In Dubai, where conditions are cool and balmy…
- DelPo d. Dolgpolov, 6-4 7-6: I wasn’t able to watch this match, but I just now fast-forwarded through the recording of it. I can’t say the match really lived up to expectations, as the 1st set consisted of both players making UFEs. The average rally length at one point was 3 shots. DelPo had trouble with Dolgo’s BH slices, but he proved the much steadier of the two. DelPo then failed to serve out the match at 5-4 in the 2nd set, but luckily he won the TB. He’s currently 2-4 in TBs this year (d. Reeshie and Dolgo in TBs, which is a bit like saying you beat Ollie Rochus in a height contest). Either way, DelPo faces a R2 match with Golubev, recent conqueror of Marko Djokovic. Also interesting was that DelPo’s long-term girlfriend was sitting courtside at his match. It’s a shame the DelPo-Dolgo match took place during the Dubai Players’ Party, otherwise more photos of DelPo with his girlfriend may have surfaced by now.
- The ATP released an Uncovered feature on DelPo, which features remarks from tennis legend Boris Becker. DelPo says he’s working to close the gap with the top 4. During DelPo’s match with Dolgo, commentator Annabel Croft (who is an unabashed DelPo fan — good taste) remarked that the game moved away from DelPo during his injury time-off. She says that today’s top 4 are reliant on fitness and footwork more than ever, and that this may always be a weakness in DelPo’s game. I agree with her assessment, which is why I tire of journos/experts proclaiming that he will easily re-enter the top 5. I definitely think it’s within his grasp, but the route will likely be long — as Croft says, DelPo is a player who needs a lot of matches in his belt to reach full capacity. Wise words. DelPo ends his Uncovered interview, with the words “I don’t want to lose time anymore.” I think that clearly shows the burden he carried on his shoulders in 2010-11.
- In the last bit of DelPo-related news, he recently said that he would wait until Dubai was over before announcing whether or not he will play the Davis Cup QF against Croatia. I have a hunch that he will elect not to play the QF tie, given the heavy schedule he has prior to April 2. Dubai is his 3rd straight tournament, and the IW/Miami Masters follow soon after. I hope he elects to play though.
- Federer d. Llodra, Feli Lopez d. Mahut: Fed and Feli are set for a R2 encounter — that should be an exciting match, although Fed does lead the H2H 9-0. Will Feli take a stand, saying “No man defeats Feli Lopez 10 times in a row?” After defeating Llodra, Fed plays his second consecutive lefty 1HBH-er in Feli, who just defeated the right-handed 1HBH-er, Mahut. Along with Youzhny, that means most of the top 1HBH-ers in the game are crowded into Fed’s quarter of the draw.
Flying over to red-hot Acapulco…
After Ferru beat Nico to win the Copa Claro in Buenos Aires, most of the same gang headed over to Acapulco for the final tournament of the South American “Golden Swing.” Apparently, the heat conditions are brutal in Acapulco. Pico had to retire in the 2nd set against Alberto Ramos, due to dehydration, heat exhaustion and dizziness. Stanislas Wawrinka piled on the zinc oxide and did not even try to cover up the fact that he was wearing so much cover-up.
- The sunscreen may have helped Stan though, as he defeated JC Ferrero in 3 sets.
- C. Berlocq d. G. Simon: Riding a recent career high-ranking of no. 42, Berlocq toughed out a win over Gilles Simon, 7-6 6-3. The 1st set alone took 100 minutes.
- S. Giraldo d. D. Nalbandian: I guess the heat and exhaustion of playing his third consecutive tournament undid Nalby? This is a disappointing result.
- F. Verdasco d. F. Volandri: Fresh off his doubles title in Buenos Aires, Fer appears pulled out a win over Volandri. Volandri seemed to be in good form in recent weeks, so this is good, if surprising, news from Fer’s side.
- R2 Matches to Watch: Verdasco vs Chela and Almagro vs Paire (depending on which Benoit Paire shows up, the Nico-Paire match could go to 3 sets).