Opportunity Knocks for Del Potro in Cincinnati

Juan Martin Del Potro’s return from a left wrist injury in early 2016 has not been an easy road, despite winning a silver medal at the Rio Olympics and helping Argentina win the 2016 Davis Cup for the first time in tournament history.

While performing well in these events have been great for Del Potro, neither were able to help his ATP ranking, which remained stuck in the mid-30s, not high enough to get him seeded at the majority of tournaments.

Because of this, Del Potro has consistently been handed bad draws at tournaments, being pitted against top players early in the tournament, making it very difficult to build his ranking back up. For example, the Argentine lost to either Novak Djokovic or Roger Federer in four of his first six tournaments in 2017.

Fast forward to Monday in Cincinnati, Del Potro found himself on the verge of yet another early exit in a tournament as he faced 10th-seed Tomas Berdych.

Berdych quickly took the first set 6-3, not facing a single break point on his serve against the big hitting Argentine. Del Potro looked to have steadied his game, jumping to a 5-2 lead in the second set before letting Berdych back into the set, ultimately forcing a second set tiebreak.

Berdych would miss a forehand wind and double fault to give Del Potro a quick 3-0 lead in the tiebreak. Del Potro won the next two points with huge serves and even bigger forehands before closing out the tiebreak 7-1 with an ace.

That confidence would be all Del Potro needed as he coasted in the third set, taking the match 3-6, 7-6(1), 6-0 to move on to the second round of the Western & Southern Open.

With Federer’s withdraw on Monday, Del Potro’s path to success in Cincinnati got a lot easier. Up next is American qualifier Mitchell Krueger. Should he win that match, he would get either 7th-seed Grigor Dimitrov or Feliciano Lopez in the Round of 16.

Looking past that potential match up, the quarterfinals could be even more favorable to the big man. Federer was replaced in the draw by lucky loser Thomas Fabbiano and the other seeded player, 13th-seed Jack Sock, in this section of the draw lost today.

In the other quarter of the bottom half of the draw, 4th-seed Alex Zverev and 14th-seed John Isner are the lone remaining seeded players, after 6th-seed Milos Raonic withdrew due to an injury and 12th-seed Roberto Bautista Agut lost today. Zverev and Isner are set to face each other in the Round of 16.

The pieces have already started to fall in line for someone who has had the worst of luck with various injuries and surgeries throughout his career. With a little more luck of the draw, Del Potro could see himself through to the semifinals of the Western & Southern Open for the first time since 2013.

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