Argentine Juan Martin del Potro has arrived in Sydney, Australia for his final warm-up ahead of the season-opening Grand Slam event, as he will meet France’s Nicholas Mahut in the second round of the Apia international. Del Potro leads their FedEx ATP Head to Head 1-0 with victory at the 2007 US Open.
2013 was a telling year for top seed Del Potro. The Argentine finished No. 5 for the first time since 2009 and in Top 10 for fourth time in six years, also picking up 50+ wins over the season for the third time in his career, with a 9-2 record in Grand Slam tournaments. He won four ATP 500 titles: Rotterdam, Washington, Tokyo and Basel. Now, Del Potro is setting his sights on furthering his ranking this season and breaking into the “Big Four” to cement himself as a member of the elite in men’s tennis. His first task is to defeat Mahut and put on a strong showing in Sydney to build momentum for the Australian Open.
Frenchman Nicolas Mahut set a second-round clash with the top seed in Sydney after firing 12 aces in his 7-6(2), 7-5 win over American qualifier Ryan Harrison on Tuesday morning. The world no. 50 also reached the second round of the Brisbane International before falling to fellow Frenchman Jeremy Chardy 5-7, 7-6(4), 3-6. He will be looking to top that performance and pick up a huge momentum builder ahead of the Australian Open by toppling the “Tower of Tandil” in his first professional match of 2014.
The two athletes have only met once before on the professional tour: the 2007 US Open, where Del Potro left victorious. Over those six years, many factors have changed, including the Argentine’s breakthrough season in 2009 and his career-best season in 2013, putting him as a significant favourite over Mahut. The Frenchman is not one to shy away from the big man’s powerful shots but he is unlikely to even snatch a set over Del Potro.
Prediction: Juan Martin del Poro in Straight Sets