Monday, February 28, 2011

He's Baaaaaaack!

AP Photo
Kudos to Juan Martin del Potro on winning the Delray Beach International Tennis Championship in Delray Beach, Florida-- his first ATP title since his stunning upset of then-No. 1 Roger Federer at the 2009 U.S. Open. This was a huge win for the former-World No. 4 as he continues his comeback from a devastating wrist injury which sidelined him for most of 2010.

In fact, del Potro has almost become a forgotten man but he is still the only player NOT named Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic to win a Grand Slam since 2005.

After his monumental U.S. Open win in 2009 the stars seemed to be aligning for the 22-year old Argentine but in January 2010 (after the Australian Open) he suffered the crushing right wrist injury. The injury, which required surgery, derailed the rest of his season and his promising march toward No. 1. After the surgery, del Potro would not touch a tennis racket for almost 8 months and slipped in the rankings from No. 4 all the way to No. 484 as a result of his absence, especially his absence from the U.S. Open which he was unable to defend. Currently del Potro has worked his way back to No. 89 in the world.

His comeback, which began in late September 2010, got off to a horrendous start as he was twice ousted in the first round of the 2 tournaments he attempted to play. After the disappointments he decided to call it a year and let his still-ailing wrist get some more rest.

The 2011 season started with some promise as he was able to, at least, win a match in the first tournament he played before getting ousted in the second round. At the Australian Open he had the same fate, one round and out. But apparently, his wrist was gaining strength because in the 2 tournaments (SAP Open and Cellular South Cup) following the Aussie he advanced all the way to the Semifinals.

AP Photo
And then at Delray Beach, with those two semifinal appearances under his belt, a much stronger right wrist and a high confidence level, del Potro finally broke through and won the first tournament of his comeback. Although he is yet to defeat a Top 10 player, he fully understands it's a long process. After his win he said, "I don't know if I'm ready to fight with top-10 players, but I'm working very hard and hope to do it soon. I need 20 to 25 matches before I'll really be ready to play with them, but it's coming soon."

It may come sooner than he thinks. After his Delray win, the first thing the much-appreciative del Potro did was kiss is right wrist and if he can get it back to his 2009 form, it's just a matter of time before he regains his No. 4 ranking and possibly a lot more.

And I do mean A LOT more. He is that good.

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