A day of stops and starts in the Pacific Life Open tennis tournament finally ended with a stutter-stop at 9:15 Saturday night.
That left a small gathering of perhaps 200 in the Indian Wells Garden with no tennis in the night session. They had come to see American star Andy Roddick, had waited for several hours as attempts to dry the court apparently failed, and were victims of the first session rainout since the tournament moved into its massive new stadium six years ago.
That meant that today's schedule was packed with star quality. Andre Agassi, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadel, Marat Safin, Maria Sharapova, Justine Henin-Hardenne and Lindsay Davenport are scheduled, as is Roddick, who will go on no sooner than 8:30 p.m.
The reason for Roddick's late match, according to tournament officials, was to make sure that people who had purchased tickets for Saturday night's session would still get a chance to see him play, even though they may do so from a different seat than they purchased.
According to Steve Simon, the tournament manager, the event has never had a ticket refund policy, but ticket holders from Saturday night will be accommodated for tonight's session, although in the stadium's upper bowl. Or, Saturday night ticket holders can exchange theirs for a day-session grounds pass. That does not get them into the main stadium, however.
Simon said organizers delayed the announcement of the evening session cancellation because cold, humid weather kept the court from drying as quickly as it normally would.
"I just wanted to make sure nobody got hurt," he said.
The unusually rainy, cold weather that caused all this left tournament officials scrambling to catch up. Of the 46 matches scheduled, 18 were completed, and at least one of those was barely a blip.
Jonas Bjorkman of Sweden made a two-minute appearance, winning one game to complete a 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 win over Belgium's Christophe Rochus.
Another was agony. Germany's Rainer Schuettler, a semifinalist here in 2003, and Boris Pashanski of Serbia and Montenegro went out at 10:50 Friday night to play their first-round match, but were stopped by rain. They resumed at about 2 p.m. Saturday and again were stopped by rain with Schuettler leading, 6-5, in the first set.
The two were then supposed to start the evening session before Roddick came on. Presumably, they stayed around like the 200 fans did, but there was confusion over that, as well as the presence of Roddick in the building after 8 p.m. There had been an internal announcement at 8:02 p.m., not heard by the fans but by the media and in the players' lounge, that the evening session had been called off. Then, 15 minutes later, a general announcement was made that the night play would go forward. But that didn't happen.
The day's best match, and perhaps the driest, was the 6-1, 5-7, 7-6 (10) victory by Chile's Nicolas Massu over Argentina's Augustin Calleri. Massu saved five match points in the final set, two in the tiebreaker.