It’s hard not to feel a great deal of sympathy for Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro after his management team confirmed that he had undergone another knee operation after feeling discomfort over recent months.
Of course, injury is part and parcel of professional sport and one couldn’t spend their spare hours in the day feeling distraught every time they heard that an athlete needed an operation, but in del Potro’s case, you are left feeling a degree of melancholy given how long this saga has rumbled on for.
Plagued by injury
In many instances, it has been a case of what could have been in the 31-year-old’s career when you consider how unlucky he has been with injuries. Before his right knee began to break down after fracturing it during the Shanghai Masters in 2018, it was his wrists that plagued him.
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) May 23, 2020
Indeed, del Potro has had no fewer than four operations on his wrists with the majority being performed on his left one. It has been very much stop-start for the Argentine over the years with momentum halted every time it looked like he would mount an assault on the Big Three’s domination of world tennis.
He did, after all, win the 2009 US Open as a 20-year-old after beating Roger Federer at Flushing Meadows and it looked like he would take his place alongside the greats of the game. Not long after that, his injury woes began and subsequently put paid to his chances of doing so.
— OptaJuan (@OptaJuan) March 18, 2018
Fast forward 11 years and the situation couldn’t be any more serious for del Potro. There is a genuine feeling – even if you have to read between the lines – that the 31-year-old is fighting for his career. Recurring knee problems have a habit of bringing any retirement forward and now that that man they call Delpo has undergone three separate operations on his knee, you do fear the worse, especially as the last two haven’t done anything to alleviate the pain or fix the problem.
The third, however, has been carried out by the surgeon that Roger Federer uses. That may provide a glimmer of hope to del Potro fans but time will be the ultimate judge on how successful that procedure has been. It really is a case of wait and see, but as the tennis world holds its breath, there is a genuine feeling of regret amongst the game’s biggest names at the trajectory of del Potro’s career.
Djokovic lends support to Delpo
Upon hearing the news that the Argentine required further surgery, Novak Djokovic declared that the 31-year-old was ‘one of the most unfortunate tennis players I have known with injury.’ Carrying on, Djokovic said that ‘he has had an amazing career but it is unfortunate to see him struggle so much.’
Many people will echo those thoughts but it will help to hear words of encouragement from Djokovic, in particular, who missed the last six months of the 2017 season due to persistent elbow problems. It looked like the Serb may well call it a day over that time as he struggled for fitness and form, but he would return to win the 2018 US Open the following year.
— Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) February 2, 2020
Could del Potro follow in the footsteps of Djokovic?
Those days of despair look a long way away now that Djokovic has amassed 17 Grand Slams and is homing in on Federer’s record of 20. The 33-year-old may not be the favourite to win the French Open but he certainly is the outstanding pick for the Australian Open at the start of 2021, at least according to the odds on the top UK betting sites that online betting hubs such as SBO.net have reviewed. At odds of just 11/10, Djokovic is well out in front of the likes of Rafael Nadal and Federer, with the Swiss legend being priced at long odds of 11/2. As mentioned, Djokovic is very much the man to beat on tour these days.
Looking back, it really has been a remarkable comeback from the Serb, and as low as del Potro will feel now as he begins another stint of rehabilitation, he can draw strength from Djokovic’s tale of courage and determination.
Although the Argentine is no stranger to comebacks himself and deserves a huge amount of credit for all the times he has returned to the tour after injury. His greatest fight now lies ahead of him and it’s certainly safe to say that everyone in the world of tennis is rooting for him.