Juan Martin del Potro has reflected on his career and admitted there was only one thing he never achieved. The Argentine admitted he always dreamed of becoming the world No 1 but had players like Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal in his way. Del Potro all but retired during last year’s Argentina Open as he attempted to return from injury but admitted it would likely be the end instead and hasn’t played since.
Del Potro was one of the most successful players outside of the Big Three during their peak era, as he burst onto the scene in 2009 and upset Roger Federer to win the US Open at the age of just 20. But injuries continued to haunt the Argentine throughout his career, forcing him to take long periods away from competition.
The 34-year-old still managed to achieve what many haven’t in tennis – winning Indian Wells in 2018, peaking at No 3 in the world, winning Olympic silver and bronze medals, and making another Major final at the 2018 US Open. And he has now shared the one thing he didn’t get to tick off his bucket list during his impressive career.
“The only thing I lacked was to be No 1 in the world,” the 22-time title winner told Tenis News Brasil. “It was always a dream and I always worked to be the best, but I am also super proud of my career.”
But del Potro could see the positives, as he admitted that it was the Big Three who stopped him from getting to the top – something he could be proud of given their records in the sport. He continued: “I never managed to be No 1 because there was Nadal, Federer or Djokovic.
“And when I see the ranking or I look at the years of my career and I see who I was fighting to be No 1 with, it is also very nice to know that they were the ones who did not let me achieve that dream.”
While it was the Big Three who stopped him from reaching the top of tennis, del Potro does boast some achievements that only Djokovic, Nadal and Federer have managed to reach. With his 2009 US Open victory, the former No 3 remains the only man outside of Djokovic and Nadal to beat Federer in a Grand Slam final.
And he was also the first player to defeat Nadal and Federer at the same Grand Slam tournament during that US Open, downing the Spaniard in the semi-final. The Swiss star had won the last five editions of the US Open when del Potro beat him from a set-and-a-break down and was never able to lift the title in Flushing Meadows again, himself retiring in 2022.