Back in the big time
Which tennis enthusiast doesn’t like seeing this big serving Argentine back in the big time?
His passion, his character and mainly his ability to produce some of the best tennis in recent times has raised everyone’s perceptions for Juan Martin Del Potro.
After two, potentially career ending, wrist injuries the 6ft 6in monster produced a stunning performance to beat Roger Federer in four sets (5-7, 6-3, 6-7, 4-6) where he moves on to face the number one seed, Rafael Nadal.
Nadal is in flying form, having only dropped two sets in this Grand Slam so far. However, Del Potro will offer something different than what the Spaniard has faced so far.
If it wasn’t for those debilitating wrist injuries, Del Potro could well boast more major titles than the one he claimed at Flushing Meadows in 2009. This semi-final completely overshadows the other last four match-up where Kevin Anderson of South Africa faces off against the number 19 seed, Pablo Carreno-Busta.
The rise of Del Potro has been the story of the Us Open so far in the men’s draw with his outrageous comeback against Thiem followed up by the win over the 19 time Grand Slam champion, Roger Federer.
The one factor that cannot be ignored is Del Potro’s tiredness.
So far the Argentine has spent 13 hours and 20 minutes on court, an hour and 40 minutes more than his opponent. Del Potro has admitted that he might not be in the best shape to face the Madrid native.
“”Physically I’m not in the perfect conditions” but later added “”but when you play semi-finals on the Grand Slam, everything can happen.”
And he is 100% correct. Once you step foot on centre court in Queens, New York the crowd and adrenaline can drive you to do extraordinary things. Stranger things have happened. It’s no coincidence that the US Open is Del Potro’s favourite tournament. It is a place that he has fond memories for, as he collected his first and only Grand Slam title in 2009 when he beat 5-time champion, Roger Federer in the final.
In a statement he says “In my favourite tournament, I will try to enjoy the atmosphere, the game, and I know if I play my best tennis, I could be a danger for Rafa”.
Del Potro has the necessary skills and strength to put up a real challenge to the 2-time winner.
Rafa is always a danger
For Nadal, 31, he is looking to end the Grand Slam season by collecting his second major of the campaign, and 16th overall, after his record shattering 10th French Open title at Rolland Garros.
Nadal got off to a slow start at this year’s Open but has steadily improved as time has gone on. He must see this as a real chance to get within two Grand Slam titles of his arch rival, Federer.
Experts reckon this semi-final winner will be this year’s US Open champion as either athlete should have too much for the winner of the other semi-final. This is a massive incentive. For Del Potro, he has a chance to really put out a statement to the world saying that he is back with a vengeance and for Rafa; it’s an opportunity to put real pressure on the Swiss maestro.
The neutral could be forgiven for cheering on Del Potro as many would love to see him get back to winning ways and to a place that he rightfully belongs.
The realist sees a Nadal win.
The purist hopes that Del Potro wins a 5-set thriller that goes down in the history books and one of the all-time greatest sporting spectacles. However, we all hope Nadal does not win 3 sets to love. No one wants to see Nadal wipe the floor with Del Potro. T
he pundits and betting companies have Nadal as the odds on favourite to reach his fourth US Open final and not many can argue with that. His momentum has gathered pace since the very first day and his confidence has grown with every win and match point secured. Just as long as Del Potro has a more frequent presence in the final stages of Grand Slams, everyone will be happy.