New Balls, Please

"Climbing the Comeback Mountain with the Tower of Tandil."

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Up and Down … And Down

Posted by gauloises1 on January 20, 2011

Marcos Baghdatis d. Juan Martin del Potro 61 63 46 63

Let’s be honest, we all knew it was going to happen. Well … that’s not true, really. After Baghdatis going five sets in his opener with Gregor Zemjla (no offence, Slovenia’s finest) and JMDP winning in straights against Sela, I was experiencing hope. That died pretty quickly. Putting Delpo on court with a class player like Baghdatis – who is playing above his current ranking of 22 at the moment – was a sharp  lesson in how far he has to go.

Positives? He worked so hard out there and refused to give up, seizing his opportunity to put some points together and take the third set 6-4. Even after he surrendered a break early in the fourth and Baghdatis was running with it, Delpo could have concluded he’d done enough and let it go, but he kept fighting, eventually forcing Baghdatis to ace him to get him off the court. And there were moments, especially towards the end of the match, when everything clicked and he strung sequences of shots together that could have come from 2009 and reminded everyone just how good he was.

Negatives? Well, he lost, so that’s a fairly major one. And he never really looked like winning. The phrase ‘a shadow of his former self’ keeps wanting to get out, but it makes me sad, so I’ll keep it in. Let’s just say that he’s got roughly the accuracy of a stormtrooper out there, and he’s moving about as well as one.

His shot selection and decision-making was way off at times as well. But all of that comes with more matches, doesn’t it? You just need to play matches.

Of course, having lost here and failed to defend his 2010 fourth-round points, his ranking is now projected to drop into the 400s. But he’s got a protected ranking to enter 9 tournaments, or until I think June 20th, whichever happens first, so he’s not going to have problems playing. Of course, he won’t be seeded, so there’s nothing to stop him getting knocked out by the top seed in the first round of each of those 9 tournaments, and every lower-ranked player will be smelling blood. But nothing to stop him playing lots and lots of lovely matches, as long as he’s healthy.

Oh. Did I mention this?

That’s after he was serving break point down, threw the ball up, grimaced and caught it, tried again and then watched his racquet fly out of his hand and across the court after he hit the ball (a fault, by the way). He didn’t take an MTO, and insisted afterwards that the trainer visits were merely precautionary, but … you know … damn you universe, basically.

But he didn’t beat himself; Baghdatis beat him, and did it really well (his third-round meeting with Jurgen Melzer is going to be a great match). So I’m hopeful. And the sad part is, I really am.

3 Responses to “Up and Down … And Down”

  1. Trish said

    Ah Yay to you blogging again! Great posts and incidentally I would love Nadal to triple bagel Tomic in less than an hour.

    Anyway I think Delpo is doing pretty well considering, but that didn’t stop me from being gutted when he lost. He doesn’t play again till early Feb, which is a drag for us but also that’s a long time in between matches for a man who needs practice isn’t it?
    I agree he showed amazing fortitude, but was wondering if calling in the trainer was his own fear of re-injury getting the best of him. Must be so tough mentally on many different levels. God bless Franco Davin and all his peaked caps.

  2. Nick said

    Delpo needs time, and a lot of patience, but he will eventually return to the top. Period.
    So it’s good to be hopeful. Or it’s worth it, at least…

    By the way, welcome back.
    Wasn’t the same without “New Balls, Please”… also for us, your italian readers.

  3. Kat said

    You know, having just caught the replay, and re-assessing this match from a non-sleep deprived perspective, the one thing that really stood out for me is this: Delpo entered that court, wanting to win. In fact, despite how fast sets 1&2 slipped away (and if he had converted one of the 3 bps he had in the first set, who knows??), the fact that he rallied in the 3rd, and kept fighting in the 4th showed that he thought he *could* win. Now, I believe him 100% when he says he knows the road ahead is hard and it’s going to take awhile to get the match-conditioning back and to find his natural game again. I mean, he knows it, we know it, Franco knows. But, while you can you work on your foot placement, and your movement, and beef up the second serve again, and develop a better feel for shot placement, its so incredibly hard to fix your attitude, your confidence.

    And yes, his ranking is going to plummet again, and he’ll be unseeded for the next batch of US hard court, but I just hope that he keeps up the attitude, the quiet confidence he’ll get his game back. Because I really believe he will, and I think he does too 🙂

    Btw – so glad you’ve been blogging again!!

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