Will He Be The Juan? Del Potro Controls London Destiny
Before the US Open, Juan Martin del Potro was 47th in the Emirates ATP Race To London. At the time, it would have taken a far-fetched dream to envision the 29-year-old qualifying for a fourth Nitto ATP Finals.
Yet after finishing runner-up to eight-time champion Roger Federer, 7-6(5), 4-6, 3-6, in his attempt to claim a third Swiss Indoors Basel title, the surging Argentine can stop dreaming about visiting The O2 in London from 12-19 November. That’s because with one week left in the Race, del Potro has a realistic shot at completing a tremendous charge up the standings that can see him carry momentum as powerful as his monstrous forehand right into London.
"You've been on a great run since the US Open and before so I'm very happy to see you playing so well again," Federer said to del Potro. "All the best for Paris and then I'll hopefully maybe see you in London, too."
Del Potro would have jumped 10 points ahead of Pablo Carreno Busta for the final qualifying spot in the Nitto ATP Finals with a Basel title. But despite the loss, he is within 190 points of the Spaniard, and can guarantee his year-end final berth by winning the title at the Rolex Paris Masters.
What pleases del Potro more than anything is that he feels his tennis is still improving. It has been tough to complain about his rare losses during his recent dominant run. Each of his four defeats including and since the US Open semi-finals have come against a player ranked eighth or better in the Emirates ATP Rankings. The Argentine lost to Rafael Nadal (No. 1), Grigor Dimitrov (No. 8) and Federer (No. 2) twice.
“My level is still improving and I’m [only] losing matches against the top guys,” del Potro said. “I’ve been playing good matches with them too, and I had chances to beat them. That’s what I want to do very often looking forward to next year.”
If del Potro can continue his recent form — he reached the semi-finals in New York and Shanghai, won in Stockholm and now advanced to the Basel final — a return to the Top 10 of the rankings may just be in the cards for the ‘Tower of Tandil’.
“My ranking is still growing, going up, which will help me a little bit with draws next year,” del Potro said. “I have many good things to think about and to take positives from these last tournaments of the year.”
And if the right-hander can use his thunderous forehand to make his way through the Paris draw, he can close out his season on the most positive note possible: a London berth.