del potro comeback

ATP Rotterdam: Federer Sets the Record Straight; Del Potro’s Thoughts on His Comeback

By Lisa-Marie Burrows

ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament, Rotterdam — It has been a busy opening day at the tournament in Rotterdam and there has been as much going on off court as well as on. Juan Martín Del Potro and Roger Federer both participated in packed press conferences during the afternoon where the players shared their thoughts and enthusiasm for the tournament and discussed their current concerns.

Juan Martín Del Potro is relishing the opportunity to make his mark this week. During the press conference, the Argentine opened up about his coming to terms with his injuries and his hopes for 2012.

“I’m feeling ok after a tough Australian Open and my first goal is to play healthy the whole season. Playing this sport is magnificent for me.  It’s a long road [to complete recovery] but I’m trying to do that.”

The former US Open champion was then asked about how he felt during his year out due to his wrist injury and with a sad look of reflection in his eyes, he spoke honestly about his feelings:

“It was horrible [not being able to play]. Most of the time I was at home watching the tournaments on TV and I was thinking I should be there. It has been a long road and I’m still trying to do that [recover].

Roger Federer discussed the controversial comments that he reportedly made in a press interview after Switzerland lost against the United States, stating that his doubles partner Stan Wawrinka played “bad.” His French translation into English was misconstrued and left out the word “not” before “bad” and Federer was determined to set the record straight:

“Yeah I had to weather the press. The things I said were taken the wrong way about Stan. I would never say something like that or blame him. I telephoned Stan just to make sure there was no misunderstanding.”

Not long after his press conference had finished Roger Federer tried to appease the disappointed contingency that were hoping to see him in action on the opening day by having an open practice session on Centre Court with Del Potro, as the Swiss maestro is not in action until Wednesday against Mahut.

His day did not end there. Federer continued with his interaction by participating in an autograph session for his loyal followers giving them a chance to meet their hero.  The Federer fans were enjoying having him there for the first time since he won the tournament in 2005 and his participation in such events is gratefully received by all who admire one of the greatest players of all time.

(All photos courtesy of the author)

Del Potro Back in the Top 10—and Poised to Climb Higher

Rafael Nadal’s post-Davis Cup prophecy appears to be on its way to becoming a reality.

After defeating Juan Martin del Potro in the first reverse rubber, Nadal predicted the Argentine would be back in the top four at some point in 2012.

Del Potro has taken a huge step in that direction by hitting the top 10 in this week’s rankings, his first appearance back among the game’s elite in nearly a year and a half. This comes on the heels of the just-concluded Australian Open where he made the quarterfinals—the farthest he’s advanced at a Slam since his title-winning effort at the 2009 U.S. Open.

Since that time, it’s been a series of lows and highs for the 23-year-old: His ranking plummeted to the 400s after a serious wrist injury. That was then followed by a triumphant 2011, when he won two titles and worked his way back to the top 15.

Now, del Potro has made another huge step, and there’s a strong possibility that he can go even higher.

For one, there are a few players ranked above him that you would have to like his chances against. He has a winning head-to-head record against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Tomas Berdych and Janko Tipsarevic. Plus, based on current form, del Potro more than likely would be favored if he had to play Mardy Fish—whom he actually has a losing record against.

While potential wins against those players could give del Potro a ranking boost, facing members of the top five would be a different story. Against Novak Djokovic, Nadal, Roger Federer, Andy Murray and David Ferrer, del Potro has a combined 9-27 record.

Still, though, he has beaten all of the top five at least once—and he’s well-equipped to do so again. Del Potro possesses one of the biggest forehands in the game, as well as a punishing serve. He’s had success on all surfaces, ranging from reaching the semis at the French Open to the round of 16 at Wimbledon. And, of course, there is that U.S. Open win.

Winning another Grand Slam title might not happen this year, given the way Djokovic, Nadal, Federer and Murray have made a habit of locking down the spots in the final four in the Majors. But there’s still plenty of ways del Potro can make his move back into the top four: mainly by posting consistent results at the game’s biggest events, such as the ATP Masters Series 1000 tournaments.

If he does that, del Potro will have made a true fortune teller of Nadal after all.