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Could this be the year that Del Potro conquers Wimbledon?

Juan Martin Del Potro
by Mark Hodgkinson
Monday 25 March 2013

Juan Martin Del Potro signalled he could be back to his Grand Slam-winning best with his run to the Indian Wells final. Wimbledon.com lists ten things to think about the big friendly Argentine. 

1. Such was the quality of Juan Martin del Potro's play at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden last week - he defeated Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic and led Rafa Nadal by a set in the final - that you have to take him seriously when he says he could win this summer's Wimbledon Championships. As Del Potro once said, "grass is a difficult surface for an Argentine player". And he will almost certainly never be as comfortable on the sport's original surface as he is on a hard court. But his podium finish at the Olympics has demonstrated what he can do on the lawns. "I have a fantastic memory from last year when I won the bronze medal at the Olympics. It was a magnificent experience for me. I had never played at an Olympics before so it was a big moment for me and my country. To win on grass at Wimbledon as well made it an even bigger moment," said Del Potro, who will prepare for Wimbledon by playing at the Aegon Championships at Queen's Club. "I think that if I play my best tennis I have a chance to win a grand slam tournament on grass, but it will be very difficult."

2. Playing at Queen's could make all the difference for Del Potro this summer. He was supposed to compete in Baron's Court last year, but withdrew because of a knee problem, and so didn't feel as though he was primed to compete at the grass-court slam. 

3. If Del Potro is to lift that golden trophy, he knows he must improve. While he is known for cuffing the ball, in California he was working on his slice and on taking opportunities to attack the net, which are useful skills to have on the Wimbledon grass. Still, his weapon of choice is always going to be his forehand.

4. Were he to be successful, Del Potro would become the first South American during the Open era to win the men's singles title at the All England Club.

5. Nicknamed the Tower of Tandil, the 6ft 6in Del Potro would also become the tournament's tallest champion. Richard Krajicek, a 6ft 5in Dutchman and the 1996 champion, has that record for now.

6. Aside from the Olympics, where he lost an epic semi-final to Roger Federer, and then defeated Djokovic in the bronze-medal match, Del Potro's record at the All England Club has been less than spectacular. On five previous visits, he has lost in the second round on three occasions, and the past two summers he has been beaten in the fourth round, in 2011 by Nadal and last season by David Ferrer. 

7. Even so, none of the Big Four will want to have Del Potro, currently ranked seventh, as their projected quarter-final opponent. As his results in the desert showed, he is not afraid of beating the best in the world. 

8. How many more slams would Del Potro have won if he hadn't injured his wrist after becoming the 2009 US Open champion? If Del Potro were to win Wimbledon, or any other slam, he will surely think back to those dark days when many wondered whether he would ever challenge for majors again.

9. When Del Potro arrives in England this June, will he still be feeling energised by Pope Francis? A religious man, the former US Open champion was inspired by the news that a fellow Argentine had been elected as the new Pope. "I'm very Catholic so I like this decision," he said. "For me and for our country and for the Argentine people, it's so big. It was so impressive for us when they mentioned the new Pope and also his name. I think he deserves to be there, so it's very nice for us. We are so proud of him. He's the first Pope from South America, I think. He's so big for our own country. I wish him all the best. I think he's going to do this work perfectly."

10. No one needs to tell Del Potro how well Murray, last year's Wimbledon runner-up and the Olympic champion, can play on grass. Del Potro believes that Murray could become Britain's first world number one, and Britain's first men's singles champion at Wimbledon since the 1930s. "Murray is a big champion, he has already won a grand slam, he made the finals in Australia this year and he has everything he needs to be at the top in the future. He will be fighting for the world number one place this year and he can take a big opportunity in the grass-court season." 


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