Baghdatis defeats Del Potro 7-6 6-4:
Remember I said this would be a symbolic rematch of last year’s Oz Open, when Baggy beat DelPo? Well, Baggy beat DelPo again at the start of 2012.
Baggy played an aggressive game. DelPo was playing better than he did against Kubot, but he faltered at key moments. DelPo was broken serving for the first set at 5-3. He went up a mini-break in the 1st set TB, but lost the 1st set. Much credit goes to Baggy’s gutsiness. Still, the 1st set was there for DelPo’s taking, had he had more confidence/wits/luck, or some combination of the 3.
The rowdy Cypriot fans irritated DelPo. This was an issue the last time they played at the Oz Open. DelPo asked the umpire to give a warning to Baggy for his fans’ cheering, but that’s a rule only applicable to Davis Cup ties.
In the 2nd set, Baggy broke and held on to win, with some ace serving. Baggy’s aggressive game plan paid off. Perhaps it’s also the boost from new coach, Miles Maclagan (former coach of Muzz).
In his presser, DelPo said the crowd didn’t bother his game and that he had no hard feelings. He said, “I don’t know where is Chipre, if it’s close to Australia or not, [but] many guys come to here to see [Baggy’s] game.” (Chipre is Spanish for Cyprus). Even though he lost, “Chipre” was precious.
What does this say about DelPo’s form, heading into the Oz Open?
DelPo’s return games are still a weakness. Baggy, not a big server, won over 70% of points off his 2nd serve. If the big swings DelPo takes on his return-of-serves aren’t creating enough BP chances, shouldn’t he step forward to the baseline in order to return?
That, plus his lack of confidence, a problem which this latest result will exacerbate, stood out during the match.
Also, DelPo’s team should hire a scheduling consultant. He prepped for the season by playing exhos against retired players, while the top players played against each other. The top players played last week, whereas DelPo made the choice to play this week, days before a Slam. He’s skipping the DC tie because of injury risk, yet he’s scheduled to play 7 straight tournaments this year. He actually has a committed team surrounding him, but their scheduling choices are puzzling to understand.
Sorry, I realize I’ve assumed an Uncle Toni persona in my overview of DelPo’s pre-season form. I will take it down a notch or three.
If DelPo had won Sydney, he would have reached the top 10 ranking. If he continues his current form, his Oz Open prospects are worrisome. He has a cushion though: If DelPo reaches R2 at the Oz Open, he will have defended his points from last year. He just needs to win one match at the Oz Open. JUAN MATCH.