Tuesday Topspin: 17 Men Standing

Round of 17: All eight matches in the round of 16 are scheduled for today, but before the draw is set, Alexandr Dolgopolov will have to finish his match with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.  The players split sets in their rain-muddled match, and will resume in a few hours at 3-2 in the third.

Let’s look at each of the fourth-rounders:

  • Rafael Nadal vs. TBA. Here’s a tall order: finish off a match that went late, take a few hours rest, and come back to face Nadal.  Not exactly a recipe for success.  Whoever comes through to meet him, it will be Rafa’s first real challenge since Indian Wells.  The fact that Tsonga played Dolgo to a draw is promising–after the loss in California to Xavier Malisse and the near-crash against Teymuraz Gabashvili, it wouldn’t have been that surprising if Dolgo had run away with it last night.
  • Florian Mayer vs. Tomas Berdych.  Berdych played what was, to me, the most interesting of yesterday’s matches.  He barely held off Carlos Berlocq, 7-6 7-5.  I’ve been a little rough on Berlocq lately, since he has no hard-court track record, yet he made it to the third round and pushed a top-10 player to a tiebreak.  He crumbled under pressure a few times with very inconvenient double faults, but generally played a very aggressive game from the baseline.  Consider me impressed.
  • Roger Federer vs. Olivier Rochus.  It’s been a big tournament for the Belgian, who upset Mikhail Youhzny yesterday after the Russian bludgeoned him in the first set.  Rochus has never beat Federer, but he has won a set three times, including a match in Halle five years ago, which was decided by a third-set tiebreak.  It’s been said that Federer has a harder time playing against guys he likes, and he certainly likes Rochus.
  • Janko Tipsarevic vs. Gilles Simon.  What a day for the Serbian–he breezed through his third-rounder against Philipp Petzschner, then teamed with Oliver Marach to defeat the Bryan brothers in doubles.  Simon had a tougher time of it, dropping the first set to Pablo Cuevas.  The oddsmakers give Simon a slight edge, suggesting he has a roughly 57% chance of reaching the quarters.
  • David Ferrer vs. Marcel Granollers.  Granollers has fought through three three-setters, an upset every one, while Ferrer lost only nine games in his first two matches combined.  It’s hard to imagine this one going any differently for the sixth seed.
  • Mardy Fish vs. Juan Martin del Potro.  Delpo made a huge statement in the third round with a drubbing of Robin Soderling.  Even if the Swede was far from his best, del Potro demonstrated why he belongs in the top five.  Delpo beat Fish in straights last month en route to the Delray Beach title, and today should be no different.
  • John Isner vs. Kevin Anderson.  I won’t be watching this one.  Someone will win 7-6(4) 6-4, and then he’ll lose to Djokovic.
  • Novak Djokovic vs. Viktor Troicki.  Last time the two friends played, Troicki won a single game.  This week, in two matches, Djokovic has lost only three games.  This match should take just about as long as the conclusion of the Tsonga-Dolgopolov contest.

As you can see, lots of great tennis today.  It all starts at 11:00 EST, with the Delpo-Fish match leading off.  See you tomorrow!

3 thoughts on “Tuesday Topspin: 17 Men Standing”

  1. Having watched the whole of the Berlocq-Berdych match, with great enjoyment and appreciation, I too am most impressed with Berlocq’s improvement. He’s no spring chicken, but still has time to make his mark. It’s funny how one tends to assume he’s short, yet he’s an even 6 feet. I found myself noticing some resemblance between his game and Del Potro’s – powerful serving, heavy groundstrokes, good point planning, and a surprising ability to improvise.

    1. Yes, it was a fascinating match. Another thing it emphasized to me is the shrinking gap in surface skills — if you have as much success as he has on clay (albeit at lower levels), you’re hardly hopeless on hard courts, especially in a place like Miami.

      Some of those one-handed backhands were stunning. I went out and played a few sets yesterday afternoon with the one-handers in my mind, and for some reason I couldn’t quite match them ;).

  2. I got ahead of myself with Delpo, as his comeback just cut short by Mardy Fish in two close sets. Good for Mardy – I love seeing him pick up the slack for Andy and Isner in this event (Isner: another upset and disappointment for John, but kudos to Kevin Anderson for continuing to build a good year following his title win in Johannesburg).
    Mardy’s next opponent Ferrer presents another opportunity for him, an upset on paper if he wins. Lifetime, they are 3 – 3, but haven’t played since ’07 when they split wins. The odds on this match will be closer than his 1 in 4 shot against Delpo.
    Assuming Joker is the undertaker ending Anderson’s run to the quarters, the Fish-Ferrer result is one without a clear preference from his presumed seat in the semis. He’s not lost to Mardy in 5 matches, including 2 wins in 2010. Ferrer’s only beaten him once on hard in 6 tries, but has owned Novak on clay. But because of Ferrer’s withdrawal in IW, I keep looking for signs of tiring in the Spaniard. Great opportunity for Fish, who can continue playing with nothing to lose.
    More interesting today will be to see whether Dolgopolov has enough gas left in his tank to perform any tricks against Rafa. He may be nearing empty after returning to the court this afternoon to complete a 7 – 5 third set win over Tsonga.

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