There was the crunching serve and the booming forehand. There was the raspy roar of frustration after a lost point or a shanked shot. There was the well-timed fist pump and the long “Come oooonnnn!” to punctuate a winning rally. There was the laughter and the cheers from the happy audience.
More than anything else, it was the sounds, each of them more resonant and resounding with the roof closed, that let you know Juan Martin del Potro was back inside Centre Court for the first time in 1,092 days.
As John McEnroe put it in the BBC commentary booth, after Del Potro let out a long, frustrated holler that nearly shook the old arena, “The bear is coming out of hibernation, slowly but surely.”
After two hours and 44 minutes, the bear had won his second-round match with fourth-seeded Stan Wawrinka, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (2), 6-3. It was the most popular upset—Marcus Willis’ miracle win on Monday aside—of the Championships so far.