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.
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 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).