Tuesday 16 January 2018

WATCH - Juan Martin del Potro praised for his sportsmanship after climbing over the net to console injured opponent

Spain's Nicolas Almagro is comforted by Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro after he collapsed with a left knee injury in his second round match against at the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros
Spain's Nicolas Almagro is comforted by Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro after he collapsed with a left knee injury in his second round match against at the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros

Luke Brown

Argentinian tennis player Juan Martin del Potro has been praised for climbing over the net to console his sobbing opponent, who was forced to withdraw half-way through their fiercely contested French Open second round match with a knee injury.

Del Potro and Spain’s Nicolas Almagro had won a set apiece and were locked at 1-1 in the third when Almagro succumbed to the knee injury that has been troubling him throughout the clay court season.

Almagro bent over behind the baseline clutching his hurt knee, before collapsing onto his back in floods of tears.

That prompted Del Potro to take the unusual step of climbing over the net to go and console his opponent, who he has known since they were both juniors.

The former US Open champion helped Almagro back to his bench and packed his bag for him after the Spaniard had thrown a bottle of water in frustration, before siting with him and rubbing his head before they left the court together. They departed to a standing ovation.

Del Potro knew better than anyone what Almagro was going through, having suffered a series of deliberating injuries throughout his career. In fact, this is the first time Del Potro has played at Roland-Garros in five years, because of his long succession of wrist problems.

“I tried to — I don’t know — tried to find good words for that moment,” Del Potro commented after the match. “I told him to try to be calm. And I told him to think about his family, his baby. And sometimes the heart is first than the tennis match or the tennis life.

“It's an unpleasant feeling. You have a player who is suffering quite a lot. He was in agony. It was tough. I told him that tennis is important, but health matters more than tennis in this case, because I want him to be out of his bad patch.”

Del Potro, who is seeded a lowly 29th for this tournament despite reaching the semi-finals in 2009 and the quarter-finals in 2012, added that he had been struggling with an injury of his own throughout the match.

“Today I think I got lucky, because I don't feel good enough with my body, and then Nico felt something wrong in his knee and he decide to retire,” he said.

“Anyways, we would like to be 100% all matches. But sometimes this happen. And what I said before, I hope he's feeling better. I know how sad could feel him after an injury, because I had a lot. But I wish all the best to him.”

The Argentine will now play Andy Murray in the third round, after the World No 1 battled back from losing the first set to beat the Slovakian Martin Kližan 6-7(3) 6-2 6-2 7-6(3). And Del Potro is already anticipating a memorable match.

“Well, we play great battles last year, one each,” he commented. “And the next match could be another great battle if I feel good. Andy is one of the favorites to win this tournament. And now I know his game a lot, but I need to be in good shape and physically be stronger to hold a long match if we play a long match, long rallies.

“I'm happy with my level at this moment, so my forehands and serves are working good. But always, I need all my body in good shape.”

Independent News Service

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