World No. 5 Juan Martin del Potro (Player Bio) is close to conclude what is arguably one of his best seasons on tour – a season so good that the Argentine even believes it tops his performance in 2009, which includes a US Open title win over 17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer (Player Bio).
The 25-year-old is coming off an fantastic title win in Tokyo last week, where he defeated Milos Raonic in the final for his third title of the season and carried forth that momentum over onto Stadium Court in Shanghai, where he played some inspiring tennis to defeat Nadal for the first time in nearly four years. While he did not manage to win the Shanghai title, his recent performances have seen him rejoin the ATP top 5 for the first time since 2010 and he has also guaranteed a spot in the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in November, marking his fourth appearance in the year-end championships.
“I think I’m playing even better than many years ago,” Del Potro said after his loss to Djokovic. “I believe in myself [and] I’m very confident,” said del Potro. “I’m very pleased with my level. I think if I’m healthy and if I play like today or yesterday [versus Rafael Nadal], I will have the chance to play good battles like we did today.
While the Argentine is yet to win his second Grand Slam title, he believes his consistency and achievements throughout the year outrank his performances in 2009, when he defeated Roger Federer to win the US Open title. He has reached the finals of two Masters 1000 tournaments (Indian Wells and Shanghai), won three singles titles and holds a 4-4 record over top 10 players this year.
“I couldn’t win a Grand Slam [title] like I did in 2009 [at the US Open], but I reached finals in the [ATP World Tour] Masters 1000s. I have already won three tournaments [and] I beat the top guys, which is fantastic for me.
The former US Open champion believes his consistency is a telling sign for his ability to contend for future titles in the upcoming years. Like with his win over Nadal, Del Potro is looking to prove that he is capable of defeating the top players in the game on a regular basis.
“I think I’m playing even better than 2009 or 2008 or last year. That’s important [and] a good thing for the future. I still have the same goal, which is [to] get closer to the top guys. If I still work like this, I hope I can be there one day.”
Win or lose, Juan Martin is a competitor at heart and lives for these moments in his career and intends on having many more before concluding it.
“I love this sport. I love playing these kind of matches, even if I lose.”