Del Potro d. Istomin, 7-6 6-7 6-2
It took 2h44m but DelPo finally pulled through to the QFs, where he will meet Fed for the fourth time this year.
DelPo hasn’t hit too many winners on the slow IW court this week, but he kept his UFE relatively low. Istomin, however, had an aggressive game plan. I could see how Istomin upset Ferru in R3, as the Uzbek was painting the lines with his FHs. DelPo matched him and bettered him to break in the 1st set, with some fearsome FHs of his own. Only to be broken as he was serving for the set (why does this keep happening?!?) This led to the TB, which DelPo comfortably took.
Great performance from Istomin, whose game suits the HCs. Hope to see more of this level from him in the future.
In the 2nd set, Istomin maintained his level while DelPo seemed to tire. DelPo was pretty moody in R4 — many of Istomin’s line-painting winners were greeted with hands-on-the-hips and frustrated mumblings from DelPo. Exhaustion was written all over his face (IW is DelPo’s 4th straight tourny). Istomin broke in the 2nd set, to go up 5*-4 40-0 on his serve — that’s when DelPo broke back, only to lose a close 2nd set TB.
Given the momentum shift in Istomin’s direction and DelPo’s visible tiredness, I was not too positive about his chances. However, DelPo gave it one last effort with some industrious scrambling and shotmaking, to break the Istomin serve. He gave a visceral roar when he broke for the 2nd time to serve for the match.
There was a cute moment when DelPo served for the match — the linesperson called his serve out, so he challenged. Hawk-Eye showed the serve to be”in” by a mere millimeter or so. Now it was Istomin’s turn to be moody with his hands-on-his-hips. DelPo stared long and hard in Istomin’s direction, then shrugged as if to say, “What of it? What do you want me to do?” Istomin gave a sheepish smile in return, good feelings were restored, and DelPo comfortably served out the match. He beat the net like a drum in celebration (he really *beat* as several net cords went against him during the match).
Let’s give a shout-out to DelPo, for holding the fort for the bottom half of the top 10! So far, the no. 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 10 seeds are out of the tournament. 9th seed DelPo still stands.
Nalbandian d. Tsonga, 3-6 7-5 6-3
The no. 6 and 10 seeds are out of IW at the hands of one David Nalbandian. Nalby defeated Tsonga for his 2nd win over a top 10 player, following his win over Tipsy. Nalby will now re-enter the top 50.
Nalby takes his revenge for his 2008 loss to Jo in the Paris final.
Tsonga may not have been feeling his best — after soldiering through the first set, he started making too many errors off his BH wing. That’s the more volatile wing—when it’s on, he can hit BHDTLs with cruel precision and strength. By the 3rd set, Tsonga wasn’t making much of an effort to run for balls. Still, credit to Nalby for staying in this competitive match. Nalby saved MP in the 2nd set to break and win after going down a set. It was impressive and honestly more than I’d expected.
Nalby now faces Rafa in the QF, in a re-match of their nerve-wracking 2009 encounter at IWs, when a late-night match ended with Rafa coming back from a set and a break (and MPs) down to defeat Nalby. Both players are in different places right now (or rather, Nalby’s in a different place, as he had hip surgery only a few months after that encounter). This is Nalby’s first first Masters QF since 2010 Toronto.
Partidazo de @nalbandiandavid ,q talento,q clase,q garra le puso!me alegro gordito!un abrazo y enhorabuena—
Nico Almagro (@NicoAlmagro) March 14, 2012
In other news, Fed needed three sets to defeat Thomaz Bellucci. Fed is still suffering from the effects of a cold/flu. He said he hasn’t practiced much at all and has only played his matches. I think the Fed-DelPo QF will be a lackluster one compared to their Dubai match, given the exhaustion of DelPo and the illness of Fed. Still, if there were a golden opportunity to score a confidence-making win over Fed, this QF would be it.
Fed’s twin daughters were present at his match and they apparently got into a tiff over a plastic cup. There was some epic baby-pouting involved 🙂
Rafa easily defeated Dolgo, who also struggled with leg pains. Of the top 3 seeds, Rafa’s the only one to have not lost a set so far.
In the top half of the draw, Djokovic will play Nico Almagro, who defeated Berdy by the odd scoreline of 6-4 6-0. It seems Berdy simply disappeared in the 2nd set. This is Nico’s best career result at IW. Gilles Simon and John Isner will vie for the other SF spot.
The bottom half of the draw is perfect: Nalby-Rafa and DelPo-Fed. How awesome would it be if the SF ended up being Nalby-DelPo? Hey, I can hope!