When top seed Rafael Nadal withdrew from Wimbledon earlier this year, the fifth seed Juan Martin Del Potro took his place at line one of the draw. He didn’t last long, losing in the second round to the unseeded Lleyton Hewitt. It was the first shock of The Championships and after the match, Hewitt, the 2002 champion, was full of the praise for the 20-year-old. “He’s a future Grand Slam champion on possibly any surface,” Hewitt said of the youngest player in the world top 10.
With his 3-6 7-6 (7-5) 4-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 victory in the US Open final over top seed Roger Federer, Del Potro became the tallest Grand Slam champion in history. Wimbledon aside, 2009 has been a break through year for the Argentine at the majors. He reached the quarter-finals in Melbourne, the semi-finals in Paris and has now won his first Grand Slam in New York.
But at 6ft 6in he is two inches taller than 2001 Wimbledon winner Goran Ivanisevic. Del Potro may have a US Open in his trophy cabinet, but it has already been speculated that he is too tall to win Wimbledon.
“Historically, the champions have grown taller as the decades have passed. But this is not basketball. There’s a limit, a point at which the obvious advantage of serving cannonballs from a great height is outweighed by limited flexibility and difficulty in bending to the low bounces encountered on grass,” the Times reported.
But the Wall Street Journal argued the opposite. “As it turns out, height is much less of a liability. Players hit the ball harder and with more topspin today, so the ball bounces higher, rather than below a tall player’s knees. Height usually means long arms, too, which are useful not only at the net, but when stretching to retrieve bullet serves and wide angles at the baseline.
What do you think? Can a player be too tall?