Could 2017 be Juan Martín del Potro’s Year?
Juan Martín del Potro has to be one of the most frustrated players in the history of men’s tennis. The potential of the Argentinian is undeniable. Twice he has ended Novak Djokovic’s hopes of an Olympic medal. Between the 2005 French Open and the 2013 US Open, Del Potro was the only player not considered one of the “Big Four” to have won a Grand Slam title. And, of course, there is the small matter of leading his country to a Davis Cup title this year.
But it hasn’t all been smooth sailing. “DelPo” followed his landmark 2009 US Open title by pulling out of most of the 2010 season with a wrist injury that required surgery and extensive rehabilitation. It would be 2013 before Del Potro returned to the lofty heights of the top five players in the world, and a year later before he would regain his career high ranking of number 4… and then his other wrist gave and he was out again!
But that’s all in the past.
2016 has seen Juan Martín del Potro pick up a silver medal at the Olympics in Rio—defeating both Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal en route to a grueling defeat at the hands of Andy Murray. It has also seen him lead his country to a first Davis Cup title (beating Andy Murray in the process), and climb back to 38th in the world from the depths of 1041 where months of not playing due to injury had left him.
DelPo is back.
Del Potro’s Year
Once considered as legitimate a contender to the fourth spot in the Big Four as Andy Murray was, Del Potro could finally be ready to fully realise his potential and make some serious waves on the men’s tour. 2017 could indeed be Del Potro’s year.
Now, do I think he’ll be challenging for the number one ranking spot? No. Time is not on DelPo’s side, and while he may have had the potential to be enough to challenge the very top, I don’t think he’ll reach that potential now while Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic are still up there. Could he win another Slam? Could he break back into the top five? Absolutely. As Marin Cilic has shown, the Big Four’s stranglehold on the Slams is loosening, and as Wawrinka has repeatedly shown; you don’t need to be the best player in the world all year round to take one of those coveted trophies home.
As a fan of tennis who has repeatedly felt bad for DelPo’s bad fortune and missed opportunities, I personally hope he can muster up a 2017 season good enough to lay some of his demons in to rest. A second Grand Slam perhaps, a few extra titles to add to his current total of 19, definitely a top ten ranking but ideally a top five. These things are well within the grasp of the Argentinian if injury doesn’t strike again, and if he can keep his momentum from a respectable 2016 season building.
So let’s make some predictions for Del Potro’s year.
I can’t see him taking the Australian or French Open, but Wimbledon is a possibility. The grass courts of the All England Club are kind to big servers like Del Potro, and he could well make a big impact at the 2017 tournament. The US Open would be the obvious favourite for a potential second Slam—it being the scene of his previous victory—and I’ll go with that. The Australian Open is too soon and I don’t think he’s quite there yet, but by the time the US Open rolls around, he could well be firing on all cylinders.
Add to that a few smaller tournaments, possibly causing some trouble at the Masters events, and finishing off the year with an ATP World Tour Finals berth, and we have a Juan Martín del Potro who is well and truly back.
But what do you think? Are we in for a resurgent 2017, is Del Potro’s year finally here? Or is 2016 as good as it gets for the Argentinian? Let me know in the comments below.