In a battle of the veterans, world #4 and Indian Wells champion Juan Martin del Potro takes on Frenchman Gilles Simon for a place in the Wimbledon quarterfinals. Del Potro, who became the first Argentinian man to reach the second week at Wimbledon on four occasions, will have hopes that his good form can carry him deep into the tournament, possibly all the way. But Simon is about as wily and experienced as they come. Who will reach the last eight?
Simon and del Potro have met seven times in what has proven a fairly evenly matched rivalry, with the Argentine leading the head-to-head 4-3. It was Simon who won their first match, in 2007 in Newhaven where he beat del Potro 7-6 6-7 7-5 and the Frenchman has picked up wins since at the US Open in 2011 and two years later in Marseille. However, in their three grass court meetings, including one at Wimbledon in 2011, del Potro has had the edge, winning all three for the loss of two sets.
Path to the fourth round
After reaching the last four at Roland Garros for the first time since 2009, del Potro began his Wimbledon campaign against Peter Gojowczyk. Despite some moments of ill-temper, del Potro was largely untroubled in a 6-3 6-4 6-3 win. He then dismissed 2017 Queen’s Club champion and grass court specialist Feliciano Lopez, delivering an excellent performance to win 6-4 6-1 6-2. That was followed by a 6-4 7-6 6-3 win over the dangerous Benoit Paire.
Simon won just one match at three Wimbledon warm up events he played, but impressed in defeating Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili in the first round 6-1 7-6 6-1. That earned him a match up with Matteo Berrettini in the second round with Simon defeating the Italian, who had upset Jack Sock in the first round, 6-3 7-6 6-2. He then overcame Rosmalen semifinalist Matthew Ebden of Australia in four sets 6-1 6-7 6-3 7-6 to reach the second week at a Major for the first time since 2016 in Melbourne.
How do they match up?
There are few players as offensively minded and as well equipped to go on the attack as Juan Martin del Potro. The Tower of Tandil is blessed with surely the most powerful forehand in the game and he has been using it to devastating effect so far at Wimbledon. He has also served impressively, particularly against Lopez where he won an astonishing 97% of the points behind his first serve, with Lopez managing just one point against the del Potro first serve.
Simon lacks both the aggressive mindset of del Potro and the power that he brings to the court. But the Frenchman is an excellent mover and gives way precious few unforced errors. The 33-year-old’s defensive skills are not what they once were, however, and he may well need to step up the ante against del Potro, as he is unlikely to survive the onslaught of the Argentinian over five sets. His serve may well also be vulnerable, particularly if he goes too often to the del Potro forehand.
Simon has done well to string three victories together after a largely disappointing season. But it is hard to see him getting the better of del Potro. He doesn’t have the power to match del Potro from the back of the court and just making balls will only give the fifth seed rhythm. And when del Potro gets into a rhythm, particularly on his forehand side, he is almost unbeatable. Expect the Tower of Tandil to overwhelm Simon and reach the quarterfinals a straight sets winner.