Roland Garros Preview – Andy Murray v Juan Martin Del Potro

Wherever these two meet they bring a crowd. Rome, New York, Rio, London and now add Paris to that list as Juan Martin Del Potro and Andy Murray face off once again. Sadly someone’s run at Roland Garros comes to an end on the clay their first meeting on the surface since 2009.

Preparing to play against Juan Martin is a tough ask because it’s not about what game you are going to play but how to stop a player of Del Potro’s quality and if I were Andy Murray I’d be having a look at Djokovic’ performance Del Potro not long ago when the defending champion nullified the strength of Del Potro which is his forehand.

We did some much better tennis from Murray against Klizan despite taking four sets to get the win but after losing the first set he did react quickly taking a step back on the baseline to get more security behind the backhand which was a little rushed and found contact with the net instead of the baseline in set one but he also used that backhand slice well and is something he should deploy against the Argentine.

Murray has used the drop shot and the sliced backhand well so far this week and hasn’t really missed many of eight sets of tennis and if he can take the pace away from the rally then he has a good chance of gaining control and removing that build up to a massive forehand from the Argentine.

Del Potro did have a bit of an issue during his match with Almagro when the Spaniard unfortunately had to retire but Del Potro did suffer with what looked like a groin injury at the end of the first set.

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Popcorn at the ready…

It is like all my dreams have come true. Tuesday at Indian Wells looks set to be a marvellous day of tennis with some magnificent match ups and here is my pick of the lot!

Rafael Nadal v Fernando Verdasco

Popcorn at the ready? These two have produced some absolute classics. I’ve loved watching Fernando through his career he is one of my favourites. When I first watched him to now he has that swagger, the skill of these two is incredible.

Miami in 2015 they played each other and it was one of my favourite matches of the year. They are so similar but they complement each other so well. The forehand and backhand and what I love the most is the serve, they have that lefty swinging serve which I admire so much.

I can’t really call this one, Fernando on his day is brilliant but it’s tough to predict. Fernando has won 3 of their last 5 meetings on the tour after going 9 years and 15 matches without a win against his fellow Spaniard…

Ok, still got popcorn?

Not too sure where to start. They have never met before but you can guarantee they will many of times over the next few years.

I like both players, they play their own game and it works well for them. Out of the two I would have to pick Nick. I’m a big fan of his, I do think he is unfairly criticised at times but has been very good this year and what I find so frustrating is that it seems to be a major news story if he curses during a match, find me a player that hasn’t cursed during a match!
Between the two, Kyrgios has more power in his game where as Zverev likes a more measured and thought out approach you could see it as method v instinct which has the potential to be a cracker!

Novak Djokovic v Juan Martin Del Potro

Ok, do we have any popcorn left?!

By this match I think we will all need a lie down. Del Potro returned to the tour last year stole the hearts of tennis fans and broke Novak’s heart in Rio and they have history at Indian Wells.

Now the former world number one is on a 18 match winning streak in the Californian desert and guess who the last player was to beat Novak at Indian Wells? You got it, DelPo.
Watching Novak play against Kyle Edmund it wasn’t a performance where I thought he played very well. Out of 10 I would probably have to say 6.5 so who knows another upset at Indian Wells could be brewing…

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Del Potro’s return was spectacular but could his best follow in 2017?

You won’t find a more universally liked player than Juan Martin Del Potro. The Argentine throughout his career has stolen tennis hearts and for the last couple of years there has been a gap and he has been missed but this year the big man made his comeback and wow what a comeback it was and the best could yet follow…

2009 was the year he arrived. After making the quarter finals in Australia, semi finals in France and an early exit in at Wimbledon he then arrived in New York defeated Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer as he picked up his first major title and made the World Tour Finals as well.

Sadly 2010 was hit with injury for Del Potro and 2011 didn’t gain momentum but in 2012 I saw one of my tennis highlights the tears on that man’s face when he won Olympic Bronze it was truly inspiring.

Since then it has been on and off but now he’s back and you better watch out…

Delray return for DelPo

Back in Februray Del Potro made his long awaited return at Delray Beach where he saw off Jeremy Chardy in the quarter finals before being defeated by Sam Querrey in the semi-finals but to win 3 matches in a row after so long out and being ranked at 1042 in the world is an impressive start to the comeback.

Masters in March!

Indian Wells and Miami. The first big tournaments for the Argentine both ended in early defeats. At Indian Wells it was Tomas Berdych who ended his run in the second round which was also the stage of the competition where it ended for Del Potro with fellow Argentine Zeballos ending his run there…

Stuttgart + Skipping Roland Garros

The ATP 250 tournament in Stuttgart is where the momentum began to gather pace for Del Potro as once again he made it to another semi-final with some impressive wins against Grigor Dimitrov and Gilles Simon before falling to Philip Kohlschreiber.

After Stuttgart many expected Del Potro to continue this momentum going into his first Grand Slam of the year but he decided to skip the second major of the year as he steadied his comeback.

RIO!

After a very good win against Stan Wawrinka at Wimbledon once again Del Potro decided to take a break and returned for the Olympics and this is where he meant business.

There aren’t many tournaments where you can saw I defeated Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal but didn’t win the tournament. Defeating Djokovic in round one was massive and then to defeat Nadal to get to the final before being defeated by Murray for the Gold was epic from him and at that point we said he is back!

Tears of New York

In 2009 he became champion in New York seeing off Nadal and Federer to win his first major and was treated like a king on his return and despite defeat to Stan Wawrinka he was the winner as he was cheered off the court by a full crowd at the US Open which brought the Argentinian to tears!

#Champion

The comeback was great but to win a title this year was a fantastic achievement picking up the title in Stockholm but also earlier on in the year an Olympic medal for a second time!

Davis Cup Heroics

Big players for big occasions. 2 sets down to Cilic in a must win match he comes back to win his first match ever from 2 sets down to put Argentina on course to win their first Davis Cup. Truly brilliant! Not forgetting his heroic win against Andy Murray in Glasgow to get to the final!

2017…

This could be spectacular. He has a good team behind him, he picked his tournaments well when he returned. Surprised many by skipping Roland Garros but it paid off, he knows what he has to do. I believe it is certain that he will be in the top 10 next year and I think from him the best is to follow!

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Image Credit – Getty Images

Del Potro and Delbonis win late to secure Argentina’s first Davis Cup!

Well, Juan Martin Del Potro is the gift that keeps on giving. The Argentine’s return to tennis this year has been bloody marvellous and has topped the year off in the most dramatic fashion with a stunning comeback to keep Argentina’s chance of winning the Davis Cup alive…

Del Potro was 6-7 2-6 down against Marin Cilic and then turned it around at the final moment winning the third set 7-5 before going on to easily claim the next couple of sets 6-4 6-3 to win from two sets down for the first time in his career, not bad eh?

Now it was over to Federico Delbonis in the fifth and final rubber against the big serving Ivo Karlovic…

Delbonis had a steady year on the tour finishing with a ranking of 41 with a title to his name as well as a win against Andy Murray at Indian Wells so he can be dangerous and he proved this once again with a pretty straight forward win against what looked a nervy and on edge Ivo Karlovic who’s serve didn’t really get going on an indoor hard court which is something you rarely say…

DelPo and DelBo did it, they sent Argentine tennis to it’s finest hour with one of the greatest footballers of all time in Diego Maradona court side watching!

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Photo credit – Getty Images

Why the achievements of Puig and Del Potro in 2016 will never be forgotten!

2016 has been another incredibly brilliant, wild and emotional year on the ATP and WTA, we all have favourite moments but two players who lit up 2016 for me Monica Puig and the big man himself Juan Martin Del Potro.

Monica Puig. I don’t know where to start.

I watched the Puerto Rican play at Eastbourne in early June, she had a good tournament she was then unlucky to run in Johanna Konta in round one at Wimbledon and then she arrived in Rio and the rest as they say is history.

Her target was to qualify for the Olympics, to challenge for Olympic medals and she even called her dog Rio a few months before the Summer’ games. Some including myself would have said unlikely but for Monica that was the target.

I can’t put into words how amazing it is, I remember getting home from work and staying up to watch it, this is history we are witnessing and tennis may never have a story as spectacular as this before and it was so emotional to watch. Within a couple of days Monica Puig quickly became one of the recognisable names in the sport. Ranked outside the top 30 and she produces the tennis of her life to win Olympic Gold it really is what dreams are made of and she made the dream a reality!

That is what tennis is about. That belief, spirit, fight, pride, passion and tears.

If I’m talking about passion and fight then look no further than Juan Martin Del Potro.

Be honest it didn’t look like a sustained return on the tour was likely for the Argentine and well I’m so pleased to see him playing again and at such a high level.

He has picked up Olympic Silver and defeated Murray, Thiem, Nadal, Djokovic and Wawrinka since he has returned and climbed from outside the top 1000 in the world to top 50. It’s remarkable.

He hasn’t ever given up and that is a lesson in life. The amount of setbacks he has had with this wrist injury has been tough as a fan to see, we all want to see him back and you won’t find a tennis fan anywhere who does love Del Potro.

His tennis is incredible and is such a down to earth playing and hearing the crowd roar support to him in New York down match point to Wawrinka and seeing the tears is what this sport is about, creating memories.

Puig and Del Potro created memories this year that will never be forgotten and they are a credit to their sport.

Patience pays off for Goffin in Shanghai as he battles past Del Potro

Earlier this morning David Goffin might have started to think about his return flight home from Shanghai as the Belgian number one found himself 4-6 0-2 down to the hard hitting Argentine as the season edges closer to an end however patience which seemed to halt him in the early stages began to pay off as he saw off the Olympic silver medallist in three sets.

Right now Goffin is ranked about 11th in the world and after such a good season last year I’d expected a push for London from the 25 year old but it would take something epic to be at the World Tour Finals next month right now.

I like Goffin’s game and I like the patience he plays with but there are and have been times when you’ve thought just go for it! Credit to Goffin he backed Del Potro into that backhand corner quite well but it left the inside-out forehand down the line open if a short ball was sent through the court.

It wasn’t until the final set that we saw the patience followed by that spark and ruthlessness in his game and it’s shown below in the screenshot.

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The backhand won him the match in the end. That crouching position going into the two-hander couldn’t have been any better and the depth he got on it was immaculate! Likewise a couple of minutes before from the other end of the court we saw him perfectly angle a floated backhand winner down the line with that precision.

I have to be honest I don’t think there has been great improvement from last year. This match reminded me of match point in the Davis Cup final last year and even though Andy Murray came up with some incredible shots I was there watching the rally and thought a number of times come into the net and finish it off and the time he did was when Murray had the two hands on the racket and we know he has the best top-spin lob in the game.

London isn’t impossible, just unlikely but a run to the semi-finals in Shanghai will be needed to get him close to Dominic Thiem who currently occupies the last space and is out injured…

The big man is back and there’s plenty more to come!

At the beginning of the year we were a bit unsure of when we would see Juan Martin Del Potro playing regularly again but the big man is back in the big time and there is plenty more to come from the Argentine!

Back in February he was ranked just outside the top 1000 in the world and is now top 70 in the world and he just keeps on improving as the weeks go by.

I don’t think you could find a tennis fan worldwide who doesn’t love Del Potro. He’s so humble and such a great character who has been missed on the tour greatly during his rough time with injuries.

Rio is where he smashed it defeating Djokovic and Nadal on his way to winning the silver medal at the Olympics and then straight to New York where he made it to the quarter finals before his defeat to Stan Wawrinka and just today defeated Andy Murray in 5 hours and 7 minutes in an epic Davis Cup battle the longest match of both players’ careers!

Del Potro has won 6 of his 7 matches against top ten players this year which is remarkable especially including Djokovic, Wawrinka, Nadal and Murray! Magnificent!

A crowd favourite forever who even cheered his name in New York down match point with the former champion breaking down in tears!

He is back, and expect more from the Argentine!