With Nick Kyrgios falling victim to injury and Stanislas Wawrinka looking far from impressive in his previous match, there is a strong argument to be made for Juan Martin Del Potro to be the player to advance to the semi finals from his quarter of the draw. Del Potro can move one step closer if he beats eighth seed Dominic Thiem in the opening match on Arthur Ashe Stadium on Monday.
Del Potro has won nine straight sets in New York with the latest three coming against David Ferrer in round three. He would need to come from 5-2 down to win the first before cruising to victory 7-6 6-2 6-3. Del Potro was strong on serve after the early blip, only dropping 6 first serve points in the last two sets and facing zero break points as he took charge against the Spaniard.
Del Potro is still having to adapt his backhand after his many wrist issues and commenting on his success with the slice as an alternative at this current time. “I would like to play my backhand as I hit my forehand. But it (the slice) sometimes could be a good tactic, play different shots with my backhands. But in the end I need to hit harder because I need to make winners with my backhands.”
Thiem and Del Potro have met once this year on the clay of Madrid with Del Potro winning in straights there. The Austrian has been far from convincing in the opening three rounds, most recently needing four sets to see off Pablo Carreno Busta after being crushed 6-1 in the opener. However, making the second week of this tournament has provided some much needed stability for Thiem who had been slightly struggling since Wimbledon.
If Del Potro were to lose this match, he would still be outside the top 100. This demonstrates the size of the task needed for the Argentinian to make it back to the top of the game still and means he may have to rely on wildcards if he is to make a much needed rush up the rankings in time for the Australian Open next year. Meanwhile, a win should see him inside the top 70 and making the semi finals a top 50 place. While there is always the worry that injury strikes again, Del Potro can further establish himself as a true contender if he can deliver another convincing victory on Monday morning.
Prediction – Juan Martin Del Potro in straight sets