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Friday, September 03, 2004

Oliver, Rino, Potito and his backhand

During his career, Rino Tommasi, the most influencial Italian sport journalist, has proved many times to be right.

Yesterday he said in his site: “for sure, Starace has to improve his backhand, if he wants to reach a significant improvement (in the ATP ranking). Playing with competitors who are able to attack him in that side, he would have huge problems.” I am not sure that Olivier Rochus had had the chance of reading this quote before his game with Potito. However, he implicitly applied this technique all over the 5 sets with Mr. Starace yesterday at the Court 10 of the US open. I am just wondering what Mr. Tommasi is going to comment about that match.

To be honest, the Italian press suggested other reasons for the defeat with Olivier Rochus (6-1, 4-6, 4-6, 6-0, 6-3): Potito's low experience on the 5-set games (by the way, Olivier has got the same experience, as pointed out by the Belgian press), as well as his dwindling mental concentration has created a competitive advantage for the Belgian player. In 2000, Rochus, the shorter player in the ATP tour (165 cm) was able to beat, along with his brother Christophe, the Italian team in a historical match during the Davis Cup.
Looking at the game statistics, I have also noticed that Starace was really irregular during the game and he made 36 unforced errors (111% more than his competitor Rochus, and 123% more than he did in the first round with Popp).

Next week, the Organizers of the Genoa challenger ($25k, Clay) are planning to give to Potito a Wild Card for playing there. I wish however that Potito can spend more time in the US, playing fewer Tournaments, but with higher price money and prestige. The ability to reach the top 50 in the next 30 weeks and to stop playing Qualifications at the Grand Slam tournaments is crucially more dependent on his planning than on the progress on his backhand play.

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