DEL POTRO-THE COMEBACK KING

 

Pink bandana .Pink t-shirt.One  can feel the aura as the  the   six foot six giant emerges out of the dark  as lights  are switched on the court in Basel.No hint of emotion ,just calm,impassive demeanour. He starts warming up,knocks some balls with Kei Nishikori and then walks over to the net for toss.Kei,blooming in full yellow ,looks anxious.This is just a quarterfinal match at the Swiss 500,yet the Japanese seems  wary.As kei’s opponent playfully  swings  his racket to and fro , holding it with both his hands,the crowd start cheering.Trust the populi  to sense an imminent duel. He wins the toss and much to Kei’s  surprise,asks him to choose.From a fanboy perspective,Juan Martin Del Potro has ticked all the pre-match boxes.Swiching on the TV already seems worth .That the second seed in the tournament,world number five,Nishikori is a bit tense against a wild card entrant is testimony to the awe that Delpo is held in the locker rooms and amongst the fans.When one plays him,its Delpo that holds your fate in his hands.If he switches on his charisma on a particular day,he is virtually impossible to vanquish.

That flat sledgehammer forehand which seems more like a slap can resolve any negotiation in a trice.His  serve ,always big,remains as powerful as it was in 2009.For a player who hits the ball so hard,he is remarkably accurate.And yet,the promises Delpo made as a 19-year old have not been kept.His left wrist has played havoc with his career.Three surgeries  in the last six years have kept Delpo out of the game for most of this period.

It was in 2009 that Delpo took the tennis world by storm when he defeated Nadal in the semis and then Roger in an epic final of the US Open.He soon reached number four in rankings,and there was an acknowledgement that the club of Big Four has expanded .Then the wrist gave away.

After his first comeback ,he managed to reach the semifinal of the London Olympics where he lost in a  legendary  final  third set against Federer  by 19-17.Two day later ,Roger was too tired to effectively take on the Murray challenge.This prompted a change in the rules,and tiebraker was introduced in the final set at Rio.IN the Bronze playoff,he overcame Novak Djokovic.

These two combatants then squared up for  a memorable semifinal at the Wimbledon 2013,but it was Nole who  prevailed this time .In what has been the longest ever semifinal match played at the Wimbledon,both men fought like gladiators enthralling the viewers.Delpo reclaimed his place among the world top five,until the crooked wrist again let him down.

His second return to tennis post-surgery didn’t create many ripples .Compounding his troubles the wrist broke down again.The third  surgery was performed in june 2015.Dejected ,dispirited,Del porto  went through a dark phase,having lost all hopes of a comeback and watching his career pass by as he grappled with the vagaries of life.The temptation to quit was real.How many surgeries could a wretched wrist withstand ? Tears used to well up in his eyes when he saw other players compete,while he lay on his hospital bed,recuperating.Commentators and analysts lamented over the unfortunate waste of  supreme potential .Delpo assumed the status of the most unfulfilled talent in tennis history.

Perhaps some fountains of talent cant just wither away.Come what may,they find a way to gush out of the obstacles.Against all odds,surprising himself ,Juan martin del potro found himself back on the circuit in February 2016.

Starting the season as an unranked player ,Delpo began slowly.He beat wawrinka in the second round at Wimbledon.The force of his forehands was being felt again.Delpo stunned world tennis when he shattered  Nole’s Olympic dream again,this time  in the first round itself.As both players cried post-match  with contrasting emotions,Olympic tennis soared on the viewers’  minds.Delpo then overcame Rafa in a hard fought three -setter semifinal.Juan Martin had done it again.Another Olympic medal was  assured.Although he lost the title match to Andy murray, he had suddenly become the hottest player on the circuit.

He played some great tennis at the Flushing Meadows,until his dream run  was  halted by the eventual champion,Wawrinka.The public support ,especially in the last game, that Delpo received was an apt  reflection on how his comeback has galvanized the crowds behind him.

In the Davis Cup semifinal tie between UK and Argentina  ,he prevailed over Murray in an epic  five-set encounter in what must be the best tennis match of the year .Argentina then went on to win  the tie and entered the final to  be held in November.Delpo’s two handed backhands ,hit with restraint and much less power owing to a soft left wrist,were rather  chipped to keep the rallies going.Murray had to hit back with power on these puff balls,but delpo was always waiting with accurate ,flat slap-forehands and slices.It was almost as if Andy was competing with two different players.Finally he was ground out  by the rigour of a tough season,and his  legs   gave away.Delpo had conquered the ‘man of the season’.Message was not lost.His attitude of never giving up,and coming up with innovative play has catapulted him into the status of a giant-killer.

 

Delpo then  managed to win Stockholm Open reaching the  world ranking  of 42.Subsequently  at the Swiss 500,he packed off Goffin ,before bowing out to Nishikori in the quarter final.

Although Paris Masters didn’t award  him  a wild card,Delpo’s season is not  yet over with the Davis cup final  to be played in November .Paris already had seven Frenchmen competing in the main draw.To award three more ,all to Frenchmen,seems  rather disappointing.At a time when Roger and Rafa are plagued with injuries,NOle is grappling with exhaustion and  saturation of desire,and Kyrgios is banned for misbehavior,Tennis could have done with a vastly popular Delpo in the main draw.

Suddenly the buzz around Juan Martin DelPotro has thickened. ‘What-might-have-been’ lament  has given way to a  wistfully romantic expectation  leading  fans to look forward with excitement ,every time he takes the court.One who was expected to be the Champ,has now been transformed into a champ-slayer.

All with a hint of dread,for the left wrist can be treacherous !

One Comment Add yours

  1. riteshmisra says:

    DelPo will have yet another opportunity, at the US Open 2018. lat year he defeated Roger federer and lost to Nadal. This year he is a top contendor for the tournament, It will not be an unique opportunity as W 2018, as he will mot meet all 3, as they are likely to be the top 4. But he will have a chance to meet 2 of the 3, and has a chance to defeat both and be US Open Champion 2018

    Like

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