Zverev talks Paris, pick-up lines, pets
Juan Martin del Potro overcame a slow start to defeat Nicolas Jarry in round one.
For Juan Martin del Potro, life on tour comes with a meticulous set of daily recovery routines for his left wrist and right knee.
They are tedious, can be painful, and are no doubt mentally draining, but the Argentine has accepted them as part of his professional career that has been riddled with multiple serious injuries, most recently a right knee fracture sustained in October last year.
“There is a series of rituals. The knee, the wrist, and I have learned to live with these rituals. It's now part of my daily routine. I'm not very happy about that, but it's part of my daily routine,” admitted the No.8 seed following 3-6, 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 opening-round win over Nicolas Jarry on Tuesday.
Playing just his eighth match of the year, Del Potro had a slow start against 23-year-old Chilean Jarry beneath overcast skies and light rain on Court Suzanne-Lenglen. A runner-up in Geneva just last Saturday, Jarry was the more aggressive player, breaking early and taking the first set in 29 minutes. Del Potro is typically the one firing winners, but it was Jarry who unleashed 15 compared to his opponent’s three in that opening set.
The weather conditions started to shift though, and as the sun came out, so did Del Potro’s power game, and it wasn’t long before he had drawn level en route to a positive first-round victory.
“He has a great potential. He has very comprehensive tennis,” Del Potro said of Jarry following the conclusion of their first career meeting.
“From what I had seen up to now, he's a good player, capable of winning against any opponent because he's very aggressive. I faced that during the first set. He was dictating the game during the first set. Then his intensity decreased, and I was able to take over the control of the game.”
Roland-Garros is Del Potro’s fourth tournament of the year, as he spent months recovering from his knee fracture. A left wrist injury that required three surgeries a few years ago nearly ended his career; not to mention the right wrist surgery he had in 2010, shortly after he won his first and only Grand Slam title at the US Open in 2009.
Still searching for that second major victory a decade later, the 30-year-old Del Potro confesses that his goals for the moment are not centred around wins and losses, but simply staying healthy while competing.
He made his first Grand Slam final in nine years at the US Open last September, which came just three months after reaching the Roland-Garros semis.
His momentum was halted by the knee problem, but Del Potro has already shown glimpses of his best form in his narrow three-set defeat to world No.1 Novak Djokovic earlier this month in the Rome quarters, in which he held two match points before surrendering to the Serb.
“I think I surprised myself and all the tennis fans, as well. It was a great match for almost three hours. Very high level for both,” Del Potro says of his thriller against Djokovic.
“In this comeback I lost two matches already, and both matches had match point. I think I'm playing well at the moment, but my main goal is still the knee, my health. And I'm looking forward to be 100 per cent in the second part of the year, trying to change my goals on tour and if I get that, I will be happy.
“Once I get in good shape again, I can be focused on the results in different tournaments, different surface. That's what I want to think about, not only my knee or my wrist or whatever. That could be my best goal if I feel much better.”
His next obstacle in Paris is Japanese lefty Yoshihito Nishioka, who lost to Del Potro in the Argentine’s first match back from injury this season, in February in Delray Beach.