PARIS (Reuters) - Juan Martin Del Potro had the weapons to unsettle claycourt master Rafael Nadal in their French Open semi-final, but he failed to use them, according to three-times champion Mats Wilander.
The Argentine fifth seed had six break points in the opening set but failed to convert any of them as he was too passive, said Swede Wilander, who is Eurosport’s lead analyst at Roland Garros.
“You have 75 percent of serves in, you cannot hope for more than that, you’ve got to do something with that, you’ve got to come to the net, serve and volley, you can’t just be happy with being in the rally. First mistake,” Wilander, who lifted the Musketeers Cup in 1982, 1985 and 1988, told Reuters on Friday.
“Second mistake, in the first set, he’s holding very easily and what does he do on the break points? He waits for the second serve to come to him, he’s so far back that Nadal hits a drop shot, two in a row.”
Del Potro, whose height makes him less vulnerable against Nadal’s top spin, should have gone for the jugular to disrupt Nadal’s well-oiled routine on Court Philippe Chatrier, said Wilander.
“Nadal is obviously a genius. Del Potro hasn’t played Nadal enough on clay to feel the scar tissue, to feel the damage that Nadal has done on so many players so therefore I understand why Juan Martin would choose to not risk it and play safe,” he explained.
“But you’re not playing against Thomas Muster or Mats Wilander or Michael Chang, you’re playing against Nadal and you don’t beat Nadal unless you take risks,” added Wilander.
“And you have to somehow have enough respect for the record and Rafa to say ‘to overachieve I have to ... risk more than I feel comfortable doing.”
Nadal faces Austrian Dominic Thiem in Sunday’s final.
Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Toby Davis