Juan Martin del Potro, the 2009 US Open champion, could be back from the wrist surgery he had in late March in time for the 2014 U.S Open. The Argentine tennis star is quoted by Tennis-X as saying he hoped he could make it back in August or September. That would mean Del Potro might be back in time for the U.S Open, the tournament where he made his name in 2009 by both winning the trophy and becoming the first player to beat Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer back to back at a Grand Slam.
Few who saw that run will forget the formidable serve and forehand Del Potro unleashed on his run, as well as the tears he shed after victory when he paid tribute in his native language to his friends, family and Spanish-speaking supporters. The moment was made all the more special because of the way Del Potro had to gently tear the microphone away from Master of ceremonies Dick Enberg, who was more intent on pitching sponsors than letting champions speak, to get his chance to give thanks to those who had helped him achieve his first slam at the age of 20.
More special moments and slams were expected to come as excitement mounted over the potential threat to the Federer-Nadal Grand Slam duopoly. But then disasters struck, one by one. In his next event in Tokyo, he lost to Edouard Roger-Vasselin, ranked 189, in straight sets. He then had to retire in matches in Shanghai and Paris with an abdominal injury. Though his career looked to be back on track when he made the final of the ATP World Tour Finals, he would suffer an injury to his right wrist at the start of 2010 which forced him to pull out of the Kooyong Classic Exhibition.
Del Potro then made a decision which would affect the rest of his young career. He competed in the Australian Open before his wrist had fully recovered. Four grueling matches, one being a five setter he won 10-8 in the fifth, in the trying conditions of the season’s opening Slam took its toll and Del Potro was forced out of the game. The Argentine had surgery on his wrist, sat out his U.S Open title defense and returned in Bangkok in late September.
The road back was long and tough, but, champion that he is, Del Potro managed it, winning two titles on his way to climbing back into the top 10 in February 2012. That season he won four titles and achieved a year-end ranking of no.7. 2013 was even better. As he won another 4 titles, pushed Djokovic to the brink in a classic five set Wimbledon semi-final and ended the year ranked no.5, Del Potro finally looked to be on the verge of contending for slams again
Disaster, though, would strike Del Potro again. At the Australian Open this year, in his second-round match, he had treatment for his wrist, his left one this time, as he went down to Bautista Agut. Five weeks later he would retire in his first round match in Dubai. The wrist needed surgery, Del Potro said, and he would miss the rest of the season.
That though looks not to be the case with his announcement today that the surgery was successful, he has started rehabilitation and he hoped to be back to compete in a few months.
Fans will hope he does not come back too soon and endure the heartbreak of needlessly missing out on the best years of his career and further chances to add to his U.S Open trophy. The star will, his fans hope, come back with as powerful a wrist as possible, freely unleash that big forehand on the game’s biggest stages, and claim its greatest prizes, just as he did in that sensational run to the 2009 U.S Open trophy. If that happens Del Potro will be sure, once again, to not let any M.Cs s get in the way of some very special thank-yous.
Commentary by Christian Deverille