Rotterdam: Del Potro Falls Short to Federer

Fed d. Del Potro 6-1 6-4

DelPo lost in straight sets.  He could not convert on the 7 BP chances he had this match.  He took idol worship to new levels in his Rotterdam final against Fed.

Photo: Getty

Similar to his QF loss to Fed at the Oz Open this year, DelPo seemed to struggle tactically.  He hit quite often to Fed’s BH, which was more than ready to take on the challenge.  Fed was also retrieving very well in the 1st set, which frustrated DelPo, whose shots started to go astray after the first dozen attempts.  He was also caught by surprise on the baseline with Fed’s numerous dropshots and variety.

I hate to say it, but he was simply outplayed in this match.  What stands out is that Fed was not serving well at all.  Fed’s first serve hovered below 50% in the first set, while DelPo’s own serve was slightly above his usual average (just above 60%).  Fed hit beautiful passing shots on BP, leaving a frustrated DelPo stranded at the net.

DelPo punched himself on the head after Fed served to hold, after facing BP.  I think this is a positive sign for DelPo.  I wouldn’t wish a Youzhny-head-smashing moment on anyone, but a little frustration and disappointment shows that at least DelPo was intent on winning the match, even if his shots did not follow.  It would seem obvious for any player to want to win, but sometimes the “Fed aura” can skew an opponent’s perspective.  This final can be a good experience for DelPo, and a lesson in how to better construct his points at the critical moments, when facing or having BPs.

At the trophy ceremony, Richard Kracijek stood next to Fed, in a slightly awkward moment.  Kracijek must have been happy for the way this year’s Rotterdam tourny played out — he had world favorite Fed and a younger contender (the top and 3rd seed) in the final, with Berdy reaching the SF.

DelPo gave an understated runner-up speech, conceding that Fed had simply played better than him.  Meanwhile, Fed praised DelPo for the week he had and also expressed his hopes that he would see DelPo at the London WTF this year.  I would not mind that at all.

As one-sided (and hence, disappointing for me) as this final was, DelPo’s win over Berdy is still something he can take heart from this week.  He plays next week in Marseilles.


Rotterdam is Fed’s 71st title.  He extends his winning streak on indoor HC since 2010 Paris.


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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18 Responses to Rotterdam: Del Potro Falls Short to Federer

  1. Pingback: Basel: Lucky No. 7! DelPo Finally Conquers Swiss Wall | mariposaxprs

  2. Arienna Lee says:

    Thanks for the details, Mariposa… and for your honesty as a fan. It’s always nice to hear your take on the match interspersed with your feelings about it!

    • mariposaxprs says:

      Thanks! I hope he takes more steps to challenge Fed in future matches now. I think he needs to hone his tactics with his coach. May he run into the top 4 again and again like a brick wall, so he learns what to do!

  3. queridorafa says:

    Thanks for the match details! Didn’t get to see this one. Interesting that Roger’s stats weren’t all that impressive–he looked so pleased, I assumed he had reached “full flight,” as they say 😉 Didn’t realize DelPo was in Marseilles this week–adds a bit of interest to that tournament, at least!

    • mariposaxprs says:

      Yea, Fed’s serve was unusually off during the final. It’s a shame DelPo couldn’t punish him more on the returns, but it’s also credit to Fed’s ground game that he made up for his lackluster serve with his spin/pace.

      The Marseilles tournament is actually quite packed—four top 10 players in the draw. It’s quite surprising that it’s only a 250-level tourny, given the quality players who are there this week! It will be another good test for DelPo, that he’ll hopefully pass!

    • Arienna Lee says:

      Same here… I just assumed TMF was in full MIB mode.

  4. Well, I’m glad that he was trying to win the match!

    But yeah, he needs to stop worshipping Fed.

    • mariposaxprs says:

      Haha, sometimes it’s hard to tell whether he falls short 2% in “competitive spirit,” because he is a sweetheart. Credit to Fed though, who was displaying all the right tactics to beat DelPo—the different pace, the dropshots, etc.

      That said, DelPo had plenty of chances to make a different match. And even if he lost in straight sets, I would rate this performance more highly than the one at AO. So, in his own way, he is taking baby steps to improve on his past performance. I hope he makes it to more finals, so he can have more experiences like this!

  5. Serdar says:

    Would have been so great to see DelPo putting down a more balanced fight against Fed. As you mentioned, DelPos idol worship is nearly second to none(it even feels nice in a romantic way but shouldn’t have a place in a competition anyway).
    Above all i want to be delighted about the very good signs DelPo showed in this tournament, as they made me happy and utterly confident.
    He really looks determined and highly motivated. Being a little rusty at kick-offs was a point of criticism in DelPos game every now and then, but looking at last week, he always started focused and ready to play from point one. Serve, movement, physical shape, groundstrokes, nearly every aspect of his game is pointing upwards, at least for me. Looking at the Beck match, it felt like he could raise his game quickly if required.
    Except the final. Federer seems to be DelPos holy grail, whom he just can’t handle in the right way. Of course, Feds exceptional game variation is sometimes poison for DelPo but i really think that the mental side of things is one of the biggest problems for Delpo against Fed. He couldn’t find the angles and he couldn’t obtain his long groundstrokes(especially on the bh side) even if he wasn’t under pressure. His powerful shots weren’t targeted enough and his insisting on playing to Feds(Berdychs) backhands(as a gameplan and to introduce his fh) all the time is one of the few things, which unsettles me. He needs to more erratic and i’m sure he will work on it, as he already mentioned. Getting consistent should be his other main goal.
    I’m already looking forward to the clay court season as i’m convinced that DelPo will be a serious contender for SFs and Finals in any tournament.
    Right now i already see him right behind the top 5 and i’m sure he will show great performances against Murray/Nadal/Djoko(no idol worship here), but maybe i’m just a bit too euphoric or a too dedicated fan! 🙂

    • mariposaxprs says:

      Definitely, I think there are a lot of positive signs that DelPo is moving in the right direction. He hadn’t defeated a top 10 player in quite some time, so I think his defeat over Berdy was a definite plus that should be properly recognized. While Berdy’s game perhaps feeds DelPo the pace/rhythm that DelPo likes to work with, I think DelPo did very well to defeat Berdy by the scoreline he did.

      The tricky part of playing the top 4 players is the different pace and spin that they use, which makes it more difficult to set up points. And the dropshots! I hate dropshots now. Franco Davin mentioned DelPo needed to hit deeper to the baseline, and that he lost the way he did b/c he wasn’t hitting as deep as he should have.

      To his credit though, DelPo wasn’t losing b/c of his lack of competitive will. I think he showed more signs of frustration w/himself than he normally does, so it’s more a matter of crafting a tactically stronger game plan against Fed. I’m also looking forward to the clay season—though the slower courts don’t benefit DelPo’s game the same way, he’s always been a solid player on the red dirt. Based on this week, it seems there is much to look forward to!

      • Serdar says:

        Thanks for your remarks!
        Yeah, i think the Berdych victory has affected DelPos confidence in a very positive way!
        You’re totally right, HC is DelPos No. 1 surface. What makes me confident about the clay season is a few things:

        – i feel that DelPo will reach his stamina-peak around the start of the clay court season.
        – his tremendous shotmaking(i’m always thinking of the DC Finals) seems to work exceptionally well on clay(slower surface, but if balls arrive at his comfort zone, he gets more time for positioning to fire his shots; i think he still needs this little extra time sometimes to set up his shots securely)
        – he won his first tournament on clay and he won his last tournament on clay. This is something very good for DelPos mindset.

        It looks like DelPo will gain a lot of confidence throughout the clay court season and an even bigger belief in his shots. -> Looking forward to the HC season! 🙂

        And reading you’re confident too makes me happy! 🙂

        p.s.: i HATE dropshots, exactly since sunday afternoon!

        • mariposaxprs says:

          That’s true, DelPo’s form does seem to rise during the clay season! I think it will also be a great opportunity for him to fine-tune his shotmaking—he did perform very well on this front in Sevilla, so that’s one thing in his favor. I’m really looking forward to watching him defend his title at Estoril—even it’s a 250-level tourny, it feels like such a beautiful tournament 🙂 Also, I hope he stays healthy so he can play the Madrid & Rome tournaments, unlike last year.

          He has a tricky test coming up this week in Marseilles, since he plays Davydenko in R2. I’ll be hoping for the best!!

          • Arienna Lee says:

            Hmmm… this thread is making me wonder if perhaps DelPo is suffering from a bit of “survivor’s guilt” after beating Rog for this USO title?

          • Serdar says:

            Agreed! Davydenko will be a big test in the true sense of the word as the Russian seems to have found his form again. DelPo’s serve has to work against the player ‘who plays like Playstation’, hahahah! 🙂
            I’m curious!

            And yeah, i hope that DelPo will stay healthy throughout the whole season.

            As far as i know DelPo will also start in Dubai next week. I’m really curious about DelPo’s physical shape in his 3rd tournament in a row. Dubai is the first serious clash of the big guys and DelPo actually has the capability to play a big role in this tournament. Like he has in every tournament from now on! 🙂

            • mariposaxprs says:

              It’s tough to know whether DelPo will be fresh enough to play Dubai. He has Indian Wells and Miami right after that, which would make 5 straight tournaments in a row for him. Obviously, he doesn’t want to miss out on the Masters tournaments, so I hope he withdraws from Dubai. Given the strong draw at Marseilles, I don’t think it’s the smartest move for him to play all those tournaments. Plus, there’s the Davis Cup QFs right after Miami too, which he will likely play!

              I’m sort of worried that he’s putting too much wear on his body so early in the season. I guess it will all depend on how this week goes —- if he makes it far at Marseilles, he might decide not to play Dubai.

              • Serdar says:

                Wow, the serve was more than just working! Haven’t seen him shooting so many aces in a best of 3 match since ages. Good sign! 🙂 But DelPo wasn’t on his best day from the baseline. Oooh and watching him on break points was crazy. Nevertheless, DelPo made an overall good impression against Sir Playstation!
                Thank you for giving information about DelPo’s schedule. Really looks like a herculean task for him. Really curious about the next days…

  6. tennisniche says:

    Couldn’t help noticing that Del Potro’s backhand was letting Fed get his foot in the door in most rallies. It was too central a lot of the time and Federer was able to run around and hit plenty of inside-out forehands, putting Del Po on the backfoot. That’s something Murray and Djoko are good at – making sure their backhand is struck either angled or very deep when cross court (making it difficult for Fed to run around) and/or going down the line with it often enough to keep Fed guessing.

    • mariposaxprs says:

      It looked that way! It was disappointing b/c after DelPo’s win over Berdy, I thought he’d have the confidence to step it up during the baseline rallies. Instead, he seemed more tentative and that definitely gave Fed the momentum to hit his inside-out FHs, like you say.

      That’s a good point you make, that Murray and Djoko keep up the pressure by hitting angled BHs. DelPo is definitely capable of that, and for all the attention his FH receives, his BH is actually the more consistent wing. Or at least, it was during his 2008-9 season. Hopefully, his coaching team work on that area of his game so that his next matches against the top 4 are more competitive!!

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