Tennis Prose



Del Potro’s Highest Gear: The Ultimate Tennis Colossus?


By Scoop Malinowski

Juan Martin Del Potro only infrequently shows his highest gear of tennis might. It comes and goes like the wind, for a match or two or a tournament, then it dissipates until reappearing later. The cycle has been a constant of the Argentine’s unique professional career which began in 2005.

The first burst of Del Potro greatness was at the 2009 US Open final where the 20-year-old toppled Roger Federer in five sets. Looking back, it’s hard to believe a 20-year-old could beat Federer in his first Grand Slam final but Del Potro has always been an extraordinary player.

We have seen flashes of his unbeatable level of play, the domination of Nadal in Miami and the pummeling of Djokovic at last year’s Olympics come to mind first. There were many others.

When Del Potro is at his best level, his serve is nearly impossible to play and his forehand is quite possibly the all time most potent weapon in tennis history.

Last night we saw Del Potro’s forehand make Federer look helpless for much of their four set match. It wasn’t a matter of Federer playing poorly or even slightly subpar. Federer looked superb the entire match but he was thunderstruck by Delpo’s highest gear last night and it provoked insecurity and stunning errors to crop up at key moments in the match. I believe the missed volleys and overhead at the end were caused by the extreme pressure that Del Potro’s level of ball striking put on the Federer usually rock solid psyche.

Del Potro looked unbeatable last night. Not even Federer’s finesse and trickery had any effect. Federer admitted after that Del Potro “was better.”

Though it’s impossible for anyone to prove or disprove, it could be a plausible truth that Del Potro’s best tennis is simply superior to the best level of Federer, Djokovic or Nadal. Or any player in tennis history.



  • catherine · September 10, 2017 at 2:29 am

    And Scoop – I agree the junior girls are probably going to offer up more this year. Fascinating final.

  • catherine · September 10, 2017 at 2:52 am

    Oh and now the story is Madison was injured. What are we supposed to say about that ?

  • Hartt · September 10, 2017 at 8:35 am

    Yes, the women’s final was very disappointing. Keys’ injury probably did hamper her movement somewhat. She had a MTO in her previous match when she had her thigh taped and there was heavy strapping on it in this match. But she said nerves played a bigger role and we can see that in so many UFEs – I think she had 30.

    (NP) Madison is obviously capable of playing much better, the way she creamed Vandeweghe in the SF showed that. Hopefully she can learn to deal with her nerves better in her next big match, and am sure she will have more big matches in the future.

    I was pleasantly surprised at how well Stephens played. For the first few games she did not have a single error. And she was getting the ball deep and in the perfect spots to make thing tough for Keys. When she had opportunities to make a put away volley she did. After initial nervousness Sloane was very composed, doing what she needed to in order to win. I was not a fan because of her poor efforts in the past but, coming back from such a long time off the court, she does have a new attitude. With her athletic ability and skill she could be a serious contender for future Slam titles.

  • catherine · September 10, 2017 at 9:25 am

    Hartt –
    I think Sloane had the upperhand psychologically in this match and she realised that, which gave her confidence – I wonder how long her and Madison’s close friendship will last under the stress of competition?

    I do think other players are going to take advantage of Sloane’s relatively poor service – a good returner will pick many points off it.
    Madison is entered for Wuhan but I doubt she’ll be there.

    No other comments here so far on the women’s final. Either too early or a lack of interest ?

  • Hartt · September 10, 2017 at 10:54 am

    Hard to know why there’s a lack of comments. On the other site I chat on there is a lot of interest in women’s tennis and there are tons of comments, including an on-going debate about whether Maddie is mentally fragile.

    And like Scoop here, there is interest in the girls final. I have to get my grocery shopping done in time to see it.

    And I have to get my treat for Felix’s win. 🙂 When Fed went out I thought that was it for any hope of a treat this week.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 10, 2017 at 11:35 am

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Didn't see the F yet busy with other things and worrying about Irma hitting Bradenton FL where I have a small apartment. Sloane always was a future champion potential player since that infamous Serena spat about five years ago. She went into a Djokovic like tailspin for a few years following the Serena spat but now she has returned from surgery with Serena absent and finally fulfilled her star potential. Not sure if she could have done it were Serena not pregnant. Keys either choked or was hampered by the leg injury or possibly something else. Will watch the tape of the final later. Pray for Florida.

  • catherine · September 10, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    Scoop – yes of course we are hearing news of what’s happening with the hurricane so I hope all is well with your property in Florida and also the people there.

    Hartt – maybe it’s the weekend and there are other things to think about – but I imagine there’ll be more comments on the men’s match.

    The end of year WTA events could be interesting. As for Madison, yes she is probably mentally fragile but she may grow out of that.

  • Hartt · September 10, 2017 at 12:01 pm

    Scoop, hope your place in Florida is OK. This hurricane is affecting so many people, it’s hard to take it all in.

  • jg · September 10, 2017 at 12:54 pm

    Keys losing to Sloane seemed to me like Agassi losing to Courier in that first French Open final they played, everyone expected Agassi to roll and he just didn’t play well and Courier picked it up, it took Agassi a while to get over it.

  • Duke Carnoustie · September 10, 2017 at 6:57 pm

    Hurricane messing with a ton of folks. I had a buddy flee Sarasota for New Orleans. Ugh. Hope your place in Florida is safe, Scoop.

    Women’s final was a dud. Most interesting thing for me was that they gave Sloane’s coach a trophy.

    Men’s final was straightforward today. All of Anderson’s fist pumps were in vain since he never had a break point.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 10, 2017 at 8:01 pm

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Thanks Hartt aned Catherine: We are all waiting and watching anxiously. There are so many academies and players based in south Florida that this storm will surely have a negative affect on the sport. The damages will be catastrophic.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 10, 2017 at 8:03 pm

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    jg: I think Sloane and Keys were closer then Andre and Jim were back then 🙂 The hugs at the handshake were considerably warmer yesterday.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 10, 2017 at 8:09 pm

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Thanks Duke, Nola is a long drive from Sarasota, I did it once. One of my tennis friends fled to Alabama :)Both finals were rather anti-climatic though Hingis and Chan winning the doubles was a very nice match. First major for Chan in five tries. Hingis winning two more major titles in doubles and mixed for 25 total has to be the story of the tournament or Rafa notching his third US Open and 16th overall major at 31. They all said his body would be broken down by mid to late twenties. Boy were they wrong.

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