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Del Potro Joins Nadal, Federer, and Djokovic in Clinching Places • ATP Tennis Finals in London

Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina celebrates during the men’s second round singles match after he defeated Karen Khachanov of Russia at the China Open tennis tournament in Beijing, China, 03 October 2018.  EPA-EFE/WU HONG



By Ricky Dimon


Juan Martin Del Potro may not be a part of the so-called “Big 4″ on the ATP Tour, but there will be a “Big 4″ at this year’s Nitto ATP Finals in London. There is no argument that Del Potro belongs in that prestigious quartet.


The 30-year-old clinched his spot in the year-end championship on Wednesday afternoon, joining Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, and Novak Djokovic. He booked his spot by advancing to the China Open quarterfinals with a 6-4, 7-6(4) defeat of Karen Khachanov.


“I’m happy to get in London after five years,” said Del Potro, who last appeared at the O2 Arena in 2013. “It will be an amazing moment for me. I will love to be part of the eight players, to make that event. Of course, it’s a very special tournament for us. I will be excited to do well in London.”


The Argentine has been without question one of the four best players this year, currently No. 3 in the race ahead of Federer and also No. 3 in the world (Federer clinched earlier than Del Potro by virtue of winning a Grand Slam title at the Australian Open). Del Potro’s season is highlighted by his first career Masters 1000 title in Indian Wells, an additional winner’s trophy in Acapulco, a semifinal finish in Miami, and a runner-up showing at the U.S. Open.


Improving to an incredible 45-11 for his 2018 campaign, Del Potro followed up a 7-5, 6-2 victory over Albert Ramos-Vinolas by defeating Khachanov in one hour and 39 minutes. Del Potro failed to serve things out at 6-5 in the second set but recovered in the ensuing tiebreaker and capitalized on his second match point with his 11th ace.


“I think we played a good match,” Beijing’s No. 1 seed commented. “Basically in the second set we played a good tiebreak with tough points. Karen is a difficult opponent. He has everything to keep improving. He has a big potential to grow in the rankings very soon. I think I [played] very good match today.”


In Tokyo, meanwhile, second-seeded Kevin Anderson continued his London quest with a 4-6, 7-6(1), 6-2 first-round win at the expense of Matthew Ebden. Anderson is in line for one of the final for YEC spots at No. 8 in the race, trailing Alexander Zverev, Marin Cilic, and Dominic Thiem. Kei Nishikori remained in the hunt with a second-round victory over Benoit Paire.

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @TennGrand.

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