Slowly but surely, Juan Martin del Potro is coming.
While it’s been a slow climb back to the top following a serious wrist injury that forced him out of the sport for almost a year in 2010, the towering Argentine is rounding into form at just the right time ahead of the Australian summer of tennis.
And this is exactly why you want del Potro playing for your town at Australian Open 2014 as part of the AO Blitz.
Back in 2009, del Potro had the tennis world at his feet. At just 20 years of age, he upended the legendary Roger Federer in five sets in the final of the US Open, his first major title and what looked to be the first of many. After years of watching Federer and Rafael Nadal dominate the game, a new talent with a high-voltage game had emerged, one who looked primed to throw a spanner in the works of the order at the top of the tennis world.
Yet such a scenario never materialised. “Delpo” was soon struck down with a career-threatening wrist injury, forcing him off tour for eight months in 2010 and seeing him slide out of the world’s top 200. Although he did well in 2011 to return to the top 20, and in 2012 vaulted inside the top 10, he never reached similar Grand Slam highs.
That was until this year. The Argentine reached the semifinals at Wimbledon, his best major result since his Flushing Meadows run of 2009, and was a highlight in a 2013 season that has seen him win four titles, beat the entire “big four” of Federer, Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, and crack the world’s top five.
Having won 13 of his past 14 matches, del Potro is arguably the most in-form player in the world right now.
So how can you get him playing for your town at the upcoming Australian Open?
It’s easy – the more points you earn by completing challenges, the more points you earn for your nominated town. And the higher your town finishes on the leader-board, the more chance it will have of being represented by a highly seeded player. The top two towns on the leader-board will flip a coin to see which one scores the top-seeded male player, or the top-seeded female.
Your town could be associated with del Potro at Australian Open 2014; giant information screens around Melbourne Park, plus scheduling signage, would feature his name, nationality and the Australian town he’s ‘playing for’.
It’s a pretty exciting concept, especially when you consider the prizes on offer. If your representative player wins the men’s or women’s Australian Open singles title, your town will be treated to an AO Blitz party for the entire community, and a whole host of other prizes.
Barring injury, there’s little doubt del Potro will be one of the main names in the discussion surrounding men’s title favourites come January.
And that’s because, aside from his form, there’s not many weaknesses in his game.
Del Potro is unusual in that he hits a flatter ball than most of his contemporaries; couple that with his extraordinary power and timing, and his groundstrokes shoot through the court to beat even the best of retrievers. And although he’s one of the tallest men out there, he’s also incredibly nimble, his court coverage and control allowing him to stay alive in brutal rallies that many of his fellow big men couldn’t survive.
The Argentine is also a crowd favourite, his mild-mannered demeanour masking an intense competitor who is also very comfortable in the spotlight of the world’s biggest show courts. And they don’t come much bigger or brighter than Rod Laver Arena, where del Potro will likely play the bulk of his matches should he progress through the draw in 2014.
A quarterfinalist at Melbourne Park in 2009 and 2012, del Potro will be looking to improve on those finishes in January, and especially motivated to atone for an early-than-expected third-round loss in 2013.
And by registering for the AO Blitz and completing as many challenges as you can, you'll increase your chances of having him potentially turn his form, confidence, game and crowd support into victory for your town at Australian Open 2014.