Washington: DelPo Wins His 15th Title

DelPo wins his 3rd Washington title (his 15th career title), after defeating Isner in three sets in the final (3-6 6-1 6-2)!  This is his 2nd title in 2013 (his 5th career title at the 500-level).  He’s now won 6 of his last 7 finals (the one he lost was at the Masters level at Indian Wells this year).

A week ago, he was kissing Minnie Mouse at Disney World.  Today, he plants a kiss on the Citi Open trophy.  It’s always a welcome sight:

Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The Good:

This week in Washington, DelPo played with more swagger.  To summarize, he defeated promising youngsters Ryan Harrison and Bernard Tomic in his first two rounds (due to rain delay, he beat them both on the same day).  Then, he added two pigeons to his coop by defeating Kevin Anderson and Tommy Haas (he’s now 5-0 in the H2H over both players).  In the final, he manhandled Isner.

Well, he may not exactly have manhandled Isner (I’ll get to that later), but I employ dramatic license here in order to make my point.

DelPo played great tennis during his matches against Tomic, Anderson and in the latter half of his final against Isner.  Against Tomic, what impressed me was the way DelPo would step up his aggression.  He was stepping well inside the baseline to return Tomic’s 2nd serves.  He was seen practicing his return of serves this week in Washington and he played like someone who wanted to be a sterling returner.  He readily punished Tomic’s serves out wide.  DelPo’s aggression was visible and it put him ahead in the rallies.  You could easily sense when DelPo “chose” to raise his level.  DelPo was serving well and everything went according to script.

Against Anderson, DelPo faced a higher-quality challenge.  Anderson was much smarter than Tomic with his placement of serves and this duly put DelPo on the backfoot during some of the rallies.  Anderson was serving well and DelPo was serving well too.  DelPo seemed superior off his groundstrokes, but Anderson would come up with aces at the right time to wipe away the BP chances.  Then, DelPo showed solid confidence and clutch play to win the 1st set TB, 7-6(0).  He hit a great overhead BH volley to earn 6 SPs and inflict a mini-bagel.

Credit to Anderson, who put up a tough fight, even if he fell short during the 1st set TB and then deflated somewhat in the 2nd set.  In the process of solidifying his lead, DelPo also hit a 110 mph FH.  That’s faster than some players’ 1st serves!

Observe the contrast in the faces after winning and losing:

Photo: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Photo: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Photo: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Photo: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Don’t get me wrong, you still couldn’t pay me to change the final result of this match!

The Bad:

After his peak performance against Anderson, DelPo showed a bit more trouble with his game in his SF against Haas.

Mother nature lent a helping hand to DelPo after rain halted play after he trailed 1-4 in the 1st set.  The Washington mascots, panda bears named “Bam” and “Boo” hilariously dried the courts as they readied the courts for resumption of play.  After the rain delay, DelPo broke back straight away and then broke to serve for the 1st set.

However, his serves on the big points were off.  He DF-ed twice to get broken when he was serving for the 1st set.  His 1st serves would land a meter out and his 2nd serves were labored.  It seemed like he was trying to recalibrate his strategy, but suffering in the midst of trying to execute it.

The 1st set went to a TB, where Haas seemed to tense up and DelPo proved to be the steelier player.  While DelPo certainly was not at his best, he still managed to maintain his record of beating Haas in straight sets.  It was a long match that ended past midnight and DelPo would end up going to sleep at 3 AM, a mere 12 hours before his final against Isner.

While no mention of it has been made in official press, it seemed like DelPo may have had some tightness in his lower back.  He was seen clutching his lower back/waist region and his serves were not at the level he’d shown in his wins over Tomic and Anderson.  Whether this proves to be ominous for the upcoming Masters at Montreal and Cincinnati, only time will tell.

The Ugly:

The final against Isner was interesting because of DelPo’s court position when he was returning “servebot” Isner’s serves.  Early on, DelPo stood close to the baseline to return, but Isner held to love anyway.  DelPo then retreated to way behind the baseline to return serve — he was so far behind the baseline, he was in danger of running into the linespeople:

Screen shot 2013-08-05 at 11.41.20 PM

Meanwhile, DelPo was spraying errors, shanking balls and netting FHs on his own serve.  This was worrisome, given DelPo’s somewhat nervy performance against Haas in the SF.  He was broken at love after a poor game at 1*-2.  He was losing to Isner in rallies.  To ISNER!

DelPo reassuringly stepped up his game to earn two BPs when Isner served out the set.  Still, Isner would save them and ultimately take the 1st set, 6-3.  A feeling of dread came over me, as I contemplated the very real possibility that DelPo might possibly lose a final to Isner.

Thankfully, DelPo came to his senses in the 2nd set.  The most interesting part about the 2nd set: DelPo continued to stand way behind the baseline to return Isner’s 1st serve, but he would move right on the baseline to return Isner’s 2nd serves.  Whether or not this was a “mental tactic,” it played off.  While DelPo was a mere 15% and 33% respectively on return points against Isner’s serve in the 1st set, he got a better read of Isner’s serves and started returning with more confidence (60% and 71% in the 2nd set).

The turning point of the final came early in the 2nd set, when DelPo hit a great FH passing shot after Isner failed to put away an overhead.  While this passing shot was not as great as the ones he’d hit earlier on against Haas and Anderson, it was important because it signaled a momentum shift.  Minutes later, DelPo would then rifle a FH that Isner had to duck behind himself to avoid being hit by.  DelPo would go on to break Isner’s serve 3 times in a row.  He leveled the match after taking the 2nd set, 6-1, and he broke Isner’s serve early in the 3rd set.

Partly due to the fact that he’d figured out Isner’s serve and partly due to the fact that Isner was no longer red-lining, but DelPo established a clear lead in the 3rd set.  While he was still a bit nervy when serving for the title, all ended well when he hit a pretty CC BH winner.

Fans have noted the fact that DelPo has a favorable H2H against other big servers like Isner, Roddick, Anderson, Karlovic and Querrey, yet he also has a tendency to lose the 1st set against said players.  All the same, it’s encouraging that DelPo eventually got a read on Isner’s serve, which allowed him to establish himself as the aggressor.

The Questions:

The world loves DelPo right now.  He has positive juju.

That said, the tightness he showed on his serves this week is a bit worrisome.  Due to rain delay, DelPo had to do double duty at Washington and he played consecutive late-night matches in a row.  Still, he will have 1-2 days of rest before he is due to play his R2 match at the Rogers Cup, against the winner of R1 Zemlja-Dodig.

The ATP site could not contain their excitement for DelPo this week.  Could his win in Washington be a harbinger for a repeat of 2009, when he had a finalist run in Canada and a triumph at his favorite Slam, the USO?  DelPo obviously has a bit more pressure to deal with now, especially given the comparisons between then and now:

JMDP - ATP World Tour  Official Site of Men s Professional Tennis

I suppose the best way to deal with positive juju is to embrace it fully before moving on to the next challenge (at the Rogers Cup): So here’s a final celebration from DelPo, who seems to have acquired a taste for trashing the locker rooms with champagne after winning a title!  (he first debuted his “champagne celebration” after winning Rotterdam this year):

Celebration

Photo: Juan Martin del Potro FB

Embrace the pressure and the attention, DelPo!

While DelPo stays at no. 7 in the ATP ranking, he moves ahead to no. 5 in the Race to London (the points from the London Olympics come off this week).  Good progress.

The Fun:

[tweet https://twitter.com/RomiCvitkovic/status/364134205241819136 align=’center’]

The above photo is reminiscent of Maradona standing on a crate to hug DelPo at Dubai this year.

DelPo and Isner both gave great post-match pressers, with each player proclaiming the other as a favorite for the US Open.  Now, DelPo’s won the USO in the past, so Isner declaring DelPo a favorite for the upcoming Slam is not an outrageous quote.  DelPo declaring Isner as a favorite for the USO, however, was quite funny.  Given DelPo’s history of declaring heretofore unproven players as “top 10” material, he could well be coaxed into declaring Julien Benneteau to be a favorite for Roland Garros next year.

Here are clips of DelPo’s post-final presser.  He’s chirpy and he also shared fun stories about all the various nicknames he’s been given by fans/media:

Isner also had many kind words for DelPo, sharing how DelPo was quick to congratulate Isner for his title win at Atlanta last week.  I’m not exactly an Isner fan, but his comportment during the trophy ceremony and post-match presser has somewhat changed my views of him.

Rogers Cup action is coming up.  I will post updates with the draw and a review of DelPo’s opening match against Dodig!

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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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11 Responses to Washington: DelPo Wins His 15th Title

  1. Candy says:

    I’m very happy Delpo won another 500 tourney. Delpo “struggled” to win a title other than 250 ones (except the Bronze medal). But since Basel, he has got THREE!!! It’s one of the indications of his progress/ improvement! 🙂 Great to see Delpo at no.5 in the Race to London. He didn’t play clay season (Ok, he did play 2 clay tourneys, but it’s irrelevant.), but he still stands at no.5 in the Race. It means he’s having a not-bad season generally. 

    I have watched Delpo-Isner finally (and parts of Delpo-Haas)! 😀 I think his movement is very great. His defense is not bad either. Looking forward to Montreal! I hope he will do well there too!

    Hahaha. As usual, we really can’t take Delpo words about other players too seriously. He went distance to explain why Isner is a favorite for the USO. He’s serious. It’s hilarious! ;D

    It’s “Adrian” who poured champagne onto Delpo, no?! 😛 It seemed Marcos and Adrian both got the job! 😉

    I see you’re having a good summer (although it’s busy and hot), no? 🙂 I remember you had been in Hawaii last summer? Did/ Will you have a vacation this summer? Also, cool to see you have gained many more readers here! 

    • mariposaxprs says:

      Is that “Adrian” in the photo? I was surprised to see a friend with him, b/c from what I saw, only Franco and Martiniano sat in DelPo’s box during his matches in Washington. Yup, it’s great progress to see DelPo take these steps forward. While others might not immediately recognize DelPo’s progress, a closer look shows that he’s moving in the right direction (winning more at the 500-level, reaching SF & beyond at the Masters level, Slam SF, etc).

      DelPo-Isner was a pretty fun match, after the 1st set was over! I cracked up when DelPo mentioned Isner as a favorite for the USO. Especially at the end, when he says “it’s tough because the favorites are always the same, it’s Rafa, Muuurrrai, Novak, Roger and Isner too.” How does he say those things with a straight face?! Isner must be angry b/c DelPo jinxed him…Isner lost in R1 at Montreal…oops.

      Someone posted a photo of DelPo when he was on vacation with his friends (our friend Marco is there :D): https://twitter.com/thomaike/status/365040039081701376/photo/1

      I’m having a good summer, it’s a bit busy but I can’t complain! It’s way too warm here though. I did go to Hawaii last summer! (I remember sneaking off to watch some of DelPo’s Cincinnati in the lobby), I don’t have big vacation plans this year *sniffs*. Still, it’s nice that things are a bit slower during the summer. I hope you’re well too! Are you planning on going anywhere over the summer?

      • Candy says:

        Yea…. I think it’s “Adrian” in the Delpo’s Champaign party ! haha. They’re like that after “only” winning a 500 tourney. You can’t imagine what had happened in locker room after Delpo won the USO 2009. Delpo said he did some bad things in the locker room after his GS victory. I’m curious how insane the “party” was! 😛 Hopefully when he wins GS again, Marcos/ Adrian will be there to do their jobs and take some cool pics/ videos of the celebration! 😉

        I saw that beach pic before. I think it’s long time ago! I like that pic so much!!! *-* Delpo is hot as always. 😛 “Adrian” is there too! The man in front of OUR Marcos is “Adrian”, no? 🙂

        Also, since when Delpo has got almost 1 million “fans” on FB?! I thought he still only had around 200,000 not long ago?! :O Is that the “verified page” icon helps or anything happened? lol

  2. lily says:

    also a new reader here ^^ you’re doing a wonderful job!!! (took me awhile to find blogs about delpo)
    i’m sooo happy that delpo won!!! it will boost his confidence for the next tournaments. i actually think that the epic-wimbledon match gave him ‘new’ or maybe additional confidence even he lost that match but he won many hearts 😀 (he won mine since his sleeveless-shirts-time, wonder if he’ll ever bring them back?!)
    i just hope that he won’t feel too much pressure from the new expectations…

    • mariposaxprs says:

      Hi Lily!

      Thanks for stopping by my blog here. I’ll do my best to provide the latest updates about DelPo’s matches and his progress!

      DelPo played very well in early 2013, when he won Rotterdam and then reached the final at Indian Wells (defeating Murray & Djokovic, before losing to Nadal in a closely contested match). Unfortunately, he had to deal w/some big health problems that forced him to skip the clay court season. Given all that, it’s certainly nice to see the progress he’s made, reaching the SF at Wimbledon, playing that epic match against Djokovic (although he lost, it was still a high-quality match) and then winning his 2nd title of the year in Washington. We won’t get to see a sleeveless outfit for DelPo this year (unfortunately), but he’s certainly been making the best out of all the outfits that Nike has dressed him in 🙂

      We should start a prayer circle that DelPo continues his strong performance at the Rogers Cup in Montreal! I’ll be updating my blog after his matches this week.

  3. Iram says:

    i watched some of this final. (the first half). I was a bit surprised that John took the first set…but nice to see Delpo win in the end. (i have nothing against the American, I like him a lot). I want Delpo to do really well the next couple of weeks. My hubby is actually saying he has a sure shot of the U.S. Open…and I really hope so too. I Roger’s not gonna win, then I’d be very happy for Delpo…okay I’ll admit if Ferru wins it I’ll be ecstatic. I dont think u can blame me though 😛
    Did u have a nice summer? It’s been really warm in California. Gonna go to the beach on Friday!
    *And maybe you’ve seen this already since you live in Korea… (maybe it’s an internet sensation there), but have you come across this video? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KTCQpjUrCe8&feature=player_embedded this has to be one of the CUTEST babies ever. I love her smile. ***So sorry for posting a non-tennis item here, but I couldn’t resist. 😀 t c mariposaxprs

    • Iram says:

      I meant “IF Roger’s not…”

    • mariposaxprs says:

      Thanks, Iram!! I’ve been busy these past few weeks, so I haven’t been updating my blog as frequently as I like, but it sure is nice to post an update after DelPo wins a title 🙂 After his strong performance at Wimbledon, DelPo is seen by many as a contender for the USO. Of course, he has to be careful that he’s healthy and not injured, but I can’t see why he doesn’t have the chance for a strong showing. I’d certainly like to see DelPo give another performance at his favorite Slam, the USO!

      I totally understand your devotion to Ferru, since he always tries hard & he makes progress whenever he can. Ferru seems to be well-rested after a long clay season, so he’ll be a sure contender for the second half of the Rogers Cup!

      Thanks, I’m having a good summer! It’s been a bit busy and hectic (and *really* hot & humid), but otherwise, I don’t have much to complain about! That said, I envy your summers in California and I hope you had a great time at the beach over the weekend — summer in California is probably the greatest 🙂

      The baby in the YouTube video is *so* adorable 🙂 I love how babies can do the strangest things and yet it seems normal, haha. I hope you’re enjoying the summer with your daughter before she starts school (does she spell her own name? That’s the big homework assignment for 4-5 yr olds, right? :D)

  4. DorsetGirl says:

    Hi, I’ve been reading your blog just since Wimbledon, and I’m enjoying it very much. I’d like to say thank you for such great posts, with good analysis and excellent links!

    I’m a newly-minted huge Delpo fan (first discovered him playing Fed at the Olympics last year), and the Citi Open was the first tournament I’ve ever followed apart from Wimbledon. I had no way of watching or even listening (althoughI’ve been following the live scores and watching Twitter) so thank you for your report of Delpo’s matches. I’m very worried about the apparently difficulty with his back.

    I’ve never really looked at match stats before, but I’ve felt through the tournament that some of the stats didn’t actually look that healthy, even though Juan Martín had won. His percentage of first serves going in, for example, has been much lower than we were seeing up to the quarter-final at Wimbledon.

    I’m been searching for those pressers, but have had no luck so far, so I hope you manage to find them. I’m particularly looking forward to seeing this bit:

    Asked of del Potro’s chances of repeating a Washington-New York double victory, Isner spoke highly of his odds.

    “I would put him, maybe, the smallest hair behind guys like Djokovic and Murray,” Isner said of Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. “And it would probably just be those two guys, right now. He could very easily right now be the third favorite.”

    When told of Isner’s endorsement, del Potro seemed almost embarrassed.

    “He said that?” del Potro asked, looking befuddled before receiving a confirming nod from the ATP moderator. “Wow.”

    And that photo is hilarious!

    • mariposaxprs says:

      Thank you, DorsetGirl.

      DelPo’s had many great matches ever since his performance at the Olympics, so it’s great to hear you’ve been following his progress ever since that great match last year!

      By any chance, are you from the UK? This year’s Wimbledon has certainly raised expectation for a few players (Murray, DelPo, Janowicz), so it’ll be interesting to see how the rest of the summer HC season plays out. DelPo’s win in Washington will certainly boost his confidence. If he steers clear of injury, he’s up for the challenge.

      Like any other player, DelPo’s performance relies on his first serve percentage. I guess the fact that he’s tall means I expect more from his first serves, which is why it’s bothersome when he starts to falter in that area. Still, his stats weren’t all that bad, except for that 1st set in the final against Isner. I’ll be curious to see how he adjusts his game against his opponents at the Rogers Cup — I hope you can watch some of the matches from that tournament!

      • DorsetGirl says:

        Hi,
        Yes, I’m in the UK. Unfortunately as far as the mainstream media here are concerned, tennis simply doesn’t exist apart from Wimbledon and Andy Murray; for example my newspaper on Monday had a double-page spread on why Andy likes Miami and New York, but not a single mention that a tournament had just been completed. (I’d just like to see Delpo in the papers again…)

        Thank heavens for the internet; I shall certainly be hoping to see some of the play although my current broadband contract doesn’t allow very much video.
        I’d really like to see Juan Martín win the US Open again; if he can keep himself together mentally and physically he’s definitely capable and I’d love for the world to take him more seriously as a great player.

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