“I think this is the best moment of my life.”
So said Juan Martin del Potro after destroying Rafael Nadal: 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 in the US Open semifinals.
“I’m not very strong but I do my best,” he added.
Wow, del Potro can out-hit and out-humble Rafa? Now that’s impressive.
But not as impressive as the Argentine’s performance these past nine months:
Back in January, Juan Martin was bicycled by Roger Federer in the Australian Open quarters: 3-6, 0-6, 0-6. At the time, ESPN commentator Brad Gilbert predicted “It’s going to be at least two more years (until del Potro wins a major.)” Guess the kid learns fast. Since then, Juan Martin defeated Rafael Nadal in Miami, took Federer to the brink at Roland Garros, beat Andy Roddick in the final of D.C., and beat both Roddick and Nadal in Montreal to earn a spot in his first Masters 1000 final, where he lost to Andy Murray. That was his only loss on the hardcourts this summer – del Potro is 16-1 since the start of the US Open series.
If he wants to win his first Major title on his first try, he’ll have to accomplish yet another first. He’s never beaten the two other finals contenders – he’s 0-3 vs. Novak Djokovic and 0-6 vs. Roger Federer.
Time to start cramming, del Po!
Update: In the “for what it’s worth” department, Matt Cronin @TennisReporters says that Rafael Nadal has a 15 millimeter tear in his abdominal muscle and will be out at least a month. (He’s already pulled out of the Davis Cup semi against Israel later this month, replaced by the capable Juan Carlos Ferrero.) Obviously something like this would effect Rafa’s performance, and it’s remarkable that he played as well as he did.