Our What's Next? series looks at every player who finished in the ATP or WTA Top 10 this season, and considers their future in three different ways.
The six-foot-six “Tower of Tandil” has to be one of the more baffling players to come down the pike in many a year. Who can forget his stunning, breakout year in 2008, when as a 19-year-old he won four tournaments in a row (two on clay courts, and two on hard courts), or the way he backed up that dramatic emergence by blasting defending champion Roger Federer off the court in the 2009 U.S. Open final?
Many people would have been stunned if, following that win, they were told that del Potro would not play another Grand Slam final going into 2013. But the combination of a severe wrist injury and the attendant struggle to reclaim his status seems to have affected the Argentine’s developmental momentum. At times, his big game, based on a power forehand and an atomic serve, has looked surprisingly ineffective—never more so than at Wimbledon, where del Potro was dismantled in straight sets by David Ferrer.
Best Case Scenario: After losing six straight matches to Federer starting last January, del Potro won two big matches against the all-time Grand Slam singles champ at the end of the year (the final of Basel, and in the round-robin portion of the ATP World Tour Finals). So del Potro finished 2012 on a real high, and if that carries over to the new year, he’ll be in great position to contend at majors.
Worst Case Scenario: Del Potro backslides and continues to spin his wheels against the Big Four players. With so many pros playing great defense these days, del Potro will be in trouble if he doesn’t use a little bit more of the court to maneuver opponents around before going for the winning placement.
Australian Open Outlook: Three guesses as to who beat del Potro in Melbourne last year. Yep, Federer. But his problems in the two previous editions—losses to Marcos Baghdatis and Marin Cilic—suggest that del Potro needs to tighten up his game and give himself more of a chance to get opposite the biggest names.
More What's Next?
- ATP No. 10, Richard Gasquet
- WTA No. 10, Caroline Wozniacki
- ATP No. 9, Janko Tipsarevic
- WTA No. 9, Sam Stosur
- ATP No. 8, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
- WTA No. 8, Petra Kvitova
- ATP No. 7, Juan Martin del Potro
- WTA No. 7, Li Na
- ATP No. 6, Tomas Berdych
- WTA No. 6, Sara Errani