DelPo won his R1 in straight sets over LL Florent Serra, 6-4 7-6(4) 6-4.
Given the last-minute change of opponent, DelPo did well to make adjustments to his game and win this match in straights, although I would’ve preferred he broke his opponent’s serve more than two times. On the bright side, DelPo held serve for the entire match (Serra was 0/1 on BPs). As promised, DelPo did play more BH slices, although his BH (and left wrist) did not appear to be hurting in this match — this is a relief.
If I could make one criticism, it’s that DelPo went 2/10 on BPs (which is not nearly as bad as Goffin, who went 2/18 on BPs in his R1 loss to Berdy). However, I’m probably not alone in expecting more from DelPo than I do from Goffin (although I do quite like Goffin).
Overall, the no. 116-ranked Serra served well — he had a knack for serving aces when facing BPs, although DelPo did play passively when he had opportunities to break in the first and second set.
Nevertheless, DelPo played a solid match that featured many impressive points. I’ll say this: Last year, when DelPo was still making his way back to the game, there were a few matches he’d play where he seemed lackluster. In the past few months, DelPo seems more in command and his FH is living up to its good name.
DelPo hit a marvelous passing shot at 5-3* to go up 30-all on Serra’s serve in the first set. There was also a rally at 4-4 where DelPo hit a succession of three FHs to earn BP on Serra’s serve. What stood out to me most was DelPo’s variegated FHs. Too often, DelPo is unfairly dismissed as a “ball-basher” or a one-dimensional player. But the point at 4-4 where he hit those pinpoint FHs suggests otherwise — I can’t think of another currently active player who can hit the FH as flat as DelPo, while managing the variety he does off that wing (OK, maybe Fed — but DelPo’s FHs are still impressive).
DelPo put in fine touches that sent FHs softly grazing over the net (on the first point when he was serving at 5*-6 in the first set), and he later hit the shot of the match during the second set on a running FH at 3-2* on Serra’s serve. After winning the second set TB, he gave a roar that seemed to alleviate the frustration he had in (not) converting BPs. DelPo had served at 48% for the second set, which probably heightened the relief of winning the second set in a TB. During the match, DelPo did manage to give a linesperson the “death glare” after being called for a foot fault — luckily, nothing happened and DelPo rolled on (not so) happily for the rest of the match.
The TB that DelPo won against Serra means DelPo is now 19-13 in TBs for 2012. That sounds about right. For the record, DelPo has lost three TBs to Fed so far this year (he lost in two consecutive TBs to Fed in Dubai; then there was the momentum-changing TB he lost to Fed at the Olympic SF) and he’s lost two TBs to Berdy (Madrid SF where he lost in straight TBs). DelPo also lost a TB to Steps in Toronto, which means he’s lost 3 TBs to Czech players in 2012 — this is not an encouraging stat, but I wouldn’t dwell too much on it right now.
In R2, DelPo plays the young American hope Ryan Harrison, who beat Germany’s Benjamin Becker in straight sets in R1.
I’m sure there are a number of American journos who’d like to see Harrison pull off an upset over the former USO champ in R2. The sheer brazenness with which journos entertain such blasphemous thoughts is beyond me and I can only shudder in response. DelPo is sure (positive!) to meet his R3 opponent over the weekend.
The one salvaging grace from the R2 DelPo-Harrison match-up is that DelPo is likely to finally receive the respect he is due as 2009 USO champion — he will finally be scheduled on Arthur Ashe court! Nothing’s certain yet, but there’s a 99% likelihood the USO schedulers will place DelPo-Harrison on center court. Even if his placement on Arthur Ashe is on account of Ryan Harrison’s status as
great young American hope, it will mean that DelPo finally makes his homecoming to Arthur Ashe. Took you long enough, USO!