The curious case of Federico Delbonis and the success of his opponents

Sometimes when the desired results don’t come one start to look for explanations, specially when talent is present and the opponents are the same as before. Moreover, in a burgeoning career it’s rare to see that, suddenly, one starts to lose more often than usual. Surely there are a dozen factors that only the player, his coach and his entourage know about. It could be an injury, a change in style, a new serve, or simply a bad stretch cause by a decrease in confidence. Here I present you a different angle, and a theory that has been proving itself week after week. But first, let me give you a little background

I introduce you the story of Federico Delbonis of Argentina. Born in 1990, he reached his career ranking high in July of 2010 (117 in the world) after a meteoric rise in 2009 that saw him go, in a matter of months, from barely qualifying to Futures to give Stan Wawrinka all he could handle at the ATP in Gstaad, Switzerland. Delbonis then finished 2010 ranked 160 after a subpar showing in the South American challengers of the Copa Petrobras.

Delbonis then started 2011 with his sights set on breaking into the top 100, make it to the big leagues and play in the Grand Slams. The problem is that, as of mid-April, his current ranking is still 157 and he has to defend a significant amount of points from the same time last year. This is because Delbonis has lost this year to opponents he has already beaten in the past, or that he should beat if one takes his potential and their rankings into account. Here are some examples:

In his first tournament of the year, Delbonis reached the semi-finals of the Sao Paulo CH, where he lost to Ricardo Mello, the experienced Brazilian.  After beating Delbonis, Mello went on to win the title with a 62 61 win over 1990-born Rafael Camilo. Weeks later, also in Brazil, Delbonis lost to Facundo Bagnis in the second round of the Brazil’s ATP at Costa do Sauipe. Bagnis ended up advancing to the main draw before losing in the first round to Portugal’s Rui Machado. Besides, Bagnis today is going through the best stretch of his young career, setting career high rankings almost weekly.

At the beginning of March, Delbonis went to try his luck at the Salinas CH in Ecuador. There, after reaching the QFs, he lost to compatriot and 1988-born Andres Molteni, a veteran of the Futures circuit taking his first steps at the challenger level. After beating Delbonis with a hard-fought 64 in the third set, Molteni went on to win the tournament, his first at that level, beating former 41-ranked Argentine Horacio Zeballos.

His schedule continued in Morocco, where Delbonis was forced to play his second round and quarter final matches during the same day because of a rain delay. In the second round he beat Slovak Ivo Klec in 3 sets, and later battled out another 3-setter against Czech Ivo Minar, before running out of gas and losing. Minar went on to win the challenger (played in Rabat), beating another challenger veteran in Aussie Peter Luczak.

The following week, also in Morocco (Marrakech), Delbonis surprisingly lost in the first round against Frenchman Augustin Gensse, 200 in the world at the time. Unsurprisingly, however (because of my theory), Gensse enjoyed a dream week in which he beat compatriot Desnieres de Veigy and the up and coming Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas before being eliminated in the semis by Portugal’s Rui Machado. By mid-April Gensse had achieved a new career high.

Last week, Delbonis flew to Monza, Italy to take part in a new challenger. After getting through R1, he lost in the second round to German Julian Reister, a match in which he had 3 match points in the second set tie-breaker. As you can probably imagine by now, Reister completed one of the best weeks of his life by beating fellow German Andres Beck in the semis and the local favorite Alessio Di Mauro in the final to, not only win the title but also to enter the top 100 in the world for the first time.

And here’s the cherry that goes on top: Delbonis participated at the end of last week in the qualy for the Masters 1000 at Monte Carlo, but was eliminated in the first round by Portuguese Frederico Gil. And guess what? Gil not only won his QR2 match to make it to the main draw; he also beat Sergiy Stakhovsky, Florian Mayer and GAEL MONFILS to advance to his first QF at such tournament level. And the dream continues: he plays Andy Murray tomorrow and then a possible date with a dude named Radael Nadal. Can he make it happen? (editor’s note = he lost to Murray 62 61. Oh well…)

Probably this is just a random correlation. But weirder things have happened before. I just want to say that it’s clearly possible that sometimes a player is unlucky enough to, somehow, bring the best in his opponents and lead them to have their best week of the year. The only sure thing is that if my theory keeps “proving itself” throughout the year, everyone is going to want to beat Delbonis because, unfortunately, he has become a sort of lucky.

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Barcelona Open Entry List

As I’m going to spend next week in Barcelona watching a looot of tennis, I wanted to share with you the players that will be there. I’ll be sharing pictures and information from the tournament!!

Main Draw Singles

1 Nadal, Rafael ESP 1
2 Soderling, Robin SWE 4
3 Murray, Andy GBR 5
4 Ferrer, David ESP 6
5 Berdych, Tomas CZE 7
6 Melzer, Jurgen AUT 10
7 Monfils, Gael FRA 11
8 Almagro, Nicolas ESP 12
9 Gasquet, Richard FRA 21
10 Dolgopolov, Alexandr UKR 23
OUT Querrey, Sam USA 24
12 Garcia-Lopez, Guillermo ESP 25
13 Montanes, Albert ESP 26
14 Robredo, Tommy ESP 28
15 Bellucci, Thomaz BRA 29
16 Chela, Juan Ignacio ARG 32
17 Raonic, Milos CAN 37
18 Golubev, Andrey KAZ 39
19 Anderson, Kevin RSA 40
20 Lopez, Feliciano ESP 41
21 Davydenko, Nikolay RUS 42
22 Giraldo, Santiago COL 44
23 Ferrero, Juan Carlos ESP 46
24 Starace, Potito ITA 47
OUT Seppi, Andreas ITA 48
26 Granollers, Marcel ESP 50
27 Malisse, Xavier BEL 52
28 de Bakker, Thiemo NED 53
29 Fognini, Fabio ITA 54
30 Istomin, Denis UZB 55
31 Haase, Robin NED 56
32 Dodig, Ivan CRO 57
33 Hanescu, Victor ROU 58
34 Gimeno-Traver, Daniel ESP 61
35 Kukushkin, Mikhail KAZ 62
36 Nishikori, Kei JPN 63
OUT Hewitt, Lleyton AUS 64
38 Cuevas, Pablo URU 66
39 Stepanek, Radek CZE 67
40 Kamke, Tobias GER 68
41 Andujar, Pablo ESP 69
42 Berlocq, Carlos ARG 70
43 Dimitrov, Grigor BUL 71
44 (SE)
45 (Q)
46 (Q)
47 (Q)
48 (Q)
49 (Q)
50 (Q)
51 (Q)
52 (WC)
53 (WC)
54 (WC)
55 (WC)
56 (WC)

IN Riba, Pere ESP 72
OUT Berankis, Richard LTU 74
IN Ramirez Hidalgo, Ruben ESP 76
IN Gabashvili, Teymuraz RUS 77
1. Brands, Daniel GER 80
2. Kavcic, Blaz SLO 81
OUT Gil, Frederico POR 85
3. Kendrick, Robert USA 86
4. Sela, Dudi ISR 87
5. Russell, Michael USA 89
6. Zeballos, Horacio ARG 92
7. Machado, Rui POR 94
OUT Daniel, Marcos BRA 95
8. Andreev, Igor RUS 96
9. Bolelli, Simone ITA 97

Main Draw Dobles

1 Bryan, Bob (USA)/Bryan, Mike (USA) 2
2 Mirnyi, Max (BLR)/Nestor, Daniel (CAN) 9
3 Melzer, Jurgen (AUT)/Zimonjic, Nenad (SRB) 12
4 Kubot, Lukasz (POL)/Marach, Oliver (AUT) 21
5 Fyrstenberg, Mariusz (POL)/Matkowski, Marcin (POL) 27
6 Bopanna, Rohan (IND)/Qureshi, Aisam-Ul-Haq (PAK) 27
7 Lindstedt, Robert (SWE)/Tecau, Horia (ROU) 36
8 Murray, Andy (GBR)/Murray, Jamie (GBR) 45
9 Almagro, Nicolas (ESP)/Raonic, Milos (CAN) 47
10 Knowles, Mark (BAH)/Mertinak, Michal (SVK) 51
11 Granollers, Marcel (ESP)/Robredo, Tommy (ESP) 52
12 Cermak, Frantisek (CZE)/Ram, Andy (ISR) 54
13 Butorac, Eric (USA)/Rojer, Jean-Julien (AHO) 56
14 Lopez, Marc (ESP)/Monaco, Juan (ARG) 58
15 Melo, Marcelo (BRA)/Soares, Bruno (BRA) 58
OUT Chela, Juan Ignacio (ARG)/Schwank, Eduardo (ARG) 60
17 (OS)
18 (OS)
19 (OS)
20 (OS)
21 (OS)
22 (OS)
23 (WC)
24 (WC)

IN Dolgopolov, Alexandr (UKR)/Malisse, Xavier (BEL) 67
1 Anderson, Kevin (RSA)/Hanley, Paul (AUS) 68
2 Bracciali, Daniele (ITA)/Marrero, David (ESP) 76
3 Gonzalez, Santiago (MEX)/Lipsky, Scott (USA) 80
4 Aspelin, Simon (SWE)/Knowle, Julian (AUT) 84
5 Cuevas, Pablo (URU)/Dlouhy, Lukas (CZE) 85
6 Bellucci, Thomaz (BRA)/Sa, Andre (BRA) 89
7 Golubev, Andrey (KAZ)/Istomin, Denis (UZB) 93
8 de Bakker, Thiemo (NED)/Haase, Robin (NED) 116
9 Seppi, Andreas (ITA)/Vagnozzi, Simone (ITA) 122
10 Starace, Potito (ITA)/Ventura, Santiago (ESP) 123
11 Giraldo, Santiago (COL)/Riba, Pere (ESP) 133
12 Cerretani, James (USA)/Shamasdin, Adil (CAN) 137
13 Moser, Frank (GER)/Skoch, David (CZE) 192
14 Luczak, Peter (AUS)/Motti, Alessandro (ITA) 294


1 Nieminen, Jarkko FIN 56
OUT Berankis, Richard LTU 75
OUT Gabashvili, Teymuraz RUS 77 (to MD)
4 Brands, Daniel GER 83
OUT Kavcic, Blaz SLO 85
OUT Rochus, Olivier BEL 89
OUT Andreev, Igor RUS 93
OUT Ramirez Hidalgo, Ruben ESP 94 (to MD)
9 Gonzalez, Maximo ARG 98
10 Marchenko, Illya UKR 99
11 Machado, Rui POR 102
12 Zverev, Mischa GER 103
13 Bolelli, Simone ITA 104
14 Hajek, Jan CZE 106
15 Gremelmayr, Denis GER 109
16 Ramos, Albert ESP 111
17 Ilhan, Marsel TUR 114
18 Huta Galung, Jesse NED 115
19 Kubot, Lukasz POL 120
OUT Schwank, Eduardo ARG 121
21 Schukin, Yuri KAZ 123
22 Paire, Benoit FRA 124
OUT Harrison, Ryan USA 130
24 Rosol, Lukas CZE 131
25 (WC)
26 (WC)
27 (WC)
28 (WC)

IN Greul, Simon GER 133
IN Del Bonis, Federico ARG 138
IN Niland, Conor IRL 139
IN Roger-Vasselin, Edouard FRA 142
OUT Capdeville, Paul CHI 146
IN Skugor, Franco CRO 150
IN Millot, Vincent FRA 161
OUT Luczak, Peter AUS 165
IN Meffert, Dominik GER 171
IN Cipolla, Flavio ITA 172
1. Vagnozzi, Simone ITA 190
2. Navarro, Ivan ESP 193
3. Donskoy, Evgeny RUS 200
4. Olaso, Guillermo ESP 203
5. Balazs, Attila HUN 204
6. Copil, Marius ROU 216
7. Klec, Ivo SVK 220
8. Alcaide, Guillermo ESP 222
9. Lojda, Dusan CZE 223
10. Semjan, Marek SVK 224

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Del Potro, back on clay courts

Juan Martín Del Potro, who hasn’t play a match in clay since Roland Garros 2009 where he lost to Roger Federer in semifinals (3-6/7-6(2)/2-6/6-1/6-4), has started to train in clay courts in order to be ready for the European clay season. He could be back in Estoril.

This is what he wrote in his Twitter account (@delpotrojuan) “I tell you all that I’m training back on clay courts after almost two years! Hopefully I’ll arrive at a good level for the next tournaments!“.

After playing in Miami his decition was to stop playing tournaments for three or four weeks to get in a better shape for the big events, essencialy the French Grand Slam. His calendar from now on starts on Estoril the 25th April and goes on with Madrid, Rome and Roland Garros.

Talking a little bit about the current tournament, Montecarlo, Juan Mónaco and Juan Ignacio Chela both lost in first round against Jo Wilfred Tsonga, in three sets, and Rochus respectively.


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The serve explained by Horacio Zeballos

Fila video about playing recomendations, the first episode, the serve, explained by Horacio Zeballos. I upload the video here and I’ll make a transcript of what he says. Enjoy it!!

“The key to make a good serve is try to catch the ball well up and try to vary the effects, because if someone serves always the same way, for example flat serve, the opponent is going to get used to it easily. That is the reason why it is important to vary the effects. What it is also important is to take your time before serving, you have to try to focus where you want the serve to be and if you do that, it is going to be way much easier that the ball goes where you want it to. Then you get focus on the place where you are gonna serve the ball, stay concentrated, bouce the ball some times because it generates a better visualization for each serve. And that one was an ACE”.

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The Drop Shot explained by Horacio Zeballos

Fila video about playing recomendations, the second episode, the drop shot is explained by Horacio Zeballos. I upload the video here and I’ll make a transcript of what he says. Enjoy it!!

“The drop shot is mostly used in clay because you have more time and the ball does not bounce in and out as fast as if in a concrete court. The key in the drop shot is throw the ball and try to surprise the opponent becase if the opponent is within the court will not have the same function than if you’re into the field continuously attacking, moving  the player along the court and you then use the drop shot. That is therefore essential, try to use the drop shot whenever the player is far behind the baseline”

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Eduardo Schwank – Player’s Profile

Eduardo Jonatan Schwank was born the 23rd of April 1986 in Rosario (Santa Fé, Argentina). His father, Rolando, is deceased and his mother, Marta, has three other children, older than Eduardo, whose names are Leonardo, Gerardo and Edoardo.

The Schwank’s family background is from the German speaking part of Switzerland.

He started playing tennis at the age of four and his first-ever coach was Cristian Amsler. He likes soccer and his favourite team is Boca Juniors.

Nowadays, he is coached by Martín Rodríguez and he turned pro in 2005.

Career highlights

As a junior he was noted by winning several tournaments, the most important one ewas the Banana Bowl in 2004, and becoming world number two in his category the same year.

In 2003 he won his first pro match in a Future in Argentina (d.Galdon) and he lost in the second round against Juan Monaco.

In 2005 he reached his first Futures semifinal in Santiago (lost to Del Potro).

In 2006 he won 6 Futures finals out of 6 played (four in Argentina and two in Bolivia). He jumped from No. 976 to No. 294.

In 2007 he won other three Futures in Argentina and started playing Challengers. He won his fisrt Challenger tittle in Medellin (Colombia). He also qualified to his first ATP tournament in Costa do Sauipe (Brasil). He won the bronze medal in dobles in the “Juegos Panamericanos” in Rio de Janeiro with Horacio Zeballos.

In 2008 Eduardo was one of the most improved players on the ATP circuit. He won three Challenger titles in Cremona, Rome and Bordeaux in a row. In february he qualified and reached his first ATP semis in Costa do Sauipe (lost to Lapentti). He also qualified to his first Grand Slam in Roland Garros and reached third round defeating 98′ champion Carlos Moyà in a five-set opening round. In July he reached an other ATP semifinal in Stuttgart.

In 2009 he won two other challenger titles in Santiago and Lima and was runner-up in Belo Horizonte.

In 2010 he finished in the top75 for the second time in three years and he reached the top50 for the first time. His best ATP world tour results were QF in Santiago, Acapulco and Barcelona. He won a Challenger title in Bucaramanga. He was part of the Argentine team that won the ARAG World Cup in Dusseldorf (with Zeballos, Monaco and Veronelli). In doubles he won his first ATP title in Stuttgart (with Berlocq) and reached Wimbledon semifinals (with Juan Ignacio Chela), US Open semifinals (with Horacio Zeballos) and was finalist in Montpellier (with Marc Lopez)

Information Sources: ATP; Wikipedia


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Juan Ignacio Chela – Player Profile

Juan Ignacio Chela is a professional tennis player, who was born the 29th of August 1979 in Ciudad Evita, Buenos Aires. His mother, Felisa Rodríguez is a housewife and his father Pedro Emir is a factory supervisor. He has an older sister, Eugenia.

Juan Ignacio started to play tennis at the age of six with his older sister. He enjoys listening to music; his favourite style is rock ‘n roll and his favourite band is Los Redondos, from Argentina. His favourite surface is clay and his actual physical trainer is Leonardo Prieto and his coach is Pablo Fuente. He turned pro in 1998. His nickname is “el Flaco” due to his thin and lanky appearance.

Career highlights

His best result in the junior’s period was winning Latin America Junior’s Championship in Brazil in 1997.

In 1998 he reached his first Challenger final in Lima (Peru) and he lost to Koubek.

In 1999 he won his first Challenger title in Salinas (Ecuador) and the same year he also won the Challenger of Salinas (Peru)

In 2000 he finished the year for the first time on the top100 as the number 63 of the ATP Ranking and he won his first ATP title in Mexico City starting the tournament by playing the Qualifying.

In 2001 he got a three month suspension and then he won 6 titles in challenger tournaments. He reached his second ATP final in Bogotá but he lost to Vicente.

2002 was an excellent year, he finished on the top25 for the first time and he reached the final in Sydney, for the first time in a hard court, where he lost against Federer. Then he won the tournament of Amersfoort, where he defeated Albert Costa, Roland Garros’ winner, in the final. He was part of the Davis Cup team that reached the semi-finals that year.

He didn’t get very good results in 2003, he reached just one ATP semi-finals in Chennai but he started to be regular in the important tournaments, reaching usually quarterfinals or 4th round. He defeated 3 top10 and 5 top20 throughout the year. He was also part of the Argentine Davis Cup Team.

In 2004 he gets he’s better position on the ATP Ranking (15th). He won the third title of his career in Estoril (Portugal). In Roland Garros he reaches for the first time quarterfinals of a Grand Slam losing in three sets to Tim Herman. He didn’t get any more good results in 2004 in singles but he won two doubles tournaments with Gastón Gaudio as a partner.

He started well in 2005 reaching two consecutive semifinals in Adelaida and Auckland and 3rd round in the Australian Open. Other good results along the year were semifinals in Los Angeles and New Heaven (both in hard courts) and quarterfinals in Hamburgo Master Series.

In 2006 he finished the year in the top40 for the 5th consecutive year. His better results of the year were 4th round the Australian Open and finalist in Acapulco (lost to Luis Horna) and Kitzbuhel (lost to Agustín Calleri). He is inside the Argentine Davis Cup team for all the ties, including the first final for Argentina in 25 years (Argentina lost to Russia in Moscow.

2007 was his best year in the circuit. He announced he wasn’t available to play Davis Cup because he wanted to focus on the circuit. He didn’t lose in a first round until the half of the year. He won his 4th title in Acapulco, defeating Carlos Moyá (ESP) in the final and he reached consecutive quarterfinals in the Masters Series of Indian Wells, Miami and Rome. In the US Open he reached quarterfinal in a Grand Slam for the second time in his career, where he lost to David Ferrer. The end of the year wasn’t quite good but thanks to his regularity along the year he finishes the nº20 of the world and it allowed him to go to the Master Cup in Shanghai as the second alternate.

In 2008 he didn’t get good results, the best one was semifinals in Buenos Aires Open.

In 2009 The Argentine finished in Top 100 for ninth time in 10 years, highlighted by a 31-9 record in Challengers with one title and one runner-up…His best ATP World Tour results were QF showings on clay in Viña del Mar (l. to Robredo) in February and Kitzbühel (l. Hernandez) in May…Played in first round Davis Cup vs. the Netherlands and won both matches…In 10 Challenger tournaments, reached SF or better eight times, including title in November in Medellin, Colombia (d. Souza)…Also runner-up at Brasilia-2 in August (l. to Mello)…Went 10-11 on clay and 1-3 on hard.

In 2010 showing a very high tennis level he won 2 tournaments, in Houston and Bucarest.

Information source: ATP; Wikipedia

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