He's Back In The Top 10, But Does Del Potro Feel Like He's Back?
The results say he's fully back. Juan Martin del Potro has returned to the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings. It's only mid-February, and he's already reached an ATP World Tour final this year (ASB Classic, l. to Bautista Agut).
But does Del Potro feel as if he's back, as good as he was before his often-discussed four wrist surgeries – three on the left and one on the right?
To Del Potro, it's less a question about rankings than about one very important thing: his health. “I'm happy to still play tennis after all my problems and I never expected to get to the Top 10 after all my surgeries,” he said on Tuesday, ahead of his Delray Beach Open first-round match against Jeremy Chardy.
“Now I'm in that group, which is great for me. But I still have good things to improve on in my game, and I'm looking forward to keep improving those shots.”
Namely, Del Potro is focusing on his backhand, the shot that he sliced for months during the beginning of his comeback but has gradually been hitting through more and more as his wrist has felt better. The 6'6” Argentine wants to bolster his volleys, as well, letting him end more points at the net and take advantage of his wingspan.
That could be the next phase in Del Potro's evolution, said Fernando Gonzalez, the former World No. 5 and 2007 Australian Open finalist, who helped Team International win the ATP Champions Tour event against Team U.S.A. in Delray Beach on Sunday.
Gonzalez said Del Potro should look to approach the net more often, saving his energy. Del Potro will turn 30 in September. “He cannot play more longer points from the baseline,” Gonzalez said.
The two-time ATP Comeback Player of the Year (2011, 2016) is still working with countryman Sebastian Prieto, with whom he's worked since the 2017 US Open. “We are doing well because I'm in Top 10 position again and I got good results after the US Open,” Del Potro said.
And he's pleased to be back in Delray Beach, where he won his eighth ATP World Tour title in 2011. He's gained 11 since then, and will add perhaps another this week in South Florida.
“It’s a beautiful tournament. The centre court always has a great atmosphere and for me this event is a good option to start this particular swing and the upcoming tournaments that are also very important,” Del Potro said. “I think it’s a very convenient tournament. The city is great, and we have great facilities. That’s the reason I always come back.”