Juan Martin del Potro has snuck through this draw without too many people talking about him. Kind of hard to do, when you're six foot five, but he's managed it. I suppose in a half which contains Andy Murray and Rafa Nadal, you're necessarily going to be third banana.
But you know what? I would not be surprised at all to see Juan Martin del Potro teeing off on Sunday in the final. I don't think he'll win the final, but I would not be at all surprised to see him there. Andy Murray is gone - JMDP just beat his conqueror, Marin Cilic, in four sets in the quarters. You've got to imagine that Rafa Nadal would await in the semis (though Fernando Gonzalez might have something to say about that) and that is a match that I think is immensely winnable for Juan.
Let's think about this. If we count out his second round loss at Wimbledon, JMDP has been playing great ever since Roland Garros, when he really pushed the Great One to the wire in the semis there. His win against Andy Roddick in Washington (it was Washington, yesno?) cannot be discounted either - with the quality stuff A-Rod's been playing, that's a big win. And he's been beating quality players here in the US as well, even if he didn't have conquer Mt Murray in the quarters (wouldn't that have been a match up!)
Juan's style of play does not really appeal to me. But I cannot deny that it is mighty effective. He's had big wins over big players - he's beaten Murray, Djokovic, Nadal... I would kill to see a Nadal/DelPo semi. That would be such an interesting match to watch. It would be very interesting to see how much Rafa is capable of bringing to the court, how much that injury is playing on him. So far he's been playing fine, but I don't think he's been that unstoppable Rafinator we've come to know and love. And even if he was, JMDP is capable of troubling him. A very interesting match. A very interesting match indeed.
But Rafa has to go one match more first, so let's not get ahead of ourselves.
The US Open final for the last couple of years has been Federer vs Bright Young Thing - Djokovic in '07, Murray in '08. It would be oddly fitting for JMDP to be this year's Bright Young Thing - with the way he's been playing, he sort of deserves a Grand Slam final. That semi at Roland Garros alone, where he was far away, so close, shows that he is ready for the big time.
Speaking of the Great One RF, a couple of words on his match yesterday... Robin Soderling, it sucks to be you. He played terribly in the first two sets and Federer played great, but then Soderling managed to grab a set off him and nearly force five, even though Federer was still playing great. Sure, it was in breakers and Federer was not broken in the whole match, but that is a major skill. Not many players could grab a set off Roger when he's zoning, so props to the Yoker. I feel sorry for him. If he'd been in another section of the draw, he could have made the semis or even the finals. That's three majors this year where he's been eliminated by R-Fed - sure, one was in the final, but still. Here's hoping for his sake next year he manages to stay out of Roger's way a bit more!
US Open (Flushing Meadows)
Juan Martin del Potro def. Marin Cilic, 4-6 6-3 6-2 6-1
3 months ago