"As you can imagine this is a tough moment, it's sad to go through all this once again. I didn't expect this at all..." Juan Martin Del Potro had said after his victory match with Canada's Denis Shapovalov at the Queen's Club.
The opening match at the Fever-Tree Championships was significant for Del Potro since it was his first time back at London for the warm up to play at Wimbledon since last October's injury. It was at the 2018 Rolex Shanghai Masters during Del Potro's third round match with Croatia's Borna Coric that he was running to return a drop shot, tripped and fell onto his knee.
The Argentine was leading in the first set and tried to play a few more games but the pain was unbearable and he retired after Coric's won the opening set 7-5. Del Potro was forced to get surgery for what was diagnosed as a cracked right patella.
After rehabbing for nearly six months he decided to make the Fever-Tree at the Queen's Club his returned tournament in line for the third grand slam of the season at Wimbledon. Everything was going fine as Del Potro entered Center Court at the Queen's Club with his opponent Denis Shapovalov.
He had won the first set 7-5 and doing well in the second set until he slipped and his knee went into a difficult position while trying to return a shot near the net. Del Potro finished the match with 7-5, 6-4 win, but there was pain and swelling in the knee.
Visions of what happened months ago were swirling in Del Potro's mind but he would jump to judgement until after medical tests and discussions with his doctors. Unfortunately, he had re-fractured his right patella again needing surgery as the best situation to fix the knee cap.
This was the second surgery on the same knee in nearly 8 months. In three days Juan Martin Del Potro had undergone surgery in the Crue Bianca Clinic in Barcelona and was deemed to have great results and success. "Hopefully I will have a good recovery.
I hope my knee can heal properly," Del Potro said in concern for his resurgence in maintaining his professional tennis career. Many players have been plagued by the worry and frustrations of being able to return to the court.
What if he won't be able? What if he will try again to return with possibly the same results? If he must call it a career end, what will he do? Despite his recurring knee injury, enduring four wrist operations plus many other injuries, he is remarkably ranked at number 12 in the world.
Delpo has been on tour for 14 years and has accumulated 22 singles titles. The Argentine's first ATP title came in 2008 at the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart. It was against France's Richard Gasquet of whom he defeated in straight sets.
Delpo's last title as of now was last year's 2018 BNP Paribas Open winning his first Masters 1000 title at Indian Wells. The prognosis at this point is difficult to say but could lead to nearly a four-month recuperation and rehabilitation before hitting the courts again.
But the injuries are taking a strain on his body and his emotional health to be honest and realistic. All Delpo can think about now is "If that match was the last one of my career, that I don't know. During rehab, I will be able to think clearly.
I will know what my body is able to do." The most difficult part isn't what his body can or cannot do, but be wise enough to accept it and take the next step, whatever it is to heal and be pain-free again.