Preview: Novak Djokovic vs. Juan Martin del Potro US Open semis

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Click for Djokovic – Del Potro Live Commentary

The pick of the quarter-final match-ups sees the defending champion take on the champion of three years ago. When Juan Martin del Potro triumphed in 2009, his standing, if not his ranking, within the sport perhaps exceeded that of Novak Djokovic. Both men had won a single grand slam at that point but del Potro’s was more recent and his crushing flat ground strokes seemed to point towards a future where raw power ruled the courts.

Three years is a long time though and while del Potro has spent the time battling injury and struggling to regain championship form, Djokovic established himself as the finest returner and athletic mover – reaffirming the importance of these qualities in order to compete at the top. The Serb holds five grand slams titles now and few would bet against him adding more to become one of the legends of the open era before he is done.

The head-to-head stands at 5-2 in favour of Djokovic. The pair’s sole previous match at the US Open went to the Serb in straight sets but that was in 2007 when del Potro’s career was still in its infancy. Their other slam meeting was at Roland Garros last year and Djokovic prevailed in four sets. The most recent encounters have come on grass in the Olympic bronze medal match, where the Argentine showed great heart to pull out a win, and on hard court for the semi-final of the recent Cincinnati Masters, which saw Djokovic win easily.

If the head-to head points towards Djokovic then this is underlined by form so far in the tournament. The world number two is yet to drop a set and, with Roger Federer knocked out and Rafael Nadal injured, will recognise this as a big opportunity to reassert his authority on the tour. Del Potro for his part has been extended to four sets twice in the tournament and will take confidence from his solid display against Andy Roddick in what must have been difficult circumstances.

Where del Potro is concerned there is always a chance that his game will click and his atomic forehand can take apart any opponent when that happens but, overall the chances are that Djokovic’s more rounded game will eventually quell the Argentine in a five set contest. It is worth noting that this was the general opinion before del Potro lined up against Roger Federer for a memorable night match on Arthur Ashe three years ago and look how things turned out then.

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