Del Potro targeting fitness, not second slam title


Miami (AFP)

Juan Martin del Potro insists staying fit and being able to compete is far more important than winning his second grand slam.

The big-hitting Argentine arrived at this week's Miami Open having brilliantly defeated Roger Federer, the current world number one, in a thrilling Indian Wells final last Sunday.

Seeing del Potro lift his first ATP Masters 1000 trophy boosted his excitable legion of fans who feared the 29-year-old would never be able to mix it with the very best after a succession of injury setbacks almost forced him into retirement in 2015.

Del Potro has undergone four wrist surgeries which tempered a talent that memorably came to the fore in 2009 when he stunned Federer at the US Open in to win his first major.

The 2018 season has started encouragingly: a triumph in Acapulco before conquering in the Californian desert are reassuring signs that his travails could be finally behind him.

Del Potro, however, has suffered too much pain and heartache over the last few years to be getting ahead of himself.

"I'm not thinking too much about the slams," he told AFP.

"I'm just enjoying the moment. I know what I have been through to get this time and this place and this ranking.

"I am still calm, you know. I came here to play another tournament. It will be my fourth tournament in a row. I'm tired. And mentally and physically it's not easy to deal with all of these emotions, no?

"But then I will have a break, I will see what tournament we play on clay, because my body feels that surface, and I want to stay healthy during the whole season. That's my biggest goal. Then I will see if can still surprise myself and see what can I do."

Currently ranked sixth in the world and with the likes of Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka both making their way back from injury, the door is open for the Argentine to move closer to the leading pack.

Yet just being back on a tennis court is enough for del Potro right now.

"I always say the ranking number doesn't change or doesn't mean too much to me," he said.

"I was number 1000 few years ago, and now I'm number six. I have good chances to keep growing but I'm not thinking about that.

"I'm enjoying to play tennis again. I like to play tennis in front of all my fans here in Miami and not think this too much, to enjoy, and I think it's enough to me for this time of my life and see.

Del Potro, who will face Dutchman Robin Haase in the second round in Miami, still needs to monitor his wrist problem closely to ensure there are no further debilitating setbacks.

"I'm doing treatments every day, every time, twice a day," he revealed.

"I hit the ball on Tuesday for 40 minutes. I will practice this afternoon. But that's it. Then I need to do treatments to recover my legs, my back, my wrist, and face all my body to be 100% on Friday."