Marion Bartoli delays return


When the list of wild cards for the Miami Open was released Thursday, you couldn’t help but notice the absence of one Marion Bartoli.

The 32-year-old Frenchwoman, who retired at the Cincinnati tournament in Aug. 2013 shortly after her career-defining title at Wimbledon, announced before Christmas she planned to return, with Miami the targeted tournament.

While fitter, the Tie Break Tens match against Serena Williams a few weeks ago was a clear indication Bartoli wasn’t ready. And, she injured herself.

So no Miami.

She reportedly has a wild card into Monterrey in early April.

Ostapenko meets Iron Mike


Who knew Jelena Ostapenko was a boxing fan? 

As Mike Tyson left the practice courts the other day, after his daughter Milan got to hit with Novak Djokovic, the Latvian and her team got pretty excited when they saw the former heavyweight champion walking through the player’s field.

They wasted no time going up to him to get a few selfies.  

Ostapenko’s Indian Wells wasn’t one to remember, though. She defeated Belinda Bencic (who had won her previous match in a third-set tiebreak), but lost in straight sets to Petra Martic.

Lacoste Djokovic line adds sunglasses


Since his new collaboration with Lacoste was announced just before last year’s French Open, Novak Djokovic has been absent from the courts quite a bit because of an elbow injury,  

But the iconic tennis brand has done a good job keeping him out there, with billboards everywhere you look.

And as the one-year anniversary approaches, the Djokovic collection is expanding to include three models of sunglasses.

They’ll be available in April.

The first pair – designed to be worn on court – came out last May  although Djokovic himself doesn’t wear them during matches. 

Maria Sharapova out of Miami


Maria Sharapova has pulled out of the Miami Open which, in light of recent developments, isn’t a shock.

Sharapova had just two practices at Indian Wells – one Monday night, then the following morning – after playing just one match since the Australian Open.

She lost her first-round match in the desert to Naomi Osaka, and then announced the dismissal of coach Sven Groeneveld.

The official reason is a left forearm injury. That’s something she was grappling with even before her 15-month doping suspension.

Sharapova’s not entered in anything until Stuttgart, then Madrid.

Daria Kasatkina’s Slam by proxy


At 20, Daria Kasatkina still has just one title.

But as she prepares for her first Premier Mandatory-level semifinal Friday night against Venus Williams, the Russian has another impressive accomplishment on her resumé.

In the last six months, the Russian has beaten all four reigning Grand Slam champions.

It’s almost like a Grand Slam by proxy, although nothing like the real thing.

Kasatkina beat Australian Open champ Caroline Wozniacki and US Open champion Sloane Stephens at Indian Wells, Wimbledon champion Garbiñe Muguruza in Dubai and French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko at the US Open last summer.

Pete Sampras in the house


Pete Sampras is one legendary champion who keeps an incredibly low profile. 

You don’t see him out much watching tennis, or even attending tennis tournaments. He never plays the legends invitationals at Grand Slams.

And he’s been mostly MIA in recent years on the Champions’ circuit, called the Powershare Series.

So it was s nice surprise to see him in BNP Paribas Open owner Larry Ellison’s box (with son Ryan) for the Roger Federer – Hyeon Chung match Thursday night. 

Another legend, Rod Laver, who lives not too far away in Carlsbad, also was on hand.

“Murray Challengers” set for May


The Daily Mail reported earlier this month that Andy Murray and the British Lawn Tennis Association had been in “confidential talks” to help his comeback from hip surgery.

True or not, the LTA has added two $100,000 Challengers to the calendar in May.

Will Murray play? His last Challenger was in Oct. 2005. 

Per the rules, Murray’s ranking prohibits him from accepting a wild card into a Challenger offering less than $75,000. So the rich purses are probably no coincidence.

He needs approval from the ATP.

If he were still in the top 10, he wouldn’t be allowed.

Keys sets Miami Fearlessly Girl summit


Madison Keys will hold another Fearlessly Girl summit during the early days of the Miami Open.

Keys, 22, joined the organization as an ambassador in Aug. 2016 and has since headlined several summits scheduled around tennis events, including last summer in Toronto at the Rogers Cup.

The organization promotes anti-bullying and mental health programming in schools across North America, with a special focus on trying to help tweens and teens “be kinder to themselves and each other.”

The free event will be the morning of March 20 at the JW Marriott in Miami, limited to 100 girls aged 11-17. Registration is here.

Dominika Cibulkova out of Miami


Former top-10 player Dominika Cibulkova has been rather low-profile the last 12 months.

And now, she has pulled out of the Miami Open next week because of “gastro-intestinal illness”.

The 28-year-old lost her first match at Indian Wells to wild card Caroline Dolehide.

Cibulkova’s last tournament in 2017 was in Beijing at the end of September. She returned in 2018 and has played six tournaments , losing in the first round in Australia to Kaia Kanepi.

And while she has mostly only lost to very good players and made the final in Budapest, her ranking is down to No. 30.

Pavs bounces from adidas snub


After wearing adidas for most of her long career, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova found herself without a deal at the end of 2017. (She wasn’t the only one).

But the Russian has bounced back nicely, as she now dons Sofibella, a Pompano Beach-based tenniswear company.

Sofibella dresses a lot of players further down in the rankings (Tatjana Maria, Monica Niculescu and others).

But at No. 23, Pavlyuchenkova might be the highest-ranked player they’ve been associated with.

She’s excited about her outfits for the spring. And she’s looking good on the practice courts at Indian Wells.