Juan Martin del Potro playing the ‘toughest match’ of his career as he eyes return ‘in a couple of months’

Juan Martin del Potro in action

The past few years have been a struggle for Juan Martin del Potro, but the Argentinian is determined to come back stronger and hopes his story inspires others.

The 2009 US Open champion has not played competitive tennis since fracturing his kneecap at Queen’s Club in 2019 and has undergone four operations (June 2019, January 2020, August 2020 and March 2021) since then.

Despite the many challengers he has faced, the 32-year-old remains optimistic about the future.

“I love the challenge. It could be a tennis challenge or a different challenge in life. This is the toughest match of my career, because I cannot deal with these kind of injuries, this pain that I have now. But I’m still trying and trying,” he told ESPN.

“This is the life. I believe in myself that this is going to be in the past for sure. But I think it’s also a message to the young kids, to all the players, to all the people around the world that they never have to give up following a dream and that’s what I’m doing with myself.”

Del Potro returned to scene of his greatest triumph, Flushing Meadows, on Tuesday as he watched Daniil Medvedev’s US Open quarter-final victory against Botic van de Zandschulp.

He admits it is frustrating watching from the sidelines, but says it gives him extra motivation to return.

“The knee is much better for now. I’m still recovering, but I’m on court, which is a good thing for me. I’m looking forward to being ready in a couple of months. If everything goes well, next season will be fine to start,” he said.

“When I was watching Medvedev’s match, it was a little bit frustrating to me to watch these guys play and [have] me [be on the] outside… to not be the guy who’s playing, fighting for the trophy. This is what’s happened to me at the moment, but I’m going to fight to keep moving and hopefully, next year, I can be a protagonist again and playing tennis.”