Rotterdam: DelPo Defeats Benneteau to Win His 14th Title at Rotterdam

DelPo d. Benneteau, 7-6(2) 6-3:

A finalist last year is victorious today.

Photo: Paul Vreeker / Reuters

Photo: Paul Vreeker / Reuters

DelPo won his 14th career title at Rotterdam, defeating Julien Benneteau in straight sets, 7-6(2) 6-3.  He wins at the 40th anniversary of Rotterdam, one of the traditional indoor HC tournaments that boasts a sterling list of past champions:

Rotterdam Past Champions II

Rotterdam Past Champions

DelPo is also the second Argentinean to win Rotterdam, after Guillermo Vilas in 1982.

DelPo’s route to the Rotterdam title was filled with tricky competitors, including Monfils, Gulbis and then Benneteau, who pulled off the upset of the tournament when he defeated Fed in the QF.  Benny now has the distinction of having defeated Fed twice (on indoor HCs), yet is now 0-8 in career finals.  DelPo was too consistent against Benny and his earlier efforts this week to play more aggressively also paid off.

After holding 40 times in as many service games, DelPo was broken for the first time in the final against Benny.  He broke back immediately and played a splendid point to break Benny at 30 and go up 3*-2.

However, DelPo was broken for the 2nd time when he serving for the first set at 5*-4.  He set up a beautiful point with a lovely FHDTL, only to send the drive FH volley wide.  He strolled back to the baseline with his shirt pulled over his head and received a time violation from umpire Mo Lahyani:

JMDP shirt

Benny hit great return of serve to break DelPo at 15.  DelPo had a long conversation with Mo at the changeover about the earlier time-violation (Mo said the total time DelPo took was 31 seconds):

time violation III

DelPo ultimately needed the TB to take the 1st set.  Afterwards, DelPo took control and he broke Benny early on and gained three championship points on Benny’s serve at 5-2*.  Benny saved all three, the last with an interesting volley that forced a FH error from DelPo.  The Dutch crowd cheered on Benny as he saved a total of 4 BPs on his serve to hold at 5-3.

Just before DelPo served for the match, his nose started to bleed.  DelPo had nosebleeds last year at Rotterdam as well, in his matches against Karol Beck and Victor Troicki.  He knew what to expect, as he promptly walked to his chair and called for Martiniano Orazi (his physio) to hand him a bag of cotton to put up his nose:

nose timeout 2

Benny could be seen showing a little gallows humor with the umpire, asking if the match was over and if he would be handed the title via retirement:

Benneteau joke

After the short timeout to take care of his bleeding nose, DelPo returned to the court to serve for the Rotterdam title:

serving for match rotterdam 2013

With the combination of the cotton up his nose to stop the bleeding and the unfortunate grey shorts Nike forced him to wear, which made him look like he had wet his pants, DelPo was quite the sight for sore eyes as he served for the esteemed Rotterdam title! 🙂

DelPo serving for championship

Still, DelPo served out the title to love.  He raised his hands in triumph and gave a roar to the crowd.

CP 2013 Rotterdam

The happy news of DelPo’s big win is overshadowed in some part by the fact that his opponent, 31 y.o. Julien Benneteau, is now 0-8 in ATP finals.

As Richard Krajiceck solemnly stood guard behind him, Benny stood like a lonely figure on court as he gave a heartfelt speech at the trophy ceremony.  Benny thanked his physio and then his coach.  He told his coach Loic Corteau, “It’s not enough.  [But] we’re getting closer and closer, but I’m sure with you I can win a title.”  Rotterdam was the first 500-level final Benny had contested (his previous 7 attempts were at the 250-level).

The image of Benny staring up at the sky as DelPo celebrates his title was a sad one.  It was eerily similar to the image of Nalbandian staring up to the sky after DelPo lost the 4th rubber against Spain in the Davis Cup final in 2011.

DelPo - Benneteau - Krajiceck - trophy ceremony - 2013 Rotterdam

Photo: Rick Gleijm / Tennis Grandstand

Benny definitely had a remarkable week and the hope is he can finally win the first title he has so clearly fought in pursuit of during his career.

Richard Krajicek then welcomed champion DelPo to the ceremony, which featured a show of fireworks that momentarily startled the big man:

DelPo fireworks - 2013 Rotterdam

When it came time for DelPo’s speech, he started with “Ohh, [this is] the worst part!”  He then gave a nice speech where he thanked Richard Krajicek and the sponsors for providing a lovely atmosphere that made him feel like home.

***

DelPo Improves His Record on Indoor HCs:

In 2012, DelPo won his first title on indoor HCs at Marseilles.  One year later, he now has a total of four indoor HC titles (Marseilles, Vienna, Basel and Rotterdam).  This is DelPo’s second consecutive title at the 500-level, which is a very tangible accomplishment, especially in comparison to his nearest competitors just outside the top 4.

Sebastian Terok at La Nacion wrote an excellent article about DelPo’s efforts to recover from his R3 loss at the AO.  Based on his interviews with DelPo and Davin, Terok writes that the R3 loss to Chardy came as an unexpected shock to DelPo’s top 5 aspirations:

“I won my first tournament after Australia, on a fast surface, in a complicated tournament featuring Federer and other great players.  This means a lot to me and gives me the calm and confidence for the rest of the season, to keep working to get better.”

“I’m going to try to win more tournaments.  It’s a great challenge for me this season and I’m going to try to get closer to no. 1.”

DelPo’s indoor HC record improves to 67-32.  Torok notes that three of DelPo’s four victories over Federer have come on indoor HCs (2009 WTF, 2012 Basel, 2012 WTF), while DelPo also defeated Djokovic on that surface (2011 DC SF, via retirement).  In addition to DelPo’s win over Djokovic at the 2012 Olympic bronze medal match, it’s major progress to see DelPo up his game on the quicker surfaces.

Davin is pleased with DelPo’s progress.  Davin also mentions that one area where DelPo needs to improve is hitting the low balls — this makes sense, as DelPo did face some trouble this week bending his knees low enough to hit volleys.  In the final against Benny, DelPo also had trouble hitting the low balls on his BH side, although he was able to take the FH early on the rise.

Following his Rotterdam title, DelPo once again moves closer in the rankings to Berdy.  He is still ranked no. 7, but he is now only 75 points behind the Czech.  DelPo has 250 points to defend at Marseilles, where he defends his title.  So even if DelPo were to overtake Berdy in the rankings for no. 6, it will likely be awhile before that position is consolidated.  DelPo will have to play consistently until then.

One surefire positive development is that DelPo has jumped 62 places to take his place as no. 6 in the 2013 Race to London.

***

Photos and Videos from the 2013 Rotterdam Final:

[tweet https://twitter.com/TheSliceTweets/status/303186395676172289 align=’center’]

After his win, DelPo poses with the staff at Rotterdam:

Del Potro - Ball Kids - 2013 Rotterdam

  • And here’s a fun video DelPo posted, where he hugs Franco, before chasing Franco, Martiniano and his new PR rep down the hall with a bottle of champagne.  DelPo received 4 time violations this week at Rotterdam, so it’s only fitting that it takes about 10 seconds longer than it should for the celebratory bottle of champagne to pop ;)!
  • Nick Lester and Arvind Parmar provided commentary for the final.  One of Lester’s funny lines about DelPo:

“A remarkable character, he really is.  Arvind and I arrived here about an hour and a half ago, we walked into the player’s restaurant, and [DelPo] just sits there.  He doesn’t move (laughs).  He reminds me of one of those animals, when you switch on the TV and you’re watching in Africa and it’s too hot, and they can’t move, and they’re just sort of stuck there, and he just sort of looks like that, doesn’t he?”

(Lester then says he’s spoken to people close to DelPo, including DelPo’s team, who call DelPo an unbelievable competitor). 

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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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13 Responses to Rotterdam: DelPo Defeats Benneteau to Win His 14th Title at Rotterdam

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  2. audiesgirl@aol.com says:

    What a great Marseilles tournament so far. Now that Tsonga beat Tomic, we can expect one hell of a match if Delpo beats Simon today; they must be so tired from their recent matches. A Delpo/Berdych final is my dream.
    Playful Delpo is a new persona, he seems to really be enjoying his life on both a personal and professional level. If a single guy can’t have a good time in France, there’s something wrong with him. Another win and there’s no stopping him. Still, he needs to do better at the ATP 1000 and GS’s; a lot in his game needs work if he’s to take on the top 5. He’s got a way to go. Winning the small fry may make him over confident. Dubai will be a good test.

    Good to see Ferru take down Nalby, he’s way too big for his britches these days.

    • mariposaxprs says:

      DelPo loses to Gillou =/

      Honestly, it’s better this way. No need for him to risk his health by going far at Marseille. While a win over Tsonga and Berdy this week would have been lovely, it would’ve been a lot of effort for no gain. Part of DelPo’s problem last yr was that he played well at the 250-tournaments, only to lose steam at the Masters and Slams.

      DelPo has nothing to gain at Dubai either, but it will be a good test nonetheless, given how it takes place on outdoor HCs. Also, b/c the “big fish” will be in the draw and it seems to be a relatively competitive tournament.

      I was actually disappointed to see Nalby lose to Ferru. Nalby’s a player I have a complete love-hate relationship with. I love to see him play well, but then he’ll say something that turns me against him. Then I see him play well and I’m back to supporting him. Oh well! 😉

  3. audiesgirl@aol.com says:

    What an amazing match, a big win considering his opponent played so well. If he can tweek those weaknesses, he’s in for one hell of a season. I’m sure Delpo is delirious seeing his name in lights next to Roger’s, as he was at the USO. He’s got a tough draw in Marseilles and I hope he gets to beat Berdych.
    Glad you mentioned those horrible gray shorts. While I love the shorter cut exposing more leg, they do show perspiration down yonder. Did anyone notice he had bright orange undies peeking out when he sat down? Somebody please get a stylist for this man!
    Others have commented on his off-court demeanor where he sits by himself not moving. I think it’s the Argie version of yoga/meditation, to keep that “tranquilidad” before the match. I’d compare him to a languid, loping giraffe resting in the heat of the day. Both have lovely eyes.
    One can only imagine Delpo without a GF on the loose in France. Let’s hope Franco keeps him in check although the ladies over there are pros and know how to avoid scandal.
    Did anyone see Pico’s FB post of his friend’s wedding to a pregnant bride? Who knows, maybe that’s in store for Delpo one of these days.

    • mariposaxprs says:

      I like that the last two titles he’s won are at the 500-level. I want to interpret that as progress, a step up from the 250-titles he’d won since his comeback. Overall, I think DelPo played pretty well and it was a delight to see his attacking game against Benny. I still think he has a few areas to work on (namely, his court positioning after hitting a serve) but I like what I saw the past week. It would’ve been nice to see how DelPo matched up against a Tsonga or Berdy, but I guess we’ll get to see that at Marseilles. In any case, DelPo earned this title with his steady play. No question about that!

      Hah, DelPo’s grey shorts are so unfortunate. That will prob be his outfit until the clay season starts. I have to say, I like the neon orange undershorts though. They add a nice pop to the grey palette 🙂 The tee-shirt is nice too, but the shorts have to change.

      I like your description of DelPo as a languid, loping giraffe with lovely eyes. It was hilarious how Nick Lester sounded so profoundly amazed that DelPo would *just sit there, not moving at all.* Roland Garros once did a video segment where they showed plyrs resting in the locker-room, and DelPo was pretty much sitting motionless on the couch, just staring at the TV screen (it may very well have been the wall!)

      I didn’t see Pico’s FB post yet. He’s been having a tough time of late in the Golden Swing. May have to check up on him, see how he’s playing.

      • audiesgirl@aol.com says:

        I was glad to see Tsonga take out Davydenko. I watched Simon take out Haase and if Delpo has to play him, he’s in for one tough match. What a cutie, too, with a new baby watching from the stands. My candidates for best “bedroom” eyes are Delpo, Granollers and Simon.

        • mariposaxprs says:

          Lol Gillou’s son Timothee is one of the cutest tennis bubs ever. DelPo’s loss to Gillou at the ’11 USO stil counts as one of the most painful losses ever in recent history, so I hope DelPo can vanquish his Gillou demons!

          Also, nothing against Gillou, but I would pick Ferru over Gillou for the eyes. I dunno, maybe it ‘s just me?!

  4. Candy says:

    This victory does give us the calm after the early loss at AO, no? 😉

    Haha. “Suddenly”, Delpo has four indoor-HC titles. I was like… since when Delpo has become an indoor HC specialist?! 😛 It’s so cool to see him do well on different surfaces!

    Hahaha. The nosebleed, the wet pant and the chasing-his-team-with-champagne thing…… Delpo such a stupid, childish, mischievous boy. Our Delpo is back! :’)

    Now go to defend the Marseille title! (But if he is to defend the title, he will have to play 4 matches in 4 days, then fly straight to Dubai and play again. Delpo, please take care and stay healthy. ;))

    PS: Hope Benny will win a title soon.

    • mariposaxprs says:

      It really is reassuring that he won Rotterdam after all the AO drama! I’m a little bit concerned he got broken twice by Benny during the final, but ah well (he had similar trouble last yr at Rotterdam, but this time he won the whole thing! :D)

      During DelPo’s comeback in 2011, his indoor HC performance was so-so. He was losing to players he should’ve been beating (Blake, Tsonga, Granollers). So it’s nice to see he became a semi-specialist now! I don’t want to jinx him or anything, but it would be pretty amazing if he could continue this run when Paris-Bercy happens later this year *notajinx*

      To be honest, I wouldn’t be too concerned if DelPo lost early at Marseilles. Looking at his ranking, he won’t lose any points even if he loses his opening round at both tournaments. I’d much rather he think “big picture” and prepare for IW and Miami. Maybe I’m getting too greedy though? DelPo’s celebration at Rotterdam was awesome. I like that he had a fun week there, with the FedPotro training sessions, the Sesame Street muppets, the wet pants, the bleeding nose, the fireworks and then the champagne. It brings back the positive feelings from Basel last yr!

      Maybe Benny can take Marseille? That would be fair, right? 😉

  5. Nice Write-up! Rotterdam is a pretty prestigious title to add to a player’s roster, so hopefully it will inspire DelPo onwards and upwards!

    It was kinda amusing to see how twitter/facebook active DelPo was this past week…although perhaps that is the work of his new PR person 🙂 I think the person DelPo was chasing in the video was his friend…maybe Jorge (I think that’s the name of the FueBuena journo) was the one videotapping? Now that DelPo is currently girlfriendless, we might be seeing more friends accompanying him on tour! Also, I loved that commentary from Lester! So, DelPo has been compared to a tower, a giant, and now….an African animal enjoying some sun…lol!!

    • mariposaxprs says:

      Thanks, it’s nice to see DelPo win another title, a prestigious one like Rotterdam at that! The tournament was heavy on the publicity this yr, given that it was their 40th anniversary. They kept showing the past list of champions—it’s nice to see DelPo join them this year! I hope this can be the platform for him to continue his solid progress, onwards and upwards!!

      Lol, I definitely think his new PR person has been busy this week 🙂 There was a 3rd person sitting in his box at Rotterdam — I’m not sure it was Jorge Viale though b/c Viale says on his Twitter that he has yet to travel to a tournament for DelPo. I do think he has input into DelPo’s frequency of Facebooking/Tweets though, which can only be a good thing 😀

      I cracked up when I heard Nick Lester’s story about DelPo. He sounded so amazed that DelPo would just sit there in the player’s restaurant, not moving at all. It’s funny b/c I totally get what Lester is saying. Even in freezing cold Rotterdam, the tower of Tandil is like an animal too fussed to move under the sun. Hilarious. So DelPo!

  6. missmarple says:

    Nice story. One question: FHDTL – means that forehand down the line?? By the way, I really enjoy to read your stories anytime:)

    • mariposaxprs says:

      Hi, thank you! I’m glad you enjoy my updates on DelPo and hopefully, my other tennis updates too.

      Also, yes, FHDTL is forehand down the line. My favorite shot is DelPo’s running FHDTL 🙂

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