Looking ahead, DelPo will be playing two exho matches during the off-season and he has one scheduled for March next year at Madison Square Garden.
First, the Tigre exho with Fed (they play two matches) in Argentina takes place on Dec. 12-13. Then, on Dec. 21, DelPo plays Gonzo in Gonzo’s farewell match to the tour in Chile (there’s an interesting back story to the DelPo-Gonzo match — the linked news article says Gonzo originally sought to play Fed, but Fed’s price of $2M was too high, so DelPo stepped in to play the exho instead). Even if he is a back-up choice, DelPo is a great opponent for Gonzo’s farewell match, especially since both players won Olympic medals for their South American countries. And it was emotional.
Recently, a third exho at MSG for the BNP Paribas Showdown in New York was announced. Vika Azarenka and Serena Williams will play, and DelPo will play the men’s exho against Rafa Nadal.
DelPo, Serena and Vika are in NY for the USO, and they recently took part in a promotional “tour” of the venue:
Everyone looks normal in this photo. Everyone except DelPo. DelPo did say his childhood dream was to be an architect. Maybe he was envisioning his own version of the Chrysler Building when this photo was taken? Is that DelPo’s contemplative visionary face?
The photographers were kind enough to include normal DelPo photos as well. He strikes a model pose in this photo.
The DelPo-Rafa exho should be a fun one, for many reasons. First, Rafa’s “exho personality” is very polite. He makes politely funny jokes, while the oldies like Sampras and Agassi are waging passive-aggressive wars in front of an increasingly baffled audience. During the Rafa/Agassi vs. Fed/Sampras exho in 2010, I remember Fed was talking (almost rambling) during a point, and Agassi interrupted to say, “Dude, what are you going on about?” For the next few seconds, no one knew how to respond. When Sampras and Agassi traded verbal barbs with each other, Rafa retreated (quite understandably) into silence. These are the unscripted moments that make exhos entertaining.
That said, I don’t know what to expect when the DelPo-Rafa exho takes place. Will DelPo have to take the initiative in making on-court conversation? In English? Will they even understand each other’s jokes?
**UPDATE: Here is a video from DelPo, Serena and Vika’s promotional event. Notice DelPo’s rapid blinking at 1:21, while wearing his hard hat. Also, he has a dirt smudge on his right shoulder when he’s talking at 1:30. I like that he high-fives Serena (and gives a slightly less enthusiastic high-five to Vika ;))