Monday Topspin: A Title for Del Potro

Long-awaited return: Juan Martin Del Potro won his first title since the 2009 U.S. Open, defeating Janko Tipsarevic in straight sets in the final at Delray Beach.  The 6-4 6-4  result isn’t surprising, but it is gratifying to see Del Potro continue his ascent back to the top level of the game.

It was a tighter match than I expected.  Tipsarevic rushed out to a 4-1 lead, but Del Potro reeled off the next five games to win the set.  The Serbian had more success with his first serve, while Delpo won an impressive 63% of his second serve points.  The Argentine also fought off 10 of 11 break points–impressive enough, but if Tipsarevic hadn’t been playing well, he wouldn’t have had to work so hard.

The tournament win rockets Del Potro up the rankings–he now sits at 89th, 77 spots up from last week.  Of course, few rankings are less meaningful at this point than his.  He’ll get a wild card into any tournament he wants, at least for the next few months, and it’s just a matter of time before he works himself back into the top 20.  If not higher.

Other rankings movement: Other big movers this Monday are Richard Gasquet and Thomaz Bellucci, both of whom lost in semifinals last week.  They each gain 7 spots: Gasquet to 21, Bellucci to 29.

Evgeny Donskoy, who I’ve been writing about for the last few days, jumped to 200th in the world with his win in Casablance.  Belgian Ruben Bemelmans, who won in Wolfsburg, gains 36 spots to #144.

From the challengers, the biggest gainer is someone who didn’t make a final.  That’s Stefan Seifert, a 25-year-old German who came into the tournament ranked outside of the top 1,000.  He was wild-carded into qualifying and ultimately lost a three-setter to Bemelmans in the semis of the main draw.  He ascends to #591.  Best of all, his semifinal performance earned his entry to the main draw in Cherbourg, where he’ll face Arnaud Clement in the first round.

Davis Cup this week: Some first-round matches in the World Group are shaping up to be more unpredictable than usual.  The Russians and Czechs are limited by injuries, while the U.S. must compete on clay, without last year’s hero Mardy Fish.  Except for India-Serbia and Belgium-Spain, every tie is within reach of both countries.

I’ll preview some of the matchups in more detail starting tomorrow.

At the Challengers: With no ATP events this week, we have to look to the minor leagues for tournament action.  Fortunately, there are three such tourneys starting today.

Of the three, Dallas probably has the strongest field.  Among the seeds is the usual mix of veteran Americans, such as Robert Kendrick and Michael Russell.  What makes the event interesting is the smattering of young players.  Ryan Harrison is in the mix, and wild cards were awarded to Denis Kudla, Jack Sock, and Bernard Tomic.

Most of the Europeans, including a vast array of Frenchmen, are playing in Cherbourg.  Headlined by Grigor Dimitrov, the seeds include Nicolas Mahut, Clement, and Benoit Paire.

Finally, there’s clay court action in Salinas, with a draw including two of my favorites, Horacio Zeballos and Federico Del Bonis.  Plenty of tennis to follow between now and the weekend Davis Cup action.

See you tomorrow!

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