DelPo defeated Roddick in four sets to advance to the QF, where he will play defending champ Novak. This is a good comeback from the indignities he faced the day before (which featured him mopping up the court with a towel).
As feared, DelPo played flat right after the resumption of play, and he lost the first set TB 1-7. However, he eventually found his footing and he started to zone in with his forehands. Eventually, the fears that Roddick would pull off an unlikely victory started to subside, even as the second set went to another TB.
DelPo won the second set TB 7-4, with a pass. From there on, he was playing more like the self he’d shown in his best moments during the match against Leonardo Mayer. In the end, Roddick only broke DelPo’s serve on 1/4 occasions, while DelPo broke 4/7 times.
The final game of the match was not as potent with drama, as DelPo served it out emphatically. What was dramatic was the realization that Roddick’s career was coming to a close. I’ve never warmed to him as a player, but even I was a bit stirred by the realization that this cantankerous player was facing career points.
While Roddick saved one MP, DelPo took the match 6-4 in the 4th set. The last few moments of the match were moving. DelPo gracefully handed over the stage to Roddick with a sweep of his arms. He spoke briefly to the crowd, thanking them for their respect. It’s tough to describe, but DelPo was a class act during the very brief period of time he spoke. While the setting made it easy for people to treat him like an unwanted guest who needs to be shooed out of the house, he banished those feelings with his measured words.
One very thoughtful journo asked Roddick about DelPo’s post-match gesture, and Roddick gave a very nice response (I guess when you talk as much as Roddick does, you eventually end up dispensing some gems too ;)):
Q. Of all the tributes to you today, one of the most striking to me seemed to be the way Juan Martin handled it. When they announced him as the winner, he pointed his racquet to you. When they interviewed him on the court he basically said this is your day ‑ and then even how he was with you at the net. I’m curious what your thoughts were about that and what he did say to you when you met and embraced?
ANDY RODDICK: To tell you what kind of guy he is, I wasn’t surprised by any of it because I don’t think you’ll find someone that doesn’t like him or doesn’t think he’s a class act. You know, I was happy that I got the opportunity to play him today. You know, probably wasn’t an easy situation for him. I thought he handled it great. I’m thankful to him for that.
Fine, so Roddick wasn’t all that bad. Seriously though, two lines from Roddick’s presser took my breath away (and warmed my heart just a little): The first was when he talked about his thoughts during the match, and how he remembered his mother driving him to practices when he was younger. His mother was crying in the stands at the end of the match, so this was a very touching recognition from him of his parents’ efforts. The second was when Roddick said his parents “gave [him] every opportunity they didn’t have” — that was a gem of a line. How apt is it that Roddick will have his own radio show in his post-tennis career? As long as he’s not mouthing off at a co-DJ over the proper pronunciation of words, I think he’d be worth a listen.
As for DelPo, he has now retired two members of the New Balls Generation (Safin in 2009, Roddick in 2012). ESPN Tennis incorrectly tweeted that DelPo had sent Roger Federer into retirement:
Drop Shot Dispatch (@DSDispatch) September 06, 2012
Which hurt because they tweeted this shortly after Fed lost to Berdy in four sets (I don’t even want to talk about that). Short summary: Berdy played amazingly, while Fed’s serve and his groundstrokes were off — I think Fed may have played worse than he did during his match against Muzz at the Olympic final, except Fed had just cause to be exhausted during the Olympic final, whereas this USO QF defeat is more of a head-scratcher.
Berdy is coming into form again, after a relatively quiet summer. This is a big win for the Czech and even more cause to worry about the upcoming Davis Cup SF. DelPo mentioned he would wait for his doctor’s advice before confirming his participation in the Davis Cup tie. With Nalby already out because of injury, this puts Argentina’s chances in danger, especially when Berdy is in one of his strange tennis-playing moods.
For now though, DelPo’s most pressing concern is his QF match against Djokovic at the USO. He’s gone two rounds farther than he did last year, but it would be great if he could notch another win over Novak this year. His victory over Novak in the bronze medal match at the Olympics put paid to the refrain that “he’s never defeated a top 3 player since his comeback” (even though he technically had, at the DC SF last year). DelPo will need to start out stronger against Novak though, and he’ll also have to adjust to playing in nighttime conditions again.