Indian Wells: Xbox Defeats Playstation and Phau, Sets Up a R4 with Haas

In a tricky R2 match, DelPo defeated Davydenko in straight sets 6-3 6-4 to reach R3.  The diminutive Russian (also known as “Playstation”) was too inconsistent against DelPo, who debuted a brand new Nike kit featuring plaid shorts. 

Photo: Stephen Dunn/Getty

Photo: Stephen Dunn/Getty

Davydenko takes the ball very early on the rise.  Davydenko broke DelPo in the opening service game.  However, he gave away the break when he served an ill-timed DF while facing BP at 2*-1.

It was slightly worrisome to see DelPo resort to his BH slice so often.  Even when he hit the proper two-hander, he had very little pace off that wing.  However, it was still nice to see DelPo make progress with his slices.  While DelPo’s BH slice won’t feature in anyone’s “top 5” lists, he’s definitely improved in that area.  Case in point: Davydenko had 40-0 at 3*-4 in the 1st set.  DelPo fought back and gained BP on Davydenko’s serve.  A long “Davydenko BH”-to-“DelPo’s BH slice” rally happened.  DelPo used the slice to change the pace of the rally, which led Davydenko to eventually overshoot his FH (when he was left with too much time to hit the shot).  DelPo broke and emphatically served out the first set, 6-3.

The 2nd set started out in similar fashion.  DelPo’s first serves deserted him and Davydenko broke to go up 0-1*.  When Davydenko served at 3*-2, DelPo blew through many BP chances.  Finally, on his 4th BP of the game, he broke back to level the set.  Then he broke Davydenko after another point featuring a backhand to BH slice rally, to go up 4*-3 and win the match in straight sets.  Davydenko too error-prone, especially with his forehands.

***

In R3 action, Court 2 was a great day for Argentina fans on Tuesday, as Berlocq pulled off a great upset by defeating Nishikori, 6-2 6-2.  Right afterwards, DelPo and Phau walked on court to play their match, which DelPo won in straight sets, 6-2 7-5.

Photo: A Change of Ends

Photo: A Change of Ends

DelPo’s R3 win over Bjorn Phau was a somewhat rocky affair.  Agassi once called Phau one of the quickest players on tour.  Phau has a one-handed BH and a crafty game, which is a bad matchup for the big man.  Phau is 5’9″ tall, which meant he was the second-straight “shorty” DelPo faced at IW.

Phau won the coin toss and chose to return, which meant DelPo started his 2nd consecutive match by serving (when DelPo wins the coin toss, he always elects to return first).  This time, he managed to hold and he coasted through the 1st set, 6-2.  After the first set, Phau took a 3-minute MTO to re-tape his left knee.

During the MTO, the commentators noted that DelPo had only lost 10 points total on his first-serves at IW.  They also share some interesting stats sheets from Hawk-Eye:

serve direction

return outcome

The lavish praise that the commentators heaped on DelPo must have gone to his head.  In the 2nd set, his first serves went missing-in-action.  DelPo hit a total of 6 DFs in the match and 5 of them came in the 2nd set alone.

Much like the Davydenko match, DelPo often resorted to the BH slice.  Phau’s scrappy style of play also frustrated DelPo.  His efforts to move around the BH to hit a FH seem to hinder his court sense and footwork.  He was playing very far behind the baseline and his movement seemed slower than normal:

average rally hit point

Steve Ulrich was the chair umpire for the match.  After DelPo correctly challenged a call in the 2nd set, he glared at Ulrich for what felt like an eternity:

Screen shot 2013-03-13 at 4.00.01 PM

After 3 seconds though, it started to feel like DelPo had a massive staring problem.  Luckily, Ulrich agreed a replay was unnecessary and that the point should be awarded to DelPo:

Screen shot 2013-03-13 at 4.01.22 PM

I found out Steve Ulrich will be retiring after IW.  He will soon release a book about his experience on tour.  I wonder if he will include his thoughts on “DelPo’s death glare.”

At 4-4 in the 2nd set, DelPo DF-ed and gave 2 BPs to Phau.  Phau scrambled impressively to take the break and serve for the set at 5*-4.  However, Phau’s nerves got the better of him as he opened with a DF.  DelPo broke back to love and then broke Phau’s next service game to take the match, 6-2 7-5.  He gave a hugh sigh of relief after taking MP.

Phau and DelPo shared a nice handshake at the net.  Phau wished DelPo a “good tournament.”

Screen shot 2013-03-13 at 4.29.34 PM

Last year, Marinko Matosevic was very generous with DelPo at the net. Marinko went on to have a great year in 2012 — he won the ATP Most Improved Player award, was the top-ranked male Aussie for awhile, and he pulled off an upset of his own at IW this year with a 7-5 6-0 beating of Pico in R2 (he eventually lost a very close match to Querrey in R3).  May the same good karma apply to Phau this year!  

Phau played impressively, but DelPo’s form was more patchy.  He will have to play a tighter game against R4 opponent Tommy Haas, who pulled off an upset when he beat Nico Almagro in an exciting three-set match that featured vocal outbursts from both players, foot-faults and time violation warnings.

DelPo leads the H2H against Haas at 3-0.  Haas has never taken a set off DelPo in their previous meetings.  While Haas’ variety and slices have the potential to trouble DelPo, he is also vulnerable to the depth and power of DelPo’s shots.  But DelPo will need to play well and generate more pace off his BH wing, if he wants to win again.

***

Other News & Notes:

The men’s R16 has been set up:

[tweet https://twitter.com/SI_BTBaseline/status/311718554309373953 align=’center’]

  •  Out with the New, In with the Old? In R16, DelPo will face his third straight opponent who is over 30 years old (Davydenko, Phau, Haas).  If DelPo beats Haas AND Berlocq pulls off a major upset and defeats Murray, we could have a DelPo-Berlocq QF and DelPo would play his 4th consecutive match against a player older than 30 (and his third consecutive match against a one-handed backhander).  Gasquet, on the other hand, played two straight matches against players who were born after 1990 (Tomic, Janowicz).  Gasquet will finally play a “middle-aged” player in Berdych the next round.  Gasquet is a good benchmark for upcoming players; Tomic and Janowicz fell short of the mark at  IW. 
  • Fedal Quarter Full of Intrigue: Rafa’s return to HCs has been impressive so far.  He now plays a hot Gulbis, who is on a 13-match winning streak.  This match will be a barnburner for sure.  Gulbis and Wawrinka stand in the way of a potential Fedal QF.  Fed, however, is suffering from a slight back problem.  Fed did not show up for his practice session today, which means Wawrinka may fancy his chances here.

  • Gladys Knight stopped by IW to watch the matches.  Here she is with Fed:

[tweet https://twitter.com/BNPPARIBASOPEN/status/311302797733797888 align=’center’]

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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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7 Responses to Indian Wells: Xbox Defeats Playstation and Phau, Sets Up a R4 with Haas

  1. audiesgirl@aol.com says:

    Somehow, the plaid shorts aren’t doing it for me and it’s hard to look menacing in them despite the death stare. Delpo had better be on his toes today against Hasse who looked great yesterday. It’s in the 90s too, so the big guy needs to guard against being run around to exhaustion. I watched the practice video which was pretty much the same as what I saw in Cincy last year, just repetitive shots. I never observed any words with Franco, their communication is non-verbal. BTW, today is Steph’s birthday, I wonder if he sent flowers for old times’ sake.

    • mariposaxprs says:

      I’m still undecided on the plaid shorts! I like them, but I wish they’d chosen a more bold color instead of the grey. Also, I wish they got rid of the thick grey band on the shoulders of his tee. I like the white tee, but without the grey band and if the neck were stretched out a bit more. The neckline makes him look like he has a thick neck, when it should make him look more swan-like, no? 🙂

      DelPo-Haas will be a super-tough matchup. Haas is the first very decent player DelPo will face and I’m not sure how it will work out. Haas beat a very solid player in Nico Almagro to reach R4, but he also needed 3 long sets to do so. Given the fact that he’s 34 y.o., maybe we can depend on him being slightly fatigued for this match? Normally, I try not to think about things like that, but given DelPo’s left wrist problems and the subsequent slicing, it’s a matter of finding every advantage he can get!

      Stephie didn’t like the flowers he sent her. I think she’d appreciate if he won the match and wrote an encoded message to her on the camera. That would make her (and everyone else) happy! 🙂

      • Rita Richardson says:

        Well, the shirt can’t do much about the fact he does have a very muscular neck/shoulders that are necessary for the massive power of his strokes. We could devote an entire series to the wonders of Delpo’s physique from his thick head of hair down to his missing toe nails. It’s definitely a case of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. For example, his limbs are out of proportion to his trunk like a spider monkey and his head too small for the body. His chest muscles could use some bulking up and all that body hair is definitely out of fashion in our overwaxed, metrosexual world. Still, as the song goes, “don’t change a hair for me” and we could use a regular supply of shirtless photos besides those all too brief shirt changing shots.
        And yes, Rafa’s shorts do take the prize for worst plaid ever seen on a tennis court.
        I just watched Fed lose it with the judge again over a challenge, not as dramatic as the USO episode but no less undignified from the GOAT. Maybe his back is bothering him and making him ill tempered.

        • mariposaxprs says:

          Haha I just wish the neckline for his shirts offered a bit more breathing room. It’s always kind of jarring to see a male tennis player shave his legs and/or arms. I know a lot of athletes do that b/c they’re always being massaged and it’s easier to dress the area with creams. But it’s still unusual. Also, I think DelPo’s look would completely change. His fans would be bereft without his ginger beard, no? 🙂

          Hah, all the big players have lost their heads today. Fed got tetchy with the umpire, Muzz went on a whine-fest about his opponent’s grunting and now Rafa’s been arguing with the ump over a coaching violation. I guess something’s in the air, hah!

          Glad DelPo got thru easily over Haas. DelPo-Muzz will be an intense match-up! Will post a write-up soon.

    • mariposaxprs says:

      We should be relieved that Nike didn’t make him wear *these* plaid shorts that Rafa had in 2010!:

  2. Candy says:

    When I knew Chardy lost, I thought Chardy himself had broken the “Delpo-Chardy-Muzz curse” which meant Delpo and Muzz were safe. But then I saw Muzz lost the first set in his opening round and Delpo got broken in his first game, I was afraid the Chardy’s curse also included all three dying in early rounds together. Lol 😛 Phew, they overcame it and it might mean they would finally meet!

    The white shirt is so fresh! Let’s embrace the spring and summer! 😀

    (Do I miss Marcos?! :P)

    • mariposaxprs says:

      The Chardy curse, ahahaha. After Chardy lost, maybe he thought he should bring everyone else down with him. That’s probably why DelPo was broken and Muzz lost the first set. I hate when DelPo-Muzz-Chardy end up in the same section of the draw! Someone *always* ends up losing early to prevent a DelPo-Muzz match. I will laugh so hard if it ends up being a Berlocq-Haas QF instead of DelPo-Muzz.

      Now, DelPo will have to play a German father, Tommy Haas. He has a good record against German players though, but the “father” factor means Haas will be scary.

      DelPo looks so nice in white! It’s refreshing and I like the green splashes of color on his wristbands and headband. I think he looks best in white, bright red and yellow. Definitely good for spring!

      Marcos went back home 😦 It would’ve been fun if he went to IW too and played football with DelPo on the grassy meadow. Maybe next year!

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