Juan Martin del Potro
09/15/2009 at 08:00 AM EDT
It seemed like Juan Martin del Potro, the Argentine who finally ended tennis king
Roger Federer's winning streak at the U.S. Open Monday night, came out of nowhere, but there's a lot about him that intrigued sports watchers in the know even before he stepped onto the court that changed his life – and the world of tennis.
1. He's a towering 6'6" – the tallest Grand Slam champ of all time. A lanky frame and naturally high perch give del Potro, 20, an advantage with his serve and topspin balls – yet he seems to have no problem darting around a court regardless of the surface. Federer, by comparison, is 6'1".
2. He's the youngest Association of Tennis Professional player to win four career titles in his first four tournaments – and he did it by August 2008, at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic in Washington, D.C. In 2005, after turning pro, del Potro – who idolized Pete Sampras as a kid – was the youngest player to finish in the top 200, at age 15.
3. He's a huge
soccer fan. Growing up, he played as much footie as he did tennis, and is a big supporter of Boca Juniors team in Argentina. He's close pals with Mauro Camoranesi, who plays midfield for Italy's Juventus team. And you don't have to look far for a sports gene – his dad was a onetime semi-pro rugby player.
4. He speaks three languages. Besides his native Spanish, he can also converse in English and Italian – all the better to face American reporters to discuss his stunning U.S. Open upset and then watch some Italian soccer afterward.
5. Having trouble swallowing his mouthful of a name? He also goes by the nicknames Enano ("midget"), Palito ("stick") and Delpo or Del Po (a contraction of his last name).