Nadal took the Australian Open title in January and also won the French Open, Wimbledon and the Summer Olympics last year. The Spaniard defeated Federer in all three grand slam finals. Nadal has also won the French Open the last four years; never losing a match in Paris.
And in a testament to his fitness and groundstroke game, Nadal is undefeated in 45 career best of five set matches on clay.
Head to head Nadal leads del Potro 3-0, winning each match in straight sets. In their last meeting in 2007 at Queen's Club in London, Nadal won 6-4, 6-4. However since that time the 6 foot, 6 inches tall del Potro won 23 matches in a row last year. Del Potro reached the quarterfinals at the US Open and the Australian Open.
Uncharastically for South Americans, the 20 year old del Potro prefers hard courts to clay courts and could push the 22 year old Nadal in today's quarterfinal with his overpowering serve and aggressive groundstrokes.
However the 2007 Indian Wells champion Nadal showed some of his best tennis Wednesday to save five match points against another Argentine, the 14th seeded David Nalbandian. Nadal won 3-6, 7-6(7-5), 6-0.
In January del Potro, who in the last year has moved from 81st to 6th in the ATP Tour rankings, took the singles title in Auckland, New Zealand.