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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


Gael Monfils Targets Spot At Home Olympics Before Retirement 



Image via ATP Twitter

Gael Monfils may be starting his 2023 season later than usual but he isn’t contemplating stepping away from the sport anytime soon. 


The former top 10 star has been absent from the Tour since August due to a foot problem during what has been an injury-stricken year for the Frenchman. Monfils also missed the French Open and Wimbledon due to a heel injury which required surgery. Overall, he has won 14 out of 21 matches played on the Tour in 2022. 

Providing an update on his current fitness during an interview with Canal+, Monfils confirmed that he will not be playing at the Australian Open in January which will be the fourth major tournament in a row he has missed. Whilst his recovery is progressing well, he is targeting a return during the clay season which concludes at the French Open. He is also unable to access his protected ranking at Melbourne Park because the rulebook states that a player must be absent for at least six months to be eligible. 

“I know that there is a protected ranking, when you don’t play for a certain amount of months. I know that if I take it, I have to not play the Australian Open to reach the six months needed and that will be my decision,” Tennis Head quotes Monfils as saying.

However, the 36-year-old isn’t planning to stop playing just yet with aspirations to play at his home Olympic Games, which will be held in Paris in 2024. Monfils is already a three-time Olympian and has reached the quarter-finals of the singles tournament twice before. 

Despite some speculation over his retirement, Monfils hopes to continue playing until the age of 40. Although he admits this depends on his family after he and his wife Elina Svitolina welcomed their first child earlier this year.

“2023 is an important year for me, a year of transition, transition between my injuries and the fact to be competitive to try to qualify for Paris 2024. I would not like to miss the Olympics, it would be my last one,” he added.
“I hope that 2024 would not be my last year but maybe the one after that. Before, I said that I wanted to play until I’m 40 but the more time I spend with my daughter, the more time I’m thinking maybe I’ll play a bit less.”

Monfils has won 11 Tour titles so far in his career, including this year’s Adelaide International. He has reached at least one final every year since 2005. 

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The Year-End Rankings: The Rise Of Alcaraz And The Eternals, Djokovic and Nadal

Image via ATP Twitter



By Roberto Ferri

Let’s start our last article on the ATP rankings by quoting the words which are said to be the last of emperor Augustus: “The play is over, applaud”.


We cannot but applaud Novak Djokovic, six-time ATP Finals winner just like Roger Federer. And we applaud the season, which, for good or ill, has been unique. Just consider the most striking events: Carlos Alcaraz rising to No. 1, Roger Federer’s retirement, all the issues involving Djokovic and the Wimbledon affair.  

The top positions of the ranking have been significantly impacted by Djokovic’s absence from two Majors (Australian Open and US Open), four Masters 1000 (Indian Wells, Miami Open, Canadian Open, Cincinnati) and by ATP’s decision to not award points for Wimbledon.

If we compare the ATP rankings published after the ATP Finals in 2021 and 2022, this fact is clearly noticeable. 

22 NOVEMBER 2021

19Bautista AgutSpain2260
20Carreno BustaSpain2230

14 NOVEMBER 2022:

13Carreno BustaSpain2495

Novak Djokovic ended 2021 with 4720 points more than Carlos Alcaraz; also Medvedev and Tsitsipas earned more points than the Spaniard, who would not have reached 7000 points even counting the 135 points he wasn’t awarded at Wimbledon.

A few comments on the 2022 rankings:

  • Casper Ruud, the ATP Finals finalist, concludes his excellent year in third place, overtaking Stefanos Tsitsipas with an impressive final rush.
  • Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal are the only top 10 players born in the 80s; the other 8 were born in the second half of the 90s.
  • Cameron Norrie and Pablo Carreno Busta are the survivors of the lost generation, born between 1990 and 1995 and that was most overpowered by the Big Four dominance. 
  • Only North America, beyond Europe, is represented at the very highest: Auger Aliassime, Fritz, Shapovalov and Tiafoe.
  • Holger Rune has gained 92 positions since the start of the year. Carlos Alcaraz “just” 31.
  • A final note: Kei Nishikori ends 2022 without a ranking. Does this suggest he’s going to retire?


Owing to earned and dropped points, as well as results in the Challenger events, five players in the top 100 have achieved their career highest this week:

Emil Ruusuvuori – 40

Quentin Halys – 64

Christopher O’Connell – 79

Roman Safiullin – 89

Nuno Borges – 91

A special applause for the 20-year old Ben Shelton, a bright prospect for USA tennis, who has made his debut in the top 100. Thanks to his victory in the Champaign-Urbana Challenger he’s now ranked 97.

Is that all? Not yet! Just a quiz for everybody: which was the last year which saw the first two places in the rankings occupied at the end of the season by two players of the same nationality?

That’s really all for now. We’ll be back in 2023.

Translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye

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ATP Finals Daily Preview: Novak Djokovic Faces Casper Ruud in the Championship Match



Novak Djokovic on Saturday in Turin (twitter.com/atptour)

The biggest ATP non-Major final of 2022 takes place on Sunday in Turin, Italy.


2022 has been a bizarre year in the career of Novak Djokovic.  It started with his deportation from Australia, forcing the unvaccinated Djokovic to miss the first Major of the year.  That would be one of six prominent events that Novak would miss this season due to COVID-19 entry rules (Australian Open, Indian Wells, Miami, Montreal, Cincinnati, US Open).  Yet Djokovic was still able to accumulate a record of 41-7, and win his 21st Slam at Wimbledon.  He is now 17-1 at indoor ATP events this fall, and will end the year as the World No.5  With a win on Sunday, he would tie Roger Federer for most all-time ATP Finals titles.

2022 has been a groundbreaking year in the career of Casper Ruud.  He had already established himself as a top 10 player, but prior to this season, was predominantly thought of as a clay court specialist, with five of his six ATP titles coming on that surface.  Yet that all changed this season, starting in Miami when he reached his first Masters 1000 finals.  Casper would go on to also reach his first two Major finals, in Paris in New York.  He is now 51-21, and into his fourth big final of the year.

Sunday’s action in Turin starts at 4:00pm local time with the doubles championship match, featuring Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic (4) vs. Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury (2).  Both teams are an undefeated 4-0 this past week.  This is Ram and Salisbury’s second consecutive year in the final, having lost a year ago to Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut.  Mektic won this title two years ago alongside Wesley Koolhof, while this is Pavic’s first appearance in the final of this event.  These teams have not met since the semifinals of this tournament last year, when Ram and Salisbury prevailed.

Casper Ruud (3) Novak Djokovic (7) – Not Before 7:00pm

Ruud is 3-1 this past week, with his only loss coming in a dead rubber against Rafael Nadal.  Prior to his three top 10 victories across the last seven days, Casper only had two all season (Zverev, Auger-Aliassime).  And he is yet to win a title above 250-level in his career, with the aforementioned three losses this year in big finals.  Ruud was a semifinalist here a year ago in his ATP Finals debut.

Djokovic is an undefeated 4-0 this week, which includes an arduous effort to defeat Daniil Medvedev on Friday in a dead rubber.  Novak is now 10-3 against top 10 opposition in 2022, having taken nine of his last 10 against the top 10.  He is 4-2 in finals this year, though he lost his most recent one, two weeks in Bercy, to Holger Rune.  Djokovic is an eight-time finalist here, though he hasn’t won this title since 2015.

Djokovic has played a lot more tennis across the last two days than Ruud.  On Friday, Novak spent over three hours on court, while Ruud had the day off.  But Djokovic still looked plenty fresh for his semifinal on Saturday against Taylor Fritz, and was able to prevent the American from extending that tight contest to a third set.  Novak is 3-0 against Casper, which includes a straight-set victory at this same event a year ago.  And considering Ruud’s poor record in significant finals, Djokovic is a considerable favorite to win his sixth title at the ATP Finals on Sunday.

Sunday’s full Order of Play is here.

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