Paire defeated DelPo, 6-4 7-6(3).
On the bright side, it can’t get much worse than this. DelPo’s poor footwork and his lack of aggression were the primary factors behind his third consecutive early exit from a Masters (Miami, Monte Carlo, Rome).
While Paire was playing well and using his variety to trouble DelPo, DelPo was also playing below his expected level. This has been a troublesome pattern for him so far on clay. He played two incredibly patchy matches at Monte Carlo, but he seemed to have found decent form in his R2 win over Kuznetsov at Rome.
In his R3 against Paire though, DelPo didn’t have a set strategy or gameplan to deal with Paire. Paire is famous for the strength of his BHs and he is widely known to run around his FH to hit his BH. DelPo’s decision to engage in consecutive BH rallies with Paire is a mystery. DelPo wasn’t hitting his BH particularly well in the match either, so that gave Paire a distinct advantage. DelPo also stood way behind the baseline for Paire’s 2nd serves.
Additionally, DelPo did not play aggressively and he seemed content to push the ball across the net, waiting for Paire to make the error. While Paire is known to be a player who is well capable of imploding on his own, this is also a negative strategy, especially for a player like DelPo, who is trying to find his form on clay.
DelPo had a mini-break in the TB, but he played the next two points on his serve badly. Paire would go on to win the 2nd set TB and the match. This marks Paire’s first win over a top 10 player. Paire’s fans were justifiably ecstatic about the result, as was Paire’s good friend Wawrinka.
Paire continued his good form to demolish Granollers, 6-1 6-0. He has now reached his 1st Masters SF.
DelPo will now head to Roland Garros, having played only four matches on clay. His form at the moment is very questionable. It seems the virus that forced him to skip Portugal and Madrid has exacted quite a toll on his fitness — he looked noticeably thinner this week after the 2-3 weeks he was out with the virus.
During his loss to Paire, he did not look like a player who would be able to win his next match against whoever stood across the net from him.
In his post-match interview, he said “I hope to be better at Roland Garros, but it’s tough to play after 15 days of bed rest, it throws you off.”
Some commentators are wondering if DelPo will make a last-minute decision to play Nice, in order to gain more match-play on the dirt. Time will tell what DelPo’s next steps are. He has QF points to defend at Roland Garros and he will need to improve his game by a big margin if he wants to defend those points.