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Del Potro rues never being ranked No 1

Novak Djokovic has spent more than seven years at the top of the world rankings in his career, Roger Federer was there for not far off six and Rafael Nadal has exceeded four years on the throne of men’s tennis.

Naturally, the opportunities for other players to reach this prestigious position have been reduced and many have failed in their quest. No one knows this better than Juan Martin del Potro.

“The only thing I lacked was being world No 1,” the 2009 US Open winner said at a Roland Garros Junior Series event in Sao Paulo. “It was always a dream and I worked hard for it. I’m proud of my career but I never made it because there was always Federer, Nadal or Djokovic.”

Del Potro lifts the trophy after winning the US Open in 2009 @ BPI / Panoramic

Del Potro is one of the players who has beaten the Big Three the most

Juan Martin Del Potro reached world No 3 in August 2018. At that time he was 1000 points behind second-placed Federer but over 5000 points behind first-placed Nadal.

However, the Argentine is one of the few players to have won at least four times against each member of the Big Three (four times against Djokovic, six times against Nadal and seven times against Federer). Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has also managed to do it, but only two players have beaten each of the Big Three at least five times; Andy Murray and Dominic Thiem.

Juan Martin Del Potro, JO Rio de Janeiro 2016
Having dropped to 1045th in the world at the beginning of 2016, Del Potro made a stunning comeback. He reached the final of the Rio Olympics, beating world No 1 Novak Djokovic in the first round and Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals © AI / Reuters / Panoramic

“When I look at the rankings and the years of my career and who was fighting to be No 1, I see that it was beautiful that these were the ones who didn’t let me make it, this dream.”

Between February 2004 and February 2022, only Murray managed to break the Big Three’s hegemony by holding the No 1 spot between November 2016 and August 2017.

Del Potro: “In the next few years there will be nothing like the Big Three”

The Tower of Tandil also spoke out on the future of world tennis, as he sees it.

“One day the Big Three will disappear and we will have Carlos Alcaraz, Jannik Sinner or Holger Rune, other youngsters who will make their mark on the circuit. But for me, in the next few years there will be nothing like the Big Three.”

Since February 2022, two other players have made it to the top of the world rankings, Daniil Medvedev and Alcaraz.