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Rio Olympics 2016: Novak Djokovic vs Juan Martin Del Potro - rekindling an old rivalry

Novak Djokovic's and Juan martin Del Potro's rivalry is set to rekindle, when the 2 face off in the first round at the Rio Olympics.

Djokovic and Del Potro’s rivalry is all set to renew

All eyes are going to be on the centre court at Rio De Janeiro on 6th August when old rivals – Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin Del Potro take on each other in a blockbuster 1st round affair at the Olympic Games in Brazil. The pair will meet for the first time since the ATP World Tour Finals of 2013. 

With 17 Grand Slam champion Roger Federer missing the tournament, along with other big players such as Milos Raonic and Tomas Berdych, interest was beginning to fade away. This first round fixture is bound to bring back the excitement and energy from fans all over the world, as they look forward to the games.

The hype of this match might not be the same that it was 3 years ago when these two met on court but is sure enough to attract a huge crowd and a large TV audience as well. World number 1 Novak Djokovic, who has been dominating the ATP tour for the past few years is the firm favourite to beat Argentine Del Potro, who is still recovering from his multiple wrist surgeries as he tries to make his way back to the top 100 for the first time in 2 years. 

Also read: Rio 2016: 5 Men's matches to look out for in Day-1

This will be the 2nd meeting between the two in Olympic history – the first one being in the Bronze medal play-off at the London games in 2012 where Del Potro got the better of Djokovic in straight sets, winning 7-5, 6-4, thus denying Djokovic his 2nd bronze medal. Djokovic will be looking to set things straight, this time around against Delpo. 

Current Form 

Novak Djokovic recently brushed off his Wimbledon blues where he was shocked in the 3rd round by Sam Querrey, as he went on to win the Toronto Masters with relative ease without dropping a set in the entire tournament. Just like the year 2015, Djokovic has been unstoppable this year too, as he went on to win a record 6th Australian Open title and his first ever French Open title, thus completing his career slam. 

Juan Martin Del Potro had reasons to smile after defeating World no. 4 Stan Wawrinka in the 2nd round of Wimbledon, but was unable to carry his momentum forwards, as he crashed out in the very next round to Lucas Pouille in 4 sets.

He has been on the comeback trail since the beginning of the year and has had a few notable performances – reaching the semifinal of the Delray Beach open and getting a few good wins under his belt, including defeating youngster Dominic Thiem at the Madrid Masters. He has climbed over 300 ranks  to reach no.145 in the world in just a few months, and would be aiming to get back into the top 100, or even the top 50 by the end of the year. 

Head to Head 

Currently, Novak Djokovic leads the head to head against Del Potro 11-3. Despite the H2H being quite one-sided, the matches between these two have never ceased to disappoint fans as they are always close-fought affairs, as fans get treated to some extravagant tennis and incredible shot making. 

Last 5 matches between Djokovic and Del Potro
YearTournamentRoundSurfaceWinnerFinal Score
2013ATP World Tour FinalsRRHardNovak Djokovic6-3 3-6 6-3
2013Shanghai MastersFinalHardNovak Djokovic6-1 3-6 7-6(3)
2013WimbledonSFGrassNovak Djokovic7-5 4-6 7-6 6-7 6-3
2013Indian Wells MastersSFHardJuan Martin Del Potro4-6 6-4 6-4
2013Dubai Open SFHardNovak Djokovic6-3,7-6(4)

As we can see, Novak Djokovic has won the last 5 meetings between the two, but the match has always gone down to the wire, except for the Dubai Open Semifinals in 2013 where Djokovic won in straight sets. 

The most notable match was definitely the Wimbledon semifinal where Novak Djokovic triumphed after 4 hours and 43 minutes, which turned out to be the longest match in Wimbledon semifinal history. Both players had come out all guns blazing, and fans were treated to an intense thriller, which saw some incredible shot-making by both players.

Juan Martin Del Potro’s thunderous groundstrokes were countered by Djokovic’s resilience. The Serb had the opportunity to close out the match in the 4th set with 2 match points, but Del Potro’s brilliance took the match to the 5th set where Djokovic finally triumphed, on his 3rd match point. 


The Men’s singles are set to begin on 6th August, and the winner of this match between Djokovic and Del Potro will go on to face the winner of Joao Sousa and Robin Haase in the 2nd round. Despite the contrasting difference in rankings of the two players currently, this match is surely going to be a thriller and fans can expect to watch some incredible tennis. 

Let’s hope that this rivalry is truly rekindled and we get to see a lot more of Djokovic and Del Potro together on the court, in the near future. 

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