The physical trainer tasked with helping Juan Martin del Potro get back to competition has revealed that the Argentine still can’t “jog or sprint”. The former world No 3 has shared his wish to make one final appearance at the US Open this year after winning it in 2009. He has been struggling with a knee injury for almost five years and has played just one match since mid-2019.
Del Potro has famously had awful luck with injuries throughout his career – missing several huge events due to multiple setbacks. The Argentine was able to mount successful comebacks after two different wrist surgeries in 2010 and 2015 – going on to win an Olympic medal after both injury layoffs.
He was back at his best when he injured his knee at the 2018 Shanghai Masters – weeks after making another Grand Slam final at the US Open and returning to the No 3 spot. And the issue has troubled him ever since, as he injured it again at Queen’s in 2019 a few months after making his comeback.
The 34-year-old has not played a match since last year’s Argentina Open – where he admitted it was more of a farewell than a return. But del Potro recently shared his wish to make a heroic comeback at the US Open and has enlisted Duglas Cordero to help him regain his fitness and physicality.
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The renowned tennis fitness coach has opened up on their work together in a new interview, though confessed that the 22-time title winner was still unable to run with four months until the US Open. “With Juan Martin it is a nice challenge, he contacted me a few months ago and in Miami everything materialised,” Cordero told Punto De Break, discussing their work together.
“We met, we saw the objectives that he had and the truth is that I saw him very excited. He has a chronic injury, he was operated several times, so we started with all the enthusiasm in the world, with a specific rehabilitation process and, at the same time, physical work.”
While both men have been excited about ‘Project US Open’, the Chilean admitted that it was sometimes tough to put in the world when del Potro’s body limited him. He explained: “It’s somewhat frustrating, the problem is that he hasn’t been able to play for many years, not even train as he wanted, that frustrates and demotivates you.
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But Cordero did reveal that there had been progress for the Argentine, adding: “Look, before he couldn’t go down 30 degrees and now he can go down 40 degrees, we achieved this thanks to specific exercises with the support of his right leg.”
“He can’t jog, for example, right now I can’t do a sprint. But the important thing is to look for different mechanisms, first with the bicycle, the second week we already started to do the elliptical, in the plan it consists of Juan Martin seeing that little by little he is advancing.”
The fitness trainer also addressed del Potro’s hopes of retiring at the site of his only Grand Slam title, admitting that he didn’t want to give any false hope about a last hurrah. But Cordero was also excited as he floated the idea that the US Open could be the start of something instead of the end.
“I don’t like to give false expectations, in tennis you have to be very aware of what you are doing, but I admit that I am very excited,” he said. “Hopefully he can fulfil his great dream, play again in the US Open or be able to retire his way, that is the goal that has been set. For me it is a nice challenge.
“Who knows? If at a certain moment he feels that he still has the conditions to play at a high competitive level, who can take away that illusion? The small goals are fundamental, the level of demand cannot be above the possibilities. We are facing an achievable goal that he can achieve if he works hard, hopefully we are lucky that the pain decreases and the joint can hold up to play tennis.”
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