Juan-Martin Del Potro Played His First Match Back Today

As you may know, I am quite a big Del Potro fan, so this is newsworthy for me. Del Potro has been injured since the Australian Open at the beginning of the year, the only event he played before Bangkok today. Today he was in action against a tricky opponent, Olivier Rochus, who played the match of his life. It is someone who he would usually beat, but as a first match back he is dangerous because he doesn’t quit and he has some great shot-making abilities too. Del Potro has a set point in the first set tie break and was a break up in the second set as well, but ended up losing 7-6(7), 6-4. So it was obviously a very close match. Del Potro also served 16 aces. No problem in that department. I didn’t watch the match but apparently his movement was still not quite up to par and of course he was still rusty.

The important thing is that he is back and he said after the match that the wrist was ‘perfect’, and that he hopes to play 5-6 more tournaments until the end of the year. Unfortunately his ranking has fell back to number 36 due to his injury, so it will be tough for him to make the Masters Cup. I am excited about Del Potro’s return. The domination of Rafa is becoming a bit boring at this point. There is few who can stop Rafa at this moment. Del Potro might be the only one. Roger has too many problems with Rafa, and even if he is at his best it’s not sure he can beat Rafa. Roger’s dominant days are now at an end. Rafa has become heir to the throne, and unless someone stops him he will overtake Roger as the GOAT of the modern era. He already has the dominant head-to-head over Roger and now he is going after his records as well.

Personally I would much prefer Del Potro to be the heir to the throne. Del Potro has the potential to do it. He has all the shots and a huge game to go with it. When he is on form he is pretty much unstoppable by anyone. He is the only player to have beaten Roger and Rafa to win a slam. After the US Open last year he was always going to dominate in a big way in 2010, but then he got the unfortunate wrist injury. It’s a shame because he could have already stopped Rafa from winning slams. Rafa has had his fair share of luck now and used it to the full, but it’s time he faced some real competition. These grand slam wins have been all too easy for him. Next year it will be Australia and if he wins that, Roger’s legacy will really start being under serious threat. If Rafa wins four slams in a row he would have done something Roger have never done and he would have a great chance of making it five in a row with the French Open coming up afterwards.

Source

And the faster he wins this slams the worse for Roger’s records, because Rafa must eventually burn out given his playing style. I think there is enough time for Del Potro to get in shape for the Australian Open. It’s a tough ask for him beat the world’s best and win his first slam since returning, but it’s not impossible either. How he performs until the end of the year will be important. If he can go deep in some of these events and snatch a title it will go a long way towards getting his confidence back to where it was. Del Potro is a a guy with big match temperament though. He doesn’t necessarily need much confidence going into a slam to do well. Who else can stop Rafa from winning four slams in a row next year in Australia? Murray beat him this year in Australia so he has a chance, but he is so inconsistent that you just can’t depend on him.

I’ve already made myself clear about Djokovic. He is only there to pick up the pieces when Roger or Rafa loses for some reason. He is not a slam winner otherwise. You can’t depend on Roger either to beat Rafa, given their history. It’s not completely out of the question, but it’s not likely the way I see it. I just don’t see how he will overcome the mental superiority that Rafa has over him unless he actually becomes a different person, and that is not happening. He can adjust his tactics to the point where it’s ideal to beat Rafa, but what happens when he must go in for the kill? It’s never as much a tactical thing as a mental thing. You can have the best tactics in the world to beat a given player, but if you don’t truly believe you can beat them, you will lose the big points and the match regardless. I’m sorry of all of this depresses you, but I am just being honest.

You know me. I’m a pretty practical guy. But on the other hand I also believe that thoughts and attitudes can change things. If we are all going to believe that Roger will never again beat Rafa and be pessimistic about it, it won’t help much either. From a practical point of view I think Roger’s chances is slim to beat Rafa at a slam again, but we as fans can send Roger a message by believing and being positive about it. We know he checks into his own forum from time to time and if people are doubtful as to whether he can beat Rafa again it will affect him. So lets be positive and believe that he can do it, even if it doesn’t sound very logical. I know this post is about Del Potro’ return, but I would like nothing better than to see Roger winning more slams. That is obviously preferable to Del Potro stopping Rafa and winning slams himself.

If Del Potro comes back to full confidence he could stop Roger from winning more slams himself, so there is that as well. Whatever happens, I think it is good for tennis to have Del Potro back and I look forward to see him back at his best.

Roger Federer


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19 Comments

  1. Have you realized that Federer has only complimented two players after defeat: Rafa and Del Potro? Obviously, Rafa is Roger’s biggest rival, but he also complimented Del Potro, especially at the Semis of the 2009 Roland Garros/ US Open.

    By doing that, is Federer self- anointing Rafa to be his 1st successor and Del Potro to succeed afterwards?

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    Jonathan Piatos Reply:

    I forgot to say that Federer never really acknowledged his other 3 big rivals: Murray, Djokovic, and Soderling (kind of, after losing @ this yrs French Open).

    I also feel that Federer can already predict the future about who’s going to be the next GOAT.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Yeah he respects these guys. Theyre obviously in another class as the others. He has different relationships with Delpo and Rafa though.

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    steve Reply:

    Yes, I think Federer once said of Del Potro flat out that “he will win Grand Slams” before Del Potro won the USO. On the other hand when he talks about Murray he is always very diplomatic and says “he’s a wonderful player, he has the talent, it’s only a matter of time before he wins a major,” but he’s never sounded so definitive as he did about Del Potro.

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  2. Del Potro is a gifted player, but i think his height gives him an advantage. I dont like that he crosses himself after wins, and looks to the heavens.I dont want religion in my tennis or any sports.

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  3. Just because Roger couldn´t beat Nadal some Fedfans wants someone to do the dirty job, Roger has to get this done.If nobody can beat Nadal let´s him be the GOAT.(This is not my opinion, so many Roger´s records to
    be broken yet, I´m with Roger whatever happens).
    I can´t believe Fedfans considering Delpo´s play beautiful, I mean there is absolutely no technique, no
    strategy, no diversity, no nothing in his game, just brute force, who can hit the ball the hardest, wins, that is the tennis we want? Notfor a Fedfanatic like me!

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    steve Reply:

    I don’t usually like “big man” tennis either but Del Potro plays it so well that he is an exception. He takes a lot of risks and goes for insane winners, which I like. The amazing thing is that so many of those huge forehands go in!

    Of course Federer always comes first in my heart and no one can play (or has ever played) such magical and artistic tennis as he does, but that doesn’t mean one can’t appreciate other players too.

    But I agree we shouldn’t be hoping for other players to do Federer’s work for him. It’s up to him to face his challenges.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Yes Delpo is good to watch because he plays attacking tennis and have that air of invincibility when hes on. Hes FH is just spectacular.

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    Jiten Reply:

    Cannot agree more. It is quite a known fact that if Roger is win more slams, he has to defeat Rafa at some juncture. Why pray for Rafa to be defeated by others? Why leave our great Fed at the mercy of others? He has to win it himself and also for himself. I am sure Rog has more pride in him than us the Fedfans not to wait for somebody to get the job done.

    And I just don’t buy the opinion that Fed cannot defeat Rafa. Remember how Chris Evert turned the tide against Navratilova after being defeated by her great rival consecutively for a long period of time in the mid eighties. Somebody may argue that Fed’s age won’t favor him as Martina and Chris were almost of the same age. But I still strongly believe that Fed is strong and young enough to turn the tide.

    COME ON ROGER. YOU ONLY CAN DO IT!

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    steve Reply:

    I think it was Navratilova who turned the rivalry around against Evert. Evert was 21-4 against Navratilova at one point, but the head to head ended up 43-37 in favor of Navratilova.

    Federer has advantages that don’t fade with age, namely the most diverse arsenal of shots ever, tactical acumen, and unparalleled anticipation and court sense. The frightening thing is that when he was dominating in 2004-07 he was only using something like 50% of his game because he didn’t need any more to win. I think he can dig deeper and create even more beautiful tennis by learning how to use his arsenal more freely.

    Now he’s checked all the boxes on the list of accomplishments, with the exception of the Olympic gold medal in singles. He can afford to relax and play for his own enjoyment rather than worry about history.

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    Jiten Reply:

    I was referring to the second half of their rivalry (particularly that 13-match winning streak by Martina against Chris between 1983-1984). And of course, 21-4 is much worse than 14-7. If Martina can do it, there is no point why Federer cannot. That too, with so many diverse arsenal at his disposal as pointed out by you.

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    ines Reply:

    I agree with you too.When someone is built up a lot there is always going to be the tendency to want to pull him down.This seems to be the case in mosts
    walks of life so far as I can see.At the end of the day people are just behind somebody when they win,it´s so much easier.SO GO ROGER!!!!!

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  4. I honestly dont see how anyone can say that Nadal hasnt faced any “real” competition this year. I mean isnt beating Soderling, Murray, Berdych and Djokovic
    “real” competition?

    Lets not forget that Del Potro has a very week record vs Djokovic and Murray. Del potro isnt a threat on grass either

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    marron Reply:

    Excellent post. What is ‘real’ competition in Ru-an’s opinion?

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    Ru-an Reply:

    What i meant was that he wasnt stretched, aside from Wimbledon by Haase and Petzschner. And these guys were never gonna beat him anyway.

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    Jonathan Piatos Reply:

    Djokovic and Soderling do have the games to beat Rafa, but they somehow can’t find their mental strength to make him run all over the court defensively or overpower him, respectively.

    Murray has a 2-1 record against Rafa this year, but those 2 wins were not Grand Slam caliber (Rafa withdrew against him in the QF and lost in a best of 3 sets in Canada).

    However, I do agree that Delpo doesn’t have a good record against Murray and Djokovic; Delpo has a much better game (footwork, raw power) than Soderling, yet Soderling has the upper edge against Murray. So, I think in the future, Del Potro can overpower Murray’s tactical, counterpunching defense. Djokovic, on the other hand, is pure speed and has a solid backhand and a more reliable forehand, so idk how Delpo could beat him, but its possible.

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  5. Dear Ruan
    I’ve been visiting here but staying quiet lately. I’m looking forward to your next post! I’m sure there’ll be a lot to say then.
    By the way, I can’t understand the fear so many people here, including you have about Roger. I believe he has at least 50% more to add to his game with his talent. I have no doubt he will win at least 23 GSs. As for Nadal, I can’t see him doing anymore than he has done. Hopefully, he won’t use injury as an excuse when this happens.

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