In today's Delray Beach final, won by Juan Martin del Potro, 6-4, 6-4, chair umpire Fergus Murphy's microphone was spotty, Janko Tipsarevic played incredibly poor tennis and the Argentine was called "Juan del Potro" during the trophy ceremony—twice! But for a player who went from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows in professional tennis, it was a beautiful victory no matter how you look at it.
It is rare to see a player of del Potro's caliber enter an event as tiny as Delray Beach, and for a while it didn't look like we were watching a former U.S. Open champion. Del Potro, a fine mover for his size but hardly a gazelle, was practically stationary in the opening games, which Tipsarevic controlled. The Serb opened up a 4-1 lead after nearly combusting, when Murphy didn't overrule a del Potro second serve ace on break point. It turned out to be Tipsarevic's peak. He combusted mentally thereafter, dropping the next five games despite a patchy offensive performance from del Potro.
In del Potro's defense, I liked one part of his game today very much: his defense. With Tipsarevic clearly off, del Potro kept rallies going by any means necessary, often with his slice backhand. It's not a pretty shot, or a point-ender, but against a struggling opponent it doesn't have to be. After Tipsarevic—now 0-3 in ATP finals—double-faulted on break point at 2-2 in the second set, del Potro earned all the cushion he would need to close out the match. We saw shades of the 2009 del Potro the rest of the way, but never the complete package. He needed to be that good two Septembers ago, when he beat Roger Federer in the Flushing Meadows final. That wasn't the case today against Tipsarevic.