Juan Martin Del Potro’s (Almost) Perfect Return To Tennis In Argentina - UBITENNIS
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Juan Martin Del Potro’s (Almost) Perfect Return To Tennis In Argentina

As he served to stay in the match tears began to fall from Del Potro’s face. Not only was it nearly the end of his campaign at the 2022 Argentina Open, it may also be the end of his career.

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Foto: Prensa Argentina Open/Sergio Llamera/Ubitennis.es

It is hard to believe that almost 13 years have passed since Juan Martin del Potro sent shockwaves throughout the men’s Tour by winning one of the most prestigious titles.

 

In 2009 at the age of 20 and seeded sixth in the US Open draw, the Argentine known affectionately as the ‘Tower of Tandil’ became only the second man from his country to reach the final after the great Guillermo Vilas. He went on to win the title by defeating Roger Federer in a five-set epic who himself was on an incredible 40-match winning streak in the tournament.

“I have new opportunities in the other Grand Slams to win, because if I did it here, if I beat Nadal, Federer and many good players, maybe I can do it one more time (elsewhere),” he said following the triumph.

Unfortunately for Del Potro the years which followed was a mixture of both jubilation and despair. While he has managed to rise to as high as third in the world back in 2018 and won 22 ATP titles, he will be remembered as being one of the most unluckiest men in the sport. For months and sometimes years he would be sidelined from the Tour due to injury. Incredibly, he has had a total of eight surgeries since 2010 in order to prolong his career.

There was surgery on his right wrist in 2010, then three additional procedures on his left wrist between 2014 and 2015. Four years later it was his knee which proved to be problematic as he went under the knife in June 2019, January 2020, August 2020 and March 2021. Throughout his career, Del Potro has consistently missed at least nine months of tennis on four separate occasions. This equates to exactly three years.

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Somehow he always managed to stage a comeback against the odds and to the delight of his fans. However, he knew that one day his body would no longer allow him to do so and there is a strong likelihood that his latest return will be his final farewell.

Taking to the courts of the Argentina Open on Monday evening, Del Potro was greeted by a packed crowd who cheered him on. Among those in attendance was his mother, Patricia, who had previously never watched him play an ATP match in person. Playing competitively for the first time since June 2019, del Potro fell 6-1, 6-3, to compatriot Federico Delbonis after 84 minutes.

“Today I left everything until the last point. My last game was on the court and not in (a press) conference. And that’s what I wanted. I feel like I gave everything, until the last point,” La Nacion newspaper quoted Del Potro as saying afterwards.

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The match marked only the second time Del Potro had ever played an ATP tournament in his home country which seems baffling to some. The first was back in 2006 when he was 17 and lost in the first round to Juan Carlos Ferrero in three sets.

“I think tonight (Monday night) exceeded everything I imagined. Do I regret not having played more times in the Buenos Aires tournament? No, because I put together my calendars thinking about Indian Wells and Miami, on the hard court, in the first three or four months of the year and then being good for the rest of the year,” he explains.
“Also, I don’t regret it because if this was my last tournament I was able to live it intensely. Perhaps at another time it would not have lived like this time.”

It can be argued that outside of the sports Big Three, Del Potro has established himself as one of the most popular players within the sport. According to 24Trends, around the same time he was playing against Delbonis the phrase ‘Delpo’ was among the top 10 trending terms worldwide on Twitter with an estimated count of 26,000 references. Even more incredible is that in Argentina he has topped the trending list for eight-consecutive hours.

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The surge of interest is undoubtedly due to the return of one of the sport’s well known figures but it is more than that. It is a chance for fans to watch the Argentine play once again before he stops for good. Del Potro has not yet definitively stated that he will retire from tennis. However, as his body continues to suffer, so do his hopes.

“I wish I could sleep without leg pain. It is very difficult to do this sport with the discomfort I have,” he admits.
“I feel that I want to live in peace and I have my whole life ahead of me. Health leads me to make a decision of which I am not convinced. I think I fulfilled all my objectives in tennis, perhaps I was left with the thorn of not having reached number 1.”

Continuing to talk about his current health, Del Potro states that he wants to have a body ‘which does what he wants, not what he can.’ Prior to the start of the Argentina Open he spoke about one example where conducting a long drive to see friends was troublesome due to his knee. Something as trivial as this would frustrate any elite athlete.

So is it the end for Del Potro? Only time will tell. He has received a wild card to play in Brazil next week at the Rio Open but there are already doubts.

“Right now I am not sure about Rio. At the time he did have the illusion of playing both tournaments. It’s special to me, because of the Olympics. I calculate that in these hours we will make a decision,” he outlined.
“What I make clear to you, with or without Rio, is that later I will make a stand and prioritize living life with less pain.”

Del Potro, who turns 34 this September, has given fans a glimmer of hope by saying in a message that he will try his best to fix his knee issue. Although he admits he is unsure of how possible that may be.

Either way, his return to tennis in Buenos Aires was that of a fairytale.

Sometimes tennis isn’t all about winning matches.

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Rafael Nadal Apologizes To Opponent After Wimbledon Win

The Spaniard admits he made a mistake.

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Image via https://twitter.com/atptour/

Rafael Nadal said he was ‘wrong’ to call his opponent to the net during the third set of their third round match at Wimbledon.

The 22-time Grand Slam champion booked his place in the last 16 of the tournament by defeating Lorenzo Sonego 6-1, 6-2, 6-4. Nadal, who hasn’t won Wimbledon for more than a decade, was out in full flow as he raced to a two-set and 4-2 lead. At that point, Sonego managed to get the roof to be closed due to poor lighting.

After speaking to the umpire, Nadal called his opponent to the net for a discussion over what is believed to be about the noise he was making during the match. After losing his 4-2 advantage, Nadal battled back by breaking once again to secure victory.

“Well, first of all, I have to say that I was wrong. Probably I should not call him on the net. So I apologize for that. My mistake in that. No problem. I recognise that,” said Nadal.
Then after that, all the stuff during the match that I don’t want to comment (on), because is something that I spoke with him in the locker room and it stays there. Only thing I can say is I saw him personally. I apologise for that.
“My intention was never to bother him at all. Just to tell one thing that was bothering me that I think he was doing in that moment, but that’s it.
“I think there is some code between players. Yeah, we had some issues there. But that’s it.”


The two shared a lengthy exchange at the net after the conclusion of the match and there were no hard feelings between either player.

Controversy aside, Nadal has hailed what he believed is his best performance at The All England Club yet. Against Soego, he won 73% of his service points and hit 24 winners.

“It was my best match, without a doubt, since the tournament started,” said Nadal. “I have made improvements and I’m very happy.’
“I’ve made I think a lot of things much better than the previous days, the determination, the way that I manage to play more aggressively and going to the net plenty of times.”

 

Nadal will play Dutch world number 25 Botic van de Zandschulp in the last 16. 

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“Every Match Is A War” – Carlos Alcaraz Excels With Best Performance Yet At Wimbledon

The world No.7 reacts to his latest win ahead of a showdown with a fellow rising star of the sport.

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Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) - Credit: AELTC/Simon Bruty

Carlos Alcaraz believes he is quickly finding his footing on the grass after storming into the fourth round of Wimbledon on Friday.

Alcaraz, who is playing in only his second grass-court tournament as a pro player, blasted his way past Germany’s Oscar Otte 6-3, 6-1, 6-2, in exactly 100 minutes. The Spaniard dropped only 14 points behind his serve as he hit a total of 37 winners against eight unforced errors.

“I played unbelievable. This was my best performance so far. So I’m really happy with the level, and I will try to keep this level into the next round.” Alcaraz said afterwards.

The 19-year-old has been a revelation on the Tour this season which has already seen him crack the world’s top 10 and win two Masters 1000 titles. He currently holds the record for the youngest player to ever win an ATP 500 event, as well as being the youngest to score back-to-back wins over Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in the same tournament.

In one way Alcaraz’s rapid rise in the sport is illustrated by his current campaign at Wimbledon. In the first round he found it tough going throughout his five-set win over Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff. Learning from that experience, his form improved in the second round against Tallon Griekspoor (who he defeated in straight sets) and even more so against Otte.

“Every match is a war. Every match you can play unbelievable or you can play your worst match,” he explains. “Obviously Monday was my first match on grass (this year). It was really tough. Struff played unbelievable.’
“After four, five days the training, the matches, you learn how to play more on grass, how to move more on grass.”
“Now I feel more comfortable playing on grass, and I feel better on grass right now.”


Alcaraz’s next ‘war’ will be another rising star of the Tour – Jannik Sinner. A player who is less than two years older than him. They locked horns last year at the Paris Masters where the Spaniard prevailed in two close sets. Alcaraz also won their meeting at a Challenger event in Alicante back in 2019.

With a place in a Grand Slam quarter-final at stake, it is expected to be a tough battle. Although a challenge is something Alcaraz thrives on.

“Playing against Jannik is always tough. I like to play these kinds of matches, these kinds of challenges.” He said.
“On grass you have to play aggressive, you have to go to the net, you have to try to play more aggressively than the opponent. That’s my idea that I try in every match, to not let the opponent dominate the match.” He added.

The upcoming showdown will be Alcaraz’s sixth Tour-level match on grass which is only two less than that of Sinner. 

 

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Novak Djokovic Shrugs Off Threat Of Covid-19 Outbreak At Wimbledon

The world No.3 explains why he is not ‘overconcenred’ about COVID-19 at the Grand Slam.

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Novak Djokovic (SRB) - Credit: AELTC/Florian Eisele

Novak Djokovic says the possibility of a COVID-19 outbreak at Wimbledon is one that doesn’t concern him too much after a trio of top-20 players withdrew.

Earlier this week Marin Cilic, Matteo Berrettini and Roberto Bautista Agut all withdrew from the tournament after testing positive for the virus. Unlike the strict protocols that were in place last year, The All England Club has based its policy on local health advice. Where it is recommended that a person takes action if they have symptoms of the virus but they are not required to do so.

With fewer testing measures in place at Wimbledon, there is a high possibility that there are people working on site carrying COVID-19 without realizing it. However, the threat to players is one that reigning champion Djokovic is not too concerned about.

“I did visit the city (London) a few times before the tournament started but I’m not overconcerned about anything. I’m just trying to stay healthy, focused and play the tournament.” Djokovic said following his third round win.
“I’m not thinking about whether or not I’m going to catch COVID. But being cautious is something that is a necessity I think for everyone, and particularly because we have been through what we’ve been through in the last two years.”

 

Djokovic is one of the few top players who didn’t have a vaccination against covid. Resulting in him having a high-profile legal dispute with Australian authorities which resulted in his deportation and him missing the Australian Open. The tennis star later explained that he didn’t want to be vaccinated as he is cautious about what will be injected into his body. Even though the vaccine has been approved by the World Health Organization.

However, nemesis Rafael Nadal said on Thursday that he is taking extra precautions due to the threat. To common knowledge, there is no rule in place preventing a player who tests positive for Covid from playing in the Grand Slam.

“I am not doing many things. Just staying here (at Wimbledon) and staying in the house, not going out at all anymore. That’s part of this challenging world that we are facing in the last couple of years.” Nadal said.
“I am not saying that we are not doing things the proper way because at some point we need to open everything again, we need to be free, have a normal life.”

According to the National Office of Statistics (ONS) it is estimated that 1 in 30 people currently have the virus in the UK in the week ending June 24th.

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