Here’s one sight no one who loves tennis wants to see.
Juan Martin del Potro lying on the court, grimacing in pain, grabbing his wrist.
A veteran of four wrist surgeries and two frustrating, long comebacks, the Argentine found himself in that position in the third set of his quarterfinal in Shanghai against Viktor Troicki Friday.
He got up and resumed the match after about a five-minute pause – and won it. But he’s uncertain for Saturday’s semifinal matchup against Roger Federer.
It was an innocuous-looking moment as del Potro backed up to hit a forehand – a move he makes 100 times in a match – and stumbled as his left ankle rolled slightly.
He fell – gently, it seemed, considering his height and size.
But he landed on his left hand and wrist. And he immediately grabbed it. He indicated later to the physio that it was the inside of the wrist that had taken the brunt.
“I don’t know how is my wrist after I fell down. I feel something wrong in that moment. But I continued to play, just playing slices, just to try to finish the match. But now it’s time to see what the MRI and what the doctor says. I’m a little worried, but I know (how) to deal with all these things,” del Potro said immediately after the 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 victory. “I’ve been through in the past. I will see what the doctor says … Of course, I would like to play, I would like to be 100 per cent. But he will see in the moment what happens.”
Later, del Potro’s media-relations rep Jorge Viale said that del Potro left the hospital with the wrist in a splint. On the positive side, Viale indicated that anything more serious than a bruise had been ruled out.
Del Potro will decide Saturday morning whether he can make the date with Federer, scheduled for 8 p.m., Shanghai time.
Three surgeries on the left wrist
The first surgery del Potro underwent came on March, 2010, on the right wrist. That was a tough-enough comeback. But he had three more between March, 2014 and June 2015.
This time, they were all on the left wrist, which was the one he injured Friday. The comeback featured del Potro hitting mostly slice backhands. But still, he had been able to win a lot of matches. And as things progressed, his two-handed backhand was slowly getting closer to what it had been before all the surgeries.
The 29-year-old has been rounding into form at this late stage of the season. In fact, with his effort in Shanghai thus far, del Potro will return to the top 20 in the ATP Tour rankings for the first time in almost exactly three years when the new rankings come out next Monday.