By Af Afreen:
Setbacks and hardships are a part of life and they will come in everyone’s life no matter how perfect the person’s life looks from a distance but with hard work, determination, faith and sheer willpower, anyone can overcome these setbacks. This is the lesson I have learned recently.
Juan Martin Del Potro is considered to be the biggest “what if” of tennis till date. DelPo, as he is lovingly called, won his first Grand Slam in 2009, upsetting the then-number one Roger Federer, snapping his 41-match winning streak at the U.S. Open. He was only 20-years-old at that time. With a ferocious forehand and an equally amazing backhand, he was considered by many as the heir to Roger Federer, the next King of tennis. He achieved his career’s highest-ranking of world number four in 2010 but then the injuries hit. He had to undergo a surgery on his right wrist that caused him to miss the opportunity to retain his title at the US Open 2010.
He started his 2011 campaign ranked an odd 485 in the world. But he ended his year in style with being ranked 11 in the world and winning the ‘ATP Comeback Player of the Year‘. 2012 saw him back to the top 10 by winning four titles and winning a bronze at the 2012 London Olympics against Novak Djokovic before he played a marathon four-and-a-half hour three-set semifinals against Roger Federer losing in a very tight match.
He started 2013, as being one of the dark horses and he didn’t disappoint by achieving his career’s best ranking of world number four again! He won four more titles and made it to the semifinals of the Wimbledon losing to Novak in one of the best five-set matches in the Wimbledon history. People, critics and fans alike thought 2014 will be the year we’ll all see him lifting a Grand Slam again but injuries hit him again, this time it was the left wrist.
He had to undergo three operations on his left wrist resulting in him playing just 14 matches in 2014 and 2015. In 2015, before his 3rd operation, he even considered retirement from tennis at the mere age of 26. But with a strong support system and a ‘never say die’ attitude, he worked hard and made a comeback again in February 2016 at Delray Beach. At that time he was ranked 1042 in the world. But he reached the semifinals in that tournament. Indeed a fairytale comeback for him. He decided to keep the light schedule and missed the French Open to prepare for Wimbledon. That preparation paid off as he made it to another semifinals at the 2016 Mercedes Cup before reaching the third round of Wimbledon defeating third seed Stan Wawrinka en route to the 3rd round.
Then came the 2016 Summer Olympics, he got the worst possible draw. Drawing number one seed and the favourite for the title Novak Djokovic in the first round. He thought it was going to be a short tournament for him. Surprising everyone including himself, he defeated Nole in straight sets. Both players left the stadium in tears but for different reasons, before sharing a heart warming hug at the net, melting millions of hearts around the world. DelPo carried his success to the next rounds. His next big opponent for the semifinals was Rafael Nadal. Everyone thought Rafa will get through easily, Rafa did not disappoint winning the first set. But guess what? Juan did it! He defeated Nadal in 3 sets in arguably the match of the year. Next up was defending champion Andy Murray. Even though he lost the match in 4 high quality sets, the match was very interesting and almost heart failing. Pushing the current Wimbledon champion to the brick, he reached the podium when many thought that he would lose in the first round. In the end, he won a lot more than the silver medal, he won a silver made of gold for his fans and all the tennis enthusiasts watching around the world.
Next up was the US Open, where he got a well-deserved wildcard as his heroics did not give him any ranking points and he was still ranked 142 in the world. He once again defied all odds to make it to the quarter-finals where he lost to the No 3 seed Stan Wawrinka in 4 sets. But anywhere, everywhere he goes, he is the crowd favourite.
He brings the crowd to the match. His gentle behaviour, sulky looks and amazing sportsmanship makes everyone love him so much. The crowd at New York too showed the comeback king their love, lifting him up in every match! He was just one game away from losing in the quarters, the crowd gave him a standing ovation and started chanting “Olé, ole, DelPo, DelPo!” The love, the support made him cry right in the middle of the court. He had to console himself before restarting the game.
After the U.S. Open, he is now ranked 63rd in the world. Let me remind you again, he started the year being ranked 1042.
Because of him I believe that anything is possible with hard work, determination and faith. One can achieve anything and everything in life, even when other people do not believe in us. Juan is back again and after four wrist operations, is considered to be a huge threat for the next season. He has proven, time and time again, that there is always light at the end of the tunnel.