Juan Martin del Potro hinted at retirement during an emotional press conference ahead of the Buenos Aires ATP event, which will mark his comeback to tennis after more than two years absence.
“I know that people are expecting me to return to tennis, but this may be more of a farewell than a return… the knee continues to make me live a nightmare,” said del Potro on Saturday.
“I know the limitations I have physically, and we’ll see later.”
The 33-year-old Argentine accepted wild cards into the Argentina Open and Rio Open for what will be his first competitive action since 2019, following four right knee surgeries.
The time @delpotrojuan waited for an hour in the us open locker room for the last match of my career to finish so he could give me a hug. A giant man with a giant heart. Much love and best wishes for the next chapter, my friend. https://t.co/yZtKNeXY9V
— James Blake (@JRBlake) February 6, 2022
“I always overcame everything. I don’t want to close the door. I’m very excited because I love tennis,” the ‘Tower of Tandil’ said.
“With this injury I always said I wouldn’t give up. The farewell had to be on a court and not in a conference.
“Today I have to be honest so as not to give the wrong message, although in two and a half years I gave messages that were not in line with my reality.”
Del Potro, one of the biggest hitters of the tennis ball, has struggled with injuries since winning the 2009 US Open.
Seeded sixth at the 2009 US Open, del Potro defeated Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals and Roger Federer in the final to win his first and only Grand Slam title.
By beating Federer in a five-set final, del Potro ended a five-year New York reign for the Swiss.
He later returned to the US Open final in 2018, where he lost to Novak Djokovic. Del Potro has won 22 tour-level titles, most recently at the 2018 BNP Paribas Open.
Known as the ‘Tower of Tandil,’ after his hometown, del Potro reached a career-high ATP Ranking of World No. 3 in 2018.
He’s also a two-time Olympic medalist, winning singles bronze in 2012 (London) and silver in 2016 (Rio de Janeiro).
Del Potro will face countryman Federico Delbonis in the first round in Buenos Aires.
“I’m going to play and I can’t wait to get on the court on Tuesday,” he said.
“Beyond the anguish and sadness, I want Tuesday to be an unforgettable day. Having the tournament in Buenos Aires made me feel like it was now or never again.”
The 6’6 Argentine has dropped to 757 in the world rankings.