DelPo lost a surprisingly tight 3 set match to Fed in the Bercy QFs. Fed has played his way into form these past two weeks — the Maestro notched his 1st win over a top 5 player in over a year (his last top 5 win came over Murray at the WTF last year). DelPo’s form hadn’t been stellar at Bercy; perhaps fatigue set in, as he’d played 18 matches in the past month. Nonetheless, DelPo’s QF loss at Bercy gave him a chance to rest a couple of days while it gave Fed a much-needed boost of confidence.
There was an adorkable moment in the match when DelPo hurdled the net (after just failing to reach the ball after Fed did a quick pick-up save) and then gave Fed a bear hug, which even elicited a smile from the mighty Swiss:
Surely Fed, that’s enough for a karaoke session with DelPo, your only locker-room neighbour? (also, it is becoming obvious that DelPo is all about the “hard sell” when it comes to showing emotional affection).
In other Bercy news, Ferru, after having a somewhat disappointing string of results this past month, found a way to step up his game and make a play for a valiant defense of the Bercy title he’d won in 2012. Alas, he ended up losing to Djokovic in straight sets, although he had had a chance to serve out the set both times. Still, Ferru is never someone you can count out when it comes to form and fitness. He may well be gunning for a repeat win over Nadal in his opening RR against his compatriot, who happens to be the current world no. 1.
The Highway Robbery
After DelPo’s 3-set loss to Fed in the Bercy QFs, he made his way to London, where the World Tour Final will start on Monday.
Unfortunately, DelPo had one of his bags stolen at the Gare du Nord train station in Paris. A pick-pocketer stole his bag that contained his passport, wallet and his Rosary beads, which had been blessed by Pope Francisco in Rome earlier this year. Given how much DelPo had looked forward to his meeting with the Pope this May, the loss of his Rosary beads seems especially inauspicious. Thankfully, due to the ATP’s pull, DelPo was able to complete his trip from Paris to London without his passport.
But the loss of the Rosary beads obviously still lingers on DelPo’s mind. One of the reasons he played the Rome Masters this year (back when he was in the midst of struggling with a mono-like viral infection that eventually kept him out of Madrid and Roland Garros) was so that he could meet the Pope — if I recall correctly, people in Buenos Aires had pulled strings and put in a great deal of work in order to arrange DelPo’s meeting with the Pope at the Vatican.
In any case, DelPo made peace with what’s happened this past weekend and he expressed his hopes that he might one day meet the Pope again, to get a new set of Rosary beads blessed. Thankfully, DelPo was spared the loss of his racquet bag, which contains the 2 prized Wilson racquets he is able to play with.
In that sense, he will enter the WTF with just the “Bare Necessities.” The whole point of that Disney song was to remind everyone that a bear can rest at ease with just the bare necessities of life. Credit to DelPo, for he seems to have embraced that philosophy.
Bag and passport stolen, 2hrs with French police, eurotunnel, London press conference, practice. Del Potro's day... http://t.co/laq1kivccI—
Piers Newbery (@piersnewbery) November 02, 2013
As the London WTFs are set to commence in a few hours, here’s my recap of the past week in DelPo’s world:
London WTF preview:
As if DelPo’s encounter with the pickpocket weren’t bad enough, the London WTF draw ceremony saw him being drawn into the “Group of Death.” DelPo is in Group B with Djokovic, Federer and Gasquet.
Rafa must be thanking his lucky stars, because the current world no. 1 has a chance to cruise through the RR stage and gun for his first-ever WTF title. Group A (or “Rafa’s group”): Rafa, Ferrer, Berdych and Wawrinka.
Group B has 3 former/current Slam champions (Djokovic, Del Potro, Federer). Group A has one (Nadal).
Group B has eight WTF champions (Federer 6x, Djokovic 2x). Group A has zero. Group B has 11 finalists at the WTF (Federer 8x , whereas Group A has two.
The draw is tough. One silver lining is that DelPo’s draw of death includes Gasquet, against whom he is a 5-1 in the H2H (the only loss happened in 2007, before DelPo’s breakout year in 2008). DelPo will need to defeat Gasquet in straight sets, in order to maximize his chances of reaching the SF — last year, DelPo reached the SF at the WTF on account of having won one more set than Ferrer in his RR group. Therefore, DelPo will need to start strong and take care of Gasquet efficiently if he wants to back up and improve on his performance last year.
The London WTF Gala
All 8 WTF contenders reached the QF at Bercy, which meant all the Bercy semi-finalists were unable to attend the London WTF Gala — the Saturday Gala took place without Djokovic, Nadal, Ferrer and Federer. This meant DelPo was the highest-ranked singles qualifier available, which meant he was entitled to the center spot on the stage:
Still, the remaining 4 singles contenders who showed up — DelPo, Berdych, Wawrinka and Gasquet — managed to work alongside all the top doubles contenders to raise a tidy $660,000 for the Greg Ormond Street Hospital’s Children Charity. (From 2014 onwards, there will be a week’s gap between Bercy and the WTF, which means both events can one day be treated like the serious events they are).
DelPo attended the Gala on Saturday evening with Juanita Davin as his “date.” Who is Juanita Davin? Juanita is the young daughter of DelPo’s coach Franco Davin. DelPo has a very close-knit team with his coach Franco Davin and trainer Martiniano Orazi, so it’s only natural that he would know Franco’s daughter Juanita. Juanita is a lucky girl — as a toddler, she was often in the presence of the very delightful Gaston Gaudio, the RG champion who was a previous charge of Franco Davin.
The resulting photos of DelPo and Juanita Davin at the Gala were tremendously adorable. You have to think she adores the spotlight with her uncle Juan Martin!
It’s awesome that DelPo was able to conjure up this beautiful moment after the bad day he had on Saturday at the Paris train station.
Here’s the ATP’s recap of the WTF Gala:
DelPo will play his first Round-Robin (RR) match against Gasquet on Monday evening. His opener against Gasquet is for all purposes a must-win match. In addition, DelPo will need to beat Gasquet in straight sets, as the difference of sets won or lost could prove conclusive to who reaches the SF this year out of Group B.
I will be back with updates on Tuesday, after Monday’s opening rounds have taken place.
DelPo has the evening match against Gasquet on Monday, while Tomas, the only contender this year to not have won a title nor reached a Slam SF, faces off against Stan (who has won a title and reached a Slam SF at the USO).