Undoubtedly the match to look out for on Wednesday is that between tournament favourite Roger Federer and another former US Open champion in Juan Martin Del Potro. A 20 year old Del Potro burst onto the scene at the end of the last decade, beating Federer in a thriller for his one and only grand slam title in 2009. Things haven’t quite worked out for Del Potro since but he remains a danger when fully fit.
Two five setters in his opening two rounds and injury rumours about his sometimes troublesome back suggested that all wasn’t great for Federer, who is looking to make it a third year that he has won three slams. Since then, straight sets wins over Kohlschreiber and Lopez have eased those fears. He did receive a medical timeout for precautionary reasons in the win over Kohlschreiber but that was for different reasons and there is little to suggest it is anything to worry about beyond the match.
Medical issues also troubled Del Potro as he was coming down with an illness on the night of his stunning comeback win over Dominic Thiem. He came from 2-0 down in sets and saved multiple match points to delight the crowd with a 5 set victory. He won just three games in the opening two sets before finding a second wind and taking over. “I was thinking to retire in the middle of the second set because I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t move well. Dominic was dominating the match so easy. When we start the third set, I broke his serve very quick, and then I won the set in 20 minutes. Then the history change a lot. I starting to see the crowd. I took all the energy from the fans. That’s what I did in the end, just keep fighting. I don’t give up any points from the third until the fifth set.” he said of the rollercoaster of a match.
It’s difficult to stir the crowd in the direction of a Federer opponent but Del Potro won hearts in his run to the title in 2009 (one of his five wins over Federer) and should he be in a position to win, the same may occur here. Injuries have ruined much of the Argentinian’s career but when he is on, he still remains one of the elite players on tour and has more than a live chance against a Federer currently not at his best.
If his killer forehand is firing, Federer will not have it all his own way and it may see the eagerly awaited Nadal-Federer semi in doubt. “DelPo’s is flat. When it’s flat, clearly margins are smaller. You also have to be in really good position, court position, to be able to do it, when he can do it from further back, as well. He’s got a great forehand down the line, inside-out forehand, which in my opinion are maybe more difficult shots to hit.” said Federer of his opponent’s trademark shot.
Prediction – Juan Martin Del Potro in 5 sets