INDIAN WELLS – The more Vasek Pospisil talked about it, the better he started to feel about the whole thing.
The 26-year-old Canadian had match point against fellow qualifier Dusan Lajovic of Serbia Monday in the 3rd round of the BNP Paribas Open, beaten by an all-world passing shot that was pretty low percentage but sometimes, at the crucial time, gets made.
He has no regrets about that one; in the end, the daytime conditions did him in after playing all of his previous matches in the desert in the cooler evening and Pospisil went down 67 (4) 63 75.
It was pretty apparent, especially in the third set, that the spirit was still willing, but the legs were weak.
The tennis gods weren’t necessarily on his side. The match scheduled prior to Pospisil-Lajovic never happened, because Roberto Bautista Agut gave Pablo Carreño Busta a walkover into the fourth round. They did give Pospisil and Lajovic a “not before 3 p.m.” start time but still, had the all-Spanish matchup been played and gone the distance, he might have been able to start some 90 minutes later, at least. That might have helped.
That is life on the tennis circuit, though. And through the disappointment (Pospisil was speaking after he and American partner Steve Johnson lost their second-round doubles match in a match tiebreak to Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo), he could see the positives after awhile.
Here’s the audio of the post-match interview:
Pospisil’s serve and forehand were flying on him, especially at the beginning. He told Open Court that he had strung his racquets tighter to allow for that eventuality in the daytime conditions but still, it wasn’t enough. So he went to an even tighter racquet.
At first, when he still had his legs, Pospisil was able to take advantage of the Serb’s crazy-deep return position on second serve to come in and hit some drop volleys.
How deep? At one point, he had to shoo back the linesman on the ad-court sideline away between first and second serve, so he wouldn’t get him with his backswing.
The veteran Shino, of course, needed no such direction; she saw what was happening and immediately backed up to the wall before Lajovic returned second serves. 🙂
Eventually Lajovic ran down a few of those volleys. At that point, a wearying Pospisil tried to cut the drop volleys too find, and he missed several into the net. He said later that he wanted to remain aggressive and forward-moving, but because the ball was flying off the racquet on his forehand (the shot he mainly uses to approach the net), he lost confidence in it a little bit and was more hesitant to make that play.
By the third set, he was definitely on fumes. It was fairly obvious to most onlookers. But still, if Lajovic doesn’t make that pass, Pospisil is in the clubhouse and preparing to play Carreño Busta for a spot in the quarter-finals. On such fine margins are deep runs in tournaments made.
It was the first time in eons that Pospisil had played five singles matches (in seven days, including three days in a row) at a top-level event. That’s something he obviously hopes to duplicate more often in the months to come. And this was a start towards that.
He’ll move up about 11 spots (to about No. 118) in the singles rankings after the effort, having had a second-round effort from 2016 to defend in terms of points. He will skip the qualifying at the Miami Open to play two Challengers in Mexico: Guadalajara (a $50K) and Leon (a $75K) to work on improving that ranking, also having a second-round result in Miami a year ago to defend (25 points).
It’s a smart move, even if it might seen like a blow to the ego to go from a Masters 1000 tournament down to a $50K. The humid conditions in Miami are not Pospisil’s friend, and if he were to go down early in the qualifying he’d find himself having wasted a full week.