US Open: Rain Delay Drama, but DelPo is Through to R2

After a torturous series of rain delays, DelPo defeated Garcia-Lopez, 6-3 6-7(5) 6-4 7-6(7).  The total match time was 4 hours and 21 minutes.  The two players shook hands at the net after 9pm in the evening, close to eight hours after they first took to the court.

Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Where to start with this match?  Earlier this week, DelPo and Fed ran into each other in the locker room.  The two shared a friendly chat, at which point Fed asked DelPo when he was playing his first match.  DelPo said he was playing Garcia-Lopez, to which Fed smiled and gestured, as if to say “No big deal.”

Fed’s smile and gesture turned out to be a bit of a jinx.  Correction, a major jinx.

The match started out simply enough.  DelPo broke GGL’s serve at love and managed to serve out the first set, 6-3.  GGL’s nervous service game at the start of the match was a critical factor to the outcome of the 1st set.

The 2nd set was more close.  DelPo had numerous BP opportunities but GGL did well to defend and absorb the pace of DelPo’s shots.  The 2nd set TB was a tad disappointing, as DelPo fell behind and allowed GGL to dictate the rallies.  GGL would level the match at a set all, after taking the 2nd set TB 7-6(5).

Despite losing the 2nd set, DelPo was playing very aggressively with his FHs and he even brought out his trademark grunt on the shot (it feels like awhile since we last heard him grunt when he hits his FHs).  For the better part of the match, he was also hitting his BHs cleanly and using it to dictate the points — the rare BHDTL even made an appearance.  DelPo broke to take the early lead at 3*-2 and GGL took an MTO for a left thigh injury.  Then the rain started to fall again, which meant play was suspended right before DelPo had to serve for the 2nd set, 5*-4.  After the delay, DelPo cleanly served out the 3rd set to take a 2 sets to 1 lead.  Despite some cringeworthy errors from DelPo (including a failed overhead smash and a mishit on a FH sitter), he was able to stave off the pressure and hold on the big points.

GGL was visibly limping again and he called for the trainer again.  He wasn’t permitted another MTO for the same injury, so instead he had a lengthy discussion with the trainer.  Despite the injury, GGL was going for his shots.  If anything, the pain in his leg seemed to motivate him to go for his winners.  He was also able to chase down the winners that DelPo was attempting to hit.  GGL’s body language was also noteworthy.  He was openly fistpumping DelPo’s errors and he disputed several calls with the umpire.

DelPo did not convert his 1st BP chance on GGL’s opening game in the 4th set.  He would then hit a DF to concede the early break to GGL.  DelPo seemed frustrated, both by the match and GGL’s frequent calls for the trainer — GGL had also run to his chair to change his racquet when he had BP on DelPo’s serve.  From DelPo’s perspective, GGL was stalling and using gamesmanship to gain an advantage.  Meanwhile, GGL saved another BP to consolidate his lead at 4-1 in the 4th set.

During the changeover, GGL called again for the trainer.  That’s when the bickering started.  DelPo pointed his finger at GGL and asked, “How many times are you going to call for the trainer?”  He complained to chair umpire Ali Nilli, who told him that this would be GGL’s last visit from the trainer.  GGL angrily stood up to defend himself (while his left thigh was being massaged by the trainer).  For a few minutes, GGL and DelPo exchanged words.  DelPo then gave GGL a glare as he walked back to the court.

The tension was high.  Thankfully, DelPo redirected his anger to break back and level the match.  The 4th set TB turned out to be a rollercoaster.  DelPo had two MPs.  GGL hit a shot that was called out, but Hawk-Eye showed it to be just on the line.  They had to replay the point.  Looking back, this moment was funny because DelPo had a bit of towel fuzz on his face.  As he watched the screen, he consciously wiped away the towel fuzz, as he waited for the Hawk-Eye verdict:

Screen shot 2013-08-30 at 5.33.08 PM

Screen shot 2013-08-30 at 5.33.20 PM

DelPo then hit a long FH (after beautifully setting up the point) and GGL held at 6-6 in the TB.  DelPo would break GGL to finally take the match, 7-6(7).  Here is a clip of MP and DelPo’s very exuberant celebration afterwards:

American James Blake announced his retirement this year.  He played the last match of his career at the USO, which ended in heartbreaking fashion, after he lost a 2 sets lead to Ivo Karlovic.  Fellow players DelPo, Bogomolov and Murray were on hand to greet Blake in the locker room for his last match:

***

Former USO champs Meet in R2:

Up next for DelPo is 2001 USO champ Lleyton Hewitt, who defeated Brian Baker in 4 sets.  This meeting of former USO champs will take place on Arthur Ashe stadium today.

Hewitt is a very tough match-up for DelPo, as he has the defensive capabilities and the patience to challenge the big man.  One encouraging stat is that while DelPo is 2-2 in the H2H against Hewitt, DelPo has also won both of their matches on HCs.  Hopefully, the historical pattern will repeat itself today.

The main issue is whether DelPo can hit his BH at full-strength against Hewitt.  DelPo lost to Hewitt in 3 tight sets at Queens — I remember that Queens match because DelPo would fall behind whenever he became overdependent on his BH slice.  He won that 2nd set at Queens because he finally found the right balance of BHs and slices.

However, DelPo’s left wrist issues seem to be troubling him again.  After his win over GGL, DelPo said he has been having trouble with his left wrist and that this will complicate his match against Hewitt.

***

Press Coverage:

This year, the media have heaped positive attention on DelPo.  This feels well-deserved, after the consistency he showed in 2011 and 2012.  Here are links to the recent pieces about DelPo — both are well worth the time:

***

Off-the-court News:

Aside from the profile pieces, several off-the-court items have been brought up at this year’s USO.  First, ESPN Deportes reports that DelPo is no longer officially signed with Wilson.  Apparently, DelPo gave up a 7-figure contract with Wilson, due to the troubles he has faced in finding a new racquet that he is comfortable playing with.  Currently, DelPo has 4 versions of the old K-factor model, which he has been using for over 4 years.  At some point, he will have to make a decision on which new model to use.

The second major news item concerns DelPo’s agent, Ugo Colombini.  In a press conference with Spanish-speaking journalists, DelPo confirmed that he is no longer working with agent Ugo Colombini.  Colombini will now be working exclusively with Andy Murray.

This raises several questions — is the news about DelPo’s Wilson contract in any way related to the termination of his partnership with Colombini?  What will happen to DelPo’s Nike contract, which will reportedly come to an end in December 2013?  For now, there are no reports on whether DelPo will find a new agent or a sports agency.

For the moment, DelPo is very much a Nike player.  In training, he showed off a t-shirt with the slogan, “Faster and Stronger Than Last Year”:

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About mariposaxprs

I play favorites with Juan Martin Del Potro, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, David Ferrer, Feliciano Lopez, Gilles Simon and the long line of mercurial talent that drives me to despair in front of the screen at odd hours during the week.
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12 Responses to US Open: Rain Delay Drama, but DelPo is Through to R2

  1. audiesgirl@aol.com says:

    Your absence is becoming worrisome, hope you are ok.

    • mariposaxprs says:

      Hi Rita,

      Sorry for pretty much abandoning my blog duties the past month! I’ll be back writing it…was hoping to do one after DelPo’s match today.

      How are you doing?? DID YOU HEAR, DELPO IS NUMBER 5 IN THE WORLD. That definitely calls for a celebratory post :)

      • Iram says:

        And he made it to London. I know how much that means to you. :) Hope you’re well.

      • audiesgirl@aol.com says:

        Wonderful to hear you’re still out there, it’s been a terrific finale to this season for all the players. There’s so much to catch up on, where do we start? Juan’s got one more chance this year to win a Masters 1000, it’s a very tough draw though. Maybe he’ll take it easy and save his energy for the WTF. The Ugo thing is a mystery, they’ve been together for so long and what does Andy need with him – he’s been given the OBE, seems to have lots of management buzzing around him and is looking for a logo like Roger’s. I’ll be surprised if he comes back strong at the AO unless he uses Rafa’s “magic healing potion.” I did hear Ugo’s big on developing new markets for tennis in SW Asia, perhaps he’ll get some lucrative exhos for both Andy and Juan. Speaking of exhos, there’s not much buzz about the Delpo-Hewitt matches in ARG and it’s a bit late getting off the ground; perhaps the Rafa-Djoker exhos are weakening the market there. Besides, the Argies are still fuming over the DC. Roger was supposed to do a tour of S.A. but that appears off the table. It’s all too confusing for me. Let’s just rejoice that Delpo’s stayed healthy except for the nose bleed and hurt finger and looking better than ever. He’s 25 now, his game is back and needs to give it 100% next year. First he needs to stop wasting time on those exhausting trips back home and get a training base like Andy’s here in Florida!

        • mariposaxprs says:

          I’ve been surprised by DelPo’s strong run in Asia this year! The fact that he backed up his finalist run in Shanghai with a title in Basel makes it that much more encouraging.

          I’m still not entirely sure how DelPo will fare in Paris-Bercy. Last year shows that most of the top players tend to give a halfway performance at Paris, since it’s scheduled right before the WTF. But given this year’s proceedings so far (the fact that Fed, Gasquet and Wawrinka are still fighting to confirm their places in London), Paris-Bercy seems like it could be a top-tier competitive contest this year. Personally, I’d rather DelPo give his 100% at Paris-Bercy and then let the chips fall where they may in London. Who knows what will happen though? It will all depend on DelPo’s form and the personal decisions he makes with his team.

          DelPo’s split with Ugo is official. Ugo was hired by Muzz’s team to focus on enhancing the Muzz brand in Asia — I think the rumors linking DelPo to a Li-Ning deal back in 2012 may have been related to Ugo’s efforts there. From what I’ve heard, DelPo is rumored to have resigned with Nike, so it seems he’s set a course for himself after the breakup with Ugo.

          How strange has the 2013 season been? It seemed like DelPo was floating aimlessly for awhile in the first half of the year, until he suddenly climbed up 2 ranking spots and is now proving his worth as a challenger. What a year…

          *hope you’re well, btw!!*

          • audiesgirl@aol.com says:

            All is well here in FL but would be better if Delpo had a winter training camp here instead of going back to ARG where he spends too much time festejando (that’s Spanish for “partying”). In honor of today’s match I just had to pull up that famous Orange Bowl Juniors match of him and Cilic at age 14, how cute they were.

            It’s fair to say he’s taken advantage of Roger’s and Ferru’s decline and Andy’s absence to build confidence and rank. Roger’s loss at Basel was too sad although if he had to lose, better to someone who idolizes him and is a good friend. I would like to have seen Delpo at the pizza party though and it was strange that the locker room shot omitted Franco and Marti.
            What up with that friend Marcos who’s become a regular fixture in Delpo’s equipo? He characterized their relationship last year as “intimate and fluid” whatever the heck THAT means. My guess is they just need a 4th for bridge LOL.

  2. Iram says:

    I miss your posts! :( Are you okay? Hope you are. Your guy is doing good in Tokyo. I’m not sure how far that is from Korea?! Maybe u got a chance to see him? And what were your thoughts when Nalbandian announced her retirement? In his peak he was a very good players. I guess now he’ll spend time with his kid. :) That’s always important. t c

    • mariposaxprs says:

      Hi Iram! Thanks for asking, i’m fine. I’ve been a bit lazy with my blog but I will be posting again soon.

      I hope all is well in your neck of the woods!!! Nalby’s retirement was sad :“( But it’s nice to see him being remembered so well.

      I’ll be catching up on the blog and reading this week. Have a great week! Also, DelPo is playing dubs against an Armada team in Shanghai—who do you think is the favorite to win? ;)

  3. Candy says:

    I said I would leave a comment here yesterday, but I didn’t because I was too sad after Delpo’s loss. I tried to avoid any tennis news yesterday. 

    I got up at around 3:00am for Delpo’s R1 match. But when I turned on the stream, it rained. Then, I waited for almost 2 hrs for nothing. :’( Then I decided to have a nap and get up again to see the match, but I was too tired to get up :( . Next time I woke up was when the 2nd set TB just ended (I missed that “awful” TB!). I only managed to watch a few games of the 3rd set before I had to prepare for the day and go to work. I hate that damn rain. :/ Then, as you know, I could only watched the 1st set and a bit of 2nd set of his R2 match. Now his campaign at this year’s USO ends. I will have to wait until he plays again around a month later. *sob* (Are you planning a (possible) Shanghai trip, btw?)

    What a traitor Ugo is. I’m so angry. (But for Delpo, it might not be a bad idea to sign with an international agency. As I said before, Delpo could be very marketable. But he has been wasted in this aspect.) But still, I’m so disappointed with Ugo. I mean, if Delpo was a multiple Slam winner now, would Ugo leave Delpo to work with Muzz “exclusively”?! (Ok, I know it’s all about business/ money/ opportunity. It might be a good opportunity for Ugo in his career. But still…….. *sad face*)

    So it’s possible that Delpo will have a new agent, outfits and racquets next year?! Wow…. I don’t know how I think about all these yet. I need time to digest all of these. :O I feel a bit like these people/ companies are giving up Delpo. :(

  4. lily says:

    That was a game against Garcia-Lopez, who was getting on everybody’s nerves with his MTO.
    I also had the feeling that Delpo was not 100% in the game, he made untypical UE, no? Do you think it was because of his wrist? I could hardly watch the second Tiebreak.

    There are huge changes going on, first wilson and then Ugo.
    But yes, he has eventually change his racquet and let go of his beloved one. I’m wondering whether he and Ugo split amicably (but I guess so) and what the reasons were?!? Gotta miss the trio of Franco, Marti and Ugo in his box. Very interested in his next moves regarding sport agency/agents! And I hope very much he will renew his contract with Nike because Delpo without Nike is quite unimaginable :D

    And the draw is just horrible. Everyone has an easy walk in R4/QF but him. No one of the others had go over 4 sets so far. Now Hewitt and then Haas -.-

    Last but not least, I like his shirt colour haha! He looks too cute in that ‘red-pink-salmon-who-knows-what-colour’ that looks similar to Sabine Lisicki’s top colour no? :)

    • mariposaxprs says:

      DelPo mentioned that his left wrist was bothering him, both before his match against Hewitt and afterwards as well. I’ve yet to hear any news about the extent of the injury. He’s had knee, back and wrist injuries in the past 3-4 months. It’s tough to tell what kind of state he is in right now, although his matches against GGL and Hewitt were hardly encouraging signs of his form :(

      Regarding DelPo’s split with Ugo, it seems DelPo and his father were the ones who decided to part with Ugo (after a 13-year partnership). Who knows what happened there? Maybe Ugo’s partnership with Muzz made things too complicated, or perhaps there were other longstanding issues. These are def things that should be addressed in the coming months.

      Too bad DelPo only got to wear that pink shirt once! He looked pretty nice in it. Maybe next year….

      I’m still waiting to hear more news from his camp about his progress/condition…maybe there will be a silver lining to all of this!

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