Juan Martin Del Potro returns to clay for the first time since May 2013 as he continues to search for form. He faces off against Dustin Brown in opening round play at the BMW Open in Munich.
(WC) Juan Martin Del Potro vs Dustin Brown
Del Potro returns to the court for the first time since a disappointing second round exit in Miami to Horacio Zeballos. Del Potro has struggled for consistency since returning from injury this season, going 5-3. His best result stands as his return in Delray Beach, where he made the semifinals. He has gone 2-2 since then through the American Masters swing in Indian Wells and Miami. Now, he returns to clay for the first time in nearly three years. Clay has been a pretty solid surface for the Argentine during his rise to prominence before the rash of injuries that has wiped out most of the last two seasons. The French Open was the site of Del Potro’s first Grand Slam semifinal, coming in 2009. That was the same year that he would win the U.S. Open.
Brown gets back on dirt for the first time since last summer. It has not been a great surface for him with just a 12-18 record in his career on clay. He is 3-4 in main draw matches in Munich, never advancing past the round of 16. His last main draw win on clay at the ATP level came last April in Casablanca against Andrey Kuznetsov. Brown has been dealing with a wrist injury that has caused him to be sidelined since early March. The German has not found a groove again at the ATP level this season for the most part. He had one big run to the semifinals in Montpellier, but has been playing all Challenger events since that time.
This is the first time these two will meet on court. It’s a fascinating challenge for Del Potro, who would likely prefer someone with a more straight forward game. Brown is anything but that, with his variety of drop shots and a propensity for playing serve and volley tennis when he’s at his best. The problem for Brown is that serve and volley tennis on clay is much more difficult to execute with the precision and aggravation it can cause on faster surfaces. On the slower surface, returners often are able to react better off their opponent’s serve to keep the volleying player from being in good positions to execute shots.
Against Del Potro however, Brown may be able to use that tactic some with the Argentine often preferring to rally and ball bash from the baseline. That of course gives Brown multiple options with the serve and volley and his variety of drop shots to make Del Potro run. It’s certainly not a bad idea to test the fitness of a guy who is still working to find his best. The question will be whether Brown can execute that sort of game plan consistently against the power of Del Potro. Let’s also not forget that despite his size, Del Potro is a gifted athlete who has shown great agility and court coverage in the past.
Both players figure to have a little rust to their games with Del Potro not having played on this surface for such as long time and Brown coming back from the wrist injury. The good news is that Brown made it through a doubles match on Monday and reported no issues. That could give him a small edge early against Del Potro as the Argentine tries to get used to match conditions on clay again. An upset is certainly possible due to the lack of confidence Del Potro has displayed, but Brown has that same feeling on clay in general. That could make for an intriguing first round clash on Tuesday.
On hard courts or grass, The Pig might fancy an upset here for Dreddy B. On clay, that is more difficult to see. Don’t discount Brown from taking a set and making life difficult for Del Potro, but I believe the Argentine will find a way to edge this in the end.
Del Potro wins in three sets