Indian Wells: DelPo & Nalby Bow Out in the QFs

This is a tale of two very different QF matches —

Federer d. Del Potro 6-3 6-2

So this match was a bit of a blow-out.

Photo: Getty

I thought it would be competitive, given how closely DelPo played Fed in Dubai, and also on account of Fed being under-the-weather.

The 1st game of the match turned out to be crucial.  They played a 12-minute game on Fed’s serve and DelPo had BP chances there.  Then, the Hawk-Eye drama happened.  On GP, Fed hit an ace that was called in, which DelPo challenged.  Fed moved to the other side of the court, indicating that he thought his serve was out as well.  However, a faulty internet connection meant Hawk-Eye was not available for the review.

Fed held serve and DelPo went on a lengthy tirade at umpire Mo.

Photo: Reuters

DelPo takes his frustrations out on Hawk-Eye later in the match.  He mimicked shooting a rifle at the screen.  

Unfortunately, that was the turning point for the match (for DelPo), because he certainly let that moment get to him.  During the changeover after the 3rd game, he told Mo something to the effect of “This changes everything, I can’t play now.”  When Mo acknowledged his mistake in not overruling the original call, that only further irritated DelPo, who asked the question of why Mo hadn’t been quicker to admit his mistake.

I feel for DelPo here, as he was very unfortunate.  It was the 1st game of the match, they were playing for 12 minutes, and the serve was indeed out.  However, the fact that he placed so much importance on that moment, so early on in the match, also shows where his mental state is at against Fed.  It was a bit distressing to see DelPo implode after that.

Sadly, the rest of the match was not too remarkable.  Fed was not at his best but DelPo was far more error-prone.  Fed charged ahead with the dropshots, his time-proven strategy against DelPo.  He closed out the match comfortably at 6-2 in the 2nd.

DelPo was wearing heavy taping on his shoulder (as he was in Dubai) and his 1st serves weren’t too impressive.  He still has Miami and Davis Cup to play, and then a 2-3 week break before defending Estoril.  I think dropping one of the 3 commitments would be smart, given the exhaustion/listlessness he’s been showing of late.

Presser comments:

  • Fed mentioned in passing that he felt DelPo was having trouble with his shoulder, which makes the potential problem even more worrisome.


Nadal d. Nalbandian, 4-6 7-5 6-4

Photo: Reuters

The level of the 2nd QF between Nalby and Rafa more than compensated for the somewhat lackuster FeDelPo match.

Nalby has been playing great tennis this week.  What’s impressed me in his wins over Cilic, Tipsy and Tsonga was his fighting spirit and his ability to overcome a mid-match hurdle.  He was striking the ball cleanly, while hitting through his BH and playing with assurance.  Rafa played nervously in the 1st set and credit goes to Nalby for keeping him under pressure.  On a beautiful dropshot and then FHDTL, Nalby broke to take the 1st set.

On his serve, it felt like Nalby had the match on his racquet — while Rafa found his zone and had many comfortable service holds, there were many instances where Nalby was pressuring Rafa into defending.  In the 2nd and 3rd sets, Rafa’s ability to play the big points was the differentiating factor.  Nalby was playing at a high level in this match, but he made a few bad choices that will linger in my mind for a long time — that too casual volley when serving to stay in the 2nd set, the DF that gave Rafa the 2nd set, and the ill-advised dropshot attempt when he had BPs to level the match at 5-5 in the 3rd.

After going down a double break, Nalby still put up a fight.  Rafa, who’s had trouble closing out matches in IW, got broken serving for the match.  Nalby had his chance to level the 3rd set, but that costly DS error erased his chances.

Overall, there are two ways to view this match.  On one hand, Nalby gave an excellent account of himself and showed why he’s such an admired tennis player.  His BH is among the best of his generation (even Rob Koenig agrees!) and his touch at the net was amazing to witness.  On the other hand, WHY-NALBY-WHY.  Why that DS on BP in the 3rd?

In his presser, Rafa admitted to being nervous but he ended up playing the big points better, as is his way.  Credit to Rafa for that.  Rafa’s now into the SF, where he will face Fed.

There was a tragi-hilarious moment at the end, when Rafa chased after Nalby, post-handshake, to ask if he was alright.  Nalby and Rafa are long-time friends, so this was a good-hearted gesture on Rafa’s part.  Still, in the circumstances (it was seconds after the end of the match), it was pretty awkward.  No one wants to chat to their opponent right after losing a close match like that.  Nalby had allegedly kicked over his chair after the match, so the sight of Rafa standing right behind him must have been super-discomfiting.  Finally, Nalby gave a thumbs-up to Rafa, who took the signal and backed away.

Photo: Getty

Rafa, the brave soul who dares to pat Nalby’s shoulder.


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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10 Responses to Indian Wells: DelPo & Nalby Bow Out in the QFs

  1. Pingback: Indian Wells: Draw Analysis | mariposaxprs

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

  3. Candy says:

    I’m still confident he can finish Top 8 this year.
    But I think delpo wants to do well in RG and Wimbly in order to gain more precious points. So it would be better if he could be in Top 8 before RG. But the problem exactly is that Delpo has more pts to defend in the 1st half of the year, and has more points to defend than Janko, Isner and Fish. Janko and Fish dont have many points to defend until the summer HC. And isner’s suddenly here. I never thought Isner would be a threat. But now he’s here. He’s out in 1st round in RG and 2nd in Wimbly last year. So I can see he will have a good run and gain many points in the following months (especially with the momentum he gains here in IW).
    In contrast, Delpo drops out of Top 10 now. And he’s tired physically (and mentally). Not fresh. No momentum. More points to defend. That’s why I see his road is longer now.

    • Candy says:

      And yes, I agree with u about not prioritizing the short-term at the expense of his health. He definitely need a very good rest to get himself 100% ready to fight, considering the road is more difficult now.
      But I think he may quit DC?!

      • mariposaxprs says:

        I originally wanted DelPo to play DC, but now I’m sort of wishing he would opt out. Then again, it wouldn’t make that much of a difference anyway, since DelPo will already be in Argentina that week, and it would be a matter of playing 1-2 matches at most. I’m curious as to what happens w/the official team announcement now..

    • mariposaxprs says:

      It will be a tough dilemma for DelPo. I’m not sure which is the best decision, to shoot for the top-8 seeding at RG/Wimby or to forgo that in favor of a healthier late season run. I wish there were a middle road…maybe dropping DC this time could be a good decision.

      I’m confused about Isner’s run as well. Also frustrated that he has virtually nothing to defend until later this yr, while currently making it to the top 10. Janko’s rankings breakdown is so fluffy — he relies overwhelmingly on a whole bunch of 250-tournys, and he’s currently no. 18 in the YTD rankings. Again, confusing =/

      DelPo’s road back is certainly longer now, but I hope DelPo can gain net points in Miami (he could potentially do that by going farther than R4). Also, if he reaches at least the QF in Madrid and Rome, he could gain quite a few points there. The point between now and end-of-Estoril will be the most stressful, in terms of defending points. After Estoril, he has a bit less pressure. So there’s still a healthy chance he can get that top 8 seeding at RG!

      • Candy says:

        Yes, I think all delpo’s fans are so frustrated now. He had a title, F, SF and QF ( and only lost to Fed). But his ranking is moving backward. While Fish, Tipsy and Isner did almost nothing in the past month, but they’re all in Top 10.
        I think there will be a lot of pressure around delpo. Many “stupid” people think he can be in Top 5 “soon” and now he’s not even in Top 10. Some people will start to criticize him over the next months.
        Maybe we (and delpo) need to be patient and believe that the better moment will come later this year. 🙂 But Delpo really need to take good care of his body. I dont want to see him breaking down in the 2nd half of the year like last year.
        But yea, definitely a dilemma for delpo, whether he should push at this stage or later.

        I personally think he should drop DC. (but there must be a lot of pressure around him as well) 😦

        OK, whatever, let’s vamos delpo together! 🙂

        • mariposaxprs says:

          You’re so right about the media going back and forth on DelPo. It’s too back-and-forth sometimes. I’m more selective about the tennis articles I read now!

          His health really does come first! We will vamos DelPo (patiently), and hope he can achieve his goals this year 🙂

  4. Candy says:

    I’m very worried about delpo’s shoulder, wrist, physique, fitness, mind, etc. He’s played too much! He cant serve very well with this shoulder and can easily injury it. He cant afford any other serious injury!
    And what’s worse? After his hard work and playing 1000 matches in Feb and Mar, what he got is
    being out of Top 10 in the ranking. Oh, thank you! 😥
    That’s really a big setback. He might be a bit (or very) tired phyically and metally now.
    His road is even longer now! 😦

    • mariposaxprs says:

      I have those same concerns 😦 DelPo looked great in Rotterdam/Marseilles and then he started to look slightly less so in Dubai. By the time he reached IW, he looked a level below his best. The taping on his shoulder is worrying—DelPo talked about it briefly in an ARG interview, where he said that he hopes to play Davis Cup, but only if his health allows him to. The official team for DC hasn’t been announced yet, so I think that still leaves his participation in question.

      DelPo’s ranking is very front-loaded (he has more points to defend in the first half of the year). That means there could be an up-and-down until July. If he can stay healthy and gain points in Rome (he didn’t play last yr) and during the summer HC season, a top 8 finish is still on the cards. I hope he doesn’t prioritize the short-term at the expense of his health. I think it’d be smart of him to not defend Estoril, but let’s see what happens now…

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