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.
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.
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:
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:
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:
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:
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.”
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:
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- 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.
- Photos: Fans and media get access to players lounging on the grass at the venue. For great photos, check out The Traveling Fangirl and @EnriqueNoticias. My favorite photo so far is Marion Bartoli giddily smiling as Federer walks by. The 12kgp Youtube channel has great practice videos. Here’s one of DelPo practicing his serves:
- More Photos: A Change of Ends’ FB page also has some amazing photos of DelPo practicing his backhands with hedgehog hair. Nalbandian backhands. Cilic giving a thumbs up to Federer during training.
- Gladys Knight stopped by IW to watch the matches. Here she is with Fed:
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