Del Potro halved his ranking from 12th to No.6 in the first three months of the season, winning 21 of his first 25 matches. That included a streak of 15 wins that took in titles at Acapulco and Indian Wells; his triumph in the Californian desert marked the first time he had won a ATP Masters title during his 13-year pro career. It was a dream start to the year, and the Argentine barely slowed down after that.
He was among the game’s most consistent performers at the Grand Slams, reaching the semifinals at Roland Garros, the quarters at Wimbledon and the final at the US Open – the first time he had advanced to a major final since going all the way to the title at Flushing Meadows in 2009. He also reached another three finals – Auckland, Los Cabos and Beijing – only to fall at the final hurdle in each. It was a combination of results that saw him briefly ascend to world No.3 in during August and September.
After years of inactivity due to wrist surgeries and rehab, it was heartwarming to see Del Potro hitting his double-handed backhand more securely and contending for the game’s biggest titles once more. Yet physical problems again struck late in the year; a nasty fall in Shanghai saw him fracture his kneecap and ruled him out of the ATP Finals in London, where he was due to play for the first time since 2013.
After 60 matches played in 2018, Del Potro was:
“It was horrible moment for me. I was still thinking about my forehand miss and my forehand error, mistake in the match point. It’s my shot, you know, my forehand from that side of the court. I never miss that forehand (smiling). It was a lot of frustration after that match point, but then I play well … in the tiebreak he made two double faults, easy mistakes, and I took the last chance to win.”
– on missing match points before recovering to defeat Roger Federer in the Indian Wells final.
“I enjoyed a lot the match of today. The crowd was amazing. They were excited to keep watching tennis between Rafa and me. We played great points. We run a lot. I think we did good, good game. But Rafa won. I have to go home.”
– after losing a five-set quarterfinal at Wimbledon to Rafael Nadal, one of the matches of the year.
“She’s an idol for me and for our country. She deserve to get this mention. I couldn’t see her yet, but it’s an honour always for us to meet her and to have a chat or whatever. She’s also nice looking and everybody loves Gabby, yeah.”
– on Gabriela Sabatini, the former Argentinian great who was presented with the Jean Borotra Sportmanship Award at the All England Club in July.
Del Potro celebrated his 30th birthday with a bash in September, joined by a group of friends in Argentina.
Earlier in the season, Del Potro dedicated his Indian Wells title to his beloved dog Cesar, who passed away in February.
?????????Indian Wells champion????????? ????????Juan Martin del Potro ???????? signed a heartfelt message to his ???????? newfoundland dog 'Cesar' ???????? who sadly passed away recently. pic.twitter.com/ZjAx6HgveD
— Sky Sports Tennis ???? (@SkySportsTennis) March 19, 2018
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