Juan Martín del Potro played what may be his last game on the ATP circuit on February 9 in Buenos Aires. The Argentine has had to deal with a series of serious injuries that have shaped his career. After winning the US Open in 2009, beating Roger Federer in the final and having a great season, the giant from Tandil started having problems with his right wrist in 2010 and had to undergo his first surgery.
Del Potro returned to the court and won two tournaments in 2011 (Delray Beach, Estoril) before injuring his left wrist again. The diagnosis was an injury to the triangular fibrocartilage of the left wrist. At the turn of the year 2013/2014, del Potro was able to deliver consistent performances, reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon and won major titles in Rotterdam, Washington, Tokyo and Basel.
A few months before the end of the season, the wrist pain intensified and del Potro had to undergo a lengthy rehabilitation process. From late 2014 to mid-2015, three left wrist surgeries forced the Argentinean into another lengthy hiatus.
With the wrist injury resolved, bad luck struck again just months after one of his most rewarding and important wins (the Indian Wells Masters 1000). During the game against Borna Coric in Shanghai, he fell and broke his kneecap.
A kneecap that will never stop chasing Del Potro. Four surgeries on his right knee weren’t enough to convince the man from Tandil that everything would go back to the way it was before. “It was very difficult for me to make the decision to play this tournament (Buenos Aires, ed.), but I pushed myself.
I had to do what I felt.”
Former top 10 player Juan Martin del Potro has revealed heartbreaking details of his injury struggles. “Psychologically, I cannot accept life without tennis,” he said.
“I was world No. 3 until suddenly I broke my knees and here I am with nothing. I didn’t have a gradual transition to the after, I didn’t prepare, I have no idea what the other athletes did to live this process peacefully.
And all the time I was trying to recover like I did with any other injury until I said in Buenos Aires: “That’s enough”. And from Buenos Aires I found myself and I’m still there, in this process of reflection, I’m wondering what I might like, I don’t know.
When I talk to other athletes who are no longer active, they say to me, “Well, it’s taken me the last two years of my career, the last year, I’ve been preparing anyway. I’ll do it now”.