I got back from three wonderful weeks in Argentina yesterday, including the best tournament I’ve ever attended/covered, but this doesn’t mean that Copa Claro notwithstanding, I haven’t followed, at least a little, what has been going on in the tennis world. Of course, I followed mostly the tournaments of Acapulco and Dubaï, albeit via scoreboard most of the time, but I also followed a bit of Challenger action and I decided to summarize the week with some of the names that made it what it was in the tennis world.
It’s really difficult not to talk about the Swiss, who won his 72nd title in Dubaï yesterday and played fabulous tennis in order to do so, particularly in that exciting 7-6(5) 7-6(6) semi-final win over Juan Martín del Potro, but as well in the final, which he won 7-5 6-4 over Andy Murray. Federer again served wonderfully throughout the week and played this magical tennis only he knows how to play.
As a matter of fact, I fully agree with Andy Murray when he said after yesterday’s final that if all the hard surfaces were back to be as quick as Dubaï’s was this week, Federer would be back at no 1. He is, without a doubt, the king of the fast courts and that’s where his game is at its best. This week was yet another proof of it. Let’s hope the surfaces of Indian Wells and Miami won’t be too slow. This Federer magic is so entertaining to watch!
Furthermore, I need to stop for a few words on the level of del Potro, almost back to top 5 level, and Murray, who did not slump this year and who played fantastic tennis all week. Both should do their fair share of damage in the first two Masters 1000 of the season, and are contenders for both titles, as is Federer, and as is, as well, the next man on my list.
Last week, the little Spaniard won the Copa Claro in style, defeating his friend Nico Almagro in three sets of exciting tennis. Yesterday, it was with an quick and explosive 6-1 6-2 win over another countryman, Fernando Verdasco, that David Ferrer won his third consecutive title in Acapulco, thus taking back his no 5 spot, lost for the time of a week to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Acapulco was Ferrer’s third title of the season (after Auckland and Buenos Aires), the best in the ATP so far this season, and brought his 2012 record to 18-1, also the best in the ATP to this day. His only loss this season was in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open, to Novak Djokovic.
The Marathon Man of Javea will arrive in full confidence in Indian Wells and despite the fact that his last two titles were won on clay, I am convinced that he will do his fair share of damage during the next weeks. Ferrer is in great shape, confident, and certainly not a player to slight or overlook, as I’ve seen many do.
Along with David Ferrer and Nicolás Almagro, Carlos Berlocq has been one of the most consistent players throughout the Golden Swing. Runner-up in Viña del Mar and quarter-finalist in São Paulo, Buenos Aires, and Acapulco, the Chascomus native was furthermore the most consistent South American during this portion of the season, which will make him, at 29, enter the top 40 for the first time tomorrow.
Last week, I asked Berlocq what has been the key to his success over the last few months. His answer did not surprise, especially if you’ve been following his progress: he’s playing more aggressive, both mentally and in his tennis. This was particularly obvious over the last few weeks, and I take the occasion here to congratulate Charly and his team (Walter Grinovero and Leonardo Alonso) for the exemplary work done. The progress of the Argentine warrior will be something I’ll follow closely over the next few weeks, in the first two hard court Masters 1000, and I really hope that he’ll get this Davis Cup call he’s dreaming of. He deserves it.
It would really be high time for Berlocq to receive the credit that is due to him, starting with the ATP website, that should really stop seeing him as a doubles specialist!
The 26-year-old Aussie has had a spectacular run in Delray Beach this week where, as a qualifier, he made it all the way to the finals, defeating Ivo Karlovic, Alex Bogomolov Jr, Ernests Gulbis, and Dudi Sela en route to his first career ATP final, where he was defeated 6-4 7-6(2) by Kevin Anderson, another of the nice surprises of the week with, on the way to his second career title, wins over Andy Roddick and John Isner, among others.
His performance this week should bring Matosevic close to the top 100.
Guido Pella is another of these young Argentine players that I’ve been following for quite some time already. Very gritty and talented, 21-year-old Pella was forced to miss the first three months of last season due to a wrist injury that slowed down his progress, but since the end of 2011, he showed more and more of the promise I saw in him when I first saw him play (he was then still a junior) and he surprised many with a steady rise that drove him to his first Challenger finals, in Guayaquil, where he then lost to Matteo Viola.
Yesterday, this incredible fighter won, in Salinas, his first career Challenger title, as led 6-1 5-4 by second-seeded Paolo Lorenzi, he came back from the brink of defeat to triumph 1-6 7-5 6-3. A very well-deserved first Challenger title for the lefty from Bahía Blanca and, I think, not the last! Pella is another of the young Argentines to follow, at the same level as his young countrymen Facundo Bagnis, Facundo Argüello, Marco Trungelliti, Federico Delbonis, Diego Schwartzman, Nico Pastor, and quite a few more. Never doubt that the basin of young Argentine talent is far from being empty!
With the title won in Salinas, Guido Pella, today 343rd in the World rankings, will move closer to the top 200. In my mind, this is only the beginning.
Starting Thursday: Indian Wells
The first Masters 1000 of the season will start this Thursday (?!) in Indian Wells. As usual, I will be all eyes and analysis and will provide the best possible coverage, albeit from Montreal. There will be many players to follow!