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Del Potro puts the past behind him

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Originally published on: 01/09/11 12:17

Before yesterday, the last stroke Juan Martin del Potro hit at the US Open earned him the 2009 title. Days away from his 21st birthday, he bested Roger Federer in five undulating sets and found himself on top of the world.

But for all the highs of New York two years ago, the 6’6” tower from Tandil has had to endure some desperate lows since, thanks to the wrist injury that ruined his 2010 season and forced him to miss the defence of his US Open crown last year.

But the Argentine, who has hit back with two titles this year in Delray Beach and Estoril, went some way to erasing the bitter memories of 2010 with an emphatic 6-3 6-1 6-1 victory over Filippo Volandri in his opening match at this year’s tournament.

“2010 was a really sad year for me,” remembers the eighteenth seed. “This year to be playing the US Open, it’s amazing, it’s great, and I’m feeling really glad to see the crowd again, to see the Argentinian fans come to see me specially play here in the US Open.”

The 22 year old has played a pretty full schedule in 2011, scoring the Delray Beach title and four semi-final finishes in his first six tournaments this season. The Argentine has struggled during the US Open series though  – he hasn’t won two matches in succession since Wimbledon – and admits that his wrist problem is not completely out of mind.

“Sometimes when the weather is very humid I feel something [in the wrist], but nothing dangerous,” he says. “I play on all surfaces this year and I’m doing well this season, so I’m very glad just to be playing.

“Hopefully next year I will be ready to play in the same conditions as the top 10 players. I don’t know if I gonna be there, but I will try.”

Is it too soon for the man with one of the hardest forehands in the game to return to his very best and be considered a true Grand Slam contender again?

“I know I’m getting closer,” he says. “But today many players are playing better than me. But this is tennis. Every player can beat anyone, especially in Grand Slam, five set matches, you know, and two weeks of tournament. So just be focussed, and then if you have the chance or if you see the chance, go to it.”

And be under no illusion that just like 2009, go for it he will.

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