World Tennis Day: DelPo Defeats Rafa in Straight Sets at the MSG Exho

On World Tennis Day, DelPo Rings the Opening Bell at NASDAQ:

JMDP NASDAQ 03042013

Photo: Juan Martin del Potro FB

DelPo was invited to ring the opening bell at NASDAQ in New York.  Shortly before 9:30 AM, he appeared with former tennis player Rennae Stubbs, USTA head Dave Haggerty and some guy named Bob Harper (who is the trainer for a top-rated show called “The Biggest Loser”) at the studio.

DelPo said he was happy to be playing the BNP Paribas exhibition at MSG and he opened the NASDAQ market at 9:30 AM, as children played tennis in front of him at the studio:

[tweet align=’center’]

March 4, “World Tennis Day,” featured four exhibition matches in Hong Kong and New York.  In Hong Kong, Aga Radwanska (last-minute replacement for Li Na, who is still recuperating from an ankle injury) defeated Caro Wozniacki.  John McEnroe defeated Ivan Lendl in the men’s exho.


Madison Square Garden:

Photo: Getty

Photo: Getty

The DelPo vs. Rafa exho was highly anticipated.  The media focus was on Rafa’s return from knee injury, but DelPo and Rafa played a competitive match in front of the evening crowd.  Given the fact that DelPo had flown to NY right after his SF loss to Novak in Dubai, while Rafa had flown straight from Acapulco after winning a title, neither player was exactly in “optimal” form.

Still, the exho was an entertaining display of tennis from both sides.  DelPo got to showcase his lobs (a high-risk shot for him) and flashes of his thunderous forehands, while Rafa also displayed his fine footwork and FHDTLs.  Judging from this match, Rafa will be fine at Indian Wells.  He adjusted well to the change to HCs.

DelPo won the first set 7-6(4), after Rafa made a series of BH errors in the TB.  In the 2nd set, DelPo broke Rafa for an early lead — the big man constructed his points very well and was able to redirect his FHs to wrong-foot Rafa.  DelPo also played well at the net today and his volleys won him many points.

After awhile, both players went into “exho mode.”  They played entertaining points where they mixed soccer with tennis — they exchanged headers and tweeners.  DelPo was working the crowd, while Rafa was grinning from ear-to-ear.  It was nice to see both players enjoying themselves and relaxing.

During the changeover, the jumbotron showed highlights of DelPo’s USO win from 2009 — both players were seen gawking at the jumbotron during the changeover.  Later, they showed Rafa’s career Slam highlights.  Rafa was wide-eyed and open-mouthed as he stared at his own accomplishments.

In the 2nd set, DelPo and Rafa decided to play doubles.  DelPo invited a young girl from the Youth Tennis program on-court, while Rafa brought actor Ben Stiller to be his partner.  This was by far the highlight of the match:

DelPo’s doubles partner completely schooled Ben Stiller 🙂  After she won a series of points with her impressive volleys, DelPo scooped her up in his arms and celebrated with the crowd.  This was a seriously adorable moment and the crowd ate it up:

Photo: Getty

Photo: Getty

DelPo had BPs on Rafa’s serve, but he wasn’t able to break and he had to serve for the match himself.  He did so successfully and he won the match in straight sets.  It was a solid display of tennis from him.  He won points with the crowd with his subtly entertaining tactics as well.

In the post-exho presser, DelPo had some nice words for Rafa, while Rafa indicated his readiness to continue his journey to reach his former heights:

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If there’s one point of concern, it’s that DelPo did appear at times to be uncomfortable hitting off his BH side during the exho.  At one point during the match, he stretched out his left wrist and grimaced slightly.  While he cleanly struck his BH toward the latter stages of the match, he did also resort to the slice repeatedly.  Given the recent injury concerns about his left wrist, this isn’t entirely promising news.  He will now head to IW, where he hopefully has a couple days for the wrist to recuperate before the Masters begins.


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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3 Responses to World Tennis Day: DelPo Defeats Rafa in Straight Sets at the MSG Exho

  1. agaga97 says:

    Reblogged this on TTT and commented:
    Good story, and i have to say i felt in love with this young girl, she was amazing:)

  2. says:

    Yes, it was a very entertaining match and good to see both players enjoying themselves. As for the Delpo’s left wrist, I recall that when he took those weeks off last year to rest it that he was advised to not immobilize it which would make it worse so playing was the right thing to do. I’m sure he’s in touch with Dr. Berger at the Mayo to keep tabs on it.
    Maybe the ATP will heed the players’ call for softer surfaces so they don’t all end up broken down old men in their 40’s. As they did with the blue clay problem, they can just refuse to play on hard surfaces anymore; how can the fans and sponsors NOT support them on this?

    • mariposaxprs says:

      The exho was very entertaining stuff. Neither DelPo nor Rafa are “extrovert” types, so I was curious to see how they’d play the exho in front of an American crowd. So it was nice to see both players find their way into the crowd’s heart 🙂 That little girl was so adorable. She worked well with DelPo and completely stole the show from Ben Stiller as well, hahaha.

      That’s interesting, I didn’t know it could be better for DelPo not to immobilize the wrist completely. So long as that’s the case, I guess it’s good news that he played the exho. I don’t know yet if DelPo flew straight to IW from NY. Maybe he’ll sneak in a visit to Dr. Berger while he’s in the US.

      From what I’ve heard so far, the courts at Indian Wells is playing more slowly this year. With the exception of Federer and Ferrer, most players are shadows of their former selves by the time they reach 29-30 years old (Nalbandian comes to mind here. So does Juan Carlos Ferrero, who’s retired). To me, the solution should be introducing quicker court surfaces, which could work to shorten points (especially during the fall indoor season in Asia and Europe).

      I’m put up a post shortly, about the Indian Wells draw (which, as predicted, will be a nightmare for DelPo :()

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