Juan Martin del Potro announced on Instagram on Monday that he’s undergoing a fourth surgery on his right knee on Tuesday, and that he’s still hopeful to be back on court in time for the Olympics.
Del Potro hasn’t played since Queen’s Club in June 2019, where he slipped near the net during the second set of his first-round match against Denis Shapovalov—he ended up closing it out, 7-5, 6-4, but then withdrew from the tournament after medical exams revealed his right knee was injured.
The Argentine had fractured his right kneecap in Shanghai in October 2018, returned at Delray Beach in February 2019, reaggravated it, then returned again in May, only to re-injure it at Queen’s Club.
This will be his fourth surgery on the right knee. His first one came right after that match at Queen’s Club on June 22, 2019, and he had two more surgeries in 2020, on January 27 and August 26.
“I hope I can overcome this painful situation,” he wrote on Instagram.
“I won’t stop trying.”
And if history is anything to go by, Del Potro certainly has a chance of reaching the top again.
A relatively injury-free Del Potro won his first Grand Slam title at the 2009 US Open and went as high as No. 4 on the ATP rankings in early 2010, only to miss most of the rest of the year with a right-wrist injury (undergoing surgery on it) and fall as low as No. 485 in 2011. He worked his way back up to No. 4 by 2014, but then sat out most of 2014 and 2015 with left-wrist injuries (undergoing three surgeries). He missed nine straight Grand Slams at one point and would drop as low as No. 1045 in 2016.
But that didn’t keep him down, either—he had an unforgettable season in 2018, highlighted by winning his first Masters 1000 title at Indian Wells in March, setting a new career-high ranking of No. 3 in August and reaching another Grand Slam final at the US Open in September.
It’s understandable why Del Potro is hoping to be back for the Olympics, having brought home a medal for Argentina both times he’s played it. He took bronze at London 2012, barely falling to Roger Federer in the semifinals, 3-6, 7-6 (5), 19-17, before beating Novak Djokovic in the bronze-medal match, 7-5, 6-4; and he won silver at Rio de Janeiro 2016, beating Djokovic in the first round, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (2), and Rafael Nadal in the semis, 5-7, 6-4, 7-6 (5), before falling to Andy Murray in a four-set final.
Tennis at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics is currently scheduled to run from July 24 to August 1.