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Tour report - Will Del Potro be New York's dark horse?

A backhand by Juan Martin Del Potro.
by Alexandra Willis
Monday 5 August 2013

The week's titles were claimed by Juan Martin Del Potro, Sam Stosur, Marcel Granollers and Magdalena Rybarikova. Wimbledon.com sums them up. 

There's been a fair amount of tennis going on ever-since Wimbledon, and yet much of the tennis fraternity would happily admit they've been in a bit of a post-SW19 daze. But one very big Argentine is doing his best to buck the inertia. 

Clubbing his gigantic forehand, Juan Martin Del Potro successfully defended his title in Washington over the weekend, taking down last week's Atlanta champion, John Isner, in the process. Isner, who claims, and succeeds, in playing his best when on American soil, had taken the first set 6-3 before the world No.7 went on a seven-game tear from 1-1 in the second set. His biggest accomplishment was neutralising Isner's serve, allowing the American No.1 just six aces, low by his double-digits standards. 

"In the third, I played my best tennis of the tournament," Del Potro said, winning 3-6, 6-1, 6-2. "That gives me big confidence to keep trying and getting closer to the top guys."

There is a lot of tennis to be played before the pros arrive at Flushing Meadows for the year's fourth and final Grand Slam, with the two Masters 1000 events in Montreal this week and Cincinnati next week. But having reached his first Slam semi-final since 2009 at Wimbledon last month has surely given Del Potro the confidence to mount a renewed assault on a major title attempt. Roger Federer withdrew from Montreal to rest his back, Rafael Nadal is back, but an unknown quantity, all of which means there could well be space at the table for Del Potro to join Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray as Grand Slam champions this year. 

Another former US Open champion also found form at the right time, Sam Stosur defeating Victoria Azarenka for the first time in her career to win the WTA title in Carlsbad, California. Azarenka had streaked through her side of the field for much of the week, only to lose her oomph when the final came along. And Stosur, to her credit, made the most of it, winning 11 of 12 break points to claim her fourth career title, 6-2, 6-3.

"This is obviously a huge boost for me," Stosur said. "I haven't had great results all year really, so to be able to bounce back, especially from last week's first round loss, and play better and better each day, it's really exciting and a good boost going into the last Grand Slam tournament of the year.

"It has been a long time since I've held a winner's trophy. To do it here, I'm very, very happy," she said, before taking a turn down the La Costa Resort's water slide, a winner's tradition. 

There were titles too for Marcel Granollers, who triumphed in Kitzbuhel in one of the last clay court events of the season, and for Magdalena Rybarikova, who, like Del Potro, successfully defended her title in Washington. 

Serena Williams meanwhile became the first woman to qualify for the season-ending WTA Championships in Istanbul. It's the event's third and final stay in Istanbul before moving to Singapore.

Finally... while Martina Hingis continues her comeback to the doubles tour, she and Daniela Hantuchova winning their first match together in Carlsbad before losing to eventual champions Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears, two other names of note will be returning this week in Toronto - Venus Williams, from a back injury, and Alisa Kleybanova from Hodgkin's lymphoma. 

Venus was in particularly good spirits, dancing away after playing an exhibition match alongside sister Serena against Monica Seles and home hope Genie Bouchard. 

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