Juan Martin del Potro jokes Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic stopped him from realising one dream

Shahida Jacobs
Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin del Potro
Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin del Potro

Juan Martin del Potro realised one of his tennis goals when he won the US Open in 2009, but there is another dream that he didn’t quite manage to achieve due to Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

The Argentine was one of the best tennis players in the world during his peak and notched up several wins over the Big Three of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic – including at the 2009 US Open when he beat Nadal in the semi-final and Federer in the final.

He also won the ATP Finals, silver medals at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, reached a career-high No 3 in the ATP Rankings in 2018 but injuries ultimately prevented him from achieving more success as he spent long spells on the sidelines due to several wrist and knee injuries that often required career-saving operations.

But while injuries curtailed his career, Messrs Federer, Nadal and Djokovic also stood in his way of achieving more as one or more members of the Big Three were always ahead of him in the rankings and they also often stood in his way of winning more Grand Slams.

In an interview with Tenis News Brasil, he discussed what was missing from his career and said: “The only thing I lacked was being No 1. It was always a dream and I always worked for it.

“If I had to answer that question today, I would say that’s it, but I was proud of my career and I never made it because there was either Federer, or Nadal or Djokovic.

“When I look at the rankings and the years of my career and who was fighting to be No 1 I see that it was beautiful to see that these were the ones who didn’t let me achieve this dream.”

He also spoke about the future of tennis and feels the likes of Carlos Alcaraz, Jannik Sinner and Holger Rune will shine in years to become, but they won’t replace the Big Three.

“One day the Big Three will end and we have Carlos Alcaraz, Jannik Sinner or Holger Rune, other young people who will dominate the Tour, but for me many years – the Big Three – there won’t be anything similar,” the Argentine said.

After sustaining a knee injury at Queen’s Club in June 2019, Del Potro spent nearly three full years on the sidelines and he finally returned at the 2022 Argentina Open but he admitted that his appearance was “maybe more of a farewell than a comeback”.

“If I’m honest I have to say that I’m not here for a miraculous comeback like on other occasions,” the Argentine said. “I know the limitations I have physically, and we’ll see later.”

He added: “With this injury I always said I wouldn’t give up. The farewell had to be on a court and not in a conference.”

READ MORE: Juan Martin del Potro details heartbreaking injury struggles