INDIAN WELLS — A year ago, Marcin Rozpedski worked as the hitting partner for Ana Ivanovic, who went on to win the tournament at Indian Wells and the French Open en route to the No. 1 ranking.
Ivanovic has hired Rozpedski, the director of tennis at The Lakes Country Club in Palm Desert, to hit with her again when she returns to Indian Wells to defend her title. However, if things go well for Rozpedski, they might reverse roles.
Rozpedski defeated Yusuke Kusuda 6-1, 6-4 on Saturday in his second-round match in the BNP Paribas Open challenger tournament. If Rozpedski wins today against David Johnson and again Monday, he will advance to the four-player prequalifer of the BNPP. And if he wins both of those matches, he will get into the qualifier. And if he wins two more matches there, Rozpedski will get into the main draw, which features the world's top 75 players.
And Rozpedski could be in the market for a good hitting partner, say the former No. 1 women's player in the world.
“She's going to be my hitting partner,” Rozpedski joked. “I'll pay her to be my hitting partner.”
In case Rozpedski doesn't make it into the main draw, this will be the third year he worked as Ivanovic's hitting partner. He had done so well, Ivanovic's people invited Rozpedski to come to Europe last year to help the Serbian prepare for the French Open.
So Rozpedski spent 10 days with her in Belgium, 10 days in Berlin, then Rome and Amsterdam, leading up to the French Open.
“It was amazing. It was such a great learning experience, tennis-wise, fitness wise,” Rozpedski said. “I learned how you get a tennis player to peak at the right time. She played the French Open final and that was a great match, and her semifinal match was incredible. And every match she played, it's as if we played with her.”
Rozpedski started working with Ivanovic three years ago thanks to Tom Fey, who is running this weekend's challenge round. Fey had gotten the request from the Ivanovic camp.
“I felt he would be very professional,” Fey said. “He's been there and done that.”
As for Rozpedski, he will try to get himself back in shape for when Ivanovic returns to the valley. He said he plans to hit with Andy Scorteanu, a teaching pro at Indian Ridge Country Club and another player who will be favored in the challenge round.
However, Rozpedski doesn't have the luxury of focusing solely on the tournament. On Friday, he went to the Date festival with his two young sons and his wife. After his match Saturday, Rozpedski had to return to the Lakes to organize the Valentine's tournament they're hosting today. All this, and Rozpedski will have to get ready to play his friend, David Johnson, a teaching pro at Indian Wells Tennis Garden today.
“I've never played him in a tournament, but he's my best friend and he babysits my kids and he plays guitar for them,” Rozpedski said. “If he's at the net and I get an overhead, it's going to be like, ‘Should I hit him or not?'”
On the women's side, Anna Anikanova had an impressive victory Saturday, winning the first seven games and rolling to a 6-0, 6-2 victory over Sylvia Schenck.
Anikanova, who teaches juniors at Jackie Cooper Tennis at the Palm Desert Resort Country Club, said she had spotted some weaknesses in Schenck's game and aggressively went after her. For Anikanova, it was important to execute her game plan flawlessly, considering her audience.
“I teach this, come on. I got to do it because I have all my kids here watching me,” Anikanova said.