DelPo won a very tight match over Michael Llodra, 6-4 6-7 6-4.
In the 1st set, DelPo started out very strongly. What I noticed most was his movement, which seemed to be springier, and his willingness to charge the net behind his serve. DelPo was approaching the net like the devil was behind him, chasing him forward. Combined with Llodra’s poetic serve-and-volleying style, this led to many entertaining points that took place inside the baseline.
I don’t know if my eyes deceived me, but DelPo also looked trimmer, like he had lost weight. In any case, when he broke and smoothly served out the 1st set, I started to think how well DelPo could play on indoor HCs. Despite the low bounces, the fast court seems to change his mentality, as he switches up the dial on his aggressive play. It’s similar to the different tactics DelPo debuted at Wimbledon last year. DelPo was forced to the net and he volleyed pretty well, showing reflexive skills and a hint of touch.
But then, both players’ level dropped in the 2nd set. Llodra’s tactics were clear — he was going to yank DelPo around like a ball on string. There were literally points where DelPo was scampering right and left, up and down the court. It was a nice change-up, but it also took its toll on DelPo’s legs. From that point on, he stayed put behind the baseline and relied more on his serve. Unfortunately (for Llodra), Llodra’s errors meant he was unable to capitalize on the BP chances he had. For the overall match, there were a combined 12 BPs, and only 2 of them were taken. The 2nd set went to a TB, which DelPo lost.
The last time DelPo won a TB, he ended up losing a very important rubber for Argentina (against Ferru). In his next rubber, he lost the tiebreak 0-7 to Rafa. This means DelPo falls into the category of players who are unreliable in TBs. Not an encouraging sign.
Still, he held his serve comfortably in the 3rd set. The deciding set looked to be en route to yet another TB. Suddenly, out of nowhere (it felt), DelPo hit a return-of-serve winner on his first MP. That gave him the match:
Overall grade for the match feels like a C+. Since I’m compassionate, I will instead award a B- (this is how grade inflation works).
The full crowd on Centre Court were loud, as it was “Kids Day” at the tournament. In his post-match presser, DelPo gave a cheerful answer when asked whether or not the noise bothered him. He also acknowledged he should have won the match far more easily than he did today:
In the untaped portion of his presser, DelPo also said:
Delpo: "Serve and volley is a new part of my game for this type of surface and on grass." http://t.co/YkkZuYld—
Lisa-Marie Burrows (@TennisNewsViews) February 15, 2012
That’s another encouraging sign. I think the trickiest part for DelPo will be his transition game. Unlike today, he needs to find a way to transition more smoothly from offensive to defensive play. DelPo’s surprise opponent in the next round will be Karol Beck, who defeated Petzschner in straight-sets.
The top seeds have been dropping out early from Rotterdam—so far, Granollers and Feli are two seeds who faced early losses at the tournament. Petzsch and Dolgo are out, while Youzhny has withdrawn from Rotterdam, citing injury. If Fed beats Mahut in R1, he will go straight to the Dolgo-less QFs.