Juan Martin del Potro is ready for some clay action…
Following his return to the ATP Tour after 11 months of inactivity, and having taken part in only six tournaments since January 2014, the 27-year-old Argentine tennis player will return to competitive play on clay for the first time since 2013.
del Potro has been working on his clay game for the past few weeks. He started his training in his hometown of Tandil, Argentina, and then continued in Buenos Aires. His first tournament action will begin this week in Munich with Madrid and Roland Garros to follow.
del Potro will have a small entourage assisting him, as has been the case since his return. Without a coach since he parted ways with Franco Davin, del Potro traveled to Europe accompanied only by Diego Rodriguez, his physiotherapist.
Rodriguez, who has previously worked with David Nalbandian, will be key to del Potro’s recovery during the tour. Clay is a physically demanding surface, with longer points, greater physical impact and more body wear. For that reason, del Potro has been avoiding the slow surface at times when he didn’t feel strong enough or when he was recovering from his long stretches of inactivity because of wrist injuries. So the mere fact that del Potro is appearing on clay is a positive sign.
“The rehab is going as expected,” del Potro explained a few weeks ago, when he announced his entry in Munich and Madrid. While we must be patient, I’m very happy to confirm two tournaments in consecutive weeks, which is something I’ve been unable to do since my return.”
del Potro’s last appearance on clay came at the Rome Masters in 2013, where he lost his second match. A few weeks before, he had done the same in Monte Carlo. That was it on clay for the year — four matches and a 2-2 record.
This came a year after one of his best campaigns on clay, on which he won a title in Estoril (defeated Stan Wawrinka and Richard Gasquet along the way) and reached the semifinals at the Madrid Masters and the quarterfinals at the French Open.
It should be noted that del Potro has four titles on clay (18 in total). And interestingly, the first two of his career (in Stuttgart and Kitzbuhel in 2008) were both on clay. His other two were both in Estoril (2011 and 2012). del Potro’s career clay-court record: 62-24.
Currently No. 340 in the world, del Potro has played three tournaments this year. He reached the semifinals in Delray Beach, with solid wins against Denis Kudla, John-Patrick Smith and Jeremy Chardy, and made the second round at Indian Wells and Miami.
Now he’ll take on the challenge on clay.