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The Tennis Conversation: Juan Martin del Potro on not giving up, Messi in Miami, tequila and Carlitos
The 2009 US Open champion, who was in Cincinnati as an ambassador for Maestro Dobel, is living without pressure.
Published Aug 21, 2023
While Juan Martin del Potro won’t get to play one final US Open, at least this year, the beloved Argentine isn’t closing the door on a farewell sendoff yet. Becoming comfortable with a reality that doesn't involve the daily stresses of being on tour each week, Del Potro is energized to be in the same backyard with one of his nation’s greatest heroes, and striking up collaborations with brands like Maestro Dobel.
The former world No. 3 opened up on his health, new Inter Miami superstar Lionel Messi, tequila, Carlos Alcaraz and more in The Tennis Conversation:
A few days ago, you officially revealed that your knee wouldn’t allow you to play the US Open. How emotional was it this time around to share that news?
DEL POTRO: Emotionally it was really difficult for me, because every time that I speak about the US Opens, it means a lot to myself. At the beginning of the year, I was talking with my team, with my doctors, trying to see the option to be ready for the Open, at least for the last time in my career.
They support me with the idea. At the end, every time that I push hard, my leg, and my knee, and I was trying to push hard, the pain increase a lot in my training sessions. At the end, I don't want to make my knee worse that I have it now. So I decide to quit for this year’s US Open.
One of the qualities that so many people identify with you on is your fighting spirit. It doesn’t sound like you’re giving up on seeing this dream through just yet?
DEL POTRO: I'm going to be treating the knee with a different method in the next few weeks. I don't know what could happen next to me. But the US Open means everything for my heart, for my career, for my life. And if there is a small chance to come back and play one day, I will do 100 percent my best to do it.
We all want that for you. One of the takeaways from the message you wrote addressed quality of life. So I'm just curious on that subject, what makes you smile, makes you want to get out of bed every day?
DEL POTRO: I'm getting used to be at home every day. I don't have any specific routine day by day because I'm not training. So I'm trying to discover by myself this part of the life, which is pretty new for me.
Tennis will end one day and then the life continues. I'm excited to see what is next for me. I'm living without pressure now. And, for me, it's a very good way to manage my daily life.
I enjoy a lot being close with my family, being in Argentina, and spending time in Miami, too. I like the way of the life in Miami now. We have Messi here, which means something special for all the Argentinian people living there.
I was going to ask you about Leo and being in the same city. Do you see this as an opportunity to grow your connection with Messi? Is that something you would like to happen?
DEL POTRO: I [would] love to. Being close to Messi for Argentinian people means a lot. We will hopefully have time to hang out in the future. He just arrived. He's trying to adapt to the new club, the new colleagues, the new house, different life. And he has three kids.
But, for me, it's so nice watching him playing in this league. He's always smiling and he looks very, very happy. I think he deserved to be like that after many years of his career suffering, trying to win the World Cup championship, and finally he got it. Now it's time to enjoy. Sometimes the pressure has to be out and the good things has to come and join this.
I gotta say, respect to those playing footie in Miami during July and August given the humidity that comes with the heat…
DEL POTRO: Yeah, July, August is crazy weather in Miami. I would recommend him to use sunscreen a lot (smiling). But he's enjoying Miami a lot, I think.
What else excites you on the day-to-day? You were in Cincinnati, helping to promote Maestro Dobel, the US Open’s first ever tequila sponsor. What makes this collaboration special?
DEL POTRO: Well, for me, it's an honor. They are maestros of the tequila and I try to be a maestro on the tennis court, and we made a good connection. I like their support in tennis, support in the big events. I'm very proud to help them to grow in the sport as an ambassador. We are doing fantastic things together. We also love to have this brand involved in tennis because when we win a big trophy, we always like to celebrate. And now, with Maestro Dobel tequila, we have the right way to celebrate a good tournament.
On the subject of tequila, do you have a preferred way to drink it? A favorite recipe? Are you more of a sipper? How do DelPo and tequila mix?
DEL POTRO: Well, since I have a lot of Mexican friends, I just drink tequila with anything, with a couple of ice cubes on the glass. They know very well how to drink the tequila. They teach me if I want to taste really, really good tequila, you just take plain with anything and enjoy. For me, it's a little bit strong but I'm getting used to that drink. And I'm starting to like even more in these days.
Love that. Sticking with Cincy for a second, Novak Djokovic was back this year. You two have been connected for a while, shared some incredible battles over the years. When you look back now, how special is it to have shared those memories together as part of such a defining generation within the sport?
DEL POTRO: For me, it's amazing to be part of this era of the tennis. I'm very proud to be close, fighting in the big events, biggest stage, and learning a lot too. And not only Novak, also Rafael and Roger. They were there, showing us to be a good example for the sport life, and for the human being.
They are the biggest players in the tennis history, one of the biggest athletes in the history, too. For me, doing this kind of career that I did, winning good tournaments, winning good matches, means I couldn't say anything bad to myself. I did everything that I can. All my dreams came true and I'm very proud with my career.
I don't have any specific routine day by day because I'm not training. So I'm trying to discover by myself this part of the life, which is pretty new for me. —Juan Martin del Potro
As somebody who knows the game better than anybody, what makes a match-up between Novak and Carlos Alcaraz so good for the sport? The combination of their skills, the bridging of their generations, the fact they are in their own league?
DEL POTRO: First, for the tennis fans, would be great to see them fighting very often. I think people will get crazy watching them playing finals, as they did in Wimbledon. At the moment, they are the two guys playing tennis in another level. You have very good players like Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev, Casper Ruud, many others. But these two players, for me, from my point of view and how I understand the game, they are even better than the rest, for now. I will be watching on TV.
To serve us out: You possess one of the most distinct shots from any era in tennis history with your hammering forehand. On the tour today, whose forehand has your seal of approval and why?
DEL POTRO: I don't know if someone has the hammer now, but I think Carlitos Alcaraz. He hit his forehand really strong too. He has also a potential to hit better in the future years. I'm crazy about his game, about his charisma. I like a lot the way that he moves in the court. And I think he's making very good things for the sport. After the Big 3 moves out, the transition is going to be in good hands with Carlitos, with Jannik Sinner also. These guys has the potential to be at the top for the next years.