The Argentine, Juan Martin del Potro is famous for his amiable personality, his nearly two-meter high structure and his massive forehand. He is profoundly loved by his country people and regarded as the ‘Tower of Tandil’. The giant picked up his tennis racquet at the age of seven under the tutelage of his coach Marcelo Gomez and turned professional in the year 2005.
When Juan Martin del Potro was introduced to tennis his hard-courter coach taught him a different forehand than the other Argentinian players and Del Potro credits those skills for his present adept performance on the hard courts. His flat forehand stroke makes it strenuous for the tennis legends like Roger Federer. For receiving his forehand Federer aligns himself in an accurate position on the court.
“My coach from the time I was a kid was a specialist of hard courts. He taught me a different forehand than the rest of Argentinian players,” Del Potro said. “That’s why I am able to work better on hard courts.” He believes this style of holding the racquet has been developed naturally since the time he started playing tennis. Del Potro regards it as his major strength and the strongest element of his tennis. “Well, I think now I am doing naturally but I learn this forehand when I was a kid. Then I have been working hard in every practice on my forehand because I found out it is my best shot of the game. I like to hit the flat (forehand) on every surface because I see the ball going really fast. And I feel my forehand is different from the rest of the players.”
The giant thinks his flat forehand can be developed among the tennis players who are shorter than him provided they start learning those techniques from a very early age. “I think everybody can hit flat forehands depends on the techniques, the coach who teaches. But I think, it has a specific timing to hit flat then you can use it on all surfaces. It not a difficult forehand but you have to learn that from kid.”
Del Potro recalls his forehand during the U.S. Open 2009, “ I will take the final of the U.S. Open against Roger. I was a set down and my forehand wasn’t going that fast. But after the second set, I was going crazy with my forehands. I got too much power from the crowd, I was hearing harder and harder. Then I played my best forehand ever.”
He also reminisces his forehand against Dominic Thiem in the U.S. Open 2017, when Thiem was on a set point in the fourth set and Del Potro’s ferocious forehand helped him to win the pre-quarterfinal match. “Then I will take the forehand against Dominic Thiem. He was on a set point I think in the fourth set. It was amazing. After that winner, I saw the crowd going crazy and I still remember that shot.” That forehand earned him a nickname “Del Thortro” from Roger Federer, referring to the superhero Thor. “It was funny to watch. Every player was talking about my forehand and my new nickname on tour. Then I got a couple of hammers on the tour. I like this new nickname on me and still working hard on my forehands.”
— Roger Federer (@rogerfederer) September 5, 2017
His forehand is a major topic of discussion when Del Potro plays and he enjoys the reaction of the public which they give to his forehand. “I like when people go crazy and that is part of my game. I know how big is my forehand,” he said. “First I have to do my job and if I can play any special shot for the crowd then I will do it”.
In the modern era of tennis, Del Potro’s take-back is an unconventional one. The latest forehands, begin with the hand leading the racquet head in the prior stages of the swing, but the giant Del Potro does the opposite. Usually, for the players like Federer, the position of the racquet head compared to the hand and forearm is quite effective for the movement of the wrist. The racquet head which is behind the hand in the stroke accelerates quickly and involving a steady engagement of the wrist, in turn, it aids for easier and higher spin production.
On the contrary, Juan Martin del Potro involves the minimal movement of the wrist which produces flat balls. And this technique might provide precision-advantage. His racquet face is generally open and all set to drive directly through the ball. However, Federer’s forehand is a technically superior shot and provides more options than Del Potro’s forehand.
Juan Martin del Potro gets a greater extension to the ball. The physics defines that, with the increase in distance from the centre of rotation of an object for a given rotational velocity, the linear velocity increases. In tennis, further the distance of the body from the ball, the faster the racquet goes. In the traditional forehand of the Argentine, his arm is either straight or has it is slightly curved. His colossal body has a long arm which beautifies his forehand by providing more extension on the ball and hit it harder than the other ATP men.
Unlike the other players, Del Potro’s forehand involves less shoulder rotation which provides a more linear swing path accompanied with his hand from the position to the point of contact. The truck rotation on Del Potro’s forehand is quite less when compared to other players on the tour. This does reduce the racquet head speed, but gives him stability and deteriorates the chances of error. His intimidating, precise and powerful forehand makes him the remarkable player on the men’s tour.
Juan Martin del Potro uses the eastern forehand grip to hold his racquet. It is considered to be an unconventional grip since with the evolution in the game of tennis the grip has been outdated. Most of the ATP men use western or semi-western on their racquets.
The eastern grip is not suitable for facing the topspin returns from the opponent’s end. However, Del Potro’s towering physic empowers him to use the eastern grip. By standing on the court with his a giant body the Argentine negates topspin returns of the opponents. The grip aids the ‘Tower of Tandil’, to hit the ball swiftly and deeper with pace. However, the ball does not accelerate after the bounce, unlike the usual top spinning forehands do. And an agile player might receive the ball and return it, as the ball lands deeper on the court which consequently accounts for more errors from Del Potro’s end.
Presently, Juan Martin del Potro remarked an affirmative run on the American courts of Delray Beach, but however, he lost to the American, Mackenzie McDonald. He made a comeback after his four-month-long hiatus from tennis due to his right knee injury and announced his retirement from the Acapulco Open where he is the defending champion.