Last October was a time Juan Martin del Potro would never forget. It was at the Shanghai Masters. There was a strange move while playing, he hit the court and felt terrible pain. It was a fracture of his right kneecap that took him from the courts for nearly four months.
But now at Madrid, he was happy to return back to his passion and career since the last time playing in February and everyone was glad to see him. The Argentine wanted to ease into the comeback so he decided on playing doubles first, rather than just to play singles than getting burned out right away.
He felt it would give him the court time, experience and stability of playing again without the risk of re-injury. He teamed up with Japan's Kei Nishikori where their opponents were Fabio Fognini and Robert Lindstedt. The fans were noisy and excited to not only see Del Potro back but in the format of a doubles player instead of singles.
The duo won their first round but their second came upon more competition with the experienced duo of Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares. The match went to an opening set tiebreak with Murray and Soares winning. The second was also won by the more experienced team of Murray and longtime partner Soares.
The Argentinian at least had the chance to try playing doubles and not get hurt, which was a big plus. Del Potro decided to go then to singles with his opponent being Rio title holder Laslo Djere. The Argentine's serves were good, followed by good placement of cross courts and down-the-line.
The rallies he had played at times a bit cautiously, which might have been expected. Djere took advantage of that, moving him around. The Serbian won the opening set 6-3. The second set Del Potro had gotten some rhythm back and hit a few down the line, an ace and opened up the court hitting down the middle to win the second set 6-2.
The decider showed the Argentine with a glimmer of his old self winning points on cross courts and moving the Serbian around to find the open court. Games were levelled at 4-all as Del Potro hit a corner for a winner. There were great ball control and stroke movement from him, proving that the ole Delpo was crawling back bit by bit.
But it was the Serbian who had a bit more strategies and was able to play more fluid from lack of an injury history. He won the decider 7-5 and the match 6-3, 2-6, 7-5. Juan Martin del Potro did Madrid on his terms. He started off playing doubles (with Nishikori), but lost in the second round.
Then he went to singles (with Djere) and bowed in three sets. This was his first time coming back from the knee injury that knocked him out of the courts for months but he has proven successful by playing both styles of games and not getting hurt.
Overall, for the Argentine, it's still needed for him to be selective on which tournaments to play and whether to get a partner and play doubles first then singles. It's Juan Martin del Potro's choice and he's made his determined comeback ready to be tried, tested and put his skills out there again.