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Dead Man Winning.

Posted by gauloises1 on February 28, 2011

Juan Martin del Potro d. Janko Tipsarevic, 64 64

I can’t. Stop. Smiling.

JMDP won. He won. I’m just … there is sunshine in my heart right now and kittens gambolling along my veins, drowning in all the wine. It’s how they would have wanted to go.

Ahem. So that was a pretty terrible match. This wasn’t the JMDP we saw crushing Mardy Fish last night. He came out flat and lifeless, barely moving, and dropped his second service game to give Tispsarevic the break for 3-1. Both he and Davin had been talking before the match about how tired he was, making semifinals and then a final three weeks on the trot, which might have been it; equally, he had played all his matches in Delray Beach at night and I thought the different conditions in the heat might have been responsible. Or he could have been nervous. Whatever, this was genuinely-lethargic JMDP as opposed to that’s-just-what-he-looks-like JMDP (the way you can tell is that the former misses, a lot).

It was crushing; Tipsarevic had the lead at 4-1 and there looked like absolutely no reason why he shouldn’t run with it. I was mentally composing an agonised post-mortem which spoke defensively about the difference between winning a final and winning any other match, and publicly appealed to the tennis gods for just a little bit of luck to get him over the hump. Of course, the luck in question was already operating, because he was playing Tipsarevic. He flaked to drop his serve, JMDP dredged up the occasional big serve from the very depths of his being, and Tipsy just couldn’t get himself back into it.

JMDP said in his post-match interview that he was ‘completely tired’ and added that although Tipsarevic was the better player, he was a little bit luckier at key moments. That’s more or less how it felt. If JMDP was flat in the first set, he was frankly two-dimensional in the second. I have never seen him push the ball around like that; he couldn’t get any timing on it, was rolling in his serves and generally looking about to die on the court even when he was a set and a break down. Yet Tipsy couldn’t get his feet under him and Delpo kept – maddeningly – doing just enough to stay ahead. It was just about the most agonising, brain-dead tennis you can imagine.


But who cares? It doesn’t have to be pretty. A win is a win is a win, and when JMDP watched Tipsy’s ball out, dropped his racquet and lifted his arms in the air, no-one was thinking about how he got there. We were thinking about where he’s been; missing an entire season of tennis, sitting at home instead of defending his US Open title, dropping out into the hinterlands of the far 400s. Just in case we’d forgotten, he kissed his right wrist multiple times while acknowledging the applause of the crowd. I’d kiss it too. And, you know, carry on from there.

A word for our gallant loser though. Seriously, the fact that a player like Tipsarevic – who, as I tweeted in an attempt to pre-empt my own probable bitterness, has given tennis fans hours of entertainment and some of the most memorable matches of the last few years on the biggest stages – doesn’t have an ATP title, even a 250, just underlines how tough it is to perform in a final. There is no way he won’t get one before he retires. It just wasn’t his day today.

But it was Delpo’s. It should put him back in the top 85, and there will be (and already is) a lot of talk about what a ‘statement’ this is to the rest of the tour. I don’t care about that right now. He won. He won a final. He’s holding a trophy. He’s a champion again.

… Yeah. I’ll be crying.

(You can see video here of JMDP giving a victory speech in Spanish (thanks to everyone who tweeted and translated it for me) – reportedly he’s thanking the spectators for enduring the heat, the little kids in the crowd who supported him, the faithful Franco and Martiniano, and his friends and family back home.)

8 Responses to “Dead Man Winning.”

  1. Carrie said

    It was not the best match by Delpo by any means but oh my – it was great to see him win a title again and how happy it made him. Even if the tournament director kept calling him Juan del Potro- leaving out a big chunk of his name.

    Too bad for Tipsy- but still so happy for Elf. And heck – even the at times craptacular play was better than the awkwardness that was this years Acadamy Awards presentation

    • AmyLu said

      I really don’t get Americans’ aversion to saying someone’s “middle” name (not really considered a middle name in Latin American since they often have two last names, but in the American context it is). The José in Juan José gets dropped all the time by people in North Carolina. People will call him “JJ” — but if they aren’t using that nickname, very few will say both names. Most will just say Juan.

  2. AmyLu said

    We watched the match on the DVR, and we ended up fast-forwarding through parts of the second set because both of us found the tennis painful to watch at points. Nonetheless, I’m quite thrilled DelPo won. I wasn’t surprised he seemed so tired today (and very good explanation of how one can tell that he really IS tired 🙂 ), as he seemed utterly exhausted in his on-court interview last night. I imagine it may have been both mental and physical — he’s played quite a bit of tennis these past three weeks.

    According to Fue Buena, he may not play Indian Wells. He’s in no hurry to play everything, as he’s played a lot of tennis these past few weeks. I’d really like to see him play there, but if he and his team think it’s better to wait for Miami, I’ll trust them to make the right decision. They certainly did things right on this swing after the AO.

    On the Tipsarevic front, I can’t help thinking that he may never win a title after today’s performance. I’m really at a loss to explain how he didn’t at least win the 1st set, if not the match. He couldn’t have asked, really, for more fortuitous play from DelPo today, and he still couldn’t capitalize.

    • AmyLu said

      Oh, and sorry that I’m completely cluttering up this post, but I also meant to say that your title for this post was spot on. Loved it!

  3. Imtotallyrad said

    He won. Juan Martin Del Potro won.
    I thought it would take a lot more time before i could use those words in a sentence again!

    It was quite frankly an appalling dogs breakfast of a match BUT as you mentioned a win is a win, and as horrific as the match was the end result made me all bleary-eyed and joyous!
    It would be wrong to assume that the big man (i’ve missed people calling him that)will from now on reach finals and win a bunch of tournaments, and surge his way through the rankings back to a much more respectable and visually appealing one digit number, but winning Delray is certainly a big step (being 6’6 most of his steps are big anway haha!) in the right direction thats for sure!

    More of this please tennis gods!

    (also im way behind on this, but its good to have this blog back! i’ve missed it ever so much)

  4. harini said

    SO HAPPY for Delpo! I just saw the result this morning, as I’ve been on some kind of weird tennis sabbatical but I am so happy for him (and you!).

  5. Bismarck said

    yay. more happy for you and other beloved delpoistas than for the man himself, but heartfelt totes-not-miss-hoover-style “YAY!” anyway.

    getting tipsy as the final opponent was a stroke of luck, but a well-deserved piece of luck in this case.

  6. Maria1 said

    I’m SO Happy to see him around, to see him win, to hear him giving a winner’s speech in Spanish and to see this place alive and kicking. Can’t stop grinning. Bless his lanky ass.

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