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Juan Martin del Potro seems like the scariest name in Federer's quarter.
When nervous Federer fans clicked onto his quarter draw for the first time on Friday, you can bet they were a little relieved when they saw Mardy Fish's name resting atop the third quarter bracket.
The improving, but limited, American is the second highest seed in the quarter, and if all holds to form, you'd have to assume Roger would feel pretty comfortable against him in the quarters.
But anxiety must have kicked back in for Fed fans as their eyes darted down the draw, for uber-talented Juan Martin del Potro represents the third highest seed in the section.
Roger fans know full well the capabilities of the giant Argentinian. Del Potro dealt Federer one of the most painful losses of his career when he twice came back from a set down to stun Roger in a five-set classic in the 2009 U.S. Open final. You can't blame Fed fans for thinking that their hero let one slip away that day, as he was in complete control of the match, up a set and a break late in the second, when he got a little too casual and gave del Potro some life.
Once back in the match, del Potro started firing away, and instead of slicing and chipping away at Juan Martin's power, Roger ill-advisedly tried to out-slug the Argentine. Before long, del Potro was making Roger look slow and weak, blasting absurd forehands past the Swiss Maestro at an alarming rate.
Even so, Roger still came tantalizingly close to his sixth U.S. Open championship, closing to within two points of the title multiple times at the end of the fourth set. But del Potro held his nerve, stretched the tilt to five and outlasted a tired Federer for his first slam.
This wasn't the only time Fed fans were treated to del Potro's talents, either. He gave them the scare of a life time at the 2009 French Open, where he almost ended Fed's dream of a career grand slam in a five set semi-final. He also beat Roger at the 2009 World Tour Finals.
There's little doubt that, when healthy and in form, del Potro is one of the very best in the world. His serve, though not the best in the game, can be an absolute weapon if clicking. His forehand is devastating, a point ender from all parts of the court.
His two-handed backhand is reliable and fluid, and if he really has things working, he can club it cross court for winners. His power from the ground is, on the whole, elite. Federer's on record as saying he's the hardest hitter on tour.
But he's not the plodding giant you might think, either. He's actually quite quick and fast, and when he has everything working, he has no apparent weaknesses.
In addition, his road to Roger seems manageable. It looks like smooth sailing to the Round of 16, with no big name challengers to speak of in his first three brackets. Then, if things go according to seeds, he'd play the eminently beatable Fish in the fourth round.
Let's not pencil the Argentinian into the quarters just yet, though. He's made strides, but still hasn't rebounded to his 2009 form after badly injuring his wrist two years ago. His forehand doesn't seem quite as penetrating as it used to be, and you have to wonder if he's holding back a bit for fear of re-injury.
He put up a nice fight against Rafa at Wimbledon last year, and took a set off of Djokovic at Roland Garros. He also battled valiantly against David Ferrer and Rafa in the Davis Cup finals.
But he still hasn't made that leap back into grand slam contention, losing several bad matches to inferior opponents, including James Blake, Marcel Granollers, Gilles Simon, Marin Cilic and Ernests Gulbis, throughout 2011. Those guys are good, but del Potro should beat them at his best.
He even looked sloppy and out of it at times in his first round win against Adrian Mannarino last night. So far, this doesn't' seem like the del Potro who broke Federer's heart on Arthur Ashe three years ago.
But, considering his sky-high ceiling, and his ability to blast anyone off the court, Federer would surely prefer to face anyone else in the quarters.