Del Potro Reminds Us Why
It isn’t often a 250 title can bring fans to tears of joy. That kind of emotion – reserved for the most passionate tennis fans – usually only takes place on the biggest of all tennis stages, Grand Slams. Yet Delray Beach managed to inspire moist eyes for certain fans around the world today. Those fans, of course, are Juan Martin del Potro fans.
After a year of absence from the tour, rumours of depression, and uncertainty over his wrist, del Potro fans spent much of 2010 translating his Twitter page, desperate for any news. When he returned to the tour in January, they felt and mixture of anxiety and gratitude. The results don’t matter, they’d remind themselves, as long as he is healthy. Del Potro agreed, “I think my first goal for this year is to play healthy, after a year out it’s very tough to come back.” He lost early in Sydney, and then at the Australian Open, but fans were just happy their boy was back.
Come February and just being healthy no longer seems to be the goal. Del Potro made two semi-finals before Delray Beach, losing to top ten players in both. He was moving well, striking the ball with his trademark power, and pushing aside top 100 opponents with ease. After overcoming Richard Berankis in the first round of Delray Beach, whispers of a title win began to spread. When he did make the final, overcoming world number 16 Mardy Fish in the semis, hopes rose even higher. Here was del Potro, in just his fifth tournament back, looking like winning the title.
Del Potro didn’t play the final well. He was fatigued, his movement was poor, and his serves weren’t as dangerous as they had been. Yet he did what champions do; he fought. Winning ugly is a hallmark of great players, it seems those with less talent such as his opponent, Janko Tipsarevic, can’t quite manage to find a way to win when the going gets tough. Del Potro reminded us today why he was a top four player and why he won the US Open. Del Potro can grind, he can fight, and he sure can win ugly. This is exactly why he won today, and as he raised his arms to the sky, kissed his wrist, and let his lopsided grin do the talking, fans felt the pain of 2010 dampen.