Del Potro eyes another Grand Slam shock

Updated: 25 May 2012 11:17 IST

Juan Martin Del Potro goes into the French Open in a unique position as the only man outside of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic to have won a Grand Slam title in the last seven years.

Del Potro eyes another Grand Slam shock
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Paris:

Juan Martin Del Potro goes into the French Open in a unique position as the only man outside of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic to have won a Grand Slam title in the last seven years.

Of the last 35 majors stretching back to Wimbledon in 2003, 31 have been won by the big three.

And in the seven years since Marat Safin clinched the 2005 Australian Open, only Del Potro, at the US Open in 2009, has broken the Federer-Nadal-Djokovic stranglehold.

Touted as a future world number one when he won in New York in 2009, the 1.98m Del Potro, nicknamed the Tandil Tower after his home town, saw his career suddenly fall apart.

A wrist injury, which required surgery and lengthy rehabilitation, caused his world ranking to slump to 485 at the start of 2011, but the 23-year-old Argentine has recovered well.

He goes into the French Open from Sunday at nine in the world and with a solid claycourt season behind him having won his 11th career title in Estoril and reached the semi-finals in Madrid.

"It's important to be ready when the opportunities present themselves as was the case for me at the US Open in 2009. I have worked hard to be ready and have another chance to beat anybody," Del Potro told AFP.

Del Potro was a semi-finalist at Roland Garros in 2009, losing in five sets to eventual champion Federer, having been two sets to one up.

His wrist injury forced him to skip the 2010 edition before he returned to make the third round last year, losing to Djokovic in four sets.

Del Potro still has fond memories of his marathon struggle against Federer in 2009.

"I was dominating that match but at the end I was making some bad decisions," he said.

"Despite what happened, it's a great memory and I think things could be different if the same situation arises. I am older now and have a lot more experience."

He points to a four-set loss to Nadal in last year's Davis Cup final against Spain on clay in Seville as another indication that he has nothing to fear on the surface.

"That match gave me a lot of confidence," said Del Potro, who was beaten 1-6, 6-4, 6-1, 7-6.

"Since then I know that I can match all of the top three on all surfaces. At the moment they are stronger than me but I am getting closer."

Del Potro's last tournament before Roland Garros saw him make the third round of the Rome Masters where he fell to fellow top 10 player Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France.

"I had a little problem with my knee, but it's nothing serious. It's been five days now and it's getting better and better. I wil be ready for Roland Garros," he added.

"If I am physically ready to endure the strains of playing for five hours, I can have a great tournament."

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