The Juan Martín del Potro everyone knows and loves seems to be back at last this U.S. Open.
After a few difficult months due to various niggles and small injuries, the tall Argentine has started to shine once more. Where else better than at Flushing Meadows, where he was crowned champion eight years ago?
On Wednesday, del Potro has reached the semifinals of a Grand Slam for the first time since Wimbeldon 2013. To do so, he played an inspired match to oust third seed Roger Federer 7-5, 3-6, 7-6(8), 6-4. For the Tower of Tandil, it was yet another big win in this event.
Del Potro: the toughest road to the U.S. Open semis
Del Potro’s run to the last four of the U.S. Open has been, without a doubt, the toughest one of all the remaining players.
In his last three rounds, he defeated three top 15 players: Roberto Bautista Agut (13), Dominic Thiem (8), and Federer (3).
The encounter against Thiem has been the best match of the tournament, one which he won by sheer will. Sick and feverish, he rallied from a two-set deficit to prevail in five.
In comparison, his next rival, Rafael Nadal, has not faced a single seed. The Argentine will be his first. Another semifinalist, Pablo Carreño Busta, has faced four consecutive qualifiers before defeating  Diego Schwartzman in the quarter-finals. Furthermore, the Spaniard is yet to drop a set. As for Kevin Anderson, he played his first seed in the last eight, a four-set victory over  Sam Querrey.
What would it mean in the long run? Perhaps nothing. However, the last two matches, in particular, will have made the Gentle Giant grow in confidence, something that will help him on Friday, against the best player in the world.
The support of the crowd
Another factor in del Potro’s great run, apart from his incredible resilience, booming forehand, improved backhand, and fine serve, is the support of the crowd.
The immense number of Argentine fans has been ever present in all of his matches, and very vocal in their support. In the round-of-16, they helped him rally and gave him the energy he needed to mount his phenomenal comeback.
In the quarter-finals, they outnumbered the support received by Federer, which is no little feat.
On Friday, on top of his best form and game, del Potro will need their support again, to galvanise him and give him the energy that will, without a doubt, be necessary in order to defeat Nadal and reach the championship match.