The no. 277-ranked Evans, who narrowly missed out on a WC spot for the main draw at Wimbledon this year, is regarded as a rising talent for British tennis. Evans had upset Nieminen in R2 to schedule a R3 date with DelPo.
However, Evans started the match playing very nervously. DelPo played with patience and was business-like in pulling the trigger when his opportunities came. Owing to smart play from DelPo and a fair share of UFEs from Evans, DelPo took the first set, 6-0, over Evans in 17 minutes.
In DelPo’s R2 match against Malisse, he was having trouble hitting his BH and would often resort to the slice, which resulted in him losing many points. Against Evans, DelPo found much more confidence off his BH wing and he hit the shot with much more purpose. DelPo seemed more comfortable hitting the low ball off his BH and he managed some sharply angled return winners off that wing. Perhaps the first set bagel boosted DelPo’s confidence, as DelPo also showed off fine running FHs and FHDTLs in the 2nd set.
DelPo hit an impressive FHDTL, only to promptly fall on his back (there had been light rain during the match, so the grass was slippery). DelPo flashed a thumbs-up to indicate he was fine. He gave a come-hither glance and managed to look like he was sunbathing at the same time:
Interesting fact: Bettors in Europe place bets on when DelPo will fall down on the grass. It took 17 games for DelPo to fall down in his R2 match, while he was down after 11 games in his R3 against Evans.
One of the cons today was that DelPo had a slight hiccup as he served for the match — he admitted himself that he got a bit nervous serving for it. He was missing his first serves, while Evans seemed to have one last fight in him, which saw him constructing smart points to wrongfoot DelPo. Evans would hit a return winner to reach his first BP of the match. In the end, Evans netted a volley to give away the chance. DelPo would then serve it out.
In the QF, DelPo will face Lleyton Hewitt (who defeated Querrey in 3 sets). While DelPo is 2-1 in the H2H against Hewitt, he lost their only meeting on grass (2009 Wimbledon, R2). Hewitt also “defeated” DelPo at the Kooyong exhibition earlier this year. DelPo’s next match will be a much tougher test of his form, given Hewitt’s grass-court credentials. Hopefully, DelPo’s quick rout of Evans will provide a confidence boost — furthermore, while Evans did not ever really challenge DelPo in this match, DelPo hit his stride in the 2nd set and was hitting impressively. It may not quite have been a vintage performance from DelPo, but it was a very close approximation.
Doubles action: DelPo-Cilic pull off an upset over 2nd seeds Nestor-Lindstedt
The team of friendly giants, DelPo-Cilic (or Team Monobrow) moved into the QF after defeating top doubles team Nestor-Lindstedt, 6-3 6-7(5) 10-6. They will face another top doubles team, Benneteau-Zimonjic in the next round.
Due to the heavy scheduling backlog created by the rain delays, DelPo-Cilic have yet to play on Center Court, which means there have been so streams available for their matches. Their next match will take place on an untelevised court as well.
Both DelPo and Cilic played singles and doubles yesterday (Cilic, who is defending champ in singles, won a tough match over Feli in 3 sets). Both are on for double duty on Friday as well.
Team Monobrow share a grim handslap on court:
Press Quotes & Interviews:
Ravi Ubha wrote a splendid New York Times piece on DelPo’s recent setbacks. I enjoyed the detail about DelPo laughing when his frustrated practice partner Benneteau smacked a ball into the car park. On a more serious note, DelPo volunteered his thoughts on the various setbacks he’s faced since his return in 2011. It’s quite sobering to see how tough it is for DelPo to make lemonade out of the various obstacles he’s faced:
“Sometimes it’s like I’ve had two different careers, before the U.S. Open and after I won in New York.”
“Assessing his journey since the 2009 United States Open as a whole, del Potro, who met Pope Francis, a fellow Argentine, during the Rome Masters, added that “things happen for a reason.”
Asked to come up with one, the 24-year-old replied: “Maybe it’s the price I had to pay for winning a Grand Slam.””
DelPo’s comments about his recovery from the virus also reveal how serious his condition was. Over the past month, he was unable to train for 3-4 days after a one-hour hitting session, due to exhaustion. While this sounds very much like mono, DelPo decided not to treat the illness with medication, due to the strict anti-doping rules.
While DelPo’s match against Hewitt will provide a more honest test of his current form, it’s nice to see him make his way back after a month-long absence. He can still aim to reach the QF at Wimbledon, the only Slam where he has yet to reach that stage.