Del Potro dishes out sage ad­vice

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS -

WASH­ING­TON — Juan Martin Del Potro has some ad­vice for 12-time Grand Slam cham­pion No­vak Djokovic as he pre­pares for a long break from ten­nis: stay home and play with the kids.

Del Potro, the 2009 US Open cham­pion from Ar­gentina who has en­dured long ab­sences while bat­tling wrist in­juries, knows all too well the chal­lenge Djokovic faces af­ter an­nounc­ing last week he will miss the re­main­der of the year with an el­bow in­jury.

“It’s not easy to stop for a long time and come back,” Del Potro said. “Many play­ers can play good af­ter a long in­jury, but they won’t play as good (soon af­ter) as they will in the fu­ture.

“My ad­vice is to have good times at home with the kids and you will be strong enough when you are ready to come back.”

Score­board

Djokovic and his wife have a 2-year-old son, Ste­fan, and are ex­pect­ing an­other child later this year.

Djokovic, who com­pleted a ca­reer grand slam by win­ning last year’s French Open, re­tired from a Wim­ble­don quar­ter­fi­nal against To­mas Berdych last month due to el­bow pain that the 30-yearold said had both­ered him for more than a year.

Del Potro, 28, missed most of the 2010 sea­son with a right wrist in­jury and al­most all of the 2014 and 2015 cam­paigns with a left wrist in­jury.

While Del Potro has bat­tled back, he ad­mits his wrists will bother him at times and he must be mindful of that in train­ing.

“My wrists bother me some­times with the con­di­tions and the weather. I have to be aware of that,” Del Potro said.

“I’m look­ing for­ward to play­ing a few more years. When you get older you must be smart for train­ing. Now I need to work hard. I lose many po­si­tions be­cause of my in­juries.”

The two-time Olympic medal­ist says his wrists both­ered him ear­lier this sea­son, but “it was noth­ing I couldn’t fix. It was noth­ing dan­ger­ous. It was noth­ing I can’t con­trol.”

At the 2016 Rio Olympics, Del Potro was ranked 145th but up­set Djokovic, who was then No 1, in the open­ing round on the way to a sil­ver medal, adding to the bronze he took in 2012 at Lon­don.

Djokovic ousted Del Potro this year at Aca­pulco, Indian Wells and Rome.

Del Potro tries for his 20th ca­reer ATP ti­tle and fourth on the Wash­ing­ton hard­courts at this week’s Citi Open, where he won in 2008, 2009 and 2013.

Nine of the world’s top 20 are on hand.

“We have so many great play­ers in the top 20. For me it’s a great chal­lenge to do well,” Del Potro said. “Young guys are com­ing on and they hit so strong.”

That was once his trade­mark, although time and in­jury has kept him from ap­proach­ing his peak rank­ing of fourth since 2014.

“I don’t think about the rank­ing,” Del Potro said. “I don’t care if I’m top 30, top 50. I just want to play ten­nis.”

ERIC SMITH/ AP

Tampa Bay Rays’ Evan Lon­go­ria gets an ice-cube shower from team­mate Steven Souza af­ter Tues­day’s 6-4 win over the Hous­ton Astros in Hous­ton. Lon­go­ria be­came the sec­ond player in fran­chise his­tory to hit for the cy­cle and also drove in three runs .

Juan Martin Del Potro

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