Del Potro’s comeback from two sets down in the last round was the best match of tournament adding even more fans
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO has more power than Popeye and more soul than Motown.
And the much-loved Argentinian will enjoy more support on Wednesday than any of Roger Federer’s previous opponents in New York.
Del Potro’s incredible recovery from two sets down to beat Dominic Thiem in the last round was the best match of tournament.
The celebrations of his victory could be heard on the main court where Federer was playing.
Asked to explain his popularity, Del Potro, 28, said: “I think the people loves my effort to come back and play tennis.
“They know what have been through with all my wrist problems.
“They like one guy who never give ups, and he’s trying to play tennis.”
Del Potro and Federer’s quarter-final clash comes eight years after the “Tower of Tandil” ended Federer’s run of five back-to-back US titles by winning an epic five-set final.
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But hopes that the big Argentinian would go on to battle the Big Four were dashed by an injury to his left wrist that required a number of operations and almost led to him quitting tennis in 2015.
Del Potro said: “You can see my backhand is not good enough yet, but I’m still trying. I think the people like that.”
Ongoing weakness in that left wrist means Del Potro still can’t hit a full-blooded two-handed backhand.
But his serve, with which he saved two match points against Thiem, and his forehand are things of brutal beauty.
If Del Potro can recover from the Thiem match, his match against Federer could be another classic.
Del Potro said: “It will be after eight years again in the central court of this tournament.
“I know how to play if I want to win, but I will see how physically I feel after this battle.
“But always is a pleasure to play the greatest guy on the history.”
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Despite Del Potro’s story, many will hope that Federer wins and sets up a first meeting at the US Open with long-time rival Rafael Nadal.
The Spaniard himself will have to overcome Russian teenager Andrey Rublev earlier in the New York day to reach the semi-final.
Rublev idolised Nadal when he was even younger than his current 19 years and said: “When I saw since the first time, I like it.
“He try to do everything perfect. That’s why he’s No 1, one of the best guys in all the history.”