Tuesday marked the long-awaited return of the man known only by one (nick)name:
After missing most of 2014 due to a wrist injury that needed surgery, Argentine Juan Martín del Potro returned to the court in Sydney. In typical Del Potro fashion, his comeback was a smash (No pun intended. Maybe.) success with a decisive and convincing 6-3 7-6(4) win against Ukrainian Sergiy Stakhovsky.
Though his 10-month absence has led to his ranking free-falling to World No. 338, we can expect to see him shoot up the rankings once again. Del Potro admitted after the match that his wrist still gave him some pain, but it wasn’t evident in his great performance. His next match will be against Fabio Fognini, the top seed, and the new Del Potro will have to show that he can beat top 20 players and get back into gear.
To celebrate Delpo’s return to the court, let’s go back in time and look at our favorite Del Potro moments, on and off the court.
2009 US Open Champion
The biggest highlight of Del Potro’s illustrious career has to be his one and only Grand Slam win (for now). His dominant road to victory at the 2009 US Open included beating then No. 3 Rafael Nadal in the semifinals and Roger Federer, the 2008 US Open champion and World No. 1 at the time, in the finals. At only 20 years old, he was one of the youngest ever US Open winners as well as the tallest Grand Slam winner with his height of 6’6″. The Argentine’s win catapulted him into stardom, and he rode his success all the way to a career high ranking of World No. 4.
2012 Olympic Bronze Medalist
The Olympics only come every four years, and Del Potro made the most of his 2012 appearance. The young giant marched his way towards the semifinals, before eventually coming up short against Federer in the longest ever Olympic tennis match with a duration of fours and 26 minutes. Despite a heartbreaking loss, Del Potro bounced back in his bronze medal match against current World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, winning 7-5 6-4.
Though it wasn’t a first place finish, the Olympics are a big deal for any athlete, and Del Potro won Argentina’s fifth Olympic medal in tennis. His bronze finish put him in the history books and made him a national hero.
Sources say that Natalie Merchant wrote this song with Del Potro in mind.
Okay, maybe Del Potro wasn’t the inspiration for late-90’s pop ballads, but it’s no secret that the Argentine is one of the kindest players on the tour. His philanthropy off the court (and no, I’m not talking about his numerous shirtless photos on Facebook) is matched by his sportsmanlike conduct on the court. He never talks ill about an opposing player when he loses but rather congratulates them for their awesome play. His amiable personality has made him a fan favorite as well as a favorite with other players on the tour. Sending a playing into retirement isn’t easy, and Del Potro handled Andy Roddick’s sendoff – on the American’s home court – with grace and class.
Del Potro is also someone who gives back to his fans and community. A local celebrity in his hometown of Tandil, he has paid visits to local hospitals and speaks fondly of Tandil whenever he has the chance.
A quick look at his Facebook shows you everything from his charitable deeds (like hanging out with kid fans) to incredibly goofy photos with his friends.
Here are a few of the best photos on his Facebook:
For a successful comeback, one’s hair must be “on fleek.”
This photo has probably single-handedly made this the most famous bench in Argentina, and it’s probably giving The Fault in Our Stars bench a run for its money for world No. 1.
Delpo also has the power of taking perfect selfies while exercising. Check out Mr. Jealous on his right.
Every good hero needs his own sidekick.
Being Tall and Cute with Kids
A picture’s worth a thousand words, so here are a bunch of pictures.
Del Potro’s return to the court is already one of the best moments of 2015, and the tennis community is ready to see him return to dominance once again.