Archive for the ‘Elf’ Category

17 Feb 2013

Del Potro Frankenstein

Visual approximation of Juan Martin del Potro’s time machine.

del Potro d. Benneteau 7-6, 6-3

It’s not a win over Federer, Djokovic or Murray. But Del Potro’s largely dominant display in Rotterdam this week should be a warning sign to those four in what has been largely an unpenetrable ivory tower of slam wins.

Del Potro defeated Julien Benneteau to take the Rotterdam title, winning 7-6, 6-3. The beginning of the match saw Delpo broken early, and down 2-0. He was sluggish, and looked interested in simply pushing the ball around. Delpo then quickly jumped into his time machine. His sluggishness turned into a double dare against Benny. The first dare – I dare you to hit a second serve. Delpo took 74% of points off of Jules’ second serve. The forehand was on fire.

The second dare – open up the court. Delpo’s forehand turned the match into an indoor hard court match in terms of pace, but Benny’s aggression pushed the level of tennis far higher. When the court opened up, Delpo used his patented running forehand to level the playing field. There were many rallies where both men were running side to side, looking for an edge. Delpo’s continued underrated defense dug him out of holes.

Furthermore, the Argentine’s ability to be creative in tricky situations, such as playing behind Julien or taking a bit off on the forehand showed a real sense of killer instinct and comfort in his shot making at the moment. Perhaps the most insane shot came from an excellent backhand cross court return from Benneteau off the ad side of the court. The angle was incredible. Delpo simply shuffled over and hit a one handed slice backhand winner down the line.

The scoreline was largely close due to Benneteau’s sometimes unplayable shots on such a fast surface, and a few Delpo brain farts. However, the quality of play is always the most important thing to look at, and Delpo’s shot making and overall tactics were superb today, and now seems a favourite to defeat anyone ranked below him.

16 Feb 2013

Del Potro Rotterdam 1

Del Potro d. Dimitrov 6-4, 6-4

It’s been a long, tough comeback road for Del Potro. After almost a full year off from injury and a year to get his game and ranking back up, 2012 was a bit of a let down. At times he looked like his old self, and was a permanent fixture in the top 10. At the same time, he never looked like upsetting the top 4 apple cart like he did in 2009.

Attempting to predict what we might be in for from the big Argentine this year would be difficult and partially pointless. A third round loss in Melbourne did little to stoke the fires of excitement. That being said, Rotterdam seemed the perfect tournament for Delpo to get his game up from a B to an A level.

The semifinal clash with Dimitrov was a fascinating one. Grigor has had a lovely start to the year, reaching the Brisbane final and is raising eyebrows with his aesthetically pleasing game (and let’s be honest, face). The way Dimitrov hits the ball is similar to Federer, and originally that is where I thought the comparisons should end. That isn’t entirely true. Grigor plays like Fed does on grass, but to the extreme, and not necessarily in a good way. He likes to slice the ball and keep it low, all while using top spin to get the ball deep and yes, keep it low. He likes to engage in the sort of cat and mouse rallies that Federer became famous for.

In the first set, I wasn’t sure if Delpo was doing enough to try to really drive the ball, but it became more obvious how great of a job Dimitrov was getting Delpo to play into his hand. While Del Potro was pushed into playing these longer, defensive rallies, he showed once again how underrated his defense is, particularly in the middle of the first set, when he was able to stick in points and eventually come up with the big shot to finish them off.

Dimitrov’s lack of killer instinct is really what seems to really kill him. Federer can be such a treat to watch when he pushes people around because you always know he will have a sly trick up his sleeve to win the point, a ridiculous drop shot, a nasty snap forehand, whatever. Grigor can do an excellent job tactically of setting points up, but then runs out of ideas (or ability?) to close out the points. He’s also far to prone to break down with silly errors, largely from the backhand wing (where he was needlessly broken off of early in the second set). His decision making has improved immensely, in my opinion, but it’s still lacking at the end of points.

That being said, the signs from Del Potro are incredibly positive. Like all big players, game and physically, he can have troubles with players who like to slice, keep the ball low, and move it around in unexpected ways (it’s why he is terrible on grass). He was able to play defense well, but not get too sucked into those patterns of play. He cranked it up on the first serve and the power when he got into trouble on serve, finding that next gear. You always love to see that from the top guys when playing these smaller tournaments; can they find the extra 5% juice in tricky times to out class there opponent.

Roll on, big man.

The Return – For Srs

Posted by Brodie under: Elf, Madrid

4 May 2011

Del Potro Madrid

Delpo is back. And he’s serious about it. So am I.

It was a gutsy win for Delpo, who experienced some hip/leg problems against Youz and dropped the second set. But in the third, the pain seemed to subside and the forehand flipped into eleventh gear. Yes, he turned it up to 11.

Truly, it showed the side of BumblElf that when on, is nearly impossible to topple. Madrid is a fantastic tournament for him, because the thin air makes the ball move quick, but the clay also helps the ball sit up nicely for him to hammer through. This is not unlike his near defeat of Fed in Roland Garros on a sunny day in 2009 (his last clay match before Estoril this year).

Interestingly, if Delpo and Rafa win their matches, which is likely, they will face each other in the next round. For me, this week has all been about a seemingly inevitable Rafa/Nole showdown… but does Delpo have a shot? Rafa has played well, but not his amazing usual self, and has faced little serious opposition, especially in terms of consistent, big hitters. If Delpo is healthy and confident, there’s a serious chance he could put the pressure on Rafa. I’m not sure he would win, but that’s definitely a match to keep an eye on.

Fire At The Disco

Posted by Brodie under: Australian Open, Elf

18 Jan 2011

Juan Martin Del Potro Australian Open

Breathe in, breathe out. Not going to get too excited. This is Delpo’s first slam win in a year. Breathing.

BUT FER SRS? STRAIGHT SETS?

I’m ok, promise.

It wasn’t a dominant performance against Dudi. Hell, it probably shouldn’t have been a straight sets win. But if I were to use totally arbitrary numbers, I would say that Elf’s ball striking is around 90% there (100% in terms of cracking forehands) and mentally about 50%. There were some strange, strange shot selections and he clearly wasn’t comfortable opening up and going down the line when the opportunity presented itself (though most of the time when he did, it worked well).

That being said, he hit some delicious shots off both wings from outside the doubles alley in typical Delpo style, was ripping forehands, hitting some fantastic serves are really going for some shots. It’s tough to ask for much more.

He was equally awesome in his presser.

Q. How good does it feel to be back in a Grand Slam arena after so much frustration for you?

JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: Well, I feel good. Is nice for me be here with these players, this tournament, and of course playing a Grand Slam.

Today I play good tennis again. But I’m really enjoying this week. I met with all the players, especially the top 10 players. They support me when I was very bad. So now I face to face with them and I say thank you.

Top 10 players sent him supportive messages while he was down in the dumps about being out? I love you tennis.

Q. You talked about the support of the fellow top 10 players. How did they support you? Did they call you or send messages?

JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: Everything. They call me and they send an emails, everything. It’s important. They have all his schedule very close, very completed. Sometimes if you got his callings, is good because they are thinking about you and about yourself. So I just want to say thank you to all of them. For me it’s good playing against them again.

Bah!

Next up? Baggy. Yikes.

Let The Good Times Roll

Posted by Brodie under: Elf, Sydney

10 Jan 2011

If a tree falls in the forest… ok, so no one but the people in the stadium actually saw the match, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get unreasonably excited by the scoreline and stats.

First, let’s get one thing straight. This is a process. It’s going to be a long one. It’s one thing to get healthy and fit, it’s another thing entirely to get into match play, have to fight for points and keep your head straight. Also, Delpo has a protected ranking which will get you into tournaments, but won’t get you seeded. While that does mean that, yes, he could be facing a big name early, it also means it’s going to be tough to climb up the rankings and smaller tournaments aren’t going to be a hell of a lot easier.

That being said, who gives a damn?! The big man is back for real this time, and he picked up his first win after a short 6-7(5), 7-6(9), 7-6(3), 3 hour and 20 minute tussle with Feli. One thing is for sure, holding serve is looking pretty good right now. 21 aces, 7 doubles, 57% serving and 80% off the first serve. He was only broken once over the whole match and that came in the first set. Sure, the return game wasn’t great, but having to come back against a big serving lefty with solid volleying? A tad unfair.

More good news for the big man. He gets Florian Mayer next, and if he wins that, either Potato Starchild, Jules, or Kubot. Welcome back, good sir. Please break something in Melbourne.

28 Sep 2010

He came. He saw. He hit some tennis balls. He lost. And his wrist didn’t explode. In fact, it feels “perfect”. We’re all winners.

The first set was all you could ask from the big guy. He pounded out serves when he needed for them, went for shots when he had the chance, and ripped some forehands. Were there errors? Oh hell yes. Were there epic shots? OH HELL YES.

In particular, the forehand cross court was looking dangerous, and he hit one as a return winner that was particularly lazerbeam-ish. While the errors came due to the lack of timing, it ended up hurting his confidence level unfortunately. In cross court rallies, he wasn’t particularly interested in turning balls around going for bombs down the line. When he did, they typically worked out alright, but it was pretty obvious that he preferred to try and hit through Rochus with the cross court shot.

The second set wasn’t a whole lot different save for more Delpo errors. These were more of the silly ones; easy forehands into the net, goofy looking backhands wide. He kept fighting though, and showed shades of his normal, freewheeling-forehand self, and a bit of that great, underrated defense.

A 7-6, 6-4 loss in your first match back doesn’t look bad on paper, and rightfully so. 16 aces, 1 double fault, 65% on the first serve and 75% of first serve points won. I’m sure the error count is wicked high, but that’s beside the point. Delpo said his wrist feels “perfect”, and he looked surprisingly strong and agile out there. I’d go as far to say that physically, he’s probably around 90-95%. It’s going to be a process of getting the timing and the feel for the ball back, but hell, is there any better time to work on that than during an indoor swing where you don’t have to worry about wind and other factors?

Welcome back big guy. We’ve all missed you.

27 Sep 2010

Yes. It’s actually happening. For those who haven’t heard, Delpo/Elf/JMDP/Bumblelf returns to us on Tuesday at 7pm local time. The even better news? That’s 8am for those of us in the Eastern time zone. Which means I don’t have to wake up in the middle of the night and be a zombie.

I’m expecting to either cry or giggle for an hour straight. And the first 1-2 big serve/forehand winner combo that he puts together may cause me to either faint or poop myself. Yeah, it’s going to be quite the match.

Vid Me Up: I Just Peed Myself

Posted by Brodie under: Elf, Vid Me Up

26 Sep 2010

Delpo kicks it off against Oli Rochus, presumably on Tuesday. I can’t wait. Can you tell?

2 Aug 2010

Que lindo volver a pegarle a la pelotita,aunque fue suave,tuve la raqueta en la mano nuevamente..

Which I believe translates to…

“Yo USTA, I’ll fucking tell you when I’m ready. Cheers!”

Double whammy Delpo Wrist Update + Pic Me Up special!

Yup. Delpo tweeted that he was returning to the court the next day, and today he friggin’ tweetpiced it. That’s how it’s done. Oh, and it “actually” roughly translates to “That nice to hit the ball, but was smooth, I had the racket in his hand again..” Deal. Looking good, bud.

1 Aug 2010

Via his Twitter account. Heyo! And yes, it’s a verified account, so it’s damn legit.

Roughly translates to this, via Google translate: “Tomorrow go back inside to a tennis court:) After practice I tell them what was the matter.” In other words, he’s back on a court tomorrow, and afterwards will tell the doctors how it’s feeling and go from there. My reaction?


The Changeover Podcast:

Episode #56 – Indian Wells Wrap