Juan Martin del Potro, the 2009 US Open champion, was not able to compete in Roland Garros over the last few weeks. However, the Argentine is in the ATP Stuttgart draw this week in Germany, and he might just be a factor at Wimbledon later this summer.
Regarding the grass-court Slam, currently Grigor Dimitrov is considered to be a player who belongs on the Top-10 list of favorites. However, JMD stifled the Bulgarian’s grass-court preparations on Tuesday in the first round of the Stuttgart event. Del Potro, behind a 6-2, 6-4 victory, is now in the second round with at least as good of a chance as anyone to make the tournament final this weekend.
At present, Delpo’s draw to the final goes through John Millman, probably Gilles Simon, and then no one more talented than the inconsistent Marin Cilic. If del Potro was at his best, then the draw would be a dunk for him – even over top of Cilic. As the Argentine is right now, the draw is still one that he may very well negotiate. In fact of the eight players on the bottom half of the draw still alive in Stuttgart, JMD is the betting favorite to advance to the final with numerous sportsbooks (i.e.,. bet365).
The top half of the draw has both Roger Federer and Dominic Thiem. The former’s grass-court abilities are crystal clear, however, what he has right now is not following so much missed time on tour this season. The latter is a player best known for clay-court success, someone who has not yet proven himself on the grass-court surface. All things weighed, I think del Potro should be considered the second favorite in Stuttgart behind Federer, but ahead of Thiem, a player that del Potro beat on clay ahead of the French Open.
The Argentine is currently ranked outside of the Top 200 on tour. That will certainly change very quickly if he keeps winning tour-level matches. In fact, his Thursday match against Millman is one that would see him get back into the Top 200 with a victory.
At this best, del Potro was a major contender at Wimbledon in 2013. In that event, he made the tournament’s semifinals and kept Novak Djokovic on court for nearly five hours in that round. If he can hit into form, then he promises to be a dangerous floater when balls start getting hit at the All England Club later this month.
The Stuttgart draw may only be a 250-level event on tour. However, with del Potro in it, Federer in it, and Thiem in it – three players whose abilities aren’t clear right now (at least on grass) – it certainly is a tournament to watch in the days ahead.