Welcome to 2013! Hopman Cup and the assorted warm-up tournaments leading up to the Australian Open have started.
Aside from educating the younger generation on how to properly intake sports drinks, DelPo has spent the last week of the off season attending a ceremony in front of his hometown, Tandil, for a mural that was painted in his honor.
The mural ceremony took place in front of his childhood tennis academy, Club Independiente. DelPo’s childhood coach, Marcelo Gomez, can be seen snapping a photo of DelPo at the ceremony:
Tandil is probably the most dedicated town in the world, when it comes to appreciating its hometown hero. They used to throw firetruck parades for DelPo back in 2008 and 2009 (local sculptor Alejo Azcue is currently working on a sculpture of the current world no. 7).
If DelPo does well this season, I’d bet the chances are high that his sculpture will be made of platinum (with emerald studs for his green eyes).
DelPo then started the 2013 season with two exho matches against Andy Roddick in Punta del Este, Uruguay and Junin, Argentina. DelPo won the first exho, 6-2 7-5, after which he and Roddick flew by helicopter to Junin for the second night’s exho.
Momento en que descienden del helicóptero Roddick y Del Potro. Viaje tranquilo de poco más de una hora hasta Junín. http://t.co/532GiCXz—
Eduardo Puppo (@puppotenis) January 04, 2013
DelPo then beat Roddick again in the second exho, 6-4 6-2. Despite the language barrier, Roddick kept the crowd entertained with his racquet smashes and theatrical behavior.
After the exho, DelPo asked the recently retired Roddick what he considered to be his greatest career achievement. Roddick replied, “Winning the Davis Cup.”
Touché, Roddick. Also, ouch.
Perhaps Roddick is aware of Team Argentina’s currently dire straits: Doubles specialist Edu Schwank announced earlier that due to a wrist injury (for which he had surgery), he will not be able to play the R1 tie against Germany. The next DC candidate, Leo Mayer, then burned his right hand playing with fireworks on New Year’s Eve. Mayer withdrew from Auckland and he is questionable for the AO. From Captain Jaite’s perspective, the matter is whether or not Mayer’s hand heals in time for the R1 tie.
Roddick, however, nicely redeemed his reference to ARG’s DC drama by saying he thought DelPo had a solid chance of becoming world no. 1.
From what I recall, the following is the list of people who think DelPo has the potential and momentum on his side to become no. 1: Guga Kuerten, David Ferrer, Roger Federer, Toni Nadal (Pulitzer Prize for the journalist who wrangled that answer from Toni!) and now, Andy Roddick.
However, I have to point out that after Ferru stated he thought DelPo would become no. 1 in the world, Ferru then went on to stomp all over DelPo’s heart and defeat him on clay (’11 DC F), outdoor HCs (Miami), grass (Wimbledon) and indoor HCs (WTF).
In light of all this information, I will now put forth my list of New Year’s Resolutions for DelPo and greater Argentina:
- Do not play with fireworks, especially when your livelihood depends on your hands.
- DelPo Should Win a Slam in 2013: Berdy (per his FB account) has definitely left Nike, although it’s as-yet unclear which brand he will wear in 2013. DelPo’s AO outfit has been released, which indicates he will wear Nike Tennis in 2013. However, rumor has it that DelPo will be leaving Nike for Li-Ning in 2014. From the glimpses I’ve seen of Cilic’s horrid performance in Chennai, wearing an equally unattractive Li-Ning kit, I can tell you that I do not approve of DelPo’s reported departure to Li-Ning in 2014. In order to prevent this oncoming disaster, DelPo will have to win a Slam in 2013 to keep Nike interested. If the rumors are true and Nike are banking on Grigor Dimitrov to carry their clothing line in the future, then DelPo will have to intercept and keep the clothing suitable for men (as lovely as his game can be, Grigor is a bit too boy-like, no?)
- Or Consider a Move Elsewhere!: Also, Reeshie is currently Lacoste’s highest-ranked active player on the men’s circuit. Reeshie won another title in Doha (defeating Davydenko), but he was playing way behind the baseline the entire time. I Nike aren’t interested, DelPo should knock on Lacoste’s doors. Get in there!
Going back to the tennis…
- Do not constantly hit down-the-middle BHs that everyone can see coming from a mile away. This was DelPo’s undoing in many of his matches against Novak and Ferru in 2012. While the likes of Fed, Berdy and Tsonga (who have more aggressive games) will always prove a challenge for DelPo, I think the transition games that Novak and Ferru play will prove to be the main obstacle for DelPo in 2013. Many times in 2012, the BHDTL has been a shot that Novak used to put DelPo behind in rallies. That shot opens up the court against DelPo, which is why he needs to strengthen up his serves (which he’s already doing) and mix up his shots to keep his opponents off pace. DelPo needs to play more comfortably against the likes of Ferru, Novak and Muzz.
- Observe the Time Rule: The ATP has recently stepped up its observation of the time rule. While the normal 25-second rule between serves has been loosely observed in the past, the start of the 2013 season has seen players often being called for time violations. The ITF (which runs the Slams) observes a 20-second rule, which means players are likely going to run up against this. DelPo tends to play at a slower pace than many others, which means he will have to be mindful of this new development. DelPo will need to be mindful of this new development and keep his head (and shoes) on.
DelPo is on his way to Australia, where he will play the AAMI Kooyong exho matches as preparation for the AO. The draw will take place on Jan. 8. Updates to follow!