Juan Martin del Potro: Lethal Elegance

Watching Juan Martin del Potro is an experience …

There is a tranquillity he brings to the arena. It’s as if angels saunter inside his head when there is a bedlam of a fire storm outside. One can almost visualize each grain of sand falling through the sand clock in the Aztecs, as he quite nonchalantly yet unhurriedly towels himself before looking for optic wilsons to serve for the next point. It’s almost as if the call of ‘Time’ by the chair umpire is as effective as the words of wisdom of a worried dad to his revolting teenage son.  Have you seen those commercials (I think Old Spice) where they freeze the frame, when the undulating waves of the ocean are at their very crest? It’s the point just before all mayhem breaks loose when the waves come crashing down as they dismantle themselves in unison. That is the same freeze point that exists as ‘The Elf’ (as he is called) prepares to serve.

The ‘Tower from Tandil’ trans-morphs himself from being the quintessence of serenity into a vicious machine that spits fireball forehands and hissy fit serves towards the opponent. Tranquillity morphs into chaos, and serenity into ferocity.

It’s like a clinical scalpel working its way through a patient on a surgeon’s table. The slow yet fluid and economic backswing followed by rapid racket head acceleration – eventually resulting in what I would pay a million bucks to see live, that ‘Flat Tyre Forehand’. Its clinical, it’s lethally effective, most entities associated with such power aren’t supposed to elegant, but this one oddly is. Let’s use an oxymoron to describe it – ‘Lethal Elegance’. Such ferocity and power isn’t usually emblematic of nimbleness of feet, this one oddly embodies nimbleness and flexibility. His feel for the ball is quite unparalleled, probably most evident as he reflexively sliced across the ball from the baseline for a clean lob winner that bounced a millimeter inside the tram line. His opponent today, Simon could only look and wonder.

For a fleeting moment del Potro looked at the skies with clenched fists, only to assuredly morph into his bubble of unperturbed tranquillity again, as he looked at Simon to receive a serve.

As the crowd in Louis Armstrong looked in awe …