Juan Martin del Potro helps crying ball girl, steers Argentina to debut Davis Cup win
‘Gentle Giant’ Juan Martin del Potro has long been a fan favourite on the court, and this year, the tall Argentine registered a mammoth comeback by climbing over 150 spots on the ATP singles rankings, finding success at Grand Slams, Olympics and on the ATP World Tour.
29-year-old Del Potro, the 2009 US Open champion, this year not only finished at the semi-finals of the US Open, losing in a long fight against eventual champion Stan Wawrinka – but before this, the Argentine, who had struggled with wrist and back injuries that put his tennis career on hold, had a dream run at the Olympic games, ousting then No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the first round.
Del Potro’s win paved the way for Argentina to win their debut Davis Cup title, with Del Potro coming from two sets down to take a stunning 6-7(4) 2-6 7-5 6-4 6-3 win over Croat top-10 player Marin Cilic.
And during that win, Del Potro proved why he is a fan favourite. A speedy serve off the racquet of the powerful Marin Cilic saw the ball hit a ball girl positioned behind Del Potro. The youngster, who looked to be not much older than 10 or 11, immediately welled up with pain and shock.
A kind Del Potro halted play, hugged the crying child and comforted her. After making sure she was not injured, Del Potro led her off court to be replaced by a substitute, with play continuing.
That match would see Del Potro – playing the entire match with a broken thumb, as he would later reveal, come from two sets down to defeat the Croat powerhouse.
Many have pipped the Argentine for future Grand Slam successes in the coming years, and given the way he has been playing recently, this would not be an unlikely outcome; he has defeated Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in his first year back since injury.
Now, Del Potro, at 38th in the ATP standings, aims to make a top 10 return in the new season.
At the ATP Player Awards earlier this month, Del Potro was conferred the Comeback Player of the Year Award for the second time in his career, and barring any recurrence of his previous injuries – or any new ones, the Tower of Tandil should be well on track to fulfil his dreams.