Monday Musings


I know. It sucks to lose the first round of a tournament. And it sucks JUST THAT MUCH MORE to lose while wearing this pathetic excuse of a design. On camera, under the sun, the thing was so neon it burnt Feliciano Lopez-shaped holes right through my retinas.

Ouch.

Lopez1

First round Sydney is not where you’d expect there to be a rather epic 3 hour long battle between someone ranked outside the Top 200 in the world and … Feliciano Lopez.

But that “someone” happens to be Juan Martin del Potro, and all the while the match was one, you get the sense that they were fighting for something more than just a win. For del Potro, it was the validation that he was indeed on some sort of comeback trail. It’s never really “official” until you’ve won a match.

For Lopez, he was bizarrely emotional in the match – he always is, of course. But there were moments during the third set where he would miss a shot, pause, and give himself the thumbs up in sarcasm and mockery. As if to say “oh great shot, Felix, that only missed the tramlines by about 2 meters. FABULOUS work at losing this match.”

Tennis, and sports in general, can be masochist. Sometimes, we play to prove something to our harshest critics, which for Feliciano Lopez today was unfortunately himself.

For 3 hrs and 20 minutes, these two men battled with a kind of intensity ill-fitting for a first round match in Sydney. Besides an exchange of serves early in the first set, neither man was broken all match.

Del Potro couldn’t find rhythm on serve or his forehand during much of the first set, but settled down and picked up the pace after the second set. It wasn’t just a matter of rust. There were many moments when – as Del Potro whacked an off-forehand so hard the best Lopez could do was to get a frame on it – you exclaim “oh I remember that“. The shots are there. The shot-selection, on the other hand, was not.

Was it due to his lack of match-fitness? His impatience to win? The fact that he has had trouble with Lopez before? Perhaps a bit of all of the above?

(Yo, Mister Photographer. I really didn’t need this good a look at his nostrils, ya know?)

Delpo2

Lopez had his chances, notwithstanding a match point in the second set tiebreak. His slice stayed low. He finished points off at the net better than most male players these days. He played his typical old school, “unspanish” tennis to the best of his abilities. There was a 4 game period in the third set where he held easily on serve and had numerous points to break Del Potro’s serve. As always, the longer a service game goes on for, the more it evolves to become the keystone of the entire match. Del Potro, however inconsistent, however nervy he was, always found a serve when he needed it. He struggled, he blasted his way through. He went down, he came back in Lopez’s face.

It look DelPoopy some 20 minutes to hold two service games, but by the time it came to the tiebreak, he knew he’s done enough to be given one more chance. Lopez on the other hand, looked up forlornly at the skies and berated the heavens, berated himself, his mind still lingering on the chances he didn’t take, the match point he didn’t win.

And that, was all the difference. 67 76 76.

xx doots

Del Potro

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4 responses to “Monday Musings”

  1. Jodi says :

    I saw this match live. I’ll just pause here and wait for the jealousy.

    …okay. I really, really felt for Lopez here – I realised about halfway through the match that I was, indeed, going for him. He played some absolutely outstanding stuff and totally redlined his game in the first set and a half – and even after that, his level didn’t drop off match. And that second set breaker… as good a breaker as you’ll ever see, I think.

    But you could really tell that Juan M settled into the match a bit. In the beginning he looked sooooooo uneasy – he was mistiming a few and hitting them straight into the tramlines. That wasn’t happening so much towards the end.

    But oh my, it was a great match to see live.

    • dAri says :

      I had the complete opposite experience. I didn’t get home till after the first set, but there was no live stream so I “watched” the match VIA atp scoreboard!
      I saw highlights and it looked like some great tennis, but there had to be a lot of see-saw the way I saw the score change.
      I have a question for you Jodi: what was going on in those looooong service games? delpo really serving not so well, felo really taking it to him, a big error followed by a big winner? I’m sure all of the above, I’m just trying to get an idea of what was going on for delpo to take 15 mins to hold. Not to mention that a couple times, felo would hold in two minutes just after that!
      Congrats for coming through, delpo!

      • Jodi says :

        Delpo missed a couple of important first serves in those games – I think there were a few doubles as well. He was also struggling with his timing for the first set-and-a-half-ish – I think he was taking the ball just a little too early, because a ton of them were going into the tram lines. And there were a couple of times when the sound the ball made when he struck it was so abnormal I thought he’d broken a string.

        Add that to some real aggressive tennis and some excellent serving from Lopez – he really wanted that break so he could pull away and win the match – and you had yourself those two deuce-tastic games in the second set. It was really compelling – even though Delpo hasn’t got his game back entirely yet (there were definite signs of rust) he still has the grit that took him to a Slam win. He kept his concentration admirably, whereas Feli really did let it slide at important points (i.e. third set breaker).

  2. Katarina_YYZ says :

    happy for JMDP. he deserves a quality win after all he’s been through.

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