It has been nearly 10 years since Juan Martin del Potro won his lone Grand Slam, at the 2009 U.S. Open. This time around, he finds himself as the No. 3 seed — and favorite (+225) to survive his quarter of the draw.
Del Potro capped off an impressive first half of the hard-court season with a Masters title, defeating Roger Federer in the Indian Wells final, but unfortunately for the Tower of Tandil, injuries to that left wrist have popped up again (forcing the big Argentine to withdraw from the Rogers Coupe).
If del Potro can’t hit over his backhand, I’m not sure he can go deep in this tournament. Elsewhere in this quarter, we see two more former Grand Slam champions — Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka — both back on tour after months sidelined with injuries.
Since their returns, Wawrinka has certainly been the more convincing player, but I’m not sure either former champ is primed for a deep run in Queens.
Let’s take a closer look at this quarter to see what stands in the way of del Potro and a return trip to the U.S. Open semifinals.
Seed Form Check
(2018 summer hard-court record)
#3 Juan Martin del Potro (5-2) — Delpo backed up making the Los Cabos final with a quarterfinal appearance in Cincinnati. His serve and forehand have been large and in charge, but he has taken a step back from earlier this season on the backhand wing. Delpo should get through his early round matchups by using the sliced backhand until he can hit a forehand, but as the tournament progresses, talented baseline players will exploit that wing.
#8 Grigor Dimitrov (3-2) — His summer hard season has been less than spectacular, to say the least. Dimitrov needed three sets to overcome Fernando Verdasco and Frances Tiafoe in his first two matches in Toronto before getting outclassed by Kevin Anderson in the quarterfinals. I’m not expecting much at this U.S. Open from Dimitrov, who is actually an underdog in his first-round match against Wawrinka.
#11 John Isner (5-3) — Started the summer hard season hot by winning the title in Atlanta, but has faltered of late, losing three of four. Courts at the U.S. Open tend to play slow off the ground, which won’t help Big John.
#15 Stefanos Tsitsipas (8-3) — Despite a first-round loss in Cincinnati (against David Goffin), the young Greek still enters this tournament enjoying some of the best form on tour. Tsitsipas broke through earlier this month in Toronto, where he defeated five top-25 players before running out of steam in the final against Nadal. If he can continue his recent form, he could make noise.
#20 Borna Coric (2-2) — Relatively quiet U.S. Open series, at least by the standards he set in the first half of the season. Though he lost in the second round at Cincinnati to Nick Kyrgios, Coric did first notch an impressive win over Daniil Medvedev, newly crowned Winston-Salem champ. That’s a positive sign for the young Croat ahead of this tournament.
#24 Damir Dzumhur (2-3) — Struggling lately to record wins. He has the skill set to turn things around, but he’ll have to do so as an underdog in his first-round match against Dusan Lajovic.
#25 Milos Raonic (4-2) — Disappointing effort in Toronto (his home tournament), where he lost his second match against Tiafoe, although the Maple Missile did bounce back nicely with a quarterfinal appearance in Cincy. Raonic will be on the peripheries of some radars as a U.S. Open longshot, but I haven’t seen enough from him lately to echo those sentiments.
#31 Fernando Verdasco (1-2) — Possesses the game to beat just about anyone on tour, but has had a rough recent stretch. After losing 6-1, 6-2 to Jeremy Chardy earlier this month in Cincinnati, it’s clear the Spaniard doesn’t feel great about his game.
Unseeded Player Watch
Wawrinka and Murray have the second- and fourth-best respective odds to win this quarter. While I’m much more confident in Wawrinka’s chances, it’s hard to rule out the Scot, and his seemingly infinite willpower.
Another unseeded player who could trouble del Potro is Medvedev, fresh off his title in Winston-Salem. Although it’s never ideal to “peak,” so to speak, the week before a major, I expect Meddy to carry over the momentum in Queens.
Key H2H Records
- Dimitrov 4-3 (1-1) vs. Wawrinka — first round
- Wawrinka 4-1 (3-1) vs. Raonic — potential third round
- Dimitrov 4-2 (3-1) vs. Raonic — potential third round
- Del Potro 6-4 (6-3) vs. Isner — potential quarterfinal
- Murray 7-3 (5-2) vs. del Potro — potential fourth round
- Del Potro 4-3 (0-1) vs. Wawrinka — potential quarterfinal
It’s a tough draw for Raonic, who has losing records against Wawrinka and Dimitrov. The Canadian will likely face one of those two in the third round.
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