NEW YORK (Reuters) - When Juan Martin del Potro takes the court on Sunday in the U.S. Open men’s final he will look to not only end a nine-year Grand Slam title drought but also extend a comeback from when he almost quit professional tennis three years ago.
The third seed, who advanced after world number one Rafa Nadal retired from their match due to injury on Friday, said persistent wrist ailments nearly led to him exiting the sport in 2015, what he called the “worst moment” of his career.
“I was close to quit this sport because I couldn’t find a way to fix my wrist problems. I [had] been suffering a lot. I got depressed for couple of months also,” Del Potro told reporters.
“I didn’t expect to get this kind of emotions playing tennis again. Reaching finals, winning titles, having my highest ranking ever in this moment, everything is almost perfect.”
The Argentine credited his group of loyal friends, who were seen cheering him on Friday at Arthur Ashe Stadium, with helping him stay in the game.
“They are very important for me to be in this stage at the moment because they were behind me in (those) years, trying to keep my mind in positive way, (to) never give up during my wrist problems,” Del Potro said.
“I didn’t know if I (would) be a tennis player again or not. But I’m here.”
Del Potro, who lost to Nadal in last year’s semi-finals, said he was now focused on extending his career, sticking to a daily yoga regime and spending hours on treatments for his wrist and body.
“I know I’m not 100 percent, but I can play tennis in this (condition). I will be proud if I (am) still playing tennis for more years.”
Del Potro will face either Serbia’s Novak Djokovic or Japan’s Kei Nishikori in the final.
Editing by Peter Rutherford