On the day the Catholic Church announced their election of Pope Francis (an Argentinean), DelPo beat Haas to set up a QF with Muzz (who defeated Berlocq) and Fedal overcame tricky opponents to set up a long-awaited reunion.
DelPo defeated Haas in straight sets, 6-1 6-2. It was a pretty routine victory for DelPo, whose H2H against Haas now stands at 4-0.
Haas was broken in his opening service game when he served a DF. But he promptly went 0-30 on DelPo’s service game after a 19-shot rally that featured BH-to-BH slices. DelPo then netted a short ball to face 3 BPs, 0-40. The two players had long rallies, including a 32-shot rally where DelPo proved the steadier of the two. When DelPo saved the 3BPs to reach GP, Haas threw his racquet on the ground in frustration.
DelPo quickly gained 2 more BPs on Haas’ serve and converted to go up a double break in the 1st set. He consolidated to go up 4-0*, at which point Haas threw his racquet on the ground for the second time.
Apparently, the dry desert air at Indian Wells does not suit DelPo, as he had yet another nosebleed during the match (this is his 2nd nosebleed this year, during a match). He called for the trainer at 4*-1 during the changeover. Despite the hiccup, DelPo held easily for 5-1* in a game that featured Haas’ racquet hitting the ground for a third time.
Haas would eventually serve a DF to lose the 1st set. DelPo was up 6-1. After 42 minutes, DelPo raced to a 6-1 3-0* lead in the match. While DelPo could have closed out the match earlier, he ended up going up a double break to win the match, 6-1 6-2.
While Haas plays very well against players with strong BHs (he is 5-0 against Nalbandian and 3-0 against Almagro, who he defeated in R3), he is vulnerable to the depth and pace of DelPo’s shots. Haas finished the match with a total of 43 UFEs. It’s a quite telling stat that Haas has yet to win a set off DelPo in their 4 career match-ups. The 34-year old Haas may also have been tired, due to having played a long match against no. 11 Almagro the previous day.
The commentator for the match aptly described the DelPo-Haas matchup as a “nut butter and salami sandwich.” While the two ingredients were stellar when eaten separately, they don’t mix well together. That seemed the perfect way to describe DelPo’s taking Haas to the woodshed.
Sara Foster, Tommy Haas’ wife (and the daughter of David Foster, an American music mogul), gave a nice summary of the match when she spent time with DelPo and Haas in the locker room after the match:
That is a photo chock-full of good-looking people!
DelPo will now meet Muzz in their 7th career match-up. Muzz leads the H2H, 5-1 (DelPo’s lone victory over Muzz came on clay at Madrid ’09). The QF match on Friday will take place on center court. DelPo has yet to play a match on center court this year, and there’s been talk that the center court plays slower than the other courts. This may favor DelPo, although he may need time to adjust. The DelPo-Muzz QF will be exciting to watch because they haven’t played each other since the 2009 WTF. It will be interesting to see how their games match up against each other after 3 years.
In his presser, DelPo was asked many questions about the new Argentinean Pope:
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: I think he’s gonna do his work perfect. I wish the best for him. And I’m very Catholic, so I like this new decision … Maybe I will have the chance to meet him in Rome if Nicola [the ATP rep] do his job. (Laughter.)
The journalists then tried to ask DelPo about his religious faith. Unfortunately, DelPo’s English did not seem up to the task of speaking of such complex matters in great detail!:
Q. Do you know Pope Francis at all? Are you familiar with him? He seemed to have a tremendous warmth and intelligence. Have you ever had any encounters with him or do you know of him?
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: I don’t understand what you mean.
Exciting Indian Wells QF Line-up (to be updated):[tweet https://twitter.com/scoobschris/status/312128469020598273 align=’center’]
- The Return of Fedal: Fed defeated Stan in a drama-filled 3-set match and Rafa defeated Gulbis in a similarly dramatic 3-setter, to set up a Fedal QF. This quarter of the draw has lived up to its entertainment and fans will be curious to see how Fed copes with his gimpy back, while Rafa continues to suffer through his gimpy knee. Both players were supremely cranky in their R4 matches — Fed had a stand-off with Fergus Murphy during his close win over Wawrinka, while Rafa had a similar brush with the umpire after a coaching violation.
- Muzz Shows His Bratty Side: Muzz beat Berlocq in R4, 7-6(4) 6-4. Berlocq continued the great form he showed after upsetting Nishikori in R3 and he managed to break Muzz for 2*-1 in the 1st set. However, Muzz broke back and forced a 1st set TB. Muzz was very unhappy with Berlocq’s grunting. Berlocq has a grunt that sounds like a long groan. Personally, I don’t find it annoying enough to turn down the volume whenever I am watching a match. Still, it appeared to really bother Muzz. Muzz complained to the umpire about Berlocq’s grunting and at one point during the match shouted “It’s Outrageous!” in response to Berlocq’s grunt. After Muzz broke back, he fist-pumped in Berlocq’s face during the changeover. In my opinion, this was a completely unnecessary action from Muzz. First of all, Berlocq’s grunt isn’t even that outrageous — Rafa, Novak and Granollers have far more irritating grunts. Second of all, Muzz never complains about Rafa or Novak’s grunts, yet he feels free to complain at length about Berlocq’s grunts. This feels like a “Kiss Up, Kick Down” situation. I suppose Muzz’s outburst was one way of channeling his frustrations at his initially patchy play during the match. That doesn’t excuse his hypocrisy though.
- Walking Wounded: Both Federer and Nadal have their attendant back and knee troubles at Indian Wells. DelPo is still doing treatments for his left wrist problem, although he hopes to be ready in time for his match against Muzz. Berdy beat Gasquet 6-1 7-5. While Gasquet was the underdog going into the match against Berdy, the scoreline was a bit surprising. It turns out Gasquet had sprained his ankle during his earlier match against Tomic (the news was relayed via a fan who had spoken to Gasquet’s part-time coach, former top player Sebastien Grosjean).