Madrid: Your Friendly Giant Strolls Into the SFs

Del Potro d. Dolgopolov, 6-3 6-4

DelPo defeated a strong-spirited Dolgo, in an entertaining match.  Dolgo, who is the most entertaining but frustrating player on tour, showed his zany FHs and dropshots.

Photo: Getty Images

However, DelPo pinned Dolgo back to the baseline and asserted his authority, throwing in some beautiful CC backhands of his own.  This QF win marks DelPo’s 10th straight victory on clay, and he has won 22 consecutive sets on the surface.  

Since his return from injury in 2011, Madrid is the second Masters SF that DelPo has reached (he has a total of 5 appearances in SFs at Masters events).  DelPo’s best Madrid showing was in 2009, when he reached the SFs (lost to Fed).   

This year, DelPo faces Berdy in the first SF while Fed plays Tipsy (who pulled an upset over a struggling Djokovic).  There is a lot on the line, in terms of ranking points and statement-making.  Fed has the chance to take over the no. 2 ranking from Rafa, if he wins the tournament.  If Berdy reaches the final, he edges closer to taking the no. 6 ranking.  If DelPo wins his SF and Tipsy loses, DelPo moves up to no. 8, which would keep alive the dream of being a top 8 seed for Roland Garros.  If Tipsy wins … I’m sure there are people who would be happy with that — I don’t know who they are, but I’m told they exist.

In any case, DelPo faces a very stern test in Berdy.  The fast, low-bouncing court is one of Berdy’s favorite surfaces, and Berdy himself has been making quick work of his opponents in Madrid.  I’d like DelPo to summon the thunderous hitting he showed when he outplayed Berdy at the Rotterdam SF this year.  Berdy will be eager to ensure that the gap in his 1-3 H2H against DelPo doesn’t increase.  For DelPo, the prospect of him reaching the Madrid final would be just reward for his efforts this season.

DelPo’s presser quotes:

DelPo finally spoke about playing on the new surface.  There was a scary moment during the DelPo-Dolgo match, when he ran straight into the wall at the back of the court.  He was seen rubbing his right shoulder for several moments afterwards—

  • “Once you start sliding on the blue clay, you end up going for 2 or 3 meters.” (source)
  • “I ended up hitting my playing shoulder against the wall.  It can be risky, but these conditions are are the same for everyone and we are all suffering equally.” (source)
  • “It’s a question of knowing how to manage these difficulties and to play the best as you can, in spite of the difficulties you face with moving on the surface.” (source)

DelPo was asked about the players’ criticisms of blue clay:

  • “How Nadal is feeling is at the moment is more or less how all of the players are feeling with the conditions.” (source)
  • DelPo about the ATP politics: “I try not to get involved.  I only want to play tennis.  There are other people who have the responsibility to worry about these issues.” (source)
DelPo’s comments about his form and his preparation for the SF:
  • DelPo on never having played central court at Madrid this year: “I will try to warm up tomorrow before the SF. Court 2 and 3 are much alike and are slippery both.” (source)
  • “This week I am trying to play my game and to be aggressive all the time and it is working.” (source)

**Hat-tip to Raul de Kemmeter (@raulfiber) for providing the DelPo quotes above.

———————————————

(For what it’s worth, I think it was poor form for Rafa and Djokovic to criticize the blue clay the way they did.  Djokovic, shortly after losing to Tipsy, ranted that his mind was made up and he would no longer play Madrid if the clay was blue.  This is similar to Rafa’s comments about boycotting Madrid next year.  That both of them made their comments after losing to a player they normally own is what I disapprove of most, along with the fact that both took a rash approach to the issue, already threatening a boycott.

To be clear, the safety concerns with the blue clay do seem legitimate.  Many others have commented on the uneven bounces and the slippery conditions.  Still, the way each player has ultimately gone about dealing with those difficult conditions is what tells them apart.  I understand that Rafa and Djokovic’s playing styles make it more difficult for them to move and assert their game on blue clay — but their reactions to the clay, in the wake of their losses, seems a bit overboard).

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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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4 Responses to Madrid: Your Friendly Giant Strolls Into the SFs

  1. Iram says:

    thanks for the post. does this mean that berdych had now officially taken Ferrer’s spot as 6 in the world?
    I’m beginning to think that (I know this sounds mean of me) that the tournament director should keep the blue courts at least for one more year…just to spite rafa and nole. I mean if they’re gonna announce their boycotting the even so soon after losing their matches that just comes across as bad sportsmanship. there might be other players who can adapt to the surface and gain ranking points then.
    (I know u haven’t posted abt it yet, but sorry ur friendly giant lost. it would have been nice to see him in a masters final) 🙂 all in good time…. t c have a good weekend

    • mariposaxprs says:

      Actually, that was a mistake on my part–it turns out the Rome points haven’t been dropped off the rankings yet, which means Ferru is still no. 6! The point difference between Ferru and Berdy is very narrow, but Ferru has the chance to gain more net ranking points, since he didn’t play Rome last year!! (I updated my post to reflect that new info!)

      Madrid had so many entertaining matches this year, that I really like the surface. I think the tournament organizers need to work on making sure the courts are in better playing condition, but I don’t mind the blue color and I don’t mind how quickly the court plays either. I agree with you that the players who seemed more open to adapting ultimately played better in Madrid—also, 4 of the top 10 seeds reached the SFs, so I think it’s safe to say that the surface is fine to play on (minus some of the maintenance issues).

      Thanks, Iram, and enjoy the rest of your weekend too!!!

  2. mesasr says:

    I usually enjoy reading your blog, as I am also a huge DelPo fan (alongside Novak, he is the only one I really support and not just admire), but I find it quite puzzling that you dislike Tipsy so much, in fact it seems you generally like argies and spaniards while americans and serbs are at the opposite end, so I am curious, is there any truth in that? Note that I dont intend to go into a deep discussion here, I am just really curious 🙂
    As for today’s match, I think Berdy is more dangerous than ever, havent seen him on this blue stuff yet, but it seems he picked up right where he left off in Monte Carlo and is flying high nowadays. That said, there will always be one major difference between these two – mental toughness and if Juan gets the better start…

    • mariposaxprs says:

      I’m sorry if it came off that way, even more sorry if you’re from America or Serbia, and you feel personally offended by anything I’ve said here!! I can assure you that I don’t pick players to like or dislike based on their nationality. I just don’t like Tipsy b/c of his past issues with sportsmanship, the way he’s spoken disdainfully of women’s tennis, and the way he retired during the Eastbourne final last year. The gun incident involving Rafa & Novak certainly didn’t help my perception of him either. As for Novak, I am a big fan of Fed & Rafa, and I admit I’m still not a huge fan of Novak’s persona—he plays great tennis, that much I know, but I’ve yet to really “see” him in a different light.

      As for the American players, that’s an interesting question. I’m not a fan of Roddick (the game and the personality–even his fans would admit he’s a difficult case), and I think Fish takes after Roddick, is maybe even worse (being rude to ball kids, etc). Isner, I’m just wary of him b/c he came out of nowhere to be a threat for top 10 positioning, and that worries me as a DelPo fan. I first got into tennis watching Hingis-Davenport, and although I liked Hingis better, Davenport was another fave of mine. I like the Williams sisters too, as well as JJ (JJ’s personality, I like :)). Being a fan of DelPo means I naturally pay more attention to Argentinean players (also doesn’t hurt that I love Nalby’s game), but generally I think I’m pretty country-blind when it comes to players. Rafa, Ferru, Nico and Feli are guys whose games I like, so in that sense, maybe I do favor Spanish players as well. But Fer still gets on my nerves, every now and then 😉

      I’m sad about DelPo’s loss to Berdy 😦 But Berdy did play very well, he’s been having a pretty solid season so far.

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