DelPo stepped up his game in the SF to defeat Grigor Dimitrov in straight sets, 6-4 6-4. For the 2nd consecutive year, he has reached the final at Rotterdam.
Given the hot streak Grigor was on at Rotterdam, many anticipated the DelPo-Dimitrov SF to be a firecracker. Given how Fed occupied the top half of the draw, the Rotterdam tournament hyped up the possibility of a Baby Fed-Federer final. Fed stopped any chance of that happening with his surprise defeat to Benny in the QF.
Nevertheless, the show must go on and DelPo took to the Ahoy arena for his SF against Baby Fed. It was a fairly straightforward match. While Dimitrov has great footwork and shotmaking capabilities, he was overpowered by DelPo from the baseline. He stood behind during the rallies and DelPo used Dimitrov’s court positioning as ammunition to step forward and hit his shots. Dimitrov tried to mix up DelPo with BH slices, but they weren’t executed well enough to put DelPo out of position on his shots. DelPo took the early break in the 1st set and served it out, 6-4.
Richard Krajicek Talks Rotterdam Court Speed:
While each player held relatively easily in the 2nd set, the match was being played on DelPo’s racquet. Commentators sensed this, as they spent nearly 10 minutes ignoring the match to conduct an interview with Rotterdam tournament director Richard Krajicek.
For what it’s worth, Krajicek offered interesting soundbites during his interview. When asked about the court speed, which Stakhovsky had complained about earlier this week, Krajicek confirmed the court surface had been slowed down.
Krajicek said the 2011 final, where Soderling defeated Tsonga in a 3-set match that lasted 80 minutes, was the impetus for the change. He spoke of the need to strike a balance between entertaining the crowds (presumably with long rallies) and maintaining surface integrity. He also mentions Rotterdam changed the official tournament balls to ones with more felt, which sped up the game — this was an additional factor for slowing down the court. Krajicek mentioned Fed’s tournament win last year as evidence of Rotterdam’s success in striking a balance between speed and lengthy rallies. He then went on to cite Fed’s social media influence and the overall revenue (and additional work) that Fed brings to the Rotterdam tournament.
In any case, DelPo is now into the final, where he will face the winner of the SF between Simon and Benneteau. DelPo’s H2H with Simon is 3-2 and he has never played against Benneteau. Simon is a French father, a combination that makes him a troublesome match-up for DelPo (DelPo’s recent losses have come at the hands of tennis players who are fathers — Fed, Llodra, Hewitt).
If Benneteau were to reach the final, he would be the third opponent at Rotterdam that DelPo faces for the first time in the career H2H.
Benneteau is looking to win his first ATP title at Rotterdam, as he is currently 0-7 in finals. Despite the lack of “star quality,” there will be much to play for in Rotterdam.
- Kids Day: It’s Kids Day at Rotterdam, which meant Bert and Ernie were courtside to congratulate DelPo after his SF win. Which Sesame Street character would DelPo be? I nominate the Cookie Monster:
- Happy Birthday John McEnroe: The US tennis legend turns 54 today. DelPo and others wish him a Happy Birthday:
- Feb. 15 is International Childhood Cancer Day: Many tennis players tweeted to spread awareness for the cause. DelPo showed his support by wearing the FNDF’s “Ponete La Camiseta” t-shirt: