AFP

Patrick Rafter Backs Juan Martin Del Potro to Challenge in Melbourne

Rafter backs Del Potro to challenge in Melbourne

OMNISPORT

Juan Martin del Potro has been backed to challenge Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic for the 2017 Australian Open title by former semi-finalist Pat Rafter.

Del Potro has enjoyed a momentous 2016 that has seen him return from two years out with a wrist problem to reach the Olympic Games final, US Open quarterfinal and win the Davis Cup with Argentina.

His performances in Rio saw him beat Djokovic and Rafael Nadal before losing to Murray in the gold medal match, while his heroics in the Davis Cup proved crucial.

In his opening rubber Del Potro brushed aside Croatia's Ivo Karlovic, and he produced another point in his second singles match as he came from a set down to beat Marin Cilic in a thrilling five setter.

That set up Federico Delbonis to secure the title, but it was Del Potro receiving all the plaudits as he begins to show the form that saw him win the US Open in 2009.

And Rafter believes the 28-year-old is a good outside bet to challenge in Melbourne at the first grand slam of 2017.

"They [Murray and Djokovic] are the two form guys, it's pretty hard to see anyone else right now," Rafter told Omnisport ahead of the ATP Champions Tennis event.

"But Del Potro has been awesome. If conditions are right he could play really well there as well.

"But on paper right now, I'd probably put my money those two boys being in the final."

Del Potro's previous best at the Australian Open saw him reach the last eight on two occasions - 2009 and 2012.

 

Greg Rusedski and Pat Rafter are playing Champions Tennis at the Royal Albert Hall from 30th Nov – 4th Dec 2016. The final few tickets are still available at www.championstennis.co.uk/tickets