DelPo defeated Gulbis in straight sets, 7-6(5) 6-3 to set up a QF encounter with Jarkko Nieminen.
Gulbis was able to absorb the pace of DelPo’s heavy hitting and he used his BH to hit angled winners. Meanwhile, DelPo’s low first serve % bothered him at crucial points in the match. He was also visibly frustrated. At 3-3 on Gulbis’ serve, after fluffing a volley on a point he’d all but won, DelPo slammed the ball into the net and screamed. On the next point at 0-15 on the Gulbis serve, DelPo netted another point he should have won.
DelPo went up a MB in the 1st set TB, but he shanked a FH wide after a long rally on the next point to give away the break. He flailed his arms in frustration and punched himself in the face afterwards. Gulbis went up a MB but lost the advantage right away, off an errant BH, after which DelPo broke again to take a 3*-2 lead. Gulbis then played extremely well in the next rally and is able to inject pace into his shots, forcing DelPo into netting a BH. DelPo is visibly frustrated at this point. Gulbis then withstood a heavy barrage of DelPo’s shots before hitting a great lob to go 5-4*. However, DelPo hung on to reach SP at 6-5*. Gulbis made a nervy FH error and DelPo narrowly took the 1st set TB.
The 2nd set saw DelPo working hard to hold serve. At 3*-3, he played a 7-minute game where he saved 2 BPs and received a time violation warning from chair umpire Cedric Mourier. This is DelPo’s second instance in as many matches of receiving the time warning. Afterwards, Gulbis played a very loose service game at 3*-4 to get broken at 15. DelPo served out the match successfully to win.
Last year, DelPo had trouble with his first two matches at Rotterdam (against Llodra and Kamke). This year, DelPo successfully battles his way past two very flashy ballstrikers in Monfils and Gulbis. Monfils and Gulbis floundered at the important moments, so credit goes to DelPo for keeping his composure. However, he will need to reduce his error count and improve his first serves in order to go farther at Rotterdam. His QF opponent, Jarkko Nieminen, is less likely to enter the “zoning” mode that would catch DelPo off-guard. Still, the veteran Finn is a well-respected competitor who notched a rare double-bagel win over Goffin early this week.
DelPo’s post-match interview was noteworthy for two reasons: 1) He thinks he played well in this match and 2) He believes Gulbis is capable of soon entering the top 20.
Here’s hoping DelPo can serve better against Nieminen.
- Gasquet was upset by Baghdatis in straight sets. This is noteworthy, considering how Reeshie had just won Montpellier last week, to notch his 2nd title of the year. Baghdatis will play Dimitrov for a spot in the SF.
- Gulbis has changed the set-up for his FH. He raises his off-hand very high and out in front of him to hit the shot. It was a noticeable change in his game, although a bit distracting to watch:
- Happy Valentine’s Day from Judy Murray: In Valentine’s Day-related news, it appears Great Britain’s Fed Cup team have a major crush on DelPo:
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