Del Potro d. Matosevic, 7-5 6-2
Matosevic has a fiesty game and he was hitting FHs that kept DelPo on the back foot. DelPo also had trouble finding his groundstrokes — however, he proved the steadier of the two and he ended up winning a closely-contested 1st set. While DelPo didn’t go for too many FH or BH winners, he kept his UFE count low. That allowed Matosevic to wrack up his UFE count. From that point onwards, Matosevic’s level tailed off while DelPo took control of the points.
Still, it was an impressive display from Matosevic, who’d reached the Delray final earlier last week. At the post-match handshake, Matosevic told DelPo “I hope you win the tournament.” DelPo responded with a brotherly pat on the shoulder. I think Mr. Matosevic made his way to my list of “favored players” now 🙂
It wasn’t all pretty though. Matosevic’s outfit was colorful, to say the least. It was also very blue, which proved to be a confusing experience. If it weren’t for Matosevic’s Bartoli-esque service motion, and his eccentric muttering to himself between points, I could have had trouble telling the two apart.
DelPo advances to R3, where he faces Fer Verdasco. Fer’s been surprisingly consistent so far and the courts are playing like quick sand, so this R3 match-up is a tricky one.
Nalbandian d. Cilic, 7-6 7-6
This was a topsy-turvy match, with Nalby going up an early break in both sets, only to be broken back by Cilic. I had expected Cilic to be a bit rusty, given his injury lay-off, but the Croatian played his way into form during the match.
Nalby seemed a tad crankier than normal and his missed BP chances, along with some of his fluffed shots, were greeted with racquet tosses. However, he righted the ship and won both sets in the ensuing TBs (this was after Nalby and Cilic traded mini-breaks back and forth). This is a good result for both Nalby and Cilic — Nalby can take heart from this win in the lead-up to ARG’s DC QF against Croatia, while due credit goes to Cilic for staying in this match and playing as well as he did here.
Cilic is actually scheduled to play the Dallas Challenger (R1 starts this Wednesday) this week. Cilic, along with Dallas top seeds Florian Mayer and Alex Bogomolov Jr., all ended up crashing out early at IW. Perhaps they can recoup their form in Dallas before the Miami Masters begins.
In other news, a stomach bug appears to be spreading like wildfire at the Indian Wells venue. Players including Kohlschreiber and Monfils withdrew from IW, due to the illness. Even Ferru admitted he was not feeling his best during his R2 win over Dimitrov. Fed has also been dealing with a cold/flu, which explains why he looked somewhat lifeless during his routine R2 win over Kudla.
What’s scary is that DelPo was reportedly hanging out with Gael the day before Gael withdrew with the stomach illness. Hopefully, DelPo was carrying his rations of Purell with him. Everyone needs to wash their hands at the tournament venue.
In early-round upsets,
- Gasquet lost his opening match against Ramos, after being up a set and MP.
- Muzz lost in straight sets to Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, who played an excellent match. GGL was firing off both wings while Muzz was not hitting with his usual precision. This is a very disappointing result for Muzz, who’d previously looked like he’d overcome his post-AO slump tradition.
- Feli lost to Baggy in his R2 match. Baggy now faces Dolgo in R3 — this should prove to be a roller-coaster of a match.