Miami Open presented by Itau
It is never easy to play a fellow countryman; it is even harder when there is a significant age difference. Add to that the pressure of public expectation and it becomes almost herculean. Would the youngster be overwhelmed or would she embrace the spotlight as she did at the 2014 US Open? Williams was expected to win and Bellis was hoping not to be completely embarrassed. The tension was palpable in the first few games as both players assessed the other’s talents; therefore, it was not surprising there were some uncharacteristic errors. Sadly, it was not a highly competitive match as Bellis had too few weapons to combat Williams’ power. Williams took the easy 6-1, 6-1 victory, happy not to have stressed her ailing knee that much and well aware that her next match will be more physically taxing.
Friendship on hold
The tension in the Monfils/Tsonga match was due to a different reason. Although they are countrymen, there was no significant ranking or age difference. Also, there was no added pressure of public expectation. The tension on the court came from playing a good friend, a factor that creates a level of stress that affects some players more than others. Given their previous head-to-head, Tsonga was expected to be victorious; however, he has been injured and it takes a few matches to regain your rhythm and confidence. Although he would put up a valiant effort, pushing the second set to a tiebreaker, he was no match today for Monfils. Monfils took advantage of Tsonga lack of match toughness to steal the 6-4, 7-6(4) victory. Will he build on this victory in the next round?