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Juan Martin del Potro on Tuesday begins his comeback against Yoshihito Nishioka.

Del Potro: I Was Thinking Horrible Things

Argentine returns from knee injury; begins campaign against Nishioka

After winning his first ATP Masters 1000 title last March at the BNP Paribas Open and climbing to a career-high ATP Ranking of No. 3 in August, Juan Martin del Potro was flying high. That was until October when he fractured his patella at the Rolex Shanghai Masters.

“[I was thinking] horrible things. I thought that was the final of my life. I got the fracture in the knee that I never expected to have,” Del Potro said. “After bad days I started believing in my doctors again that I’ll play tennis soon and I think I’m in a good way again to be competitive. After four months, I’m going to be playing a tournament, which is good [recovery] time. But I know how difficult it is to be ready for playing in the big events and holding the top positions in the [ATP] Rankings and I know this way because I had it in the past. But this is my life and I know how to deal with these problems.”

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While it’s not a situation any player wants to deal with, Del Potro has recovered from worse positions. This week three years ago, the Argentine sat outside of the Top 1,000 of the ATP Rankings, falling as low as No. 1,045 the week of 8 February 2016. He underwent left wrist surgeries on 24 March 2014 (joint), 20 January 2015 (ligament) and 18 June 2015 (tendon), as well as right wrist surgery on 4 May 2010.

“I have the experience doing comebacks, but it’s not good for me and for other players. I know it takes time and then you have to be having enough confidence to move 100 per cent, to feel the body in good shape and then the tennis part comes,” Del Potro said. “First of all I have to be healthy, and then I will start to think about tennis. But Delray Beach is a good time to see how my knee works during a match and then we’ll decide where’s going to be next.”

Del Potro is not putting any special pressure on himself in his first tournament in four months. Instead, he is trying his best to enjoy the sport. The Argentine takes on Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka in the first round.

“I know how difficult it is to come back and play a tournament like this, but I’m ready for playing a match again,” Del Potro said. “I know I will need a little bit of time to get confidence in my body and my game. But I’m excited to be playing again so Delray Beach is a good tournament to start at.”

More than anything, Del Potro loves tennis. And while his most recent setback temporarily took that away from him, he is just as motivated as ever. 

“I love to do this and I have luck that I have good friends and family who support what I want to do and that’s enough to keep trying, keep working hard to be a better player in the future and I’m still enjoying this life,” Del Potro said. “I had tough moments during my career, but when I never expected to reach my highest [ATP] Ranking ever, I did last year at 29 years old. For this year I would like to be healthy for the whole season and then keep surprising myself.”