In Del Potro’s absence, I’ve been watching the matches at the Beijing and Tokyo Open and now the Shanghai Rolex Masters. Watching Murray scamper around the court in Shanghai, I can practicially hear the “pop!” sound of rust accumulating on JMDP. Watching Feliciano Lopez and Florian Mayer pull off upsets over Berdych (!) and Nadal (!!) in Shanghai, I can only wonder “How did they manage to stay on their feet?” when a certain someone can barely stay upright for the full duration of a match. (<– In his defense, it’s JMDP on grass!)
I will unveil DelPo’s list of problems aka what he needs to do to be in great form. By the way, there’s a new feature on the ATP site that provides a full list of player stats by year and surface. It’s a great way to grade your favorite players’ shortcomings and strengths.
- 1st serve %: JMDP’s first serve this year is 62%. The leader in first serve % is Potito Starace at 72%. Verdasco is 3rd at 69% (…) I might take this stat with a coarse grain of salt from Potato Starch’s hometown in Italy. Still, DelPo’s best matches have come when he’s had a 1st serve % higher than 70. C-
- 1st serve points won: He’s held steady here. 74% (17th) in 2009 and 77% (10th) so far this year. B
- Service games won: 88% (4th!) in 2011 YTD. DelPo, I dare say you’re not as terrible as I keep thinking you are. A
You know when you’ve had a speech prepared for someone, but then they impress you? That’s right, JMDP has an “A” in service games won. Quick, let’s move on to the return game stats, shall we? Surely, I’ll find more material for a scolding there…
- 1st serve return points won: 31% for JMDP compared to 38% for Andy Murray. Clear weakness in DelPo’s game is his return of serve. C+
- 2nd serve return points won: 52%. This is a major “Attention!” area. He needs to punish the 2nd serves more and he’s missed chances this year (USO against Gilles Simon) when he hung too far back behind the baseline. C+
- Return games won: JMDP is at 27%, compared to 41% and 36% for Djokovic and Murray, respectively. You know what I’m about to say, DelPo! D-
JMDP’s clearly not in form with his first serve % but he’s managed well this year. The problem is his return games, which are a step below the likes of Ferrer, Murray, Djokovic, and Nadal. Surprisingly, his % of return games won on clay isn’t much higher than his % on hard courts. This is probably always going to be a weakness for JMDP. Maybe he could consult his friend Nalby, who is a superb returner of serve.
Moving on, I’d like to focus on DelPo’s on-court attitude and what I’d like to see change:
- Do not joke with the ball kids: I won’t lie, this behavior is light-hearted and sometimes endearing. Fun for the crowd as well. But JMDP’s also lost each match where he decided to go mental walkabout with the ball kids.
- Do not applaud the opponent’s winners: I don’t know why this action irks me so much, yet it does. When JMDP applauds after his OPPONENT hits a winner, I view it as a sign of resignation. Maybe it’s better to hold the applause until the match is over.
- Throwing shoes outside the stadium: This, however, is perfectly fine. It was a nice touch to ask the umpire for permission beforehand.
Overall, it’s not a “fabulous” report card for the world no. 14, but a super-solid effort in his comeback season. Next week, JMDP will be taking remedial classes at the Stockholm Open, whose draw has been further watered down by Robin Soderling’s withdrawal (due to mono). JMDP, you’re ahead of the curve already. All you had to do was
wait for your main rival to pull out with mono maintain your excellent form and work on the weak areas of your game. Sigh, has it really come to this?
Welcome back, JMDP!!