victory…

  15. I watched Ferrer over Zverev. Again Zverev looked mediocre. Maybe Lendl isn’t a good fit. Happy for David though to hear the crowd cheer for him at the end of his career.

  16. These days my nerves are not for the direct thing, so this time again looking forward to a Rog replay again. And actually too many UEs don’t bother me (just a usual nice showing brave aggression), as long as he has nearly as many winners (and prevails).

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