By Chris Oddo/ Monday, October 14, 2013
Juan Martin del Potro hasn't won a Grand Slam since 2009, but many feel his destiny is not to be a one-Slam wonder.
Photo Source: AP
After his run to the final in Shanghai, many are wondering if Juan Martin del Potro is ready to make the jump to light speed again in 2014. Next year it will be five years since he won his only Grand Slam title, but his play in 2013 has given him and his legions of fans hope that Delpo's day may come again in the not-too-distant future.
Novak Djokovic, who defeated Del Potro, 6-1, 3-6, 7-6(3) in yesterday's Shanghai Rolex Masters final, thinks health is the only thing that stands between Del Potro and another run at the top of the game. “Since his first Grand Slam title in 2009, we all knew has a caliber to be a top tennis player and always a contender to win any Grand Slam he plays in,” said Djokovic on Sunday in Shanghai.
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Djokovic cited several reasons why Del Potro has a chance to win any Grand Slam he plays, but also mentioned the fact that the big man's health will always be the limiting factor for the Argentine.
“With his serve and his game, for his height, he moves extremely well,” Djokovic said. “He uses the court very good. He has a very good anticipation. He's mentally really strong. So he has the potential [to win Grand Slams], there's no question about it. Now, for somebody his height, I think it's two or three times more physical effort to overcome these kind of matches. That is, I think, the biggest obstacle he has, is to be able to stay fit throughout the whole year.”
With Del Potro's left wrist feeling healthy, the big man was able to use his backhand aggressively in baseline rallies and on return this week in Shanghai—something he wasn't willing to do for much of this year for fear that he might exacerbate the injury.
“Yes, I think I hit 100% my backhand,” Del Potro said after he roughed up Rafael Nadal in the Shanghai semifinals. “I remember the match against [Nadal] in Indian Wells. I played too many slices because my wrist. Today I feel 100% physically. That's what I need against these players. My backhand is starting to work good again. I am feeling confidence with my wrist. That's important because I can use all my shots.”
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Against Nadal at Indian Wells, and in many other matches, like his five-set loss to Lleyton Hewitt at the U.S. Open, Del Potro was limited on the backhand side, choosing to rarely hit his topspin backhand.
“I couldn't hit so hard,” he said. “I [was forced] play slices when I have the chance to make a winner. Today I play all the time a topspin backhand, find a way to make winners, coming to the net all the time. It is much better for me because I have the opportunity to make winners with other shots. Also I save energy for the match.”
Nadal certainly noticed the difference. He was asked what he thought of Del Potro's chances of breaking back into the elite group of players that commandeer Grand Slam titles these days. “If he plays like he did this afternoon, of course,” said Nadal. “If he plays similar to this level, for sure he's one of the biggest candidates to win a Grand Slam tournaments. He's able to do it. I'm sure he will win more.”