Del Potro bows out with head high
Originally published on 08/09/16 00:00
The Argentine wildcard lost 7-6(5) 4-6 6-3 6-2 to No.3 seed Stan Wawrinka during a late night session on Arthur Ashe Stadium, but Del Potro believes he is finally back to a level where he can compete with the best after reaching his first Grand Slam quarter-final in three years.
Del Potro made his first Grand Slam appearance in more than two years at Wimbledon in June following three operations to his left wrist in the past two years. Previously stalled comeback attempts say him play just 14 matches in two seasons, but wins over Wawrinka, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal this summer suggests the 2009 US Open champion is close to being back to his best.
“I think my tennis is starting to respond as I want, but physically I'm still down,” said Del Potro, who arrived in New York ranked No.142 in the world but will climb inside the top 65 following his run to the last eight. “I'm not in the same level as these guys. I need to just stay healthy and wait for the pre-season to get 100 per cent for next year.
“I'm already Top 100, so that's good. Never will I ask for wild cards anymore. And everything here is positive for me. I'm so glad for that.”
As a former champion at Flushing Meadows, Del Potro has received a warm reception from the New York crowd and as Wawrinka closed in on a four-set victory and a semi-final clash against Kei Nishikori, the Argentine enjoyed raucous support as the crowd urged him on.
“I can lose the match, but I will never forget this,” Del Potro said. “It’s bigger than winning any match. I'm so proud to get that from the crowd, because I have been putting in a big effort to play tennis again. They made me so happy tonight, and I don’t mind the score.”