In Washington, del Potro Pleased To Simply Be Playing
It happened quietly, without the publicity of a big win or a breakthrough. But last month and again last week, Juan Martin del Potro reached his highest Emirates ATP Ranking – No. 30 – since October 2014, months before del Potro would sit for the majority of another season because of wrist injuries.
But to del Potro, the ranking didn't symbolise that his comeback from wrist injuries in 2014 and 2015 was complete. At the Citi Open this week for the fifth time, the Argentine is simply glad to be back on the court.
“I don't care if I'm 30 or 50. I just want to play tennis,” said del Potro, who, 17 months ago, was No. 1,045. “I would like to be in the top position for sure one day in the future but I know how difficult it is... I'm still playing tennis and I love what I do. I'm so happy for that.”
The 6'6” Argentine might be No. 1 if he played all of his tournaments in Washington, DC. Del Potro has won the ATP World Tour 500 tournament three out of the four times he's played here. The right-hander beat Serbian Viktor Troicki for his first title in 2008 and knocked out a pair of Americans – Andy Roddick and John Isner – in 2009 and 2013.
He enters this week with a 14-1 record in Washington and on a 14-match tournament win streak. His only loss came in 2007 when he was 18.
“I like to play here... I always play good tennis in the United States,” said del Potro, the 2009 US Open champion. “This tournament is special for me because I have many Argentinean fans who come to watch me. The American people like my game, too.”
He will have plenty of competition at the Rock Creek Park Tennis Center this week. The field showcases four former champions, including del Potro, Milos Raonic (2014), Kei Nishikori (2015) and Gael Monfils (2016). Eight of the Top 25 are also playing here: No. 7 Dominic Thiem; No. 8 Alexander Zverev; No. 9 Nishikori; No. 10 Raonic; No. 11 Grigor Dimitrov; No. 19 Jack Sock; No. 20 Nick Kyrgios; and No. 22 Gael Monfils.
“I think this will be almost a [Masters] 1000 tournament,” del Potro said. “It will be a really interesting tournament to watch and to play.”
Last October, del Potro won his first ATP World Tour title in 33 months by beating Jack Sock at the If Stockholm Open. But the 28 year old has yet to reach a final this season. Del Potro reached the Delray Beach Open semi-finals in February before falling to then-World No. 4 Milos Raonic.
Six of his eight losses this season have come against players ranked inside the Top 6 of the Emirates ATP Rankings, including five against three of the Big Four – Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. But del Potro said he's glad that he's playing in the same era as the all-time greats.
“The guys are amazing,” del Potro said. “I'm so happy to be playing at the same time.”