Juan Martín del Potro still remembers and curses that afternoon in Queens, two years ago, when when he went hunting a short volley by Canadian Denis Shapovalov he suffered a slip, his feet went off and his right knee made him a bad gesture. That is to say, back to the operating room, unfortunately a too common place for the Argentine, who in October of the previous year had already had to undergo a first intervention because he fractured his kneecap, crashing it against the ground in Shanghai , and who later tried his luck with the scalpel another two times to try to repair the joint. From Barcelona to Miami, and from there to Bern before the last fork came this year: to have surgery or not to have surgery, a toss-up to be able to be at the Tokyo Games next summer. And he, the tower, has decided to bet big.
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There will therefore be four operations in less than three years. “I am going to have another knee surgery. I have tried many conservative and alternative treatments, but I did not have good results and we believe that the best option now is surgery ”, he explained through a video on social networks in which he details that this time he will be put in the hands of Dr. Jorge Chahla, an orthopedic surgeon with whom he has been weighing and evaluating for months, to put a remedy to his ills at once and try to fulfill the Olympic dream, who knows if by getting on the last train of his career since in September he will be 33 years old and his body registers no less than fifteen significant injuries . Martyrdom on wrists and knees.
“He knows of my desire to go back to playing tennis and to be in the Games. For this reason, we have decided to do it as soon as possible ”, continues Delpo , admired and praised wherever he steps , always wrapped up in the classic: what would have become of him if… His record is not lacking in luster —US Open 2009, the Cup Davis in 2016, bronze in London 2012 and silver in 2016, among other merits – but talking about him means making him one of the best tennis players of his generation, the one who would have been, it is said and assured, the real nemesis Nadal, Federer, Djokovic and Murray, whom he has won many times and against whom he has starred in a good handful of stellar victories . From their mouths comes: "Maximum respect for Del Potro."
He is praised by his rivals, and the scars speak. After the four operations on the knee, three were attached to the left wrist (2014 and January and June 2015) and another to the right (2010). In total, eight steps under the knife and a very long list of troubles for a player who somehow always deserved more. In 2016 he dazzled in Rio and then conquered the Davis , but a couple of courses later luck turned his face again and since then he has lived among sports penalties, without stepping on a track for 643 days, 21 months: what was said, that damn slip on the grass of Queens, on June 19, 2019. From there, the interventions of Dr. Ruiz Cotorro, then Dr. Kaplan and later Dr. Biedert, the same one who intervened on Federer twice. But the pain didn't go away. He tried stem cells and various treatments, rehabilitation, but in the end has come to the conclusion that Tokyo admits only one path. And without guarantees.
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“They have not been easy weeks. Since my dad died, everything has cost me a lot, but one day I got up and called the doctor, and I said: 'let's try it.' I felt the strength that they send me from above so as not to lower my arms and be able to get ahead with this, which has been bringing me headaches for many months, ”he says in a video on Instagram. “Today the reality is that. Because I felt that and I don't want to stop trying, I'm here [in Chicago]. Tomorrow all the strength and energy that you send me will be well received, and it will help me a lot to pass through this new stone on the road. I will thank you from the bottom of my heart ”, he dedicated to his fans.
It is, then, the umpteenth challenge for a man who refuses to duck his head. "I did not know that I was so strong," he acknowledged in this newspaper in 2018, when he visited Madrid and the unfortunate episode in Shanghai had not yet happened. “Things go through something and from above they put stones in the way of people who have that strength to know how to avoid them; from above they will never put a stone on you that they don't think you can dodge. I take it that way and I live it that way ”, he said then in the bowels of the Caja Mágica in Madrid. Now, the present presents him with a new obstacle, but he resigns himself: Tokyo is well worth another sacrifice.
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