Former seven-time Grand Slam champion Mats Wilander has no doubt that tennis would have had the Big Five if Juan Martin del Potro was able to stay healthy. Del Potro, 33, captured his maiden Grand Slam title in 2009 after beating Rafael Nadal in the US Open semifinal and then Roger Federer in the final.
Del Potro was tipped to win multiple Grand Slams and become world No. 1 but then years marked with injuries and long injury breaks followerd. Del Potro said goodbye to tennis in front of his home fans in Buenos Aires this week.
“When you look at his resume, you realise that, of course, he won the US Open in 2009, beating [Rafa] Nadal in the semis, [Roger] Federer in the final, it was unbelievable. But then he also won the Davis Cup for Argentina, the only time they won that, and then he was a silver and a bronze medalist in the Olympics.
So he was really a man of his country," Wilander told Eurosport.. “I played Davis Cup against him many times as a captain for the Swedish team, and he brought the vibe. And the people’s champion is what it seemed like to me.
“The vibe there in Buenos Aires last night was incredible. I was watching on live TV. “Juan Martin del Potro, he really should have been one out of the Big Five. To me, it’s not the Big Three… it could be the Big Four with Andy Murray and, to me, Del Potro would have qualified as part of the Big Five.
He would have won way more than he did should he have been healthy”.
Del Potro had success against each member of the Big Three
As already mentioned, del Potro's lone Grand Slam title came after beating Nadal and Federer in back-to-back matches.
Del Potro beat Novak Djokovic in the bronze medal match at the 2012 London Olympics and also beat the Serb in the first round at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. “Del Potro, really, I mean, he should have been one of them.
He would have been. He beat Nadal and Federer in their prime in a Slam and he beat Novak Djokovic in the Olympics in his prime," Wilander noted. “So I think Del Potro is slightly overlooked. But just the fact that he’s been fighting this for so many years on his own, in silence, and we, the rest of the world, really haven’t paid enough attention… he mentally has been trying so many times and for so many years, knowing ‘I have the game to threaten the Big Four’ and not being able to pursue that passion of his and become the best player he can be. To me, it’s heartbreaking to watch him last night”.