The 2013 US Open draw ceremony took place on Thursday. DelPo is in Djokovic’s quarter of the draw. Here is the big man’s probable route at the tournament:
R1 Garcia-Lopez – R2 Hewitt/Baker – R3 Melzer – R4 Haas/Dolgopolov – QF Djokovic – SF Murray/Berdych – F Nadal/Federer
The top half of the draw (Djokovic’s half) is loaded with Djokovic, DelPo, Muzz and Berdych. The bottom half features Nadal, Federer and Ferrer. Without exaggeration, DelPo fell into one of the toughest quarters of the draw this year.
DelPo beat Garcia-Lopez in qualifying at 2007 Paris in their only previous meeting. Assuming he can get past the Spaniard, he faces an incredibly tough match-up in Lleyton Hewitt. Lleyton Hewitt is evil. He has a sinister habit of referring to DelPo as one of his closest mates on tour, but he always shows up to beat DelPo (as seen at Queens earlier this year). Hewitt showed his evil-eye at the ATP Heritage Gala for former and current world no. 1 players. He looks like he would eat your children:
The man makes Marcelo Rios look like a saint. Actual saint Guga Kuerten looks baffled as he stands next to the pure evil that is embodied by Hewitt:
Hewitt lost to Ryan Harrison at Washington this year, but he is always a threat on the big stage. Aside from the early threat in Lleyton Hewitt, DelPo also faces a tough R4 match-up in Haas. While DelPo is now career 5-0 over the resurgent German-American player, Haas came close to solving the DelPo riddle at Washington (although he has yet to take a set off DelPo). Haas now seems more capable of absorbing the pace of DelPo’s shots, which means DelPo will need to stay on his toes if he wants to avoid an early exit.
Now that I’ve properly demonized Hewitt (in an effort to draw up the animus required against DelPo’s potential opponent), I will go back to the tennis.
The ATP hosted a “No. 1 Celebration Event” for past and current world no. 1 players.
Edberg, Borg (Borg was hilariously drunk and slurring his words), McEnroe, Lendl, Connors, Ferrero, Kuerten, Fed, Nadal and Djokovic (and Hewitt) were among the legends present at the event. Fed tweeted up a storm of photos, including one of himself and Edberg:[tweet https://twitter.com/rogerfederer/status/371272999246114816 align=’center’]
There’s also this photo of Fed with Ferrero and Rios. They look like they’re starring in a cowboy movie:[tweet https://twitter.com/rogerfederer/status/371124621002539009 align=’center’]
Each player took the time to speak at the event. In Hewitt’s comments, he said he would have loved to play John McEnroe and that they would have had a fiery battle (especially with Hawk-Eye). Hewitt also paid touching tribute to Brad Drewett, the late former head of the ATP.
At the event, the ATP released a short video for “future no. 1 players,” which included DelPo, Muzz, Ferrer and Dimitrov. That was a nice shout-out for the big man!
Good Morning, New York:
As for DelPo, he was in Miami for a few days before he made his way to Flushing Meadows. In Miami, he showed off a pair of very bright green jeans (while his childhood friend looked like he’d borrowed DelPo’s shirt). He then enjoyed “nap-time” with Franco or Martiniano’s child, as they fell asleep to Toy Story.
In New York, DelPo has been training on the practice courts. So far, he’s had practice sessions with Berdych and Berlocq. DelPo trained with Berdych in Cincinnati a couple of weeks ago — I guess their coaches have forged a connection. Here’s a nifty photo of DelPo trying out his sliced BH against the Berd:[tweet https://twitter.com/usopen/status/371332028299739136 align=’center’]
DelPo later practiced with Berlocq, who is a frequent training partner. Berlocq tweeted that DelPo was hitting the ball very hard in training. Last year, at the Olympics, Bercloq trained with DelPo in the week leading up to the tournament — he joked that he “gave” DelPo a lesson. Perhaps Berlocq gave DelPo a similar lesson at Flushing Meadows this year?
Aside from his training, DelPo has also set aside the time to sit with bizarre bedfellows. First, there’s this photo of DelPo and Muzzface. Muzz looks like he’s leaning his face into DelPo’s ear, in an attempt to be cuddly. Back off, Muzz:[tweet https://twitter.com/JuaniCeballos/status/371382492504137729 align=’center’]
Then, Pablo Andujar tweeted an unexpected photo of himself and DelPo in the locker room. DelPo looks stunned, while Andujar looks thrilled. Unexpected hilarity ensued:[tweet https://twitter.com/AndujarPablo/status/371392870294777856 align=’center’]
This is my theory as to why DelPo was hanging out with Pablo Andujar in the locker-room: Andujar is a Lacoste player. DelPo’s last defeat came at the hands of a Lacoste player, when he lost to Isner in Cincinnati. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, DelPo’s R1 opponent at the USO, is also a part-time Lacoste player (more importantly, Garcia-Lopez is Andujar’s frequent doubles partner). Maybe DelPo needed intel on Garcia-Lopez, which would explain his decision to take selfies with Andujar (aka he traded one photo with Andujar in return for information about Garcia-Lopez’s serves).
In slightly more serious news, here are two good profile pieces about DelPo:
- “U.S. Open: Del Potro back in championship form” (USA Today)
- “Is Juan Martin del Potro the nicest guy in tennis?” (US Open)
His R1 match against Garcia-Lopez should reveal the state of DelPo’s BH. That side was struggling in his last few matches at Cincinnati. DelPo has hinted that he was experimenting with his BH slice in preparation for the USO. R1 will show whether his body is ready.