Rotterdam: DelPo Sets Up a R2 Encounter With a Tricky Foe

In one of the hyped R1 match-ups at Rotterdam, DelPo defeated WC Gael Monfils 6-3 6-4 in their first H2H encounter. Both players entered Rotterdam with question marks hovering over their heads.

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DelPo, who’d been making his slow but under-ratedly steady way back to the top tier, encountered a significant setback at this year’s AO, when he lost to Chardy in R3.  Meanwhile, Monfils had been off the tour for 4 months in 2012 and had struggled with a recurring knee injury that raised serious questions about his future prospects. This first encounter between DelPo and Monfils (and their attendant baggage of troubles) promised to be an exciting one.  To an extent, the final result delivered.

DelPo and Monfils played many baseline rallies, where DelPo proved to be the steadier of the two.  Monfils’s lack of a tactical game plan allowed DelPo to acclimatize himself from the start and establish his role as the aggressor. For Monfils fans, the most frustrating aspect of his game is his ability to hit beautifully angled offensive shots that take his opponents by complete surprise.  If he is capable of such shotmaking exploits, why does he insist on hanging back in rallies?  So goes the main story of Monfils’s career.  However, credit also goes to DelPo for establishing an aggressive base from the start.

Compared to last year, one noticeable improvement in DelPo’s game is his ability to hit deeper shots that tend to keep his opponents pinned behind the baseline.  In the first set, DelPo hit a 140 kph FHDTL to wrongfoot Monfils.  While he struggled a bit with his service games, he followed up with a big 160 kph running FHDTL, to set up SP for the 1st set.  The first set went to DelPo, 6-3. Still, one lingering weakness of DelPo’s game is the way he opens up the court for his opponent to hit an unreachable BHDTL winner.  Monfils found his range in the 2nd set and he was able to exploit DelPo’s court movement to wrongfoot him with the BHDTL.  However, Monfils played a very loose game at 4-4 in the 2nd set to get broken at love.  DelPo served out the match and secured his passage to R2.  At the net, both players shared a hug and Gael winked at DelPo.  Last year, I remember hearing a fan’s account of DelPo and Gael walking with their arms around each other’s shoulders at Indian Wells.  A blooming bromance?

DelPo will face Ernests Gulbis in R2.  The last time they played was at the 2011 Farmers Classic in LA, where Gulbis upset DelPo in straight sets.  At the time, Gulbis had been working with coach Guillermo Canas, and Gulbis won that tournament.  Gulbis has been making the news yet again, for having qualified for the main draw.  Is he on another hot streak?  Gulbis says he has quit smoking and drinking, which therefore means he will soon reach the top 20.  In true Gulbis fashion, he then mentions his reasons for liking the Rotterdam tournament.  I’m not a huge fan of Gulbis’s entitlement issues and I was a bit amused by his reasons for not playing the AO this year — he says the plane ticket is too expensive and any prize money would be outweighed by the costs — I would understand this reasoning from any other player, but this is Ernests Gulbis we’re talking about (son of one of the richest families in Latvia).

DelPo, for his part, spent his day off signing autographs for the Rotterdam fans.

[tweet https://twitter.com/17slams/status/301831287377887232 align=’center’]

Other notes:

  • Llodra had to withdraw from Rotterdam with physical problems, which meant the DelPo-Llodra team withdrew from the doubles tournament.
  • During the DelPo-Monfils match, chair umpire Mohamed El Jennati seemed to advise DelPo against taking too much time during his serve.  I haven’t yet confirmed whether or not DelPo received a time violation warning.
  • During the match, Monfils hits an entertaining tweener at DelPo’s expense:
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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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9 Responses to Rotterdam: DelPo Sets Up a R2 Encounter With a Tricky Foe

  1. Candy says:

    Yes. I have started to worry about his hectic schedules. Like last year, I want to see him have a deep run in every tournament he plays. But on the other hand, it means he has to play many matches in a short period, which I don’t want to see. I still remember how tired he was when he played against Dolgo in Dubai’s 1st round after winning Marseille. I assume his physical condition is better now, but still….

    Anyway, let’s see if he can successfully defend his Marseille first. Allez! Ah… I mean Vamos. 😉

    (Hope we will see Delpo in Chinese (or any types of Asian) robe one day. Shame those tournaments in China don’t organize any “costume party” now. And Delpo doesn’t even bother playing in Asian Swing.)

    • mariposaxprs says:

      It irritates me when all the players I like decide not to play the Asian swing! That’s pretty much the only chance I have of watching live tennis, but then they either don’t come or they get injured early *sigh*

      Did you end up attending the Li Na exho in Hong Kong? There was a Sharapova-Wozniacki exho (yuck-yuck) scheduled in Seoul for December, but they cancelled it due to low ticket sales and Sharpie’s neck injury.

      Perhaps we can coordinate an online campaign to ask Delpo to please play in Asia? Esp since he doesn’t have DC commitments this year either? *I am brainstorming ways*!

      • Candy says:

        Li Na-Woz will be held on 4 March, same day (It’s World Tennis Day) as Delpo-Rafa & Vika-Serena. But I won’t go. My love to Li Na isn’t enough to compensate for my negative feeling to Woz and expensive tickets. 😛

        I guess I will have to wait for WTA HK next year (but still a very long time until then Lol) to see some live tennis. I’m happy international tennis returns to HK (although I think only lower-ranked players would come)!

        Yes, seriously, we SHOULD make an online campaign to ask Delpo play in Asia! We should tweet Delpo hundred times and post messages on his FB EVERY day! I will also call Franco. (But Franco always ignores my words. Last time, I told him not to make Delpo play 7 weeks in a row in 2013. Obviously he didn’t take my words. :/) 😛

        • mariposaxprs says:

          Haha, I understand that! As much as I like to watch live tennis, I think I have to actually like the players involved before I pay a lot of money to attend an exho match. When I heard about the Sharpie-Caro exho in Seoul, my first reaction was “Noo, why them?!”

          That’s sweet that the WTA HK tournament will be taking place next yr! I remember when I attended the Korea tournament, it was kind of a bummer b/c it was only Woz — but I got to see other plyrs like AMG and Makarova. So it was fun, but on a smaller-scale I guess. Who knows, maybe Woz will stop by HK? Lololol 😀 I hope the draw next year is good and that you get to attend!

          Lol someone should tell Franco to check his messages!! We could start a campaign for him to play the Asia swing. He should skip the spring 250-tournaments right now and save himself for Asia. He would gain points, he could see his fans — it all works out, no?! 😉

          • Candy says:

            The chance of having higher-ranked players in WTA HK is low because it will take place right after USO. But I think the ticket’s prices in this kind of small WTA “international event” won’t be too high, so I think I will still attend at least 1 day. Haha. If Woz plays here, I will make a “WOWziniaki” banner. #NOT 😛

            Yes, Delpo could gain points and see his fans in Asia. He has some of his biggest fans here in Asia, no?! 😉 (I know some of Delpo’s Chinese fans online who met Delpo in 2008/09. I saw many pics they took of Delpo in China. He wasn’t very famous and didn’t have lots of fans like he does now back in 2008, so they could spend quality time with Delpo and get many autographs. And I think Delpo was happy that he had big fans there who gave him many lovely gifts back then. One of the funny gifts they gave Delpo http://imgsrc.baidu.com/forum/pic/item/d0489294a4c27d1ea67148ea1bd5ad6eddc4383b.jpg 😉 ) We should remind Delpo of those warm receptions in China/ Asia, so that he would choose to come again. 😉

            Hope we both get to see Delpo one day. (I assume you haven’t met Delpo before?!)

            • mariposaxprs says:

              My guess is the ticket prices probably won’t be too bad at the HK tournament. The tickets at Seoul, which is normally very expensive with everything (esp anything that involves international plyrs), were fairly reasonable (I think it was <$20 for all-day passes to early rounds, then around $30 for the SF).

              That's so sweet to hear that DelPo has many fans in China and HK!! I remember Nalby had some of the best fans when he played Shanghai in '11. Asian fans just get it, you know? 🙂 DelPo doesn't realize what he's missing by skipping Shanghai! Plus, his pattern of skipping Shanghai and doing poorly at Paris is not going to hold up in the future. I hope Franco hears our pleas for change 😀

              I wish I had more opportunities to watch live tennis. I try to fit in chances whenever I travel abroad for work or vacation, but I still don't have as many chances as I'd like 😦 I have yet to watch DelPo live or meet him. Hope we both get to watch DelPo one day, and throw a big cheesecake party for him if/when he wins a Masters/Slam/Davis Cup/etc!!

  2. Candy says:

    Hi. 🙂 Late reply: I was afraid Monfils might be able to pull an upset over Delpo. He is a French guy, you know. Those French players seems to know how to KO Delpo. (Anyway, now it’s safe to say Monfils doesn’t have a hidden son?!) 😛

    But we have a whole Marseille draw to frazzle over. Delpo may possibly face a French guy in each round with daddy Llodra and daddy Simon in the first two matches. >_<

    So before all the battles, let Gasquet wish you a happy lunar new year here first! http://i.imgur.com/KOLD6OK.png 😉 (Gasquet won the title on the 1st day of this lunar year. You must have had a happy new year’s day! :D)

    • mariposaxprs says:

      Ahahaha we can now confirm that Monfils is most definitely not a father, even though he is French! 😛

      I’m also with you on the worrying about Marseilles. Llodra and Simon can be a succession of nightmares for DelPo. Llodra and Simon also have had a lot of time to prepare, since they both lost early at Rotterdam. On another note, I really hope DelPo doesn’t play at Dubai.

      Lolollolol, that is the best Happy Lunar New Year card I have received!! I love the Gasquet connection this year and I am laughing when I imagine him trying to say Happy New Year in Korean — that is genius! 🙂 Also, Reeshie looks so French in his Chinese robe 😉 Gung hay fat choy to you too!!

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