Australian Open: DelPo is First Top 10 Seed to Fall Out

Unseeded Frenchman Jeremy Chardy pulled off the biggest upset so far at the AO, defeating 6th seed DelPo 6-3 6-3 6-7(3) 3-6 6-3.

Photo: @TheSliceTweets

Photo via @TheSliceTweets

This was a shocking result, given the fact that DelPo reached R4 at all four Slams (he reached 3 QFs) in 2012.  In his entire 2012 season, DelPo’s only losses to a lower-ranked player were to Baghdatis (in Sydney), Stepanek (in Toronto) and Llodra (in Paris).

After falling two sets down at his R3 match against Chardy in 2013, DelPo managed to level the match to force a fifth set.  However, he played a weak service game at 4-3* and was broken.  Chardy served out the match to win.

Photo: Michael Dodge/Getty Images

Photo: Michael Dodge/Getty Images

DelPo played below the level he’d shown in his previous matches against Mannarino and Becker.  While Chardy was playing very well, DelPo was also a noticeable step slower and not nearly as aggressive.  In rallies, he kept using his BH slice, a shot that tends to put him on the defensive.  This may have given time for Chardy to wind up on his FH, which Chardy used to devastating effect here.

Chardy has quite an errant ball toss on his serve, which shows he’s not a strong server.  He averaged 58% first serves for the match.  Yet DelPo did not capitalize on Chardy’s weakness, as he played return games that were notable for their poor quality.

DelPo faced problems on his own serve as well.  I’d noted in his match against Becker that he seemed to get pinned behind the baseline whenever Becker hit a return-of-serve to his feet.  Chardy proved spectacularly adept at this tactic, as DelPo was repeatedly caught off-guard on his serve.  This may be the crucial factor in explaining today’s defeat.  While DelPo was not playing aggressively with his FH/BHs in the first two sets, he was also repeatedly troubled on his own serve (Chardy converted 5/17 BPs, while DelPo converted 2/7).


Other Notes:

  • The trainer visited DelPo twice during his changeovers.  While there was no noticeable problem, he did chat with a doctor during the change of ends.  I don’t know if the daytime heat played a role in DelPo’s loss (he’d played his previous 2 matches in late afternoon/early evening), but whatever problem he had is so far unknown.
  • Delpo didn’t play a warm-up tournament this year.  Last year, DelPo played Sydney before the AO.  Although he played the Kooyong exho this year, I wonder if his lack of a formal warm-up tournament hindered his chances here in Melbourne.  In many ways, DelPo’s loss to Chardy reminded me of his loss to Gilles Simon in R3 at the 2011 USO.  In his loss to Simon, DelPo had shown a similar lack of aggression against an opponent who was capable enough to hang with him in rallies.

Given the considerable outcry that followed his decision not to play Davis Cup in 2013 (to pursue his own goal of winning a Slam and contending for the top ranking), this loss is a blow to DelPo’s momentum, following his strong late season surge in 2012.  However, if he stays the course and presses on with his commitment to rise up the ranking and contend for Slams, there’s little reason (aside from this one result) to doubt his professed goals.  DelPo is still the steadier of the so-called 2nd tier (consisting of himself, Berdy, Tsonga, Tipsy and Gasquet) when it comes to Slam performances over the past 2 years.


Presser Notes:

Q. Is that your biggest success so far?

JEREMY CHARDY: I beat Murray last year in Cincinnati.

But here it’s something more because Australian Open, third round, I play a top player. It’s a big win for me. And maybe the best of my career.

It’s so charitable of Chardy to state that his win over DelPo was greater than his win over Muzz in Cincy last year.  Allez Jeremy (I think).

Q. What was your tactic today?

JEREMY CHARDY: My tactic was very simple: I play slice with my backhand and I try to play short slice because like this he has to come in the court. After, with my forehand, I can go full power, so…

It was nothing else (laughter).

Well-played, Chardy.  This is what the whole match felt like (laughter).


Q. Were you feeling okay? You had a chat to the doctor at one stage … What was that about?

JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: No, yeah, I’m feeling okay … No, just to talk a little bit with the doctors about my body. But not any problem.

In conclusion, nobody knows anything about why DelPo called for the trainer during the first two sets.

Q. What have you got coming up next? Can you talk about some of your goals for the rest of the year?

JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: I’m going to play in Europe: Rotterdam, Marseille, Dubai.

The goals are the same. The season just started. This is my first tournament. I would love to be in the top five as soon as I can. But it’s a long road, and all the players are playing really well.  But, anyways, I will try to do it.

Dubai is not in Europe, but DelPo is scheduled to play his round of indoor HC tournaments starting in Rotterdam.  He is defending a finalist performance in Rotterdam,  a title in Marseilles and a SF in Dubai.  The Dubai points don’t count towards his ranking, which means DelPo may do well to skip Dubai in favor of preparing for the IW and Miami  Masters swing.

Funnily enough, when DelPo was asked about the depth of men’s tennis, he answered “Jeremy plays really well and he beat me. Maybe Tomic has the chance to do it with the match tonight.”  Taken out of context, DelPo’s quote may seem like a sly dig against Fed.  Given the circumstances of DelPo’s loss today, I’d say it was just a throwaway comment.  Nothing here.


UPDATE: DelPo was quoted in Spanish press

“I am angry and my blood is boiling.  But Chardy did everything he had to do.  Now I will go back to training and work on my game.”

I will be updating my post as I go along.  Please feel free to contribute with your opinion, in the meantime.


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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20 Responses to Australian Open: DelPo is First Top 10 Seed to Fall Out

  1. Pingback: Funnies: Jeremy Chardy is Human | mariposaxprs

  2. Candy says:

    uhhh huuuu *crying* 😦

    He played aggressively from the beginning till the end in the match against Becker. Why couldn’t he play like that in this match? I feel like Chardy took the initiative in most of the match. It’s a sluggish performance from Delpo, just like his match against Hewitt in Kooyong final. I was worried about his form after that lackluster performance (although it’s just an exho. He might not have given 100% there.)
    So why did he play that bad? What’s the problem? It’s so mysterious. If “not any problem”, why would you “talk a little bit with the doctors” about your body? Lol I know Delpo doesn’t want to blame the loss on anything. But… (ok, I will call Franco and ask him about it.)

    Wait! Does Chardy have a son? Lol (Btw, R4 is his best result at a slam. He also made R4 once before, at RG 08’.)

    Now there will be more pressure on Delpo. He needs to do well in “Europe” to prove anything. At least he should play as well as last year if not better. But I’m glad Delpo said “he still believes in his game.” (although I’m afraid he would lose confidence if he had a bad match or two in “Europe” and couldn’t match with last year’s achievements. Oh… I think I worry too much?! But for sure, pressure will be more and more from now.)

    • mariposaxprs says:

      He started out completely flat against Chardy. His match against Mannarino was the most impressive. The match against Becker felt one-sided in his favor, although he did have some problems in the 2nd set. Still, it was solid play. The DelPo that showed up yesterday against Chardy was passive and planted behind the baseline. His placement of serves meant he kept playing defense in the rallies and Chardy grew confident after that. I don’t know if it’s the lack of a warm-up tournament or whether it’s a one-time illness he had that made him struggle like this.

      I’m not sure b/c I don’t have a translation, but it seems like DelPo hinted that he had a fever. This might explain his sluggishness and his trainer visits.

      As far as I know Chardy doesn’t have a son!! But he is a Frenchman! DelPo has trouble against Frenchman (Gilles Simon, who has a son. Michael Llodra, who has a son). Perhaps Chardy has a hidden son somewhere too? Oof!!

      In a small way, I think the increased pressure for DelPo might help him sustain his aggressive strategies. Last year, DelPo was the most stable no. 6-10 ranked player at Slams, whereas Tsonga and Berdy had early exits at some of the Slams. Then again, Tsonga and Berdy did reach a SF at one of the Slams last yr, whereas DelPo made it to the QF. In that sense, maybe DelPo is becoming a bit more volatile like Tsonga or Berdy. This early loss here means he’s preparing for a super-explosive result later. That is my initial theory, anyway 🙂

      • Candy says:

        This morning, when I woke up, the fact of Delpo losing in R3 ran through my brain…. I was sad.

        But this time, I am not as sad as I was when Delpo lost to Rafa at DC 11’/ lost to Fed at RG 12’ or Olympics/ lost to Berdy at Madrid 12’/ etc.
        After today’s Nole-Stan match, I know why I am not “that” sad about Delpo’s loss. Delpo lost because he played so badly. If he lost, he deserved it. Not like Stan. Stan pulled a great match which was very close to call. He also deserved to be the winner, so I’m gutted for Stan. And we see why Delpo’s “angry”. It’s because he didn’t do what he’s capable to do. At least I don’t have the feeling like “oh… he played well. He played his heart out. He gave it all. It was close. It’s so tough to digest”. (Not that I am not sad though, you know.)

        So let’s hope it was just a one-time illness or just not his day. Hopefully many good days are coming and we will see many great matches in which healthy Delpo plays his heart out and WINS. 😉

        (I had the same thought when I tried to find out if Chardy had a son. “Perhaps he has a hidden son?!” :P)

        • mariposaxprs says:

          Why do they keep playing tennis?! Why is the tournament still running, right?!!

          I totally agree with you. The Stan-Novak match was so different from DelPo-Chardy. How awesome was Stan?! Until yesterday, I could never really get into watching Stan play — mostly, the only times I watched him play was when he’s playing another player I want to see. But yesterday’s match was a whole different level. Stan played amazing tennis. I could rewatch the first two sets (until Stan got broken), then the 4th set and then the 5th set (until Novak broke Stan back). It was sad to see Stan in tears after the match 😦

          DelPo, I think, was probably angry, not tearful, after he lost to Chardy. DelPo’s post-match quote says his blood was “boiling with anger.” I think that sounds about right.

          That’s why DelPo’s loss to Chardy here reminds me of when he lost to Gilles Simon at the USO in 2011. It was just so frustrating to watch him play below his best (even more frustrating b/c DelPo is usually a *very* consistent player).

          Still, in the name of positive thinking, we should remind ourselves that last year, DelPo had a slightly baffling loss to a lower-ranked player at the start of the year (Baghdatis in Sydney). But he still ended up having a great season. Given that DelPo’s loss to Chardy here registered even higher on the “bafflement” scale, perhaps this is a sign that he will have an even greater season this year, right?!

          I may have to do an investigation on Chardy 🙂 So far, the dangerous players are fathers AND Frenchmen. Players who aren’t French yet speak French are also dangerous (Federer). Mannarino this year was a red herring. Chardy was planning this upset while I was busy worrying about Mannarino (ughh XD). I should keep track of all this with a list!

        • says:

          Have you read Max Wilander’s analysis of Delpo and the others below the top 5? He’s considered the best tennis analyst out there and he’s not very complimentary re any of them, especially Delpo. Comment?

      • says:

        I’m still fuming over his appalling lack of game against Chardy. He’s not sick, I think he called the trainer to get sympathy like Rafa’s been knows to do. if nothing else he doesn’t have the focus to do as Ferrer did and recover from being down 2 sets. Ferrer’s a fighter, our Delpo’s more of a lover if you get my drift. Instead of practicing hard in ARG and playing a real match before the AO, he spends his time and energy goofing around with exhos and other distractions. Now Jaite is sticking it to him by saying the DC team is coming together and will get on without their numero uno. Even if they lose their first match up with Germany, they can hold their heads high while Delpo is licking his wounds and heaven knows what else in BaAs. Am I out of line? If so, mea culpa but his fans and the sport deserve better.

        • mariposaxprs says:

          Given the surprise loss, it’s easy to think up all kinds of reasons as to why DelPo lost. I’m thinking fitness may have been a factor, which is worrisome. Or perhaps DelPo may have underestimated Chardy.

          I do wonder if DelPo’s lack of a warm-up tournament hurt his chances. Ferru, after all, played two before the AO.

          Richard Gasquet reportedly turned down all exho offers from S. America during the off-season, in order to better prepare himself for the main tour. While Gasquet did reach R4 this year (after winning a title in Doha), he didn’t play as impressively as I’d expected, as he lost quite tamely to Tsonga. In that respect, I’m not sure DelPo’s exho schedule was necessarily a bad decision. On the other hand, Gasquet did defend all of last yr’s R4 points and he avoided an early loss, so I guess it’s tough to say…

          Given the articles that talk about Fed and Muzz’s fitness training in the off-season, I do wonder if DelPo is getting all the right advice he needs. Again though, there’s no real way to fault his fitness level, given how we don’t know the details of how he prepares during the off-season. To some extent, the extra media coverage that the top 5 receive makes us more aware of the effort they put in — that doesn’t necessarily mean that players outside the top 5 don’t work as hard.

          Plus, the pattern of DelPo’s past seasons suggests that he gains momentum as the year moves forward. For the immediate future, his first concern is defending his points on indoor HCs and staying healthy. If possible, I think IW/Miami would be a great time for him to “show an early peak,” but the first priority is defending the significant chunk of early-season ranking points.

          • says:

            Gee, thanks, I feel so much better now. Counting the minutes before Murray/Chardy by watching Serena take out Stephens in straight sets. ANDALE!! There’s a wonderful quote from Ferrer that he fights to the last point, win or lose. It’s the lack of such spirit that is killing Delpo. Champions don’t lolly-gag their way through any tournament and pick and choose those worthy of their full effort. If this is his pattern, as you say, he’ll end up the same place as last year. It’s all or nothing. Do your best or retire IMO. Gee, I don’t feel better after all….

            • mariposaxprs says:

              You’re being too harsh on DelPo. I’ll admit his surprise loss raises a few questions, but I wouldn’t say he has a lack of fighting spirit. It’s possible for a player to have a bad day, where even Plan B doesn’t work. Ferru’s ahead of the no. 5-8 pack (he matches up well against Berdy, DelPo, Tsonga and the rest), but I wouldn’t say Berdy/DelPo/Tsonga lack “fighting spirit.” They’re just slightly more volatile than Ferru. They’re blessed with bigger weapons than Ferru, but with that comes a degree of instability. Ferru is by no means a pushover and his FH is underrated — but the H2H shows that Berdy/DelPo/Tsonga are more likely than Ferru to defeat a top 3. Welcome to the strange world of match-ups.

              Did you by any chance get to see the Nico-Ferru match? Nico served for the match three times in the 3rd set (after being up two sets to love). While Ferru definitely staged a brave comeback, the match was more about Nico losing than it was Ferru winning — Nico became a shadow of himself each time he served for the match. It was so obvious it was uncomfortable to watch. Which doesn’t take away from Ferru’s win, but it does show that chance/luck/opponent-falling-apart are all factors we have to acknowledge. Nico fell apart completely in the 4th/5th sets (literally, he was clutching at his groin b/c he was injured) whereas Chardy, to his credit, stepped up to the big moment and took control of the 5th set.

              In that sense, I don’t think a comparison of DelPo-Chardy to Nico-Ferru serves any other purpose than to further upset yourself 😉 Let’s look ahead to Rotterdam!

              • says:

                Yes, adelante to Rotterdam! Don’t take my rants too seriously, all this – like the Kardashians’ drama – provides much needed comic relief to our dark, troubled world.. When I own a piece of an athlete, then it matters. I do appreciate your thoughtful responses, keep up the good work. 🙂

                • mariposaxprs says:

                  No problems and thank you for your kind words!! I truly appreciate your take on DelPo. Like you, I tend to be harsher on the players that I like, as opposed to the ones I’m indifferent to. As evidence, I don’t care at all if Muzz’s gluten-light regime helps him or hurts him — on the other hand, if DelPo started going gluten-light, I’d be like “Whaaat? What is gluten-light? And then I’d turn to webMD and Mayo Clinic for answers ;)).” It’s the same way with commentators too. Mats Wilander can rant at Federer all day long, but it’s b/c he likes Fed so much that he criticizes him so. Ranting is another way of expressing love, in my book 🙂

                  Adelante to Rotterdam!!

                  • says:

                    Our Delpo would never give up bis beloved, bowel-clogging asado and vodka/orange juice for gluten-free diet (no wonder Muzz is such a tight a$$) or Nole’s donkey cheese (how DO they get the donkey to stand still I wonder?) or whatever trendy diet is out there. If I were to interview him, though, I would ask what his typical day’s menu looks like to sustain that cuerpo grandote. He probably eats in one snack what my 5 feet can have all day.
                    Any luck finding that Vegemite sandwich video? I believe I caught in on the AO web site. I’d love to catch the look on Delpo’s face if he were offered one but it’s too late now that he’s left AUS.

                    • mariposaxprs says:

                      Hah, DelPo should do one of those “blogs/daily journal entries” that other players do during tournaments. Those are oddly entertaining!

                      I tried looking for the Vegemite video, but I can’t find it!! 😦 It’d have been nice if DelPo did the Kia Open Drive spots, like the other players. I hope Ugo gets on that later this year!

              • Candy says:

                I think Delpo did take pills during a changeover?! Ferru no doubt is a fighter. But for me, Delpo is a fighter too. He fought his heart out until the last point in his many other matches (e.g. some matches at DC/ Olympics/ even his USO final), no? But I also agree he wasn’t doing well in his match against Chardy. As I said before, at least I don’t have the feeling like… he played his heart out and lost, so gutted. No. But I think it’s just his bad day or whatever. Anyway, no excuse. Chardy deserved the victory.

                For me, many players are fighting in their matches. Not only the ones who come from behind and win are a fighter. Those who try their best, push themselves but lose eventually also are a fighter. (In Ferru-Nico case, for me, Nico is a fighter too. With H2H 0-12, he tried his best and won 2 sets, but just fell short when he was serving for the match. He lost, but it doesn’t mean he’s not a fighter. I would appreciate his effort of pulling a close match despite the fact that Ferru was the favorite and he had never won against Ferru.) But I know, most of the time, only the winners/ the champions (/ the pretty players) would get the compliment. Of course, the winners deserve the compliments as they made their way to victory, but the effort of the “losers” shouldn’t be downplayed.

                By the way, enjoy the rest of AO (not sure if we can really enjoy it without Delpo though :P). And Delpo will be fine, hopefully. *Force myself to think positively* 😛

                • mariposaxprs says:

                  You bring up a really good point, Candy.

                  It irritates me when people automatically say a player who doesn’t come from 2 sets down lacks “fight.” DelPo showed plenty of fight in the DC final, at the Olympics, and many other instances — as a Slam winner, he doesn’t need to be questioned about his “fight.” Really, It’s not right to question the “fight” of any top 10-15 player. Too often, people quickly forget the part where the losing player played lights-out or he fought back.

                  Everyone’s making fun of Nico right now, but he played lights out for 2-and-a-half sets –> That’s not an easy thing to do, even if his collapse was spectacular afterwards.

                  Hope you enjoy the rest of AO too! I haven’t been as frequent w/my posts this time around, but will be updating shortly! 🙂

  3. Rita Richardson says:

    First, didn’t I say Chardy was not to be written off? That said, something’s up with Delpo, what else would explain yesterday’s disaster? It’s the worst I’ve ever seen him play; coming on the heels of a terrific winning streak, it defies belief. Even the commentators were shocked. One noted his weight gain, some 10 lbs since last season. Too much home cooking perhaps? Still, that doesn’t explain his poor performance.
    What kind of welcome awaits him in ARG? The knives are out among his DC detractors, some are suggesting the loss was some kind of divine retribution. I can imagine hordes of angry Argies lit candles to the Patron Saint of Tennis praying for just such a smack-down. Nalby must be euphoric.
    Can he shake it off? How does this affect his ranking? Unless there is some underlying health issue rearing its ugly head again, this will be a real test of his mettle. No longer the Golden Boy, he’s got to face the reality that he may have peaked and the glory days are gone forever, a tough pill to swallow.

    • mariposaxprs says:

      Yea, Chardy is definitely a name I will not forget. In 2011, DelPo had some baffling losses to Ernests Gulbis, James Blake and Gilles Simon. I thought he’d attained a level of consistency that meant he could defeat Chardy just as easily as he did in Cincinnati last year (also, didn’t DelPo play Cincy with a bad left wrist?)

      Then again, looking back, Chardy did defeat Muzz in Cincy last year. I guess he’s one of those lurkers who can appear for one strong performance at a tournament. Incidentally, I hear Chardy just injured his left playing doubles at the AO. That should make the R4 Chardy-Seppi match quite a spectacle.

      DelPo was right behind Berdy at no. 7 in the ranking, but he’ll lose 270 points after his R3 loss. Meanwhile, Tsonga and Tipsy are still left in the draw and they’re defending R4 and R3 performances. Assuming they both reach the QF, DelPo will still be at no. 7 in the ranking (for now). He did allude to a possible fever/virus in one of his Spanish interviews, although I haven’t read anything else about it yet. For now, we can only wait for his return in Rotterdam!

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