The second of the two matches on opening day at the ATP World Tour Finals 2013 is between World No. 5 Juan Martin Del Potro (Player Profile) and France’s Richard Gasquet (Player Profile), who is back at the prestigious event for the first time in six years. Gasquet will be looking to topple the towering Argentine for the first time since 2007. Check out the Del Potro v Gasquet Head to Head.
With four title to his name in 2013 and a spot in the top 5 for the first time since 2009, it has quite the year for Del Potro. After successfully defending his Basel title, he reached the quarter-finals in Paris, where he lost to Roger Federer in another classic encounter. Since then, en route to London he has had his most valued possession stolen: his rosary blessed by the Pope, which certainly was not the perfect way to regain mental focus ahead of the prestigious event, particularly when the ‘Tower of Tandil’ hopes for a strong showing in the final stretch of the season.
One of the more interesting aspects of Del Potro’s gameplay over the last few matches is how physically exhausted he appears during the match, and how that rarely seems to impact his ability to rally through a match. Whether he is playing possum or simply has extraordinary determination, the result is generally the same. He tends to carry himself with a posture that screams exhaustion but then produces serves and ground strokes at with power and precision reserved for the early portion of the match.
World No. 10 Richard Gasquet is back at the year-end championships for the first time since 2007, when won one match in the round robin stage against Novak Djokovic. Since then, Gasquet has had a tempestuous journey back to the championships, where he dropped to a low of 86 in the world rankings before clawing his way back into the top 10 this year. He has won three titles this season, the latest of which came in Moscow several weeks back. He also reached the quarter-finals in Paris before losing to longtime friend and World No. 1 Rafael Nadal. It has been a spectacular ride for Gasquet in 2013, as he has been able to show fans glimpses of his enormous talent on court in ways that had been absent throughout previous years.
“It’s an exciting match for me to play my first match since Shanghai six years ago,” Gasquet said. “Of course [Del Potro] will be the favourite. I know he’s a great player but I will try to play well and win the match.”
A win here would be significant for either man heading into their other round robin matches against Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. Gasquet has only ever toppled the Argentine once on the ATP tour (Indian Wells 2007) and has since only ever taken one set off the Argentine in their last five meetings. Their most recent matches have not been tight affairs, with Del Potro finishing both matches in under 90 minutes, yet they have not been on court together since the Gasquet resurgence that has taken place this year. In all cases, Del Potro will hold a heavy advantage with his big serves and his consistency in the longer rallies and will likely win the match in straight sets.
Prediction: Juan Martin Del Potro defeats Richard Gasquet