In a much-welcome decision, the ATP Shanghai Masters has announced that they are awarding their first wildcard for the 2016 tournament to the 2009 US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro. The Argentine, who is now on the comeback trail after two wrist surgeries, has fond memories of reaching the final of this event in 2013.
“Juan Martin is highly deserving of this wildcard. He has been through a lot with his numerous wrist injuries which denied tennis fans from watching one of the sport’s tremendous players and a wonderful human being,” said Tournament Director Michael Luevano in a statement.
“We will be delighted to see Juan Martin back on the courts at Qi Zhong Stadium where he thrilled everyone by reaching the final in 2013,” he added.
The affable Argentine returned to the ATP Tour only in February at the Delray Beach Open where he reached the semi-finals in his first competitive event since last year’s Miami Masters in March. Ranked beyond 1000 then, he has made a massive jump since to be currently placed at 142nd in the latest ATP Rankings.
Even though his backhand is still not at full strength, the 27-year-old has been able to make his presence felt on the Tour once again by using slice judiciously. He followed up his Delray Beach run with a quarter-final and a semi-final appearance at Munich and Stuttgart respectively.
It was, however, the Rio Olympics where Del Potro’s blazing forehands fully came alive in a memorable silver medal-winning campaign that saw him topple both Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. In the final, he even pushed eventual champion Andy Murray a lot before succumbing to the Briton in four tight sets.
The 'Tower of Tandil' is now playing his second Grand Slam of the year at the US Open after reaching the third round of the Wimbledon Championships in July. In his opening round match on Tuesday, the 6’6” player dismissed his compatriot Diego Schwartzman, 6-4, 6-4, 7-6(3) to set up a meeting with the 19th seeded American Steve Johnson.
The Shanghai Masters is scheduled to be held from October 9 to 16.