Del Potro looks menacing once more, blowing Nishikori away with powerful display
19:01 GMT, 30 June 2012
The lurking threat of Juan Martin Del Potro in the bottom half of the draw gained emphasis as the former US Open champion equalled his best run at Wimbledon.
The 23-year-old Argentine is the only man to have broken the domination of the ‘Big Three’, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, in the last 29 Grand Slams, storming past Nadal and Federer to win in impressive style at Flushing Meadow in 2009.
Injury problems saw Del Potro slump outside the world top 250. After recovering from surgery on his right wrist in May 2010, he has been hampered by a left knee injury, which forced him to pull out of the Aegon Championship at Queen’s and prevented any competitive grass court preparation in the build-up to this Wimbledon.
Packing a punch: Del Potro showed his power against Nishikori
While none of his 11 tournament wins have come on grass, the 6ft 6in left-hander, back up to No 9 in the world, has come through the first three rounds relatively unscathed.
Although not the most agile and unsure at the net, Del Potro’s big serve and powerful groundstrokes were too much for No 19 seed Kei Nishikori, of Japan, who lost 6-3, 7-6, 6-1 on a wind-blown Court No 1.
Del Potro said: ‘This is the best I have played so far. I played really aggressively, tried to hit the ball really hard and took all my break-points.
‘That was important for me to take control of the match and relax. The conditions were horrible but I had to keep telling myself it was the same for both players. You have to play tough.’
A harsh lesson: Nishikori
Brought up on the clay and hard courts of Argentina, Del Potro admits adapting to grass is not easy for him. But he is learning. ‘I still prefer hard courts and grass is difficult for all players from Argentina,’ he added. But I’m practising hard and getting more used to it. The more I win on grass the better it is for me.’
His knee injury is also improving. ‘It’s almost perfect,’ he said. ‘I’m getting better every day.’
As for his chances of emulating his US Open triumph Del Potro, remains downbeat. ‘I don’t think about how many rounds I can win,’ he said. ‘I’m having a good tournament and I’ll be ready for my next round. That’s it.’
Nishikori, who lost to Del Potro for a third straight match, said: ‘I couldn’t get him off balance because his groundstrokes were so good.’
Del Potro will play David Ferrer in the fourth round after the Spaniard beat Andy Roddick.