Roland Garros: Calm Before the Storm

del Potro d. Roger-Vasselin, 6-7(5) 7-6(3) 6-4 6-4

Photo: AP Photo

The double-lawnmower fistpump celebration

In dramatic fashion, DelPo eeked out a win over Edouard Roger-Vasselin and secured his passage to R3.  Much like his R1 win over Monty, this match featured a visit from the doctor, moments in which it seemed possible that DelPo might throw in the towel, before DelPo somehow made a comeback in the 2nd set TB that eventually saw him through to the win.  I have to say, after DelPo’s first two matches at RG, I can empathize with the excruciating roller-coaster that is being a Muzz fan.

Photo: Getty Images

DelPo actually was serving quite well in the 2nd and 3rd sets, but his movement in the rallies was a half-step slow. The left knee again. He had trouble retrieving balls, which may explain his 13/30 on net approaches in the match—DelPo played an amazing game to break in the 3rd set, with Roger-Vasselin pushing him to all corners of the court. Yet for the most part, DelPo seemed intent on shortening the points. Roger-Vasselin put in a spirited performance and there were close rallies where a few millimeters to the left or right could well have dampened DelPo’s spirits. Fortunately, it was not to be.

One strange observation from the match: Roger-Vasselin is French. In fact, he’s the son of former RG semifinalist Christophe Roger-Vasselin (who beat top seed Jimmy Connors in the 1983 QFs). You would think the crowd would be firmly on RV’s side. Guess who they were cheering for though? I guess the RG crowd does occasionally cheer for the player with a pained left knee 🙂

Photo: Reuters

Afterwards, in his presser, DelPo’s status update on his knee was neutral. He acknowledged the pain in his knee, but affirmed he’d continue to keep playing on. He faces his first noteworthy challenge in Cilic in R3. This is their fourth encounter this year, and it’s likely to be closer than their previous ones. Cilic seems to have found something resembling consistency, as he saw off ’03 RG champion Ferrero in straights. One interesting stat comparison: Cilic had 35-23 winners-to-unforced error ratio, while DelPo had 50-39 in his R2 match. If there’s one encouraging sign that DelPo may just manage another win over Cilic, that would be it.

As for Berdy, who likely awaits the winner of DelPo-Cilic in R4, he had a truly terrifying W-UFE ratio of 42-6 in his straight sets win over Llodra. Even if DelPo beat Cilic (which I think is unlikely), I’m not sure it’d be healthy for his confidence to face Berdy, so soon before the Davis Cup SF in September. But I’m thinking too far ahead. DelPo will have plenty of work to face with Cilic in a day’s time.

***

Fun tidbits:

Nalbandian’s Road to Roland Garros

  • Nalby lost to Romania’s Adrian Ungur in R1. It was a bit of an upset, although the surprise is tempered by the fact that this was Nalby’s first showing at Roland Garros in four years. Since hip injury, Nalby’s had a tough time playing on clay and he referred to this fact in his post-match presser. He played too defensively during the match and his serve deserted him on the important points. Ungur played a solid match, which saw him close out the match—Ungur proved himself a surprise challenger when he pushed Fed to four sets yesterday in R2.  He’s acquitted himself quite well these past few days.  Soon after Nalby’s loss, RG released a “Road to Roland Garros” video with Nalby. It’s a nice, lighthearted moment and required viewing for those journalists who’ve long-persisted in dubbing him a surly, uncharismatic character.  Observe Nalby’s “Eye of the Tiger” face. There may be something slightly problematic with the fact that Nalby will oblige almost every interviewer request, but you can’t say he’s uncooperative.
  • Federer, following his shaky R2 win over Ungur, met with Argentinean journalists for his presser.  When asked about the Argie players, he said his favorite was Nalbandian. This makes sense, given their age similarity and the fact they played as juniors together.  He said he had a soft spot for Nalby’s game.  Right said, Fed.  Fed also threw in a sly observation about DelPo’s game as a junior (DelPo’s serve was a weak link before he met Davin).
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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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