DelPo lost the AAMI Kooyong final to Lleyton Hewitt, 6-1 6-4. From what I saw, he looked quite sluggish in the first set, while Lleyton was retrieving well and sending DelPo into a panicked state as to what his plan of attack should be.
Thankfully, DelPo made it much more competitive in the second set, breaking back to get the match back on serve. However, Lleyton was too strong and DelPo did not have the answers today.
This does not bode particularly well for DelPo’s chances against the likes of Novak, Ferru and Muzz, who play a particular sort of game that keeps DelPo on his toes (great return of serves and defense). Still, DelPo got in his practice matches at the exho and now he will head into Melbourne for the AO.
There was an awfully cute moment after the match when Lleyton’s kids rushed up to congratulate their father on winning the exho tournament. Cruz Hewitt then tentatively walked over to DelPo to ask for his autograph:
So much cuteness.
When DelPo lost to Michael Llodra last year at the Paris Masters, DelPo ruffled Teo Llodra’s hair on his way off the court:
DelPo then lost to Hewitt today and he ruffled Cruz Hewitt’s hair afterwards.
Is anyone else sensing a theme here?
DelPo’s game is weak against tennis players who are fathers (particularly fathers of sons, although fathers of twin daughters have proven just as troublesome).
The AO draw was released and DelPo landed in Muzz’s quarter and Federer’s half.
DelPo’s route to the final: Qualifier – Becker – Zemlja/Granollers – Cilic – Muzz – Fed – Djokovic.
A quick glance at the AO qualifiers playing their last rounds today reveals that the only real danger among them is Alex Bogomolov Jr., who has a young son. If DelPo should avoid or overcome that threat, he will have a smooth ride until the SF, where he will meet the father of the mighty twins, Federer. Although, I suppose, one could argue that Muzz is the famous son of a strong mother, which means I would have to adjust Muzz’s threat factor, accordingly. Muzz seems to be riding a new confidence wave and his highly scientific training regime will make him a big threat for the title.
The last DelPo-Muzz match was at the 2009 WTF RR, where Muzz defeated DelPo in three sets. The Scot has a 5-1 H2H over DelPo, with DelPo’s lone victory over Muzz coming at the 2009 Madrid QF. From a neutral tennis perspective, it will be interesting to see how DelPo and Muzz match up against each other after 3 years. In an effort to maintain a positive outlook, I would point out that DelPo has made progress in his struggles against Djokovic and Ferru, which means a potential QF against Muzz would not as cumbersome a task as it initially seems. At the very least, I’m glad DelPo has avoided Ferru (who incidentally ended up with a very tolerable draw).
In conclusion, if DelPo can avoid an early upset, reach the QF, and then summon his great form to defeat Muzz, he would then have a reasonable shot at winning the AO title if he defeats Fed and Djokovic.
Given that AO hasn’t typically been the scene of DelPo’s best career moments, I have to say I’m not particularly optimistic about him making another breakthrough performance.
Still, I think the AO will be fruitful in determining the prospects of the players currently ranked no. 5-8. Ferru is at his superb best, as he demolished Monfils and then Kohlschreiber to win Auckland. I would not be surprised to see Ferru reach the AO SF this year. Although Berdy has been playing very inconsistently in the warm-up tournaments, he may be a surprise threat and it will be interesting to see how he fares against Novak in the QF (assuming he makes it that far). Tsonga has a manageable draw until the QF, where he is scheduled to meet Fed, in what will probably be a blockbuster match. I’m interested in how the rankings will shift for the players ranked just below the top 4, especially as soon-to-be world no. 5 Rafa is scheduled to return in late February. DelPo is currently no. 7 in the world, but he has a chance to bypass Berdy with a strong performance in Melbourne.
It’s now a mere two days before the AO begins. They held a Kid’s Day with tennis players, including Fed, Tsonga and Novak:
Tsongas turn now - twitpic.com/buh5u8—
Peta Hodges (@PurplePwete) January 12, 2013
Sponge Bob (or “Bob Esponja,” as the Spaniards hilariously refer to him) made an appearance as well!
The AO will soon release their video of the Kids Day (I will update with the link).
Until Monday’s start, I hope tennis fans enjoy the calm before the storm. The match I will be sure to watch on Monday is Goffin-Verdasco.