Juan Martin Del Potro will compete at just his third slam in the past three years when he takes on Diego Schwartzman in his opener in New York on Tuesday. The Argentinian was rightly the recipient of a wildcard for the main draw, especially given the 2009 winners run in Rio that saw him become an Olympic silver medallist.
The decision by the ITF to not award ranking points to the Olympics means that Del Potro still remains way outside the top 100 at 142 coming into this tournament. Had they follow the 2012 points system, he would be comfortably inside the top 70. It wouldn’t have made an impact on his ability to qualify for the tournament but just ensures his return to the top remains delayed further.
His last loss at a ranked event was a disappointment – losing to Lucas Pouille at Wimbledon. However, his victory over Stanislas Wawrinka the previous round along with wins over Nadal and Djokovic in Rio suggest that a return to the top stage for Del Potro is not far away if his body can hold up.
An opener against an opponent who has achieved more on clay in Schwartzman is a nice start for Del Potro. Schwartzman has played just four tournaments on hard courts this year, losing the opener in three of them. He did however pick up wins over Gilles Simon and Mikhail Kukushkin last week in Winston Salem prior to a heavy 6-4 6-0 loss to Yen-Hsun Lu.
It will be their first meeting and the expectation should be for Del Potro to progress rather easily as he looks to build upon his excellent Rio run. His quarter of the draw offers a lot of intrigue with Stanislas Wawrinka and Nick Kyrgios amongst the main runners for the semi final spot in this section.
Prediction – Juan Martin Del Potro in straight sets