A Dispiriting Loss Against an Inspired Opponent

Quick overview of the headlines from this match: “Ferrer has the measure of Del Potro in quick time,” “Ferrer pounds past Del Potro,” “Del Potro says goodbye after Ferrer master class,” and etc.

A 6-3 6-2 6-3 scoreline shows the nature of the straightforward win from Ferru, who gave an impressive performance on grass.  They played the match under a closed roof on Centre Court, so this technically qualifies as a grass win and an indoor win for him.  A double whammy for DelPo 😦

Photo: AP Photo

An all too familiar scene at the net.

This is Ferru’s third straight win over the big man.  Was is really only late last year that Ferru was saying DelPo was sure to be a contender for the no. 1 ranking soon?  It seems like a cruel joke now, because Ferru sure showed he was the higher-ranked player here.  On average, Ferru’s rallies went 6.7 shots on serve, while the tourny average approaches 3.  While Ferru can grind with the best of them, he also has an aggressive side.  He brought out his shotmaking.  DelPo needs to think of Ferru as a Soderling or Berdy, or rather a Soderling/Berdy who is not afraid to approach the net and who is excellent at defense.  Ferru’s game plan against DelPo is to play super-aggressively.  In the first few games, Ferru’s few errors mostly came from overhitting.  Why didn’t DelPo quickly counter with his own ballast?  I think DelPo would have benefited from a change in tactics against Ferru.  DelPo hasn’t taken a set off Ferru this year, which is frankly very disappointing.

Full credit goes to Ferru for the win, but DelPo should have played more aggressively.  While DelPo was returning well, he did not win enough free points on his serve.  His attempts at chipping and slicing mostly ended with him losing the point.  Each approach to the net was an open invitation for Ferru to hit a morale-boosting passing shot.  Ferru hit his share of very impressive passing shots and inside-out FHs, while DelPo could not capitalize on the chances he had.  DelPo countered with his fair share of impressive FHs and some aesthetically swoon-worthy BHs.  But he couldn’t hit them consistently enough.  He had chances to break on Ferru’s first service game in the 1st set — he is probably rueing those missed opportunities.

This is Ferru’s 1st QF at Wimby and his third straight QF at a Slam this year.  If Ferru should pull an upset and defeat Muzz in the QF, he’ll have reached the SF at every Slam.  That’s a testament to years of effort paying off in a player’s later years.

As for DelPo, the upcoming Olympics means he has a second try on grass, which is always a good thing.  Reaching R4 again is still a sign of the progress he’s making on his least favorite surface.  He’ll have time to rest his knee (he had a scary fall during his match against Ferru, when his left knee gave out — his knee is back to being strapped in tape).

Photo: Getty Images

Photo: AP Photo

I’m looking for a hopeful sign, and this photo of him jumping provides just that.

***

A less coherent section for a few scattered thoughts:

  • Last year, Kate Middleton (sorry, the Dutchess Catherine) watched DelPo lose to Rafa on Centre.  This year, Middleton’s parents watched DelPo lose to Ferru.  What next, are Middleton’s second-cousins going to watch DelPo lose to Verdasco in 2013?!  It’s the Middleton Royal Box Curse (MRBC).  I now feel the Royal Box should be open to blood royalty only, plus Stefan Edberg, Bjorn Borg, Martina Navratilova, Federer’s parents and other tennis luminaries.  Someone file a restraining order against Pippa, stat!  Apparently, there’s a Middleton brother too.  I’ll have to keep an eye on their whereabouts at the Olympics.
  • Ferru is the 7th seed and DelPo was the 9th seed at Wimby.  What are the odds that they would meet in R4?  It hurts that much more that 8th seed Tipsy did not play to his seeding, yet again, at a Slam.  Yet Tipsy maintains his top 8 ranking.  Tough times, my friends.  We await the light at the end of the tunnel.
  • When DelPo loses to a Berdy or a Tsonga, it’s disappointing.  Yet I feel a measure of hope that the next time DelPo can get his revenge.  Despite his numerous losses against Fed this past year, I still think DelPo has it in him to fight toe-to-toe.  Yet Ferru seems to provide a whole ‘nother level of challenge.  For DelPo, Ferru is an enigma wrapped in a burrito — this one’s going to take awhile to figure out.

***

2012 Wimbledon Quarterfinalists:

  • Federer vs. Youzhny
  • Djokovic vs. Mayer
  • Murray vs. Ferru
  • Tsonga vs. Kohlschreiber

While it’s sad to see Reeshie lose in R16 after he played so well, it’s also heartwarming to see Florian Mayer reach the QF again at Wimby, after 8 years.  That means 2 surprise Germans in the QF — Tsonga vs. Kohli should be a close contest.

Also, a shoutout to Youzhny and Ferru, who’ve now reached the QF at every Slam.  Ferru-Muzz will hopefully be another close contest.

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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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14 Responses to A Dispiriting Loss Against an Inspired Opponent

  1. Rita says:

    At this morning’s Wimbledon pre-game chat, Charles Barkley talked about the corrosive effects of injuries. They can trigger chronic pain which triggers chronic depression from never knowing when it’s going to flare up. It’s hard to concentrate on anything else.
    We saw that Delpo still has game from the hard time he gave Fed but his consistency is hindered by the constant threat of another knee episode. He seems to be playing not to win but to avoid pain. I don’t think a change of coach would change anything. As one with a knee replacement, I can testify that fearing every step you take will get you really down.

    • mariposaxprs says:

      I totally get what you’re saying (and I’m really sorry about the troubles you went through with your knee!) Once injuries start becoming a consistent threat/presence, it can definitely affect the player’s game on court. There have been times when I’ve wondered if DelPo is holding back on his FH for fear of another injury. It can also wreak havoc with a player’s momentum (2 months of playing well, then injury, rinse, repeat, etc.) Still, there are players like Tsonga who seems to have found a good rhythm after spending so much time off w/injury in the previous yrs. Let’s just keep hoping—despite his latest defeat, DelPo’s still in a very good place!!

  2. Right after DelPo lost, Danny Miche (this Argie journo I follow on twitter) set up this twit-cam and was talking about DelPo. He was very rational and earnest, but his point was that DelPo needed a change – some sort of change – because he’s stalling right now, and he should be better. And I can understand that sentiment, but I’m not really sure what it would be. Franco Davin is an excellent coach, but at the beginning of the DelPo-Ferrer match, JMac said that he was walking by Franco earlier that morning and Franco told him to go tell DelPo to approach the net more. And, I’m thinking – if Franco has the game plan in place, why isn’t DelPo following that game plan during the match? What’s the disconnect here? I mean – I don’t think he should get rid of Franco at all, but maybe he should bring in someone else temporarily (kind of like a Djokovic – Todd Martin situation)? Or, given all his little niggling injuries, maybe he needs a new trainer?

    But, on the other hand, Ferrer is the type of player that is always going to give DelPo problems. Guys that run down every ball are always going to trouble his game. Its why DelPo only has 1 win in 5 tries against Murray (and that was on clay lol). Its why players like Rochus can take sets off him. And even though its easy to feel frustrated and disappointed in matches like this, sometimes I feel like journos & DelPo fans alike overestimate how good he was in 2009. For example, that 2009 FO Semi went a lot like this 2012 FO QF…his fitness didn’t hold up during the entire match. He had stretches of good periods and he had inexplicably bad periods (like the whole Asian swing).

    Anyway, I still have hope for him. You’re right – a different draw and he could have made a QF and then everyone’s assessment of him would be very different. Hopefully he’ll have a good US Open Swing and hopefully Tipsy will disappear somewhere 🙂 and DelPo can finally have the #8 ranking!!

    • mariposaxprs says:

      Thanks for sharing the JMac comment! You bring up a very interesting point that Franco might have a disconnect w/DelPo — one bothersome thought I’ve had is that Franco guided Gaston Gaudio to a Grand Slam win and solid top 10 ranking — but after Gaudio won a Slam, his performance tapered off. While Gaudio was a very different personality from DelPo, I’ve often wondered how a different coach would guide DelPo (maybe Franco has too much respect for DelPo now?) Temperament-wise, Franco & DelPo fit each other like puzzle pieces, but I agree that he needs some sort of shake-up.

      It’s a strange time, b/c the way he lost to Ferru seems to confirm a lingering suspicion that he’s in a quasi-slump (I’ll have to look up the Danny Miche twitcam–thanks for the tip!) On one hand, he’s at the brink of the top 8. On the other hand, he lacks that spark he once had of posing a threat at Slam QF/SFs, and he doesn’t have a plan B — he doesn’t go down-the-line often enough on his shots, and hitting to the middle of the court can be predictable against someone who defends as well as Ferru does. The fact that he got outhit by Ferru is also troubling (as aggressive as Ferru is, why didn’t DelPo counter with his own power?) DelPo was playing very aggressively in Rotterdam—I’d like more of that hard-hitting to return.

      Muzz & Ferru are def players that DelPo always has trouble with (which is odd, b/c Marin Cilic is DelPo-lite, yet Cilic can beat Muzz). But the good thing is that HC season is ahead. So long as DelPo doesn’t have a slump like he did last yr on HCs, the next few months will be a golden opportunity. Yet that raises the question, what does he need to do to avoid the questionable run he had last yr on HCs? As torturing as it can be, it’s interesting how he’s made his way back this past year–the next few months will provide answers to some of these questions, hopefully positive answers!

      • Interesting point about Cilic being DelPo-lite! Yeah, its weird that other guys with similar games to him can trouble precisely the type of guys that DelPo just doesn’t seem to do, but I think it really does revolve around being aggressive, like you said. When he’s hitting the ball well, and going for the lines, he’s going to trouble anyone’s game. When he’s pushing the ball back to the middle of the court, then its just not going to cut it :/

        Another comment mentioned by JMac during the game was that he said he got the feeling that the Top10 guys are just not that scared facing DelPo anymore. I don’t know how true that really is (like, I can’t imagine Nadal not being worried if he saw DelPo in his draw, you know?), but that’s the thing that I worry about – if he keeps losing these Ferrer type of matches, not only is it going to affect his confidence, but its also going to boost his opponent’s confidence as well 😦 I guess, the one thing I was thinking about was that DelPo said himself that he didn’t really feel back until Wimbledon last year, so if we count that as his “true comeback,” then he’s really only been back for a year. And when you think back to ’08, when he had his four tournament win streak, it really was only after a year that he started playing really well that summer of ’09. If history repeats itself, maybe now is when DelPo is going to come good again? (*crosses fingers*)!!

        • mariposaxprs says:

          Yes, I like your way of thinking!! Timeline-wise, he is not as far back as we were thinking.

          One part that struck me as strange about DelPo counting Wimby ’11 as his “true comeback” was the fact that DelPo had already beaten Soderling (then no. 5) two times at that point —that prob means DelPo is well-aware that he needs to work on hitting thru the defense of the top 4 players (top 5 now, including Ferru). Now that part of his game just needs to materialize!

          I would amend JMac’s comment to say that the top 5 might not be as scared right now, but the other guys (Tsonga, Berdy, Tipsy, Isner), DelPo is capable of beating.

          I’d like to see how DelPo plays against Rafa and Djokovic—although DelPo will clearly be the underdog, Rafa/Novak’s games provide more rhythm for DelPo to work with, which would be another test of where DelPo is at (mentally/physically).

  3. Rita says:

    In a recent RG interview, Delpo waxed poetic over his love of soccer and how his dream is to feel the grass between his toes and score a goal. Earlier this year he said he’d quit in a couple of years to go home and start a family. If these don’t tell us where his head/heart are, what does? If I were young and my body hurting all over, I’d be thinking about doing something else, too. He doesn’t have Fed’s maturity, focus or desire for independence from his coach. Au contraire, Delpo seems to need strong leadership which is why a team sport might serve him better. I predict he’ll hang in there through the Davis Cup and if ARG wins, he retires from tennis.

    • mariposaxprs says:

      Ah, I remember that interview, where he said he’d have kids by the time he was 27-28 y.o. That made me raise my eyebrows too, but I chalked it up to him joking around. It’s tough for me to question his head/heart, but his ranking and performance at the end of 2012 should provide a clearer view. If he finishes the year comfortably in the top 8 (a top 5-6 ranking as a high goal), then he might be comfortable enough to play with more risk. I do think it’s too soon to think about his retirement though!! Let’s not move too quickly ahead! 🙂

      Also, the way Tsonga’s been playing this yr can be inspiration for DelPo! (although I think Tsonga will lose to Muzz today :()

  4. Candy says:

    Similar feeling! If the no.8 seed played to his seeding, then it’s totally fine! But it makes me sad seeing those no.8 seeds (Fish in AO, Tipsy in RG & Wimbly) wasted their no.8 seeding advantage, losing in early rounds, while Delpo was fighting hard in latter rounds! 😦

    Losing to Ferru two times in straight sets is very dispiriting… Firstly it reminds us of that woeful event in Dec last year. Then, Delpo got owned by Ferru on clay, hard, grass, outdoors, indoors & at Masters, GS, DC in last 7 months. Also, it tells us how wide the gap is between Delpo & Top-5/6. (Jo is doing well too.) 😥

    But I believe that once Delpo goes to no.8, everything will be easier (hopefully). Hey! Delpo has only 360 pts (exclude DC pts) to defend in the rest of the year! He’s still learning & improving! And hard court ahead! HOLD ON! 🙂

    • mariposaxprs says:

      I know I shouldn’t think this way, but I keep thinking that with Tipsy’s draw, DelPo would have reached the QF this year for sure.

      Yea, I don’t know why, but the way DelPo lost to Ferru was most disappointing. Ferru’s been playing amazingly, but I expected a closer match from DelPo. I think DelPo needs to hit less down the middle when he’s playing Ferru. And the serve. He was serving so well in Rotterdam/Marseilles, but maybe the shoulder pains this yr meant a step back in that area 😦

      But thank you for the lovely information that DelPo only has 360 points to defend for the rest of the year! That’s the best news, and it means he can finally make his move up the ranking this summer. DelPo will need to beat the likes of Jo, Ferru and Berdy regularly. But if he reaches the no. 8 ranking, I think that will change the way he approaches tournaments (I don’t know if that makes sense, but I feel that’s a key factor)!

      • Candy says:

        Oh, you remind me of his brilliant form in Feb. And look at his current form, I’m sad. Those shoulder & knee problems destroyed his momentum & strength. 😦

        While I don’t know if Delpo needs a new coach or what, I don’t think Delpo would be “rational” enough to “fire” Franco after these years they worked together. They won a GS together after all. Anyway, I think we still need to give more time to Delpo. It seems some of us start being less patient which I understand. But let’s give him this full year & we’ll see.

        Anyway, how can Delpo return his brilliant form? I hope this break before Olympics can do.

        • mariposaxprs says:

          I’m very 50-50 on whether DelPo would do better with a coach change. Franco and DelPo seem so perfect together, and Franco’s the one who helped guide DelPo to the player he is now. Also, when Novak worked for a brief time with Todd Martin, his serve ended up suffering big time — we certainly wouldn’t want to see that with DelPo! Also, DelPo would need a Spanish-speaking coach, and I can’t think of too many candidates other than Luis Lobo (Nalby and Carlos Moyas’ old coach). You’re right, it’s most important right now to be patient.

          Hopefully, DelPo can shake off these losses and his smaller injuries, to put in a great performance at the Olympics and HC. I just want him to play aggressively, with or without the UFEs.

  5. Rita says:

    Delpo’s knee was hurting for some time before he asked for the tape. Ferrer sensed his opponent’s weakness and took advantage of it. That’s why he won. As I’ve said before, Delpo’s knee may be another wrist injury requiring surgery and if so, that’s it for his career. Much as I hope that’s not true, I also have the sense his heart is not in the game to advance in ranking. He’s stalled around No. 10. He may be missing this home and soccer buddies, too. He’s only 23 and tennis has been his world for a decade now, a lonely existence, and he might be happier in a team situation. I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t show up at the next Boca game to resume his bromance with Palermo et.al. which is fine, he’s so young he deserves to be happy and well.

    • mariposaxprs says:

      It’s worrisome that his knee’s been bothering him for quite some time this year. I feel like overplaying in the 1st half of 2012 has been a factor.

      I think questioning a player’s heart involves a lot of speculation. I honestly don’t know enough to speculate about it. Sometimes I wonder if he needs a different member on his team. It’s interesting b/c after Fed won his 1st Slam, he split up with his coach. Fed said he did that b/c he needed to be more independent, more reliant on himself and not an outside voice. Obviously, each player is different, but maybe DelPo needs a bit of a shakeup (whether it’s related to his tactics or his fitness).

      When DelPo gets outplayed, he doesn’t have a strong plan B. That can make it look like lack of heart. Good thing is, now he knows that his strategy against Ferru is not working. He and Palermo are awfully close now, huh? I wouldn’t infer too much from the photos of him attending Boca games though!

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