Del Potro targets big four in 2013

Sun Nov 11, 2012 2:12pm EST
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By Martyn Herman

LONDON (Reuters) - Juan Martin del Potro believes he can muscle his way into the world's top four next year after returning to the kind of form that propelled him to the U.S. Open title three years ago.

The 1.98 metres tall Argentine saw his bid to win the ATP World Tour Finals ended by world number one Novak Djokovic on Sunday but there was enough evidence in his three-set defeat to offer real hope that he can challenge for the big prizes.

Del Potro, who reached the semi-finals at the season-ender in London with a second win over Roger Federer in as many weeks, was irresistible for a set against Djokovic before fading to lose 4-6 6-3 6-2 at the O2 Arena.

Safely back inside the world's top 10 after a series of wrist problems, Del Potro is regarded as the man most likely to break up the status quo in the men's game and it was easy to see why on Sunday as he pummelled Djokovic early on.

His forehand wrought havoc in the opening set and his serve was brutal at times before he ran out of steam.

Despite defeat, Del Potro can look back on an injury-free year in which he reaped 65 match wins - 11 more than in 2009 when he stunned Federer to claim his first grand slam title.

"I think I'm playing good," the 24-year-old Tandil native, who beat Djokovic to win the Olympic bronze this year, told reporters. "I don't know if I'm playing better than 2009 but being in the semi-finals in this tournament was so big for me.

"These kind of matches give me illusions for the next season. I beat Roger yesterday. I was close to beating Novak today. But in the end, they are too good for me.   Continued...

Argentina's Juan Martin Del Potro hits a return to Serbia's Novak Djokovic during their men's singles semifinal tennis match at the World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena in London November 11, 2012. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett