Juan Martin Del Potro has had a superb season that secured him a place at the year ending ATP Tour Finals in London.
Grand Slam Results
Australian Open: 3R
French Open: N/A
US Open: 2R
Rotterdam 500 (Indoor Hard)
Washington 500 (Hard)
Tokyo 500 (Hard)
Basel 500 (Indoor Hard)
Despite a far from stellar year at the slams, Del Potro (Player Profile)cracked the top 5 for the first time in three years thanks to four ATP World Tour 500 titles. In additional to this achievement, he has also defeated all members of the big four in the same calendar year.
Always seen as the one player capable of breaking the Big Four stranglehold on the slams once more, Del Potro disappointed at his first event of the year in Melbourne. In the 3rd round, he would be defeated by Jeremy Chardy in five sets – one of many strange losses in the early part of the season for him.
After a couple of weeks off, he picked up his first title of the year. He defeated Gael Monfils, Ernests Gulbis, Grigor Dimitrov, Jarkko Nieminen and finally Julien Benneteau in the final to take the Rotterdam 500 event. He would fail to go back-to-back in Marseille, losing to Gilles Simon before heading off for the hard court swing.
He would lose in the Dubai semi final to Novak Djokovic but almost pulled off the stunning feat of beating three of the Big Four in a row to take the title in Indian Wells. However, he would be unable to hold on to a set and break lead against Rafael Nadal in the final but showed he can still hold his own against the elite post-injury.
After losing to Tobias Kamke in Miami, the middle part of his year was a write-off. Losses to Benoit Paire and Jarkko Nieminen, along with a virus keeping him out of the French Open meant the clay season was one to forget but he would bounce back in style on the grass.
A quarter final run to Queens was a decent warm up for Wimbledon but it looked like injury troubles would hit the Argentinian once more after an early fall in his match against David Ferrer in the quarter finals. However, he fought through the pain barrier to comfortably win in straight sets – a marked improvement from his disappointing lost to Ferrer at the same event last year. In the semi final, he saved match points to take Novak Djokovic to a fifth set in one of the best matches of the tournament but would eventually fall to a 7-5 4-6 7-6(2) 6-7(6) 6-3 defeat.
Three 500 titles in the second half of the year would mask his disappointing returns in the North American swing. The first of these was in Washington where he came from a set down to defeat John Isner. After losing the first, Del Potro dropped just three games against the big serving American. His next two matches against big servers would not be so successful though, with Isner and Milos Raonic defeating him on their way to the Cincinnati and Montreal finals respectively.
Despite holding a 2-1 sets lead, Del Potro would lose early at the US Open as an inspired Lleyton Hewitt rolled back the years in front of the night crowd at the US Open.
The Asian swing brought much success with back to back finals in Tokyo and Shanghai. Del Potro defeated Raonic in the former without being broken once while in China, Del Potro made light work of Rafael Nadal in the semi finals before losing in a third set tiebreak in the final to Novak Djokovic. This meant Del Potro went to 0-3 in Masters Finals but making two this year shows major progress.
Del Potro defended his Basel title in a repeat of the 2012 final, once more winning in three sets over Roger Federer for his fourth title of the year, all in 500 events. While Federer would get the win in Paris over Del Potro, it seems likely he had his eyes on London instead.
Despite picking up very few points as a percentage at slams, Del Potro finds himself in the top five and if he can improve on that – which almost seems certain barring his bad luck with injuries continuing – then there is no reason why he can finally displace David Ferrer out of the top four once Andy Murray makes his return. He has proven that he can beat all of the elite players and in some cases multiple at the same event and 2014 could finally be the year he is a constant threat at the latter part of slams and Masters 1000s.