Del Potro loses on comeback as retirement looms

Juan Martin del Potro lost 6-1, 6-3 to Federico Delbonis in the first round of the Argentina Open.

Juan Martin del Potro reacts during his match against Federico Delbonis.   -  REUTERS

Juan Martin del Potro lost 6-1, 6-3 to Federico Delbonis in the first round of the Argentina Open on Tuesday, and the injury-hit Argentine bid an emotional farewell to his fans while casting doubt on plans to play next week in Brazil.

Del Potro’s defeat came in his first game since March 2019 and he hung his headband on the net afterwards in what the adoring home crowd and media interpreted as a final farewell. The 33-year old former US Open champion has suffered with a knee injury and told fans on Saturday that this month’s tournaments in Argentina and Brazil would be his last.

However, when asked after the game if he could manage the Rio Open next week, a tearful del Potro was unclear.

“I was planning on it ... but I think ... as I said, I gave everything until the last point and today I hope I can sleep without pain in my leg after two years.”

“That is what I am going to try and do from tomorrow. It’s very hard to play this sport with the discomfort I have. Today I have my whole life ahead of me and I want to live in peace.”

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