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Weekly Slice: Del Potro just shy of superstardom

Busted Racquet

FIRST SERVE

A tennis legend, who shall remain nameless at his request, told me last week that Juan Martin del Potro is a certain body part short of being a superstar.

The body part will remain nameless, given that this is a tasteful sports website, but suffice it to say that its absence was metaphorical and the meaning relates to courage on the court.

With the U.S. Open two weeks away, the Argentinean should be getting talked up as a potential champion at Flushing Meadows, such is his prowess on the outdoor hard courts of North America.

With four straight tournament wins last summer, del Potro announced his arrival. And now he is proving capable of beating the very best in the world on this surface.

His run to the final in Montreal last week included a trouncing of Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinal, a tight struggle with Andy Roddick in the last four, and a three-set defeat to Andy Murray in the final.

However, there is still precious little love for him when it comes to predicting the overall champion in New York.

The reason is del Potro's temperament, which is fragile enough to make it impossible to back him to win seven five-set matches over the course of a fortnight.

There may be no finer hard-court player on the circuit just now, but all too often he allows his mind to get the better of himself.

Del Potro's character is spiky and he is not especially popular on tour, yet that is not necessarily a hindrance to success.

Instead it is his habit of getting furious with himself that seems to be holding him back from taking the next big step.

Until he can figure out a way to keep his mindset under control he will remain one step, or one body part, short of making the big breakthrough.

DROP SHOT

Serena and Venus Williams continued their dismal recent form in the lead-up to the U.S. Open, both falling early in Cincinnati. The failure of the sisters to put in any kind of significant effort at any event that is not a major is becoming increasingly tiresome and puts a stain on the sport. Don't worry, they will be in peak form for the Open, but that will be of little solace to the fans that wasted good money on paying to watch them go through the motions last week.

CLEAN WINNER

Multi-talented doubles stars Bob and Mike Bryan are feeling the pressure ahead of the U.S. Open. But it is not the defense of their title which has the brothers feeling nervous, it is the deadline for the release of their recording album "Let It Rip." The Bryans started playing music at age four and enjoy regular jam sessions with Andy Roddick and Mardy Fish while on tour, but this is their first recording effort.

USE OUR FREQUENT FLYER MILES

Get to Cincinnati this week for some five-way chili and a tasty Masters Series field. Roger Federer and Andy Roddick are on a quarterfinal collision course and could meet for the first time since their epic Wimbledon final.

LAST WEEK'S WINNERS

Rogers Cup, Montreal: Andy Murray
Western and Southern Financial Group Open: Jelena Jankovic

THIS WEEK'S PREDICTIONS

Western and South Financial Group Masters: Andy Murray
Rogers Cup, Toronto: Elena Dementieva

Photo courtesty of Getty Images

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