Juan Martin Del Potro has some advice for 12-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic as he prepares for a long break from tennis -- stay home and play with the kids.
Del Potro, the 2009 US Open champion from Argentina who has endured long absences while battling nagging wrist injuries, knows all too well the challenge Djokovic faces after announcing last week he would miss the remainder of the year with an elbow injury.
"It's not easy to stop for a long time and come back," Del Potro said. "Many players can play good after a long injury, but they won't play as good (soon after) as they will in the future.
"My advice is to have good times at home with the kids and you will be strong enough when you are ready to come back."
Djokovic and his wife have a two-year-old son Stefan and are expecting another child later this year.
Djokovic, who completed a career Grand Slam by winning last year's French Open, retired from a Wimbledon quarter-final against Tomas Berdych last month due to elbow pain that the 30-year-old Serbian said had bothered him for more than a year.
Del Potro, 28, missed most of the 2010 season with a right wrist injury and almost all of the 2014 and 2015 campaigns with a left wrist injury.
While Del Potro has battled back, he admits his wrists will bother him at times and he must be mindful of his wrists in training.
"My wrist bothers me sometimes with the conditions and the weather. I have to be aware of that," Del Potro said.
"I'm looking forward to playing a few more years. When you get older you must be smart for training. Now I need to work hard. I lose many positions because of my injuries."
The two-time Olympic medalist says his wrists bothered him earlier this season, but "it was nothing I couldn't fix. It was nothing dangerous. It was nothing I can't control."
At the 2016 Rio Olympics, Del Potro was ranked 145th but upset world number one Djokovic in the opening round on the way to a silver medal, adding to the bronze he took in 2012 at London.
Djokovic ousted Del Potro this year at Acapulco, Indian Wells and Rome.
Del Potro tries for his 20th career ATP title and fourth on the Washington hardcourts at this week's Citi Open, where he won in 2008, 2009 and 2013. Nine of the world top 20 are on hand.
"We have so many players in the top 20. For me it's a great challenge to do well in this tournament," Del Potro said. "Young guys are coming on and they hit so strong."
That was once his trademark, although time and injury has kept him from approaching his peak ranking of fourth since 2014.
"I don't think about the ranking," Del Potro said. "I don't care if I'm top 30, top 50. I just want to play tennis."
© 2017 AFP