Del Potro’s Match of the Tournament

Can you win a five set tennis match on one of the biggest stages in the world while fighting a cold? Of course you can! Just ask Juan Martin Del Potro.

As custom on Labor Day, I plan my day around the US Open! When I saw that two of my favorite players were playing today, I was super pumped! Not only would it be one of the new(ish) guys, Dominic Thiem, playing against one of my all time favorites, Juan Martin Del Potro, but it would be a match played with heart by both!

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know I have tremendous respect for both. Dominic had an incredible clay court season, but hasn’t quite found his footing on the hard courts. He really is on the cusp of something big! Juan Martin was in my top ten of my favorite clay court players and my prediction to win the US Open back in January.

As soon as the match started, I thought “Uh oh! This will be over in a matter of minutes.” Juan Martin had been battling a cold with fever for the past 48 hours. He was sniffling and sneezing, his nose was red and his face pale, with dark circles under his eyes. Things did not look good for Juan Martin. Meanwhile, Dominic dominated and stuck to his game plan and won the first set 6-1 and the second set 6-2. Don’t blink or this might be over.

But not so fast, my furriends! When Juan Martin called for a trainer towards the end of the second set, I honestly thought he was going to retire. But no, he asked for cold medicine (I presume) and got to business. With each point, he gained strength and focus…and the support of the crowd! He’s always a crowd favorite. Recall the Olympics last year. Brazil could not get enough of this gentle giant. He wears his heart of his sleeve and lets you see inside his soul. He feeds off of fan support. Fans want to connect with their player and he does it best!

It’s as if Thiem just disappeared and Del Potro was a runaway train. Juan Martin took the third set 6-1. But I’m thinking “This is nice. At least it’ll go to four sets and it will be a hard fought battle.” But Dominic managed to let the fourth set go to a tiebreak and guess who won it. Del Potro! Then feeding off of the crowd’s energy, Del Potro wins the final set 6-4!

Juan Martin Del Potro comes back from two sets down to win a five set match…while battling a cold. When I have a cold, I can barely walk across the room to my favorite toy.

I want you to understand something about this cool cat! Matches like this are hard for me to watch. I want both players to win, and for different reasons. And when they have all the elements combined together for a great tennis match, well I’m in a lot of trouble! It had an old guy, a new guy, a sickness, head games, power plays, close calls, bad calls, a rowdy crowd. Let me tell you, I’m exhausted. This has been “the match” of the tournament so far. Can’t wait to see what this final week has in store.

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Be Still My Beating Heart

You know how sometimes you are so exhausted after watching a tennis match, you…just…can’t…even? Oh no, never happened to you? Yeah, well that was me after watching the Miami Open’s semi-final match between Nick Kyrgios and Roger Federer last night. I swear I thought my heart was going to leap out of my chest!

I won’t give you a play-by-play, but let’s appreciate it for what it was. Old guy Federer coming back in 2017 playing like it’s 1999. New guy Kyrgios coming back from being suspended from tennis for bad behavior just months ago. A chair umpire who is a stickler for certain things like 1) the server’s time between points, 2) the player’s time between point to challenge request, 3) keeping the crowd under control. Put all these things together and you have a match that could be a continuous highlight reel!

To sum things up:

  • Federer played flawless tennis (big whooping surprise)!
  • Kyrgios stayed away from the crazy antics he used against Sasha Zverev in the previous round (biggest surprise of all), yet played flawless tennis.
  • It went to three sets, all ending in tiebreaks. Final score Roger Federer over Nick Kyrgios 7-6, 6-7, 7-6.

This win sets up a classic Federer/Nadal final for Sunday. But for now, I’m tired and need some rest. Til tomorrow, friends…

Ah Youth!

This week we saw a young 18 year old Norwegian, Casper Ruud, make a pretty impressive run at the ATP Rio Open in Rio De Janeiro. He was so impressive, Brad Gilbert is already thinking up his nickname and offering up suggestions on Twitter! Will it be Casper the Ghost, Ruud Awakening? I’m thinking about tweeting “Roto-Ruuder” because of the way he drills forehands down the line.

But alas, his age and inexperience caught up with him in the semi-finals today. He was up a set and had match point at 5-2 in the second, and he completely crumbled. It was heart wrenching to watch really. You could see nerves creeping in and he just melted. The serve is always the first to go, then the feet turn into cement. And if you can’t move your feet, you can’t return a shot. His opponent, Pablo Carreno Busta kept his composure, finished out the second set 7-5, then slaughtered the third set 6-0. Painful!

Why is this significant, you ask? Back in the glory days of Sampras and Agassi, (the best time, if you ask me) the teenage years were the breakout age! Pete Sampras turned pro at 16, and it only took him a couple of years to win his first major, the US Open, at the age of 19, becoming the youngest player to win the US Open. Andre Agassi also turned pro at 16 and won his first major shortly after Sampras. There were others…Michael Chang, John McEnroe, Jim Courier to name a few.

That’s what I miss. I want more young talents shocking the tennis world like these guys did back in the day. “Young” these days mean early to mid 20’s. No…I want to cheer for more Sasha Zverev’s and Casper Ruud’s! Is that too much for a cool cat to ask? Here’s hoping we can see a little more of that this year! Go teens!