BNP Paribas Open Preview Round 2 Juan Martin del Potro Versus Tomas Berdych
Juan Martin del Potro’s comeback from injury will come up against its biggest challenge yet when he takes on Tomas Berdych (6) in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open. The Tennis Review looks at the Argentine’s chances of pulling off the upset.
History: del Potro leads the head to head 4-2, but they have not played since Roland Garros 2012, a contest won by del Potro in four.
Indian Wells history: .The last time del Potro played Indian Wells, in 2013, he defeated Novak Djokovic (then ranked No.1) and Andy Murray on his way to the final where he lost to Nadal in three sets. He is 16-5 at the event, going QF-SF-QF-R16 in his four previous appearances before 2013, and he has only lost to Nadal (x3), Federer and Richard Gasquet.
Berdych is 18-11 at Indian Wells. Last year he made the last eight, losing to Roger Federer. His best result was the 2013 semi-finals when he lost to Rafa Nadal
Indian Wells!!! 😀🌴☀️🏜🎾 pic.twitter.com/yypyEnmbQN
— Juan M. del Potro (@delpotrojuan) March 7, 2016
Form coming in: del Potro has only played five ATP matches this year. Three of those came at his comeback event at Delray Beach which saw him defeat Denis Kudla, John-Patrick Smith and Jeremy Chardy before losing to Sam Querrey. His other win came in his previous round in Indian Wells when he defeated Tim Smyczek 6-4, 6-0.
del Potro’s serve has been strong, and his forehand up to par, but his backhand has been weak- he has had to slice it much of the time- which may be too big a weakness to cover against a player like Berdych. del Potro’s backhand, though, was better in his last match, and he was able to hit with more top spin.
This is a good time for del Potro to meet Berdych- the Czech had to retire from his last match, at the Davis Cup, with a hamstring injury. The Czech has also been struggling a little with his game. While he has been consistent in 2016, reaching the Australian Open quarters, the Marseille semis, and the Dubai quarters, he has yet to make a final, even at events like Rotterdam and Dubai where he has done well in the past, and all of his defeats have been straight set ones to Federer (Australian Open) and to Kyrgios (Marseilles, Dubai).
Favorite to win: Berdych. His presence in Indian Wells means his Davis Cup retirement might have been precautionary so some rest and treatment could mean he is ready to play, and in a recent interview with HEAD the Czech seemed upbeat about playing in the desert.
Watch Tomas Berdych chat about Indian Wells and tennis in the video below.
Live with Tomas Berdych
Posted by HEAD Tennis on Wednesday, March 9, 2016
While Berdych may be struggling, he is still reaching semis and quarters of ATP events and his defeats to Federer and Kyrgios were about match ups more than just his poor form.
The Match up issue could also hurt him against del Potro who has beaten him four times and has a serious weapon in his forehand to beat him from the baseline if rallies are prolonged or to kill any returns into his hitting zone on his forehand side.
Berdych, however, has proven he also has the ammunition with his clean hitting to defeat the Argentine, and considering how early del Potro is into his comeback, Berdych should have too much game to expose del Potro’s backhand vulnerabilty and get the win.
Watch highlights of del Potro and Berdych playing at the 2012 Madrid Open in the video below.
del Potro could win if: del Potro can hold his service games, and take the match to tiebreaks, his chances will be good. He has the confidence of a great history at Indian Wells, a surface that will really give him the time to set up his forehand and run around his backhand, and he is a tough match up for Berdych.
Berdych also has a reputation for struggling mentally in close matches, and considering Berdych may not be that confident with his recent heavy defeats in his last three events, if del Potro can get in the match and inside Berdych’s head, he has a chance.
Prediction: Berdych to win. He may not be playing his very best, but he is playing well enough to punish del Potro’s backhand and get a win over the Argentine this early on in his comeback.
However, a del Potro upset of Berdych would not be that shocking considering how hard del Potro has been training, how well he is serving and hitting his forehand, and how excited he is to be playing again, and what a big match player he is. Berdych had better be playing some good tennis in the desert unless he wants his 2016 Indian Wells appearance to be the match in which del Potro announces he is well and truly back on the ATP tour.
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