A US Open champion in 2009, del Potro has struggled with injuries in recent years. However, 2013 was one of his most impressive to date and one that I have followed with particular interest.
At the Australian Open he lost a mammoth five-setter to Jeremy Chardy in the third round. Delpo didn’t dwell on that and won his next event, the ATP 500 in Rotterdam – reminding the tennis elite of his abilities.
The Indian Wells Masters demonstrated del Potro’s competence among the top players. Tommy Haas, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic fell victim to his incredible form over that week. Rafael Nadal edged the big-serving player in a three-set final.
Struggling to reignite that blithering form, the 2012 Olympic bronze medallist never really kick-started his clay season, which was hampered by injuries – forcing him to withdraw from the French Open.
Like with Andy Murray, missing the clay courts of Roland Garros appeared to be a blessing but, unlike Murray, Delpo didn’t reach the final and win it –boy did he come close though. An epic Wimbledon semi-final against Djokovic ended in defeat; the match will go down in history as one of the best in the majors. At stages it appeared as though the Argentinean would keel over yet he kept coming back from the brink. Enthralling stuff -breathtaking to watch.
Post-SW19 the one-time Slam champ picked up his second ATP 500 tournament of the year in Washington.
The US Open didn’t prove to be as successful as his 2009 heroics. Lleyton Hewitt dumped del Potro out in the second round.
Following the New York disappointment, yet another title was added to the 25-year-old’s honours list. Tokyo was the venue for another ATP 500 victory. The week after saw the form continue in the Shanghai Masters; world number one Nadal was turned over in straight sets. In the final against Nole, Delpo took the game to a third set tie-break shout-out; although Djokovic managed to edge the encounter 1-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3).
Another week and another ATP 500 title for del Potro at Basel in late October. A final sweep against Roger Federer on his own backyard clinched a fourth title on the 500 tournament tier in 2013 and eighth over his entire career.
South American Delpo headed to the ATP World Tour Finals with a somewhat hampered journey and a horrible story. Putting that aside, a win and defeat in his first two round-robin matches meant that he had to beat Federer in order to qualify for the semi-finals. Swiss maestro Fed emerged as the winner in a three-setter under the O2’s lights, thus ending Juan Martin’s year.
It has been a hugely encouraging season for him, especially on the Tour. To illustrate this, the Argentinean has claimed some immense scalps throughout the year and gained a surge in support from many tennis fans, including myself; I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching him this year.
If injuries evade in 2014 I genuinely believe the top few should be wary. Can he win another Grand Slam? Yes, of course! At 25, there’s more time for him to reach his zenith. The top four are all older than del Potro.
Furthermore, who doesn’t admire his forehand? Reaching immense speeds and causing troubles for opponents make it one of the best in the game. Watch it below in slow-motion and master it!
– Nathan Morley