Del Potro now really likes clay, to face Isner

FROM ROLAND GARROS — A long time ago, Juan Martin del Potro was rising hard and it looked like eventually he would become No. 1. In 2009, he reached the semis at Roland Garros, beating the grinder Tommy Robredo in the quarters. In the semis, he cracked the ball when he could, but Roger Federer was too much for him. However, after three months on the hard courts, DelPo leapt over Federer in the final at the US Open. In the fifth set, DelPo ate it up, hitting a forehand that may be the fastest up to that point or since.
But that has been nine years ago. DelPo has been hurt for many, many years, but now, at least this week, he looks pretty good. He will never totally recover, but as long as he rests, and doesn’t overdo it, then he can stroll on the court and play super hard.

Del Potro has to face John Isner, another big basher. They have played against each other 10 times, six wins by DelPo and four for Isner. Pretty close, no? since 2016 Isner has won three times and DelPo has won two.  This season, Isner won the Miami Masters, knocking back DelPo 6-1, 7-6(2) in the semis.

Are they even? Maybe, but the Argentine has won a Slam, so that it is extremely important. Isner hasn’t.
The two have never played each other on the clay, so that should be more rallies, rather to have short points. You know, both of them can crush the first serves. Whoever wins, eventually, someone will have to face on Rafa Nadal.
“Rafa obviously is the favorite to win. He’s playing unbelievable tennis,” DelPo said. “He’s beating all the guys so quickly. Nobody can find the way to win a set to him.  But I’m doing my own way, and I’m calm with that.” 

When Madison Keys is on the court, she is not getting too angry. She blocks out distractions, and she focuses. On Sunday morning, she was enthusiastic right at the beginning and she nailed winner after winner. She took down Mihaela Buzarnescu
6-1, 6-4, easy in the first set, but in the second, Keys had to be more consistent and focused. When it was 5-4, she sat down, took the towel, wiped it off, got up, took a deep breath and she was ready to hit some big serves. She did, close to the lines. Buzarnescu tried to bring it back, but it was too far away. Keys won and she is into the quarterfinals, the first time at RG. 

“I like it a little bit more [on clay] now,” Keys said with a smile. “It’s always a little bit easier to like it when you’re in the quarterfinals. … My biggest thing is just focusing on what I need to do for my game and having one or two very specific things, whether it’s forehands crosscourt or aim up the middle, just so that I’m not thinking of anything else. I’m just thinking of that tactic and not the moment and it’s a lot easier to handle the big moments that way.”

Sloane Stephens played fantastic on Sunday, destroying Anatt Kontaveit. Now she has reached the quarters at RG for the first time. The US Open champ has a legitimate chance to win it all, it she keeps pushing. … Marco Cecchinato upset David Goffin in four sets. Two days ago, Goffin stayed in there against Gael Monfils, saving four match points. He looked a little slow today and Cecchinato pushed him out.


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