'This May Be More Of A Farewell Than A Return' - Juan Martin Del Potro Pondering Retirement - UBITENNIS
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‘This May Be More Of A Farewell Than A Return’ – Juan Martin Del Potro Pondering Retirement

After fighting against various injury issues for years, the Tower of Tandil admits he could retire from the sport very soon.

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Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina is pictured in action during day three of ATP Fever-Tree Championships tennis tournament at Queen's Club in west London on June 19, 2019.

During an emotional press conference in Buenos Aires, Juan Martin del Potro has revealed that his latest comeback to the tour this month may be the last matches he plays before retiring.

The former US Open champion stunned reporters in the Argentine capital on Saturday when he opened up his press conference with a short statement concerning his future in the sport. Del Potro is set to return to action next week at the Argentina Open in what will be his first tournament since June 2019 due to a knee injury which has required a total of four surgeries.

Reflecting on his ongoing fitness battle, the 33-year-old was close to tears as he disclosed for the first time that his return to tennis might just be so that he can say his final farewell to the sport.

Before I start this conference I would like to send a message,” Del Potro began. “I have spent a lot of time thinking and imagining about this day, and I think this is one of the most difficult messages I will ever deliver.
“I know that people are expecting me to return to tennis, but this may be more of a farewell than a return.
“I have the strength to go forward but my knee is becoming a nightmare. I have been trying alternative treatments for a number of years, with different doctors and attempts to fix it.
“But I have still not found a solution. But I never imagined retiring from tennis without having the chance to say goodbye and I can’t imagine a better tournament than Buenos Aires to do it.
“After these weeks we will see what happens with my future, but I am clear that I want to live like a person of 33 years and try to not have pain.
“It’s a difficult decision, but I wanted to make it clear.”

Throughout his entire career, Del Potro’s rise in the sport has been hampered by injuries and surgery. He was just 20-years-old when he stunned Roger Federer in five sets to win the 2009 US Open. However, in the following years he was forced to spend long periods of time away from the Tour due to injury. Besides multiple knee operations, he has also undergone one right wrist and three left wrist surgeries. He was named the ATP’s comeback player of the year in 2011 and 2016.

Despite his multiple setbacks, Del Potro has won 22 titles on the ATP Tour, reached a ranking high of third and is a two-time Olympic medallist. He has also earned more prize money than any other Argentine player in history.

“Unfortunately, I had to deal with many injuries but I have fulfilled all my dreams with tennis. I have achieved most of the things I wanted to achieve,” he reflected.
“Maybe I won’t have a miraculous return to tennis like the ones I always had, possibly another decision in my career is just around the corner because of how my leg feels and how difficult it is for me. When it becomes part of everyday life and not sport, other things come into play.’
“I am a guy who likes to be active, run, play soccer, share with friends and all those things today I am unable to do. I never gave up, today it’s hard for me to move and I keep trying.’
“I want to enter the court on Tuesday and do my best to win, feel that internal fire that I always had in my career because I learned it when I was little and it doesn’t come out otherwise. In a few days with more calm I will see the direction to take”.

It is clear that the world No.3 continues to struggle with his knee after going through what he describes as ‘two-and-a-half years of pain.’ He says his focus now remains on his quality of life in the long term. Although he hasn’t completely ruled out the chance he could find a solution for his knee and somehow continue his career. Drawing inspiration from Andy Murray and others who have defied the odds.

In his opening match at the Argentina Open, Del Potro will take on compatriot Federico Delbonis who is two years younger than him. The two have only ever played against each other once before which was back in 2017 at Indian Wells.

“Obviously I’m going to want to win and do it in the best way,” he said. “Throughout this injury I always said that I was not going to give up and that I did not want my retirement to be in a press conference, but playing tennis. That’s why I decided to take on this challenge of going out on the court in a tournament where I practically started my career, I played it when I was very young.”

Del Potro also confirmed that he will play at the Rio Open which follows straight after Argentina after receiving a wildcard. That could be the last tournament of his career.

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Brazilian Rising Star Joao Fonseca Waives College Eligibility To Turn Pro

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

One of Brazil’s most promising young tennis players has made the bold decision to abandon a dream of his to play college tennis in America to turn pro. 

17-year-old Jaoao Fonseca was committed to playing college tennis at the University of Virginia but says professional tennis has called him in a way he couldn’t refuse. The rising star has played just two Tour-level events so far in his career and is currently ranked 343rd in the world. 

At last week’s Rio Open, he became the second-youngest player after Alexander Zverev to reach the quarter-finals of an ATP 500 event since the category was introduced. In his home tournament, the Brazillian beat Arthur Fils and Cristian Garin before losing to Mariano Navone.

“It was an incredibly tough decision for me and my family as I have been dreaming about living a college life in Charlottesville, playing the sport that l love with a wonderful team and coach, but, in the last months, professional tennis called me in a way that I simply couldn’t say no,” Fonseca wrote in a statement published on Instagram
“Although I will not be attending school, I think it is an extremely valuable and viable path for young players in their way to professional careers,” he added.

Fonseca has already enjoyed success on the junior circuit. Last year he was runner-up in the doubles tournament at the Australian Open boy’s event. Then at the US Open, he won his first Grand Slam junior title in singles. He is also a former ITF Junior World No.1 and is currently ranked second in the standings. 

The youngster has already been hailed by compatriot Beatriz Haddad Maia, who is currently ranked 13th on the WTA Tour. Speaking to reporters at the San Diego Open, she has offered her support to Fonseca if he needs it. 

“João is a nice person. He has a great future, if he keeps working hard and keeps doing what he’s doing. I think he has a very aggressive mentality and tennis.” She said.

“We sometimes text each other, but not that much. But I’m always following.. not only him.. but the Brazilians. I’m proud of what he’s doing. He has a long way and he needs to understand that it’s a marathon, it’s not a 100 meter race.’
“Tennis has its ups and downs. I wish him all the best, for sure. I’ll be here whenever he wants. I’m happy with what he’s doing.” 

Fonseca played at the Chile Open this week but lost in the first round to Thiago Agustin Tirante.

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Injured Alcaraz Pulls Out of Rio Open After Two Games

A sprained ankle a couple of minutes into his debut at the Rio Open forced top seed Carlos Alcaraz to abandon his match against Thiago Monteiro

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Carlos Alcaraz after the injury - Rio 2024 (photo Tennis TV)

For world no. 2 Carlos Alcaraz, this year’s Rio Open lasted two games: the Spanish champion had to retire on the score of 1-1 in the first set during his first-round match against Brazilian Thiago Monteiro due to a sprained right ankle suffered in the second point of the match.

In an accident somewhat reminiscent of the terrible one suffered by Zverev in the semi-final of Roland Garros 2022, Alcaraz’s right foot “got stuck”  in the clay as he returned towards the center of the court after returning from the left, and he immediately flew to the ground dropping his racket. The Spaniard immediately asked for a medical time-out, but as soon as he took off his shoe it was immediately clear that his ankle had already swollen.

After having a tight bandage applied, Alcaraz tried to continue the match, but just two games later he understood that it was not possible to continue so he shook hands with his opponent, abandoning the Brazilian tournament.

The match was played on a very heavy court due to the rain that had fallen heavily during the day. The organizers had been forced to cancel the daytime session and play could only begin around 7.30 pm local time, after the courts had remained under pouring water all day.

Alcaraz told the press present in Rio: “I think these things happen, especially on clay. It wasn’t a problem with the court, I hurt myself in a change of direction and this happens on this type of surface. I went back into the match to see if I could continue or not. I spoke to the physiotherapist on the court and we decided, together, that I would continue to see if the ankle would improve. It didn’t happen, so we preferred to be cautious and withdraw as a precaution.”

Considering that Alcaraz left the court on his own two feet and managed to wobble through a couple of games after the injury, it is quite likely that the injury he suffered is much less serious than the one that kept Alexander Zverev away from tournaments for over seven months. However, it will be necessary to verify whether it is just a sprain or whether tendons or ligaments have been involved. If this were to be the case, the prognosis could turn out to be longer, and this is happening less than two weeks before the start of the Sunshine Double in Indian Wells and Miami.

The Spaniard is scheduled to play an exhibition in Las Vegas on 3rd March against Rafael Nadal: it will be decided in the next few days whether to withdraw as a precaution for the first Masters 1000 of the season in Indian Wells.

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Can Jannik Sinner dodge the morning-after syndrome?

Very few players have managed to follow up their first triumph in a Major. Hewitt is the last new Grand Slam champion to immediately win an ATP title. Nadal, Djokovic and Federer all misfired, can Jannik Sinner do better?

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Jannik Sinner - Australian Open 2024 (photo: X @federtennis)

By Roman Bongiorno

“The morning-after syndrome,” as they call it. The list of great champions who have suffered from it – Carlos Alcaraz, Juan Martin del Potro, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka, Andy Murray, is impressive.  Some of the most illustrious names in our sport, the most successful ever. Yet, even for those who are legends, the match immediately after their first Grand Slam triumph is often an insurmountable hurdle.

The very young Spanish phenomenon, born in 2003, was the latest striking example. After winning the 2022 US Open and becoming the new world No. 1, Alcaraz managed to win just one set in his next two matches: he lost 6-7 6-4 6-2 in the Davis Cup against Felix Auger Aliassime, who was definitely on fire in that period, and was inflicted a 7-5 6-3 defeat by veteran David Goffin in his first match at the ATP 500 in Astana.

Mentally, it’ not easy. The most important triumph of one’s life, immediately to be put aside.  And go back to work. The media are quick to pounce on any slip, headlines hinting at signs of a career already over: “it’s gone to his head”, “he has made his money” etc.

Less than a year later, Carlos Alcaraz was once more a Grand Slam champion, beating Novak Djokovic in the final at Wimbledon.

Just think of tennis legends such as Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, who fell victims to this serious syndrome. The former, after his triumph at Roland Garros 2005, stepped back on court on the green grass of Halle, losing in 3 sets to the world number 147 German Alexander Waske: 4-6 7-5 6-3. For many, that was a disastrous defeat foreshadowing a future that would not be as bright as it had seemed. Rafa told another story, by winning another 21 Grand Slam titles, on every surface.

The Serbian, on the other hand, thrived on the hard courts of Melbourne, just like Jannik Sinner. In 2008, after winning the title, he was engaged in Davis Cup against Russia. He did not finish his rubber against Nikolay Davydenko and retired at the beginning of the fourth set while trailing 2 sets to 1. In his first ATP tour appearance, in Marseille, after brushing aside Ivan Dodig, he was ousted in three sets by Gilles Simon. Over the following 15 years Novak Djokovic went on to become the has become the most successful player ever.

What about Roger Federer? After lifting the trophy won at Wimbledon in 2003, he moved to the home clay of Gstaad.  He survived the morning-after syndrome  after a fierce but victorious struggle in the first round with the Spaniard Marc Lopez, ranked No.190. Then he cruised till the final, but was defeated in a five set hustle 5-7 6-3 6-3 1-6 6-3 by Jiri Novak.

The morning-after did not spare Juan Martin del Potro. After his stunning victory over Federer at the 2009 US Open, he set foot on an ATP tennis court three weeks later in Tokyo. It was Edouard Roger Vassellin, 189th in the world, who spoiled the party, neatly defeating the Argentinian in two sets, 64 64.

Even “Ice man” Bjorn Borg, the man without (apparent) emotions, focused only on tennis and winning, lost the first match after his success at Roland Garros 1974. He was defeated in the first round in Nottingham by world No. 71 Milan Holecek from Czechoslovakia. Over the next years he definitely made up for that impasse on English lawns.

A rare bird at last, and not by chance does it come from Australia, a land which is ever so rich in unique species. Lleyton Hewitt, who in 2001 after steamrolling Pete Sampras in the US Open final, immediately won his next matches, two singles rubbers in the Davis Cup against Jonas Bjorkman and Thomas Johansson, and then went on to win in Tokyo by beating Michel Kratochvil in the final.

Jannik Sinner has been building up his success on gruelling feats. Sure he’s eager to be back on the Dutch indoor courts of Rotterdam where he enjoyed a brilliant run last year, only surrendering to Danil Medvedev in the final. Just one year ago the Russian seemed an impossible opponent to defeat. Now, in the last 4 challenges, Jannik has beaten him 4 times. The last one, in the final of the Australian Open.

Rotterdam could have been the stage for a rematch, but Medvedev has pulled out of the tournament. Jannik Sinner appears as a favourite, and is vying to close in on that third place of the rankings currently held by Daniil.

Jannik has set out on his mission. But even if he were to be defeated in the first round by an opponent ranked beyond the top 200, no one should dare cry failure. Italy at last has a Grand Slam winner, and he is not to be downplay him in case of first defeats.

Translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye

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