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Men & Women's Story lines, News at Indian Wells (IW/BNP)

March 07, 2012 | 01:09 PM

For those of you who might a link to the desert valley's local newspaper section devoted to the BNP Indian Wells tournie, bookmark this one and you'll stay well in touch with all the action and the local color you'd have to hunt for in other sources:

BNP Paribas Open | The Desert Sun |

One fact in today's edition got me thinking about the present MEN's stars vs. the WOMEN's: for the past 8 years, there's been a different women's title winner every year. I wouldn't be shocked if this is true for other tournies of this caliber (Tier 1 WTA events, ATP 1000's).

The top 3 MEN, on the other hand, have shared this title over the last 8 years, with one improbably exception in 2010 when the 30 year old Ljubicic took out Joker and Nadal and Roddick to win (Fed won in '04 - '06; Rafa won in '07 and '09; Joker in '08 and '11). And I would be surprised if this pattern wasn't similar across the top tier events beneath the majors, where we know it to be true.

For overall TENNIS FANS of the game, including both the Men's and the and the Women's tours, this difference provides interest and excitement, rivalries and brand new stories.

The problem, however, is that none of the new female title holders and #1's in the last 8 years have had staying power on the tour. What staying power there is has survived with a few stars that emerged before 2004: the Williams, Clijsters, Henin and Sharapova.

There is an obvious analogy to the PGA Tour in the last few, post-Tiger years (yes, Tiger remained #1 until 18 months ago, but his disappearance from the tour started in November '09 when Elin borrowed his 9 iron and knocked him into the hazard of marital hell, or where a man gets sent when he's caught cheating and hasn't used a condom with you). About a half dozen men have assumed the #1 mantle, with none keeping longer than Vika has had since OZ.

Speaking of AZ, the Desert Sun also pointed out that Vika or AZ has a 17 match undefeated start to her year, and wondered if she will be the 2012 Joker. Hmmmm. More likely, of course, may be that Vika more resembles the 2008 Joker who won OZ and took another 3 years to win again. Let's see if she can unseat last year's BNP/IW champ, the woman who WAS #1, WOZ.

To meet Caroline here, Vika will have to get past possible rivals Radwanska, Li Na, Kvitova or '09 title holder Zvonareva.

Tall order even for a six footer like the new #1. We'll see if she measures up. And we'll see how Caroline does after spending some romantic nights in NYC with the new #1 golfer, her BF, RORY Mac. Maybe she re-acquired the taste for winning.

I'm off to the women's 1st round, when stadium courts are filled by young Americans who've qualified or been carded into the main draw (turned out I was wrong about Madison Keys getting wild-carded into the main draw regardless of how she did in the qualifying; in an irony, the woman she beat to win the WC into the qualies, Jessica Pegula, went on to qualify and has a good draw).

I'll also watch a final men's qualie or two.



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