Indian Wells: Where’s Waldo (DelPo)?

The Indian Wells draw has been released.  The bottom half of the draw is much more fun-filled, but also features more landmines, for Fed in particular.

As for DelPo, it could have been worse, but it could also have been a lot better.  A quick analysis of DelPo’s draw:

  • R1: (BYE)
  • R2: Qualifier
  • R3: A possibly resurgent Fer Verdasco.
  • R4: Assuming he reaches R4, DelPo would most likely face Ferru.  This is a bad match-up.  I liked DelPo’s chances better when the world no. 5 was Tsonga
  • QF: *If* DelPo played well and defeated Ferru, then he’d face a likely QF with Fed.

So DelPo faces a big mountain in his quest to defend those SF points from last year.  The variables here are the extent of DelPo’s fatigue (he’s played 3 straight tournys in February) and his ability to adjust to the slower courts in Indian Wells.  There is a slight chance he could lose a chunk of the ranking points from last year.  I hope he reaches at least the QFs here.  Just for comparison’s sake, last year’s draw for DelPo was Stepanek –> Ljubicic (defending champion) –> Dolgopolov –> Kohlschreiber –> Robredo (w/o).  

**

Other potential early-round matches to watch:

  • Cedrik-Marcel Stebe vs. Fer Verdasco in R2: If no. 79-ranked Stebe defeats Ryan Sweeting in R1, he would play Fer.  Stebe has a very pretty game with solid point construction.  He held his ground against Novak in Dubai, and I’d like to see him play well in IW.  The Stebe-Verdasco match could be one to watch.
  • Fed vs. Raonic in R3:  I’d like Fed to quash the “Milos is going to win a Slam this year” brouhaha.  Otherwise, for Milosh fans, this match would be the barometer for how well his game actually stacks up against the top 4.  Although I personally think he needs to test his game against a top 15 player before anyone even talks about the top 4.
  • Nalby vs Cilic in R2: If Nalby defeats Potito Starace in R1, he could face a preview of the Davis Cup QF in Indian Wells against Cilic.  Cilic is making his way back from injury, while Nalby leads the H2H against Cilic 3-0.  A deep run in IW could help Nalby lift his ranking from no. 74 to reach the no. 56 cutoff for the Olympics this year.

I don’t know what DelPo did to alienate American tourny directors, but they’ve issued slights to him in the past, whether it’s scheduling consecutive daytime matches on non-center court at his return to the USO in ’11 (that they chose instead to schedule a frankly tedious Roddick-Sock match at Arthur Ashe only twisted the dagger of the insult).  Now comes the Indian Wells tournament.  Here is the official promotional material:

It’s a V-formation of the top 10 players.  Upon closer examination, you’ll see the top 10 formation (minus DelPo) is joined by John Isner and Fer Verdasco in the background.  Has Isner taken DelPo’s place in the top 10?  Apologies to Fer and Isner, but why exactly are they there?

Then behind the main group, there is a line of promising players, some of whom have made names for themselves through big performances on the grandest stages.  Bernie and Kei both fall under the group who’ve had impressive GS runs.  Milos has his 3 titles and may be a scare factor in the line-up.  But Harrison?  What moved the marketing folk at IW to include Ryan Harrison in this photo?  I suppose it’s the old saying, “When in Rome…”

Overall, the inclusion of Isner and Harrison here can only be explained by the fact that they’re American and this is an American tournament.  They may as well have included Roddick, Querrey, Sweeting and all the like — you know, if you’re going to be obvious, be super-obvious.  In any case, there’s a huge Latin American population in Miami, so hopefully the publicity at the Miami Masters will be more spread out in two weeks time.

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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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15 Responses to Indian Wells: Where’s Waldo (DelPo)?

  1. Pingback: Indian Wells: How Many Folks Expected a Fed-Isner Final? | mariposaxprs

  2. queridorafa says:

    That photo cracks me up! I think it was Chris Chase who said on Twitter that Rafa looks like a villain in a Lifetime movie–and he totally does!! Novak is all hollow-faced and terrifying, per usual. I think it’s funny that Fer kind of looks like he’s grouped there in the back, with the “up and comers”–like he’s relegated to the “kids’ table,” haha (although I agree, his inclusion period is curious–along w/ Isner and Ryan’s, who is at least he’s in the very, very back?). I actually was thinking yesterday that I haven’t seen any press/photos on DelPo in IW so far, practicing and what-not. Is he late to arrive? Or just escaping notice? (given his height, that’s hard to believe!) Maybe he’s choosing to practice at the local high school’s courts in protest of not being included in the poster? Duh–that’s totally it! 🙂

    • Arienna Lee says:

      Yes, Novak does look hollow-faced, doesn’t he? Also a touch demonic? And Rafa looks like a tan member of the Cullen clan 😉

      David’s nose is enormous! Seriously, they must have stretched it.

      I don’t mind the American inclusion, local talent and whatnot. Isn’t Isner like 11 in the world now? Oy. And, of course, I don’t mind RyRy being there. The French and Aussies do it too. I noticed that the AO homepage had Lleyton, Tomic, Sam and Rafa. No Novak! (Although I think it rotated sometimes, because Kim & Fed were up there too) It’s actually odd that Andy isn’t there, maybe they’re trying to take the pressure off. But what isn’t fair is that there aren’t any home tournaments for so many players… and for sure Delpo should be near the front of the phalanx of cheese–photoshopped so his height doesn’t make the rest look dwarfish, of course!

      Who the heck is that behind Jo, the photo makes everyone look so weird that I can’t recognize him… tho he looks familiar!

      All my tickets have pictures of Novak on them this year, just in case you were wondering. 🙂

      • mariposaxprs says:

        Yea, Isner’s 11 in the world but the fact that he replaces DelPo, who’s 9 in the world, in the line-up, when all the rest of the top 10 are there? That’s pretty shameless. God forbid Isner actually reaches the top 10, the media coverage will be insufferable. It’s true that each tourny favors their own players, but the fact that American plyrs have faded in relation to the rest of the world in the past 10 yrs makes their favoritism stand out all the more (at least to me). Of course there is the fact that the U.S. has so many Masters and a Slam, so it’s the old “When in Rome…” rule again.

        Who knows, maybe the extra push in publicity will actually help Isner or Harrison, just like it did with the AO and Tomic (Tomic, whom I felt also received *way* too much home advantage when he played). Then again, Tomic delivered on that favoritism (to the best of his ranking), so it’s on the Americans to deliver now. I dislike favoritism in general—of course it’s easier to be graceful about it when you’re a country like Spain, which currently has so much depth—former world no. 1 & RG winner JC Ferrero can’t even get a WC to his home tourny, b/c Spain has Rafa/Ferru/Nico to showcase. Whereas I get the sense that Australia and the U.S. are still clinging to their 2003-4 era players (of course it’s easier to criticize them b/c they’re also hosts of the biggest tournaments, making do w/what they currently have, but even so…)

        Lol at the tickets having Novak on them! At least they went w/the right impulse there, even if the end answer is Novak 😉

        • Arienna Lee says:

          Hey Mariposa, I hope you didn’t get the impression that I thought it was fine and dandy that they left DelPo off the photo! Obviously the most sensible order for the photo would have just been to do a straight up top ten with the Americans behind them for marking purposes. And Tomic, I suppose. Sure, Tomic. Whatever. 🙂

          The issue of the tournaments is so complicated. Obviously we can’t up and move them to wherever the best players hail from, because that changes too quickly, but sadly, it’s not fair the way it is. Of course, tennis is one of the most “unfair” sports out there… so in a way, it’s all grist for the mill. Indian Wells wouldn’t be thriving the way it is without Larry’s funny money, which does make me feel a little weird. This trip is a big investment for me, as it is for many, but it’s still overwhelmingly a leisure activity for the wealthy… anyway, that’s a different topic really!

          Poor JCF, he came along at just the wrong time, didn’t he? I usually find myself rooting for him when I watch him play– which is not often enough!

          I got all my evening tix off season ticket holders on Stub hub (hence Novak) and my day tickets off the computer, but I assume those all have Caro on them. Last year it was JJ/Ivan… so at least they have a nice consistent system there. I can’t help but wonder if the person who made the tacky poster even knew who the players were… of if they just liked Fer.

          • mariposaxprs says:

            Yea, I mean it’s fine to market local and up-and-coming players, but they should observe some basic rules first. For all the flak Bernie rightfully gets for his attitude, he’s actually on the fast track—reached the Wimby QF as an 18 y.o. and reached the top 50 while he was 18 y.o.—with the exception of Rafa, Muzz, DelPo, and a few others, very few players have reached the top 50 so early, in recent yrs. Now the question for Bernie is whether he’ll be able to capitalize on that…it’d be interesting to see where he is by the time he turns 20-21.

            I don’t know if it’s b/c IW is in Southern California, but I get the same impression too, that it’s a tourny with an unusually well-heeled crowd. I get the same feeling when I’m watching the tournys in Dubai, Doha, and the other oil-rich countries too! I guess it’s okay as long as they’re serving the tennis…?

            Maybe they decided they might as well invite Fer and all the others, if the background for the poster is going to be all uneven 🙂

    • mariposaxprs says:

      I think DelPo just arrived to Indian Wells. I haven’t read any official news releases about him being there, but I’ve seen Twitter updates from journos who say he’s flown in from LA. I think he was training in Miami, after he lost the SF in Dubai…

      The official promos are so cheesy and hilarious. Although Rafa’s wearing a pretty expression on his face—it’s totally movie-poster worthy (I hope they do in fact make posters for Lifetime movies!)

      I hadn’t thought about Fer like that! It makes more and more sense now, that he’s relegated to the “kids’ table”!! 🙂 I still don’t know what Fer did (or what Isner and Ryan did) to get their faces on the poster. Poor DelPo, I bet he’s the one standing in front of them, who was forced to take this delightfully cheesy photo. While being forced to practice on local high school courts b/c Fer/Tipsy/Isner/Ryan have occupied all the “good courts.” *Heavy dramatic sigh* 😦

  3. Iram says:

    hi, wanted to know ur thoughts on ljubicic retiring next month?I didnt see jcf’s name on the draw- do u know what happened?

    i know it’s a bit early too predict but for funs sakes i pick fed-nole final with fed winning. hey i might be wrong but that’s why it’s called a prediction 😀

    • mariposaxprs says:

      The Ljubicic news came as a surprise! Although he is reaching the retirement age, I didn’t expect the announcement to come so suddenly like this. It’s so sad that Monte Carlos will be his last tourny. He won’t be playing IW, but I hope he gets a well-deserved send-off from fans at his upcoming tournaments. He’s been a class act both on and off-the-court, in the “old-school” fashion.

      I just heard Ferrero had to withdraw from the tourny with a wrist injury 😦 I hope it’s nothing too serious..

      I will hold you to your prediction!! For fun’s sake, I predict a Muzz-Fed final!! Although I would not mind a surprise in the form of DelPo-in-the-final 🙂

  4. tennisniche says:

    Del Po has played very well in the past on the slow courts of IW & Miami (his match against Nadal in 2009 at Miami was remarkable). So I would have some confidence for him in a potential match up with Fed, even though it has been rather one sided between them lately.

    Stebe has a very attractive game, almost like a rich man’s Andreas Beck (ok, the similarities don’t extend much beyond being lefty and coming from the same region of Germany). Seems to have the talent to be top 10 some time in the future.

    • mariposaxprs says:

      That’s true, DelPo did play Fed awfully close in Dubai. He really should have taken the 2nd set off Fed in that TB there, but that match was nonetheless a sign of the progress he’s making on the “Fed front.” You’re right that the courts at IW/Miami suit his style. He has done well there in the past too. I only wonder if the switch from fast to slower-style courts might present problems. It will be interesting to see!

      Haha at your description of Stebe as a “rich man’s Andreas Beck”!! Stebe’s game can be a delight to watch. It feels like most of his errors come from rookie mistakes, like flagrant mistiming of his shots. I wonder if more tour experience could help him iron out those weaknesses and maybe he could be one of those late-blooming top players! I think a potential match-up with Fer would be a nice test for Stebe — Fer has a top-level game, without necessarily being too far ahead.

      • tennisniche says:

        Hope not, most players will have to make some kind of transition to the surface of Indian Wells though, whether its from the medium-quick Marseilles/Dubai/ Delray Beach or the clay of Acapulco/ Buenos Aires.

        Stebe is just 21 so he has plenty of time to improve, and there will be some nice lefty forehand exchanges between he and Verdasco (assuming they both reach R2 😉

        • mariposaxprs says:

          Verdasco has a BYE in the first round, not even he could lose that one, right? Right? *suddenly unsure* 😉 I really hope Stebe makes it past Sweeting in R1, so Stebe-Verdasco happens. Stebe lists his tennis idols as Safin and Nalbandian — he has good taste, that’s for sure! I feel like he has the game to break into the top 50 soon, and then possibly go even farther from there in ’12.

  5. Trish says:

    I love tennis, but why does the ATP insist on being so cheesy. The lightening in the background – oh dearie me. Massive oversight for forgetting Delpo – I hope he wins IW just to spite them. But Delpo should be thrilled he’s not in that cheesefest photo. Tsonga’s stance is different than the rest – he looks like he’s assessing what’s happening and about to spin around and go the other way.

    • mariposaxprs says:

      It *is* a super-cheesy poster! I love how they didn’t even bother to cover the entire wall with the lightning background—Bernie and Harrison are walking in front of a white wall, while the others are in a thunderstorm. Whuuut?!

      You’re spot-on about Tsonga! He has a “Get me out of here, I’m better than this!” look on his face 🙂 He is def *not* a fan of the cheese-fest (Coincidentally, Tsonga’s good friend Gael Monfils is literally allergic to cheese! Who would have thunk it?!)

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