Tennis: Del Potro returns from wilderness to knock out Wawrinka

Fri Jul 1, 2016 12:26pm EDT
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By Pritha Sarkar

LONDON (Reuters) - There is a reason why Juan Martin del Potro went under the knife -- over... and over... and over again.

Three wrist operations since his last appearance at Wimbledon in 2013 meant Del Potro had more appointments with surgeons and physiotherapists than on-court engagements with tennis professionals over the past 27 months.

On Friday, the gentle giant from Argentina showed why all the pain and scars -- both physical and mental -- were worth it as he toppled fourth seed Stan Wawrinka 3-6 6-3 7-6(2) 6-3 under a closed Centre Court roof in the second round of Wimbledon.

"It feels amazing. I beat one of the guys who is playing great tennis this season and I couldn't have expected this before today," a trembling Del Potro said.

"I was really sad for the last two years and now I am enjoying playing tennis again. My hands shaking is a great sensation for me because I'm playing tennis again and I feel alive," he added.

Del Potro, world number 165, was feeling "so alive" that by the time the match hit the mid-way point of the second set, Wawrinka did not know what had hit him.

The Swiss, who won grand slam titles in Melbourne and Paris in the last 2 1/2 years, was probably left wishing Del Potro's surgeon had not done such a good job of fixing the stricken left wrist which he uses to belt his trademark double-handed backhand.

A break for 3-1 was enough for Del Potro to bag the second set and he marked the moment with a clenched-fist salute to his supporters.   Continued...

Britain Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, Wimbledon, England - 1/7/16 Argentina's Juan Martin Del Potro celebrates winning his match against Switzerland's Stan Wawrinka REUTERS/Paul Childs