Juan Martin del Potro – boomtown!

The man from Del Potro, Delpo or Delboy as he is affectionately known! What a man, what a joy to watch. At a time when the top 4 (Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray), all looked pretty much invincible to the outside world, this was the man that even in their peak, used to be able to cause an upset to one or two of them. He simply wasn’t phased and doesn’t fear anyone. Coming from 2 sets to 1 down in the final of the US against Federer was simply sensational at the time. I will never forget those two forehands in the space of a few points in that fourth set, these pair of beauties unquestionably played their part in the fightback that evening. They were hit so hard even watching them now I actually struggle to follow the flight of the ball from his racket. Federer probably didn’t even see them come to mention it, all he would have heard is “Advantage Del Potro”. It is also very easy to forget that he softened Nole up nicely for Muzza in the 2013 Wimbledon final, by almost upsetting the top seed in a 4 and 3/4 hour long match on the second Friday of the tournament. He peppered Djokovic that day with blow after blow, feeding off the crowd’s support, something he’s very good at in matches and you can’t underestimate that!

The amount of time this poor lad has had to spend on the sidelines though has been an absolute joke, mainly due to several wrist injuries. You would not wish that on your worst enemy, let alone a player that is not only popular but well supported worldwide due to his personality and his attacking and uncompromising style of play. We all know that barring the crippling injuries he has suffered he would surely have added to his single grand slam victory at the US Open all the way back in 2009 now. I find it hard to believe that was 7 years ago this September.

What makes Del Boy so appealing is the fact that he is one of the few ‘box office/prime time players’ on tour. The big serve and forehand play a big part in that, you are sat there on the edge of your seat just waiting for him to pull the trigger, if needed he can be as patient as is required, though. He also has a general demeanour that wins him over to a lot of tennis fans. The Argentine loves regular banter on court with his opponents and umpire’s alike, not to mention chatting to and high-fiving members of the crowd from time to time. Having a rapport with the crowd comes naturally as he often gestures after a big point to get them involved. His lethargic manner in between points where he strolls and struts about and his on court swag, usually in colourful attire finished off with the bandanna all contribute to making him a fans favourite. I can only think of the once when he got involved with Murray back in 2008 in Rome has he potentially overstepped the mark. He made some remark about Judy Murray, which Murray didn’t take too kindly to, who would? You learn from it, though, no different to what I said about Kyrgios. All it really showed was that the Argentine was young and keen! Delpo comes across like a gentle giant and is usually the first to applaud his opponents play and give them a bit of a hug at the net when congratulating them. He’s exciting to watch and everyone loves a competitor who can hammer winners from all areas of the court. SMACK!

Del Potro is also a very patriotic Argentine, who loves representing his country in Davis Cup and the Olympics. He got his hands on the Davis Cup last year and earned his corn in doing so. Beating Murray in Glasgow was absolutely massive in the semi-final, then in the final in Zagreb, victory over Marin Cilic took the tie a decisive rubber where Delbonis ousted Karlovic to give the Argentines victory. He’s been exceptionally unlucky in the Olympics but still has two medals, just not the colour he wanted so badly. In London Federer denied him a place in the final with a 19-17 victory in the semi, again probably softening the Fed-Ex up for Muzza in the final. He then came back and beat Djokovic in the bronze medal match. He was oh so close in Rio last year, where he gave everything in a four-set defeat to Murray, both players crying into their towels at the end!

In his latest comeback, he has modified the backhand and has also been slicing a lot more. This is obviously down to the wrist and as a result, this wing has been targeted even more than previously by opponents. Now we all know the main issue with a wrist injury is that you lose a certain amount of confidence. So with the decent results of late, this shows what could be around the corner if he gains full confidence again. Let’s face it, I certainly hope he’s around for a few more years yet and he should be. At 28 there is still time to add to his collection, I miss him when he’s not around, he’s a massive character with far too much ability to not pine for a little when he’s away. I’m a big fan of someone who’s capable of consistent, big hitting, lights out tennis, Delboy has the weapons.

Andy Del Potro

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