Just when Juan Martin del Potro's comeback from wrist surgery was picking up steam, a hip problem will likely sideline him for Roland Garros.
First of all, I wanted to take a moment to apologize all of you who tune into this blog for my pathetic lack of posts of late. I haven't posted in a long long time, and while I like to think the fact that I was doing tons of great work for Tennis View Magazine (stay tuned for the June issue, my good friends) is the reason, I realize that it is no excuse. Still, I'm gonna use it as one, and I'm also going to say that I am feeling quite refreshed after my long layoff, and I'm ready to take you all on a blogging journey through the French Open and Wimbledon, and hopefully beyond.
Okay -- that's out of the way -- now on to more pressing matters.
Turns out that Juan Martin del Potro's hip problem is a little more serious than we thought. It also turns out that it isn't a "hip" problem at all, but rather a tear in his left rectus muscle. According to Matt Cronin's report on Tennis.com, the rectus muscle is part of the quadriceps and close to the hip. It's an 8mm tear, and del Potro will reportedly hold a press conference on Wednesday to brief the media.
Before we all go into panic mode about the future of del Potro, let's take a moment to reflect on what an amazing comeback he has made in 2011. He was ranked as low as 475 in the world in February, but in the last three months, on the strength of a few titles, and many hard fought and gritty performances in between, del Potro is now No. 31 and he's got most of the tennis world believing that he's fast-tracked for the top 5.
The big man is 27-6 on the year with several top ten wins, titles on both hard and clay, and he's done it all while recovering from wrist surgery and trying rediscover his rhythm. Simply put, it's scary to think about how good del Potro will be when he can stop worrying about injuries and just worry about tearing the fuzz off of tennis balls.
But now, apparently, isn't that time -- yet.
Still, things could be far worse, and they were when del Potro realized that his wrist would need surgery about this time last year. Yes, the rectus tear is a setback, but it comes with the territory in men's professional tennis. It's an injury, much like Rafa's abdominal tear at the 2009 U.S. Open, that will need some care, some treatment and some future preventative maintenance, but in no way shape or form does it indicate that delpo's comeback is off the tracks.
Roland Garros, unfortunately, looks like a long shot, but life can't always be perfect, can it?
Probably the one thing that has impressed me the most about delpo this year is that he is incredibly good at winning matches. Not all of his wins have been beautiful or dominant, but when it comes down to crunch time, Juan Martin has been able to find a way, pretty much all year long. He's a gifted athlete for sure, but he's also very cerebral, very good under pressure, and incredibly determined. Give him a window to a victory and he'll likely slip through. Just ask Philipp Kohlschreiber, who lost a 6-1 lead in a second set tiebreaker at Indian Wells vs. del Potro.
The guy knows how to strike the ball, but so do most players. What will eventually get del Potro back to top of the game -- and make no mistake about it, he is on his way -- is the fact that delpo is one of the best players on Tour in the clutch.
At 22, he'll get plenty more opportunities to prove the validity of my statement. I, for one, and confident that he'll make me look good.