The newly-crowned US Open champion Juan Martín del Potro waves from a fire engine at people gathered to see him on September 17, 2009, following his arrival in his hometown Tandil, a city of 120,000 inhabitants in Buenos Aires province. Del Potro, who defeated tennis world number one Roger Federer in the final of the US Open, has enjoyed a meteoric rise through the ranks over since he emerged in 2006 from the tennis centre of Tandil, which also produced Mariano Zabaleta and Juan Monaco.
He had a lot of opportunities to pack it in on that Monday evening in Queens – down a break in the second and receiving to stay in the set, or up a break in the 4th and giving it back before serving to stay in the set.
But he didn’t.
Because he is, if nothing else, tough as nails and supremely determined. The fact that he won two of his sets in tie-breaks is an indication that the mental resolve to stay in the moment and struggle for a result is reminiscent of the very pantheon of men he seeks to join and maybe even take for his own one day…maybe.
For all his technical prowess, hitting his strokes with massive power and direction on both sides, with consistency and steely resolve, one thing missing from his game that makes me wonder how long he’ll be able to continue generating the results he had in the 2009 US Open, is the plan B.
Arriving at La Bombonera stadium before the Argentine First Division match between Boca Juniors and Godoy Cruz in Buenos Aires, September 20, 2009.