Del Potro wins! Del Potro wins! That’s the big tennis news as we start this Monday work week. Last night, Juan Martin Del Potro won his first match in nearly a year defeating Feliciano Lopez 6-7(3), 7-6(9), 7-6(3) in the first round of Sydney.
Ranked in the 200s, Del Potro needed a wildcard just to get a spot in the draw which almost cruelly placed him against a guy he had lost to three straight times in Lopez.
But DelPo came up big against the Spaniard saving a second set match point at 7-6 in the breaker for his first win since last January at the Australian Open.
“I don’t expect this kind of match for the start, but we played a beautiful match, very close,” said Del Potro following the 3-hour, 20-minute epic. “Feliciano is a fantastic player on this kind of surface, and I played good tennis again. I feel good all on my match, and finally I won a match since one year.”
Del Potro finished the match with 21 aces, 12 of which came in the final set.
He added, “I worked very hard for two months in Argentina. My coaches trust in my conditions and I trust in myself, so I’m ready again to play long matches. I am still lower with my level, I need time. I need work to keep going in this road. It’s a long road to be in the Top 10 again, but I’m ready to try. I need matches and matches, practice, and work. Maybe four, six months I’m ready to play again good tennis.”
For DelPo fans like me, this is great news. Not only does he win the match he does it in the toughest way possible. And it should give him a heap of confidence.
Up next for DelPo is a second round match against the player he last beat before Lopez, Florian Mayer.
Someone who may be struggling a little his confidence this morning is Andy Roddick. With the time zone and lack of TV coverage it was hard to watch all the action from Brisbane, but what little I did see of Andy’s match against Robin Soderling Saturday was not encouraging.
If you were hoping (like me) that Roddick would start the year out with a more aggressive mindset on court then you left sadly disappointed in his effort in the Brisbane final. In fact, Roddick hurled far more fury at the chair ump Fergus Murphy during the match than he directed at Soderling who beat Andy 6-3, 7-5.
That’s because Roddick seems stubbornly set on employing his passive/defensive strategy from the baseline. Instead of cracking forehand winners like he did en route to his maiden Grand Slam in 2003, Andy has now officially become a pusher.
And it’s not the first time (and likely not the last) I’ve said that!
Eighteen months ago I argued that Roddick had become David Ferrer in terms of his baseline aggression. Well, that’d be a complement these days because Ferrer can at least hit winners from the baseline. Roddick hardly can.
I understand that Andy is fitter, lighter, quicker, etc., than ever, but his game is built on the foundations power and aggression, not on getting more balls back in play than your opponent. And I think coach Larry Stefanki understand that, however my guess is it’s Roddick who thinks that taking less risk is the correct course here.
Against Soderling, Roddick finished with exactly ZERO forehand winners in the match. An absolutely shocking stat for someone with the power, experience and smarts of Roddick. Well, maybe he isn’t that smart or maybe he just likes to keep the ball in play and enjoy long rallies in his elder days, I don’t know.
But what I think is clear is that he’s just not going to beat the top players with this plan. Is Roddick really going to outrally Nadal, Federer, Djokovic, Murray, Soderling, etc? Nine times out of 10, no! And recent the numbers bear it out.
In the last 12 months Roddick has a total of SIX wins over Top 20 players, and ZERO since that victory over Djokovic in Cincinnati (he’s now lost 7 straight to Top 20 players).
And if you can’t beat the guys ahead of you in the rankings, you are simply not going to pass them. And isn’t passing them and returning to the top the goal?
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