US Open Men’s Final – Djokovic vs Del Potro
Sunday, September 9th
Novak Djokovic looks to win his second Grand Slam of the season against a resurgent Juan Martin Del Potro at Flushing Meadows.
After what was, by his standards, a barren spell of eight Grand Slam tournaments without a trophy, the Serb triumphed at Wimbledon earlier this summer to put him fourth in the all-time list.
Djokovic will move within one title of matching the great Pete Sampras if he can triumph at the Arthur Ashe Stadium on Sunday night. It won’t be easy against a resurgent Juan Martin Del Potro though, the Argentine having won the US Open in 2009.
Del Potro appears to have overcome the serious wrist problems which threatened his career, and saw him drop to as low as 621 in the world. An aggressive baseline player, his forehand is one of the most powerful in the game and can cause problems for any player on the tour.
This will be the 29-year-old’s first Grand Slam final since that 2009 triumph, but he reached the semi-finals at Roland Garros and has risen to number three in the world.
The weight of history is with Djokovic, who boasts a 14-4 record against Del Potro and last lost to the Argentine on tour at Indian Wells in 2013. The Serb’s court coverage and ferocious backhand somewhat negate the power and precision of the Del Potro forehand, and make him arguably the best defensive player in the game, especially with Andy Murray not at full fitness as he returns from injury.
Since overcoming his wrist problems Del Potro has been forced to modify his back hand, switching from two hands to one and relying more on the slice. While he has acquitted himself well with a style he considers unfamiliar, expect Djokovic to play to the backhand wherever possible and look to expose that weakness.
Novak Djokovic has grown into the tournament. Having dropped a set in each of his first two matches he’s triumphed in three in each of the subsequent rounds, despatching Kei Nishikori 6-3 6-4 6-2 on Saturday night.
Del Potro, meanwhile, has dropped just one set all tournament, to John Isner is the quarter-final, and played only two in the semi-final after Rafa Nadal’s retirement. Both men should therefore be in peak physical condition for a final which could easily go to four or five sets.
Djokovic struggled at the net against Nishikori in the semi-final, but Del Potro’s game isn’t particularly adapted exploit that potential weakness. As a result, expect Djokovic to take the trophy while perhaps dropping a set. The Serb to win in four looks like a smart prediction.
There have been whisperings in tennis recently about the end of the so-called ‘Big Four’ of Djokovic, Murray, Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer. If Djokovic wins at Arthur Ashe though, 50 of the last 55 Grand Slams will have been shared between those four men.