Juan Martin Del Potro became a tennis sensation overnight when he won the US open in 2009. Aged 20, the 6 ft 6 Argentine became the first person outside the Big-4 to win a grand slam since 2005 French Open. He was also the first player to defeat Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in a grand slam. With talent and age on his side, the then world number 4 was lauded as the future world number 1 by tennis experts. But it was just not meant to be. Del Potro became the victim of chronic injuries and it’s only been a downhill journey for him ever since.
Delpo injured his right wrist, the same wrist responsible for one of the most terrifying forehands in modern tennis, in 2010. He missed most of 2010 season because of this and his rankings dropped to an abysmal 485. After 9 months gap, he fought hard to rediscover his form and made his way back to top 10. But just when he was about to be at his best, injury struck again in 2014. This time, the left wrist. Another long spell of recuperation followed, testing Juan’s physical and mental toughness to the limits. He underwent a surgery to the left wrist in the beginning 2015 and has been trying to get back on top of his game since then.
But ‘The Tower of Tandil’ has shown tremendous mental toughness to go through all the training sessions without knowing if he can ever play at the same level again. He has to go through physiotherapy sessions every time he hits the court and should be extra careful not to put too much pressure on his wrists. From being world Number 4 once, he is now ranked over thousand.
He finally made his much awaited return in Delray Beach Open and overcame Denis Kudla in first round in straight sets. His served huge and his forehand looked as resounding as ever. He hit a lot more backhand slices than he used to, a change he was probably forced to make because of his left wrist. Though he has got the skills and the hunger to get back to his A game, history suggests it’ll be a tough road ahead for the colossal Argentine. From Pat Cash in the 80s to Gustavo Kuerten, Hewitt and Safin of late, tennis has seen a numerous examples of players who failed to regain their pre injury levels.
However, it’s not entirely impossible for Del Potro to win big tournaments again. He can draw inspiration from the likes of Tommy Haas and Rafael Nadal, players who regained their forms after returning from a serious injury. But right now, Del Potro’s priority is not winning tournaments or beating the big guys. Like Juan himself said “Now, I just want to play tennis again. I don’t care about ranking. It doesn’t matter how long it takes me to be in top again. I just want to play tennis and without pain.”
If he can indeed play tennis without pain, knowing his extraordinary abilities, we are sure it won’t take long for him to be in top again.