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US OPEN 2018: Juan Martin Del Potro: ‘I love the competition’ By: Matthew Cronin

Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina hits a return to John Isner of the US during the ninth day of the US Open Tennis Championships the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, New York, USA, 04 September 2018. The US Open runs from 27 August through 09 September. EPA-EFE/JUSTIN LANE

By Matthew Cronin

From the US OPEN-

Many years ago, Juan Martin del Potro won the 2009 US Open. But after that, the Argentine began to notice that his left arm was super sore. Eventually, he underwent surgery, three times. He almost retired, but he stood in there. He could only chip his backhand, and he couldn’t crush it down the line.

But in 2017, his left knee began to heal. Slowly, he could finally use the two-hand backhand, not all the time, but frequently.

This year, del Potro was very consistent and very powerful. At the 2018 US Open, in the quarters, he took down the red hot American John Isner 6-7, 6-3, 7-6, 6-2. He barely made any unforced errors, his serves were massive, and his heavy forehand was thick and powerful.

As he said, according to Isner, del Potro is locked in.

“He’s doing pretty well. He’s maybe playing some of the best tennis ever right now for him,” Isner said. “[Juan ] knows what he needs to do. He may need to improve a little bit, and he knows that. But I think he’s playing very well. He’s given the top guys a lot of trouble before. Rafa [Nadal] at Wimbledon. He beat Roger [Federer] in the final of this event nine years ago. He’s back in a good spot, competing for a Slam title. He’s in the final four, so he’s certainly got a very good shot.”

Yes he does. In March, the Argentine finally won an ATP 1000, winning Indian Wells , upending Federer 6-4, 6-7, 7-6 in the final. That was a constant booster. He was tired, but he decided to play Miami, the next week, and he made it all the way until the semis, losing against — believe it or not — Isner.

After that, del Potro didn’t play much on clay, but now, the 29-year-old wants to focus at the Grand Slams. He doesn’t love clay, but he managed to reach to the semis at Roland Garros, beating Isner, and Marin Cilic, before he went down against the No. 1 champion, Nadal.

A few weeks ago, on grass at Wimbledon, del Potro reached the quarters, and he was very close to win it, but in the fifth set, the Spaniard Nadal out-stroked him 6-4 in the fifth. Close, but no cigar.

Del Potro seems pretty healthy again, and driven. He is a tall person, and a smart person. As he says, whether he has to face Nadal or Dominic Thiem, it will be a big battle and he will love it, competing.

“ I’m very happy for my level, for what all has been through to get in this position now. It doesn’t matter the final result in the tournament. I just enjoying playing tennis again,” Del Potro said. “I’m enjoying a lot the crowds. That’s makes me feels alive again. After all my problems, I think it’s time to celebrate. I love this sport. I love the competition. I’m very proud to be here again.”

 

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