Looking back on an illustrious career! Juan Martin del Potro’s 5 greatest moments
Juan Martin del Potro appears to have been forced into an unfortunate early retirement after suffering multiple severe injuries. The Argentine was reduced to tears at his home Open which now looks to be his final tour appearance. Join us for a look at five of the best moments of the widely-adored ‘Tower of Tandil’s’ prestigious career.
1. Beating Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer en route to 2009 US Open victory at just 20 years old
At just 20 years old, Juan Martin del Potro announced his arrival on the big stage in remarkable fashion when he beat both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer to win a maiden Grand Slam at the 2009 US Open.
In the process, del Potro became the first player to beat both Nadal and Federer en route to Slam glory. Novak Djokovic is the only other player to achieve such a feat, doing so at the 2011 US Open.
Del Potro entered Flushing Meadows as the sixth seed and made it into the semi-finals alongside the ‘Big Three’. This is also the only Grand Slam where all of the ‘Big Three’ have made the semi-finals and none of them won the title.
The ‘Tower of Tandil’ overcame now 21-time Slam legend Nadal in straight sets in the semi-finals, before going on to beat Swiss maestro and 20-time Slam champion Federer 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 4-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2 in the final.
Thus putting an end to Federer’s hopes of winning a sixth straight US Open title. Moreover, no male player under the age of 23 has won a Major in the 48 Grand Slams since.
2. Winning a first and only Masters 1000 Title at the 2018 Indian Wells Masters
Del Potro and Federer both went into the 2018 Indian Wells Masters boasting excellent winning streaks. Del Potro was riding a ten-match winning run whilst Federer was unbeaten in 17 matches after winning the Australian Open.
The ‘Tower of Tandil’ fully utilised his explosive forehand to take the first set 6-4 before Federer battled back to save a match point in the second set tie-break and levelled the scores by eventually winning the second set 7-6 (10-8).
In the final deciding set, Federer had three match points at 5-4 but failed to capitalise, as such Del Potro rallied to win the only Masters title of his career. This also made him the first Argentine to ever win an Indian Wells title.
3. Two successful Olympic Campaigns – Winning bronze at London 2012 and Silver at Rio 2016
Whilst del Potro was never able to claim Olympic gold, he enjoyed multiple memorable matches at the Olympics, particularly against the ‘Big Three’ and Andy Murray.
At London 2012, Del Potro lost to Federer in the semi-finals in what was one of the most enthralling Olympic tennis matches ever. The match lasted a total of four hours and 26 minutes as Federer won 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 19-17.
Two days later, the Argentine beat Djokovic in straight sets in the third place play-off match to win a Bronze medal for his country.
Del Potro then went one better at the 2016 Rio Olympics, winning silver after beating Djokovic in the first round and Nadal in the semi-finals.
In his first round match against Djokovic, del Potro won 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-2) to inflict one of the “toughest losses” of Djokovic’s career. He then came from behind to beat Nadal in three sets to set up an enticing final with Andy Murray.
Much like the 2012 semi-final against Federer, this final also lasted four hours. With both players nearing their limit and looking exhausted, it was Murray who emerged victorious to win the second Olympic gold of his career meaning del Potro took silver.
4. Leading Argentina to elusive Davis Cup glory all with a broken finger
In 2016, del Potro led Argentina to their first ever Davis Cup after beating some excellent opposition in the process. Argentina had to face Serbia, Great Britain and Croatia in order to claim the title.
Prior to their maiden victory, Argentina had reached the final a total of five times but had could been named the victors.
Just a few weeks after a crushing defeat to Britain’s Andy Murray at the 2016 Rio Olympics, del Potro emerged the victor in a semi-final rematch as he battled through a five-hour-long epic.
As Argentina then faced hosts Croatia in the final, del Potro beat Ivo Karlovic before heroically overturning a two set deficit against Marin Cilic to set up a winner-takes-all doubles match. Argentina won the doubles to win their first ever Davis Cup.
Del Potro’s comeback against Cilic was made all the more impressive when it was revealed that he played through a broken finger.
5. Explosive forehand was a thing of beauty
One of the most unfortunate things about del Potro’s various wrist injuries is how badly they affected his glorious forehand.
With the strength he was able to hit the ball, he earned the apt nickname of ‘the Hammer.’ Such striking prowess was a pure joy to watch and will likely be hard to match.
Del Potro was able to consistently generate speeds of up to 160 kilometres per hour (99 miles per hour) and as such his forehand will go down as one of the biggest, most powerful shots tennis has ever seen.
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