Australian Open: Two Days Before the Start

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.

Photo: WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images

Photo: WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images

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:

Screen shot 2013-01-12 at 2.11.04 PM

Photo: Syd Low

Photo: Sydney Low

Screen shot 2013-01-12 at 2.16.39 PM

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-llodra---teo-llodra-2012-Paris

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:

Photo: PAUL CROCK/AFP/Getty Images

Photo: PAUL CROCK/AFP/Getty Images

Sponge Bob (or “Bob Esponja,” as the Spaniards hilariously refer to him) made an appearance as well!

Photo: PAUL CROCK/AFP/Getty Images

Photo: PAUL CROCK/AFP/Getty Images

Photo: MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images

Photo: MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images

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.

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About mariposaxprs

I play favorites with Juan Martin Del Potro, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, David Ferrer, Feliciano Lopez, Gilles Simon and the long line of mercurial talent that drives me to despair in front of the screen at odd hours during the week.
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12 Responses to Australian Open: Two Days Before the Start

  1. Pingback: Rotterdam: For the 2nd Consecutive Year, DelPo Reaches the Final | mariposaxprs

  2. Pingback: Australian Open: What to Make of the No. 5-8 Men | mariposaxprs

  3. Candy says:

    LMAO! I can’t stop laughing reading this post. Does Mannarino have a son? Haha 😛

    Can’t wait to see Delpo! 😀

    (A bit sad Hewitt lost to Tipsy in straight sets today… I thought Delpo gave him a great practice session on Saturday. But like what Hewitt said, Tipsy raised his level. 😦

    • mariposaxprs says:

      Honestly, I actually looked up whether Mannarino had a son (before the match). I couldn’t find anything confirming that he had one. After the match today, I am now positively confident that he doesn’t have a son/daughter 😀

      I saw bits of the Hewitt-Tipsy match and it seemed like Tipsy was playing scarily well. I hope I don’t have to worry about Tipsy in the future *ugh* It was sad to see Hewitt lose early, especially b/c his presser comments seemed a bit more sad this time around. I can’t believe this year was his 17th year in a row playing the AO. To be honest, I never really liked Hewitt, but now I’m gaining a lot of respect for him (this may or may not have to do with the fact that he considers DelPo as one of his closest mates on tour ;))

  4. I think Del Potro will take it up a notch for the Australian Open so this loss won’t hurt too much. Only an exho afterall. The only thing I question is his fitness, the heat might effect him too…

    • mariposaxprs says:

      Hi Jonathan!

      Given Hewitt’s early loss to Tipsy and DelPo’s stellar form today, I guess the exho really isn’t a reliable indicator of form (Tomic won the Kooyong exho last year, only to go on to have a dreadful year in 2012!)

      You make a great point about the weather in Melbourne. From what I know, it’s very up and down (temperature will show variance from 24C to 38C). DelPo played a late day match today, so I guess the fitness factor will show if he’s scheduled to play an early day match.

  5. audiesgirl@aol.com says:

    Look at how Fed, Djoko, Serena et. al, had such a good time at Kids’ Day. The difference between good and great players is how they enjoy the people aspect of the game and appreciate the need to be showmen. Tsonga gets it but then he’s got a naturally sunny disposition whereas Delpo mopes around like he could use one of those self-flagellation things. The last time he even made an appearance at such an event was at Roland Gorros if memory serves when he sat in the umpire’s chair. Did I spot his manager Ugo in his box yesterday? Where was he when Delpo was digging his own grave in ARG? I heard he was in Italy. I would think he’d know how to manage damage control. Where’s the post-match interview for the Hewitt smack-down? I’d love to hear that explanation. I’ve never read such negative online comments about Delpo before, he’s used to being so universally adored by the Argies and now that many have turned against him for the DC debacle it must be one big, bitter pill to swallow. Let’s hope he snaps out of it or the early rounds won’t be pretty.

    • mariposaxprs says:

      AO chose former champions and/or finalists for their Kids’ Day (Fed, Novak, Tsonga, Serena, Vika, Ivanovic). So the recipe for DelPo gracing Kids’ Day with his presence next year depends on how well he plays this year. Simples!!

      RG is clearly the best Slam, since they invited DelPo for their pre-event last year (he looked jolly sitting on the umpire’s chair 😉 http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/2012/5/0e20b2cd-5b65-41ba-a2fa-f59650a93d9eHiRes.JPG). On a similar note, I’m looking forward to DelPo’s exho at Madison Square Garden in March, b/c that looks like it will be a fun-filled event.

      The negative comments have long been a feature on Argie tennis sites. Ever since DelPo and Nalby DC drama started in 2008, their respective fan bases have been at each other’s throats (“Nalby’s the DC warrior! He’s the best! DelPo’s the worst!,” followed by “DelPo won a Slam, so Nalby’s the worst!,” and then rinse/repeat) I can’t imagine that they feel much love for each other right now, which is sad. Fortunately enough, DelPo seems to know what he’s dealing with, which is a bitter pill to swallow, like you say, but it’s good to know he’s not being taken aback by all this.

  6. Iram says:

    AWWW “FATHER OF MIGHTY TWINS”. that is really cute.
    I loved the fact that Lleyton’s kids got Delpo’s autograph. And that gif from last year when Delpo ruffled Llodra’s kids hair. I can tell that he loves kids. He himself seems to be such a sweetheart.
    Thank you for this fun read. **I hope 2013 is going well for u. t c

    • mariposaxprs says:

      The twins have grown up so much!!! They’re seriously so adorable and they look almost exactly like Roger.

      It warms my heart that children love DelPo. He’s just so silent and tall, yet they run to him anyway. Poor Lleyton though! Lleyton gave an interview awhile ago where he said that his son’s favorite player is Rafa and that Lleyton was hurt that his son preferred Rafa over him. Now Lleyton wins Kooyong and his son is running to DelPo for an autograph. I guess Cruz doesn’t see Lleyton as a tennis player, since Lleyton is first and foremost his father — but it’s still pretty funny 😉

      Hope you had a nice weekend, Iram, and that you’re looking forward to the upcoming craziness and laughs from the AO!!

  7. audiesgirl@aol.com says:

    As painful as it was to watch Delpo go down in flames last night, maybe it’s the wake-up call he needs to get his head straight for the AO. The last 3 weeks have been hard with the controversy over the Davis Cup and the scandal of La Ducha. Then Stephie gives an interview in Gente complete with smokin’ hot pictures showing exactly what Delpo gave up for that silicone-infused Painted Lady. Delpo’s feelings run deep and he has to feel bad about all the people he’s disappointed. Also, Hewitt is his idol and “mate” on the tour, a guy who’s happily married and surrounded by loving, adorable children at the end of the match while Delpo looks on wistfully. Perhaps he’s rethinking his tomcat lifestyle, the two must talk about something besides tennis in their off-court moments.
    I would not be at all surprised if Delpo doesn’t make it past round 3 at the AO and heads home to ARG to get his personal life in order starting with getting better control of his other brain.

    • mariposaxprs says:

      Ahh, I saw the Stephie interview. It’s a bit ironic that she talks about “not wanting to attract attention” and yet that’s exactly what she’s doing with her article. I hope that’s the last I hear in the news of anything related to the incident. New year, new goals and accrued wisdom — that should be DelPo’s motto!

      The DelPo-Hewitt friendship puzzles me. I wonder if they sit around sharing broody silences together in the locker room? B/c DelPo’s not a fluent English speaker, yet Hewitt constantly refers to him as one of his closest mates on tour. I think it’s oddly sweet that DelPo and Hewitt are close, simply b/c they seem like such an unlikely pairing 🙂

      I’m not going to put too much into DelPo’s loss to Hewitt at Kooyong. Instead, I will start worrying about DelPo-Mannarino in R1. I think if DelPo can make it past Mannarino, he should be able to play until the QF (based on current form). Given the troubles he’s had at home due to DC and the other stuff, I feel like time spent on the road will actually be better for him. Maybe it will be like the tale of the prodigal son? One can only hope!

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