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Juan Martin del Potro ended 2009 on a high. He had won the final Grand Slam of the year at the US Open and was runner-up at the end of season World Tour finals, meaning he started 2010 ranked number four in the world.

This season therefore promised much and the Tennis betting odds expected him to challenge for major honours again. However a serious wrist injury that required surgery has decimated his year so far to the extent of him being out of action for six months.

The reigning US Open champion hopes to defend his title at Flushing Meadows, but we should not expect much from del Potro in New York if he does feature. Even if he is physically fit, the long lay-off will have taken the edge of his game and he is unlikely to be sharp enough to challenge the main contenders.

The recent plight of Rafael Nadal acts as both a warning and inspiration for del Potro. The Spaniard struggled to regain his top form after being sidelined with knee trouble, del Potro handing out a straight sets thrashing at last year’s US Open that called Nadal’s long-term prospects into question.

Nadal looked no closer to peak condition in slipping out of the Australian Open, but the lay court season allowed him to rebuild confidence and strength and he was at his imperious best at Roland Garros and Wimbledon.

It will perhaps take del Potro longer to regain the necessary rhythm and self-belief to beat the best, as he lacks the natural fitness and ultimate competitive streak that makes Nadal at the top of the favourite odds to win US Open.

Del Potro needs time on court and he will be the one man who will not want the season to end. The big man must take little steps, which will unfortunately for him mean an early exit in New York.
 
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