There are few greater sights in tennis than watching a seasoned pro pull off a shot between their legs. The world of tennis is usually full of tight and tense affairs, but once in a while, one of the players will conjure up a bit of magic to win a rally, and a “tweener” shot manages to look cool every time.
One of the tennis players capable of producing something astonishing at any given instant is Argentina’s Juan Martin Del Potro. At the top of his game, Del Potro was near the pinnacle of the sport, ranking as high as fourth in the world in 2010, and while his star has fallen in recent times (he has slipped 28 places to rank 32nd overall), Del Potro is still quite capable of moments of brilliance, as he showed in the second round of this year’s BNP Paribas Open.
Del Potro was up against fellow Argentine Federico Delbonis in the California-based tournament, and had taken a 3-1 lead in the first set. There was plenty of tennis still to play, however, and Delbonis seemed set to claw back a point after cleverly luring Del Potro to the net with a drop shot, before dispatching the 28-year-old with a lob volley. Well, that’s what should have happened.
We’ve seen the likes of Roger Federer pull off a shot between the legs before, but what makes this effort from Del Potro extra special is the fact that this tweener is also a perfectly executed lob. Federico Delbonis could only watch on in despair as the ball sailed over his head, landing deliciously inside the baseline as the crowd went wild, barely able to believe what they’ve seen.
The commentator called Del Potro’s effort the “shot of the tournament”, and although the BNP Paribas Open is only in its early stages, it will be hard for anyone to beat that tweener lob for its technique and sheer aesthetic quality.
To Federico Delbonis’ credit, he didn’t let the glorious shot dent his confidence too badly; the all-Argentinian affair eventually went to a tie-break in the first set, but Juan Martin Del Potro eventually prevailed before winning the second set 6-3 to progress to the next round.
Del Potro will be looking to leave the tournament with his 20th career title, but his star turn against Federico Delbonis has been rewarded with a match against world No.2 Novak Djokovic. The previous two matches between Del Potro and Djokovic have been thoroughly entertaining affairs; Del Potro beating the Serb in the 2016 Olympic Games before Djokovic claimed his revenge earlier this year at February’s Mexican Open in Acapulco.
Novak Djokovic dispatched Great Britain’s Kyle Edmund 6-4 7-6 in the previous round, and with the two previous matches being tight and passionately contested, expectations are high for the match.