Argentina’s spearhead on the ATP Tour Diego Schwartzman claims that former World No 3 Juan Martin del Potro empowers Argentines despite being away from the circuit.
The 32-year-old was the last player from Argentina to have won a Grand Slam, when he beat Roger Federer in the 2009 US Open final. Since then though, he’s been plagued with injuries that have kept him away from the tour for a significant period.
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However, though away, he’s constantly been in touch with his compatriots on the tour.
“With Juan, we have a very good relationship and we talk often,” Schwartzman, who stands at 5’7”, said in an interview with BATennis.com.
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“He is missed on the circuit, but he empowers the other Argentines. When I started to climb the ranking, Juan was injured, which is a shame.”
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Schwartzman, the current World No 9, had his best run at a Grand Slam at the 2020 French Open.
He had beaten favourite Dominic Thiem in a thrilling five-set quarterfinal to reach his first ever semi-final at a Major.
In the women’s draw at the same event, Nadia Podoroska, a qualifier from Argentina had surprised the draw by reaching the semi-finals as well.
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It was then that del Potro, not savviest on social media, Tweeted “Little giants. Have a great time!” to encourage his compatriots.
Pequeños gigantes! 🙌🙌🇦🇷🇦🇷
— Juan M. del Potro (@delpotrojuan) October 6, 2020
Del Potro raring to return
The last time del Potro played a competitive match was back at the Queens ATP event in June 2019. Ranked 12, he had beaten then World No 25 Denis Shapovalov in straight sets. But a slip during the match forced him into withdrawing from the tournament.
In August 2020, he underwent a third procedure to his right knee over the space of two years. He first fractured a knee cap at the Shanghai Masters in October 2018, and then came the incident in London.
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Earlier in his career, the ‘Tower of Tandil’ had faced multiple wrist surgeries. But when he returned he won a silver medal at the Rio Olympics in 2016, and a few months later led his country to its first Davis Cup title by beating Croatia in an away tie.
Despite the injury woes, in November, he claimed he was looking to make yet another comeback.
“To be honest, it takes a lot for me to make a comeback,” he said.
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“It has become very challenging for me, but I’m not ready to give up. I refuse to finish my career outside the court and would love to compete at the Olympic Games in Tokyo next summer.”