After winning Washington, DelPo had to do a quick turnaround, as the Rogers Cup in Montreal started this week. An exhausted Isner, the finalist in Washington (after winning the final, DelPo said Isner was a “favorite” for the USO), lost to Canada’s Pospisil in R1.
For awhile, it looked like DelPo would be doomed to the same fate as Isner, losing early to a lower-ranked opponent in the opening round at Montreal. While DelPo had a R1 bye, his R2 match against Croatia’s Ivan Dodig was delayed a good three hours due to rain delay.
DelPo looked a bit out of sorts as he walked out onto Center Court:
(@TennisTV) August 08, 2013
Dodig, the no. 35-ranked player, is not an easy out. Standing at 6 feet tall, he has the defensive scrambling capabilities of a smaller player. When he gets into a rhythm, he can be tough to hit through. It was in 2011 Montreal where Dodig pulled off a huge upset, coming from a set behind to defeat Nadal in R2.
Dodig won the coin toss but chose to receive, which put the early pressure on DelPo. DelPo played a poor service game and was broken. Dodig played more aggressively during the rallies and he would consolidate to a 2-0 lead in the 1st set. DelPo seemed a bit slow and he was mistiming his shots — often, he would set up a point beautifully and then wait a split-second too long before hitting what he obviously intended to be a winner. Instead, many of his FHs would hit the net and he looked quite frustrated with himself.
During a changeover, DelPo called the trainer to receive an anti-inflammatory pill.
After a rough start, DelPo found consistency and broke back. The 1st set was a closely fought affair, but DelPo secured the important break when he broke Dodig’s serve to take the set, 6-4. I wonder if Dodig regrets his decision to start the match as the receiver.
The match took a different turn when DelPo was broken again in his opening game of the 2nd set. He called for the trainer again and it became clear that DelPo was having trouble with his lower back, as he clutched it and grimaced his way through points. TV cameras showed his lower back was heavily taped. In Washington, DelPo did seem to clutch his back during his matches against Haas and Isner, which is incidentally the matches where his serves were noticeably weaker.
Given his back issues, DelPo focused more on achieving higher percentages on his first serves (he averaged a respectable 75% for the match). However, he was literally rolling in his first serves and he didn’t hit his first ace until the 3rd set of the match. The errors in his game continued. Although DelPo broke back again to level the 2nd set at 3-3, Dodig would break again after earning 3 BPs on DelPo’s serve. Dodig took the 2nd set, 6-4.
DelPo took an MTO for his lower back, which was heavily taped:
Juan José Vallejo (@juanjo_sports) August 08, 2013
The 3rd set turned out to be an unbelievably confounding spectacle. Dodig was confident after winning the 2nd set and he broke DelPo early in the 3rd set, with his persistent play and aggression. He would then get a double break over DelPo, who seemed to be out of sorts. DelPo recouped one of the breaks to get on the board in the 3rd set, 1*-3, but Dodig would break DelPo again to take a 4*-1 lead in the 3rd set. The 3rd set was a veritable dogfight. DelPo would recover one of the breaks, but Dodig eventually served for the match at 5*-3. That’s when the previously steely Dodig got extremely nervous. Dodig hit errors off his BH and went too wide, to get broken. DelPo went from being 1-4 down in the 3rd set to reaching 5-5. He held easily and then broke Dodig to love to win the match. Dodig double-faulted on MP.
I have no words to describe how DelPo won this match. It’s a credit to him for staying in it, despite the seemingly insurmountable lead Dodig had in the 3rd set.
DelPo faces Canadian “star” Milos Raonic in R3. While Raonic has had questionable results lately, he’s played well at his home Masters. DelPo will have to be much sharper off the ground and he will need to do more with his serves, if he wants to take the initiative during rallies. I assume he’ll be taking anti-inflammatories for his back again. It’d be nice if he could achieve a decent result in Montreal without incurring more serious injury before the USO.
We’ll have to see.
Fun fact: If my memory is correct, the last time DelPo came from a double break down to win a match was at the 2009 Miami Masters, when he defeated Rafa in the QF (6-4, 3-6, 7-6 — DelPo was behind 0-3* in the 3rd set, before winning the TB).