Yesterday I saw the best match of (the week-old) 2011. Today I saw the craziest – although I missed the Falla-Nishikori lunacy in Chennai, it should be said. But even if I had seen that particular Indian insanity, this match still might out-crazy it.
I’m speaking, of course, about today’s calamitous quarterfinal between third-seeded Joao Souza and seventh seed Federico Delbonis at the $100,000 Sao Paulo Challenger. Total loco-motion.
We’ll pick up the action in the first set tiebreak. Souza got the mini-break on the first point but relinquished it on the sixth, and we moved forth on serve until Souza served at 4-5. The 22-year-old came to net on a good approach that Delbonis met with a better reply, a superb low backhand slice that Joao couldn’t half-volley, giving the 20-year-old Argentinian two set points. Sousa saved the first with an ace, but Delbo converted the next one on his serve with a couple of forcing forehands, the second of which Joao hit long. First set to Delbonis 76(5).
Things progressed, as things do, to Federico serving at 3-4 30-40 in the first set – that’s a break point, don’tcha know? Well, Fede served and volleyed. Except he didn’t need to volley as J-Wow couldn’t get the ball back in play. And Delbo was able to worm himself out of the jam. *tries not to picture worm-filled jam*
Except! Two games later, he was back in the jam again. Would there be worming? At 4-5 30-all, Joao jwas 2 points away from the 2nd set. The home crowd rhythmically clapped, as home crowds tend to do. But Delbo closed out to 5-all on an unreturned approach shot and an ace.
In the next game, Souza opened with a forehand full of longing, over the baseline for 0-15. The Brazilian then came to net on a down the line approach, but was passed with a beautiful forehand crosscourt from the Argie. Joao disputed the call with the ch/ump, as the crowd whistled its disapproving whistly noises. This would be a foreshadowing of things to come.
I had a screenshot of this moment, but now it’s gone – have a screenshot of the Groths instead!
Souza returned to the baseline, and aced with a cry of “Allez!” Huh. J-Wow, clearly keyed up, won a long rally on the next point with a deep ball that Delbo couldn’t half-volley off the baseline. 30-all. A service winner and another “Allez!” got him to game point (and got me to thinking he needed to allez off with the “Allez”s – who do you think you are, Joao, Justine Henin?). And then Federico forehanded long to cede the 11th game.