Tsonga defeats Del Potro in the final. This is Tsonga’s first victory over JMDP in four meetings and Vienna is his 7th career title.
The stats from this match: The matched turned in the 2nd set, when JMDP’s first serve fell from 70% to lower than 50%. This is a disturbingly recurrent pattern for JMDP. I don’t know if the problem is lack of concentration or fitness.
It’s no exaggeration to say his level of play dropped 30 ranking places from the 1st to 2nd set. This happened against Anderson in the SF too. He starts out strong only to look like a different player midway through the match. It’s surprising that the longer a rally goes, the less reliable he becomes. Just six months ago, he was the surer bet in long rallies. Now he’s pinned to the baseline, playing defensive points on his own serve.
The mini-meltdown: After Tsonga broke Del Potro in the third set, Del Potro was upset with himself (it was a straightforward putaway that he sent wide). He kicked his racquet bag and sent it flying onto the center of the tennis court. To be fair, Tsonga hit 25 aces in this match and had picked up his level of play in the match. Still, this type of behavior wasn’t as common in 2008-9. For now, I’d add JMDP to the list of players who want the season to be over by now.
While JMDP’s (or anyone’s) losses to Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic can be rationalized away, the final against Tsonga was a match that he could and should have won. Who knows, maybe this loss will prompt a straight talk with Franco Davin, so they can tweak his game and eliminate the 2nd set walkabouts? And thereby put a stop to the outbursts?
…Because that sounds like a logical next step. In a strange twist of fate, if JMDP reaches the second round at next week’s Valencia Open, he will likely face Kevin Anderson again. If he beats Anderson, JMDP could have a rematch with Tsonga in the Valencia QF. How nice is tennis? He has the chance to avenge his loss in Vienna at Valencia. First though, he needs to pull through the tricky task of beating Tursunov and Anderson.
And DelPo? The next time you’re standing across the net from your opponent with a ball in your hand, after he’s hit a divine volley that somehow netted him the point, you whack his head with the tennis ball. Like you mean it. With murderous intent. Either that or retreat to the baseline, after shooting an icy glare in his direction. Anything but cuddly fraternization with said opponent, which I’d totally be watching on replay if you hadn’t lost the match. A final is no setting for a teddy bear convention! Or a madhouse outburst!