In keeping with a year that has had more heartache than happiness, the world #7 won’t be playing at the French Open this year; due to a viral infection, physical problems are still complicating his career.
Del Potro keeps running into problems, one after the other — inopportune, harmful. Every week since the beginning of the year, the current top Argentine player has been losing ground from where he was projected to be, which was #5 in the world, after a recharged 2012 that included an Olympic Bronze Medal. The injuries and health issues have squelched the path of JMDP in the last months of ATP action. And now, the biggest blow of the season: he won’t play at Roland Garros.
The physical issues aren’t new: they’ve plagued him since he turned pro, and when he had a real chance to realize his dream, to be #1 [after the USO in 2009,] injuries got in the way. At this point, the decision of whether or not to skip the second Grand Slam of the year, where he is defending 360 QF points, came down to him, his team, and sports cardiologist, Roberto Piedró.
In the start-up to the European clay court season, he contracted an upper-respiritory infection, and a lower digestive tract virus, which required him to stop training. A recurrence of the bronchial spasms caused the withdrawal from Oeiras (formerly Estoril, where he had won in 2011-12,) and also from Madrid, a MS1000.
It was in Rome, also a MS1000, where, lacking rhythm, he lost, not unexpectedly, and returned to [Argentina] to recover. He regained his general strength, but he wasn’t in top competitive shape, and, since he wouldn’t be going into RG at his maximum level, he and his team decided that the best course was to keep up with the rehab, and to begin looking forward to the grass swing, which, depending on how it goes, will include Queen’s (10 June), an exhibition at Boodle’s (18 June), and Wimbledon (starting 24 June).
Unlike last year, in the current calendar year del Potro has lost several matches – at least 4 – to lesser rivals, and certainly he wasn’t willing to expose himself to another fall in Paris. Up to this point in the year, the Argentine has accumulated only 1605 ranking points, whereas, up to this point last year, through RG, he had gained 2475.
“I’m sad not to participate at RG, and to have been able to play [the European clay court swing] the way I would have liked to. RG is one of the most important tournaments of the year, and I don’t like having to miss it. I’m not in the best physical shape to fight for a tournament of this level. I’m going to keep working as hard as possible, because I want, more than anyone, to come back at my best,” del Potro declared, on his Facebook page. At the same time, interviewed for The Nation, Piedró explained, “Juan Martin is better than he was a while back, but still is not 100% to compete in a tournament of best of 5 sets. He wanted to play, that was his intention, but we analyzed it all together, and the important thing was not to have a set-back.”
Piedró … was not surprised about the virus that took down del Potro. ”This is the season when we see a lot of these cases, especially in the beginning of the Spring. The recovery time depends on each person, but, with Juan Martin, this one hit him particularly hard, and it created respiratory problems. I’m actually surprised by how quickly he’s gone back to training. He has to train physically and aerobically, and get back to full capacity,” says del Potro’s personal physician.
After an interesting 2012, [del Potro] looked forward to this year with dreams of success, and solid strides in the big tournaments. But, once again, as has happened so many times in his career, injuries or health issues have stalled him.