PARIS (AP) — Juan Martin del Potro quickly went from fierce competitor to friendly consoler at the French Open, showing deep reserves of compassion for an opponent who had to stop playing their second-round match because of a knee injury.
Del Potro's own career has been a series of stops and starts because of a series of wrist operations since he won the 2009 U.S. Open. The 29th-seeded Argentine said that helped him empathize with the plight of Nicolas Almagro, who dropped to the clay court, bawling, early in the third set Thursday.
"I hope he's feeling better. I know how sad (he) could feel ... after an injury, because I had a lot," del Potro said. "I wish all the best to him."
Almagro was taken to a hospital, an International Tennis Federation spokesman said.
There were unusual scenes out on Court 2, where Almagro, a 31-year-old Spaniard, had his left leg treated and taped by a trainer.
At 1-all in the third set — del Potro took the first, then lost the second — there was the startling way Almagro paused at the baseline, placed his hands on his knees and shook his head, then fell backward onto the court. He caked his blue shirt with rust-colored clay.
While Almagro was down, the 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) del Potro climbed over the net and walked over to check on someone he's known since they were teenagers in the junior ranks. Del Potro leaned over to talk to Almagro, patting him on the chest.
"I just do what my heart feels," del Potro said.