Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Comeback King - David Defeats Tsonga

David and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga had been on court for around 90 minutes when Tsonga, up 6-3, 5-4 and serving for the match, at 40-30 was one point away from what would've been a fairly easy victory for him. Another 50 minutes and an incredible comeback later, David converted  his first match point to beat Tsonga 3-6, 7-5, 6-3. Having defeated three seeded players in a row now, David gets a day off today before facing Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinal, tomorrow.

Catching a better start than his opponent, David broke Tsonga's serve in the first game of the match. But the break and David's lead turned out to be short-lived as Tsonga broke back to level the score at 2-2. At 4-3, David then threw in one of his poor service games, granting Tsonga break points with a series of unforced errrors and then finally dropping his serve on a double fault. Up 5-3 now, Tsonga served for the set and although David hit an amazing forehand winner during that game (see clip above), on set point he failed to make a second-serve return, Tsonga took the first set 6-3 and David fired his racquet into one of the ad banners.

(Harry How/Getty Images)
Early on in the second set, David had a chance to break at 1-0 but Tsonga responded with an ace. At 3-3, it was time for another poor service game from David, going down 0-40 on a double fault and after courageously saving the first break point losing his serve on a backhand error. Though visibly frustrated now, David struck back in the following game when Tsonga gifted him a break point with a double fault, forcing the error with a great first-serve return to draw level again at 4-4. But David was still making far too many unforced errors at this stage and in the following game, with three of those in a row plus another double fault he handed Tsonga another break and the chance to serve for the match at 5-4. And at 40-30, Tsonga held a match point. David saved it with great running forehand that drew the error and it was most of all his defense during this game that earned him two break points, on the second of which Tsonga double-faulted, 5-5. After David held for 6-5, Tsonga went down 15-40, serving to stay in the set. And on the second set point, David's second-serve return was good enough to draw the error and take the set 7-5.

Having been on the brink of defeat, in the third set David now managed to clean up his game and execute the game plan he had from the start but that often fell victim to those many unforced errors he initially produced. Keeping Tsonga mostly on his much weaker backhand side, David also threw in the occasional slice to his forehand, making it difficult for Tsonga to unleash the kind of forehand winners he had been able to hit earlier in the match. At 2-1, David broke serve with a great backhand passing shot (also to be seen above) and this time, unlike in the previous sets, he held on to the break and didn't face another break point until the end. At 4-2, David missed the chance to go up a double break but then at 5-3 he served for the match - and he served it out to love.
I think that I didn't serve well at times. At times I served a little better. I think that I didn't play a great match. But the result is great for me. I played well in the important moments and that makes a big difference in a match.
It wasn't the prettiest of matches, with a total of 104 unforced errors for both players (45 of those from David). And it has to be said that Tsonga didn't serve anywhere near as well as he's able to. But still, this doesn't take anything away from the amazing comeback that David pulled off in this match. One that was reminiscent of the good old days. After he spent much of the first two sets being half a step slow and making errors and then berating himself or throwing his racquet in various directions, David not just hung in there but managed to turn around the match completely and get his game back on track. All of which made possible by something that's different this year, compared to the previous two:
I've been getting better. I had a very difficult year, many pauses, surgeries and the truth is that this made me lose ground, physically. Now I'm gaining confidence, also in my physical fitness. Now I feel pretty good and hopefully I can continue playing more matches. (David's quotes via Fue Buena)
Or in the words of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga:
The problem with Nalbandian is... that he's good! Very good!
(Harry How/Getty Images)

7 comments:

  1. Yes Mr Tsonga. You should have known better :D
    Hopefully the game tomorrow doesn't start before 3pm (PST) cause I am not at home. And maybe I can watch it on TV this time.

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  2. I like it when David leaves tough impression on his opponents after a victory :D
    Tsonga will remember that one, for sure! the match point saved by David makes it even more memorable :)

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  3. I'm sure glad David gets a day off today. He'll need it against Rafa. I didn't see the racket toss after the first set, but I certainly heard it. I'm beginning to think such things fire David up. Facing match point, I never thought he'd pull it out. Amazing.

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  4. I'm all for throwing, flinging or destroying racquets if it helps. And with David, it often seems to help. ;)
    I mean, I didn't really think he'd be able to play better than he did until the saved match point. But he must've known that he could and also that he'd be able to last, physically. And I guess that's what made it all possible.

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  5. Yeah yesterday was incredible. Saving that match point shows his dedication to the cause and his mental strength. love the never die attitude and I'm buzzing for tomorrow, if he's fresh physically, he can trouble Rafa. Reachin the quarters anyways is amazing, regardless of the result tomorrow. Vamosss

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  6. David struck back in the following game when Tsonga gifted him a break point with a double fault, forcing the error with a great second-serve return to draw level again at 4-4

    correction : it was a great first-serve return (:
    I remember that because it was a trademark 1st-serve backhand return
    love ya julia
    HANI ...

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  7. You're right, it was a first-serve return. Must have mixed it up with all the other important second-serve returns in this match. :)

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