By Douglas Perry, The Oregonian
May 04, 2010, 10:17AM
Last year gave us the mammoth five-set Australian Open final between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, Robin Soderling's huge upset of Nadal at the French Open, Federer's first Roland Garros title and the epic 16-14 Wimbledon fifth set that made Federer the career major record holder.
But perhaps the biggest wow was young Juan Martin del Potro's semifinal destruction of Nadal and come-from-behind final-round triumph over Federer to win the U.S. Open. We had been talking about the Big Four -- Federer, Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray -- for so long that it had become conventional wisdom that no one else had a shot at a major title.
Now, suddenly, we were in the era of the Big Five. Here was a big, powerful guy who also moved well and was mentally tough. Here was a guy who could beat Federer and Nadal -- and anyone else -- on any surface. Tantalizing new rivalries (Nadal-del Potro, maybe Murray-del Potro) loomed.
Unfortunately, it now looks like the sophomore jinx has done what Federer and Nadal couldn't. The wrist injury the Argentine has been nursing since the Australian Open hasn't been getting better, and so today he goes under the knife.
Said del Potro in a statement: "As you understand, it's not a joyous time in my life, but I'm accustomed to fighting adversity and I have the strength to come through this."
No doubt he will come through it, but not in time for the French Open or Wimbledon -- quite possibly not even in time for the U.S. Open.
This is a shame. Now that del Potro has shown us what he can do, the Big Four no longer feels like enough.