Del Potro Headlines Wednesday Action
by Sandra Harwitt|
Sony Ericsson Open fans are in for an early treat as Juan Martin del Potro headlines afternoon action on the first day for men’s main draw matches.
DelPo, as his fans have come to call him, is making his first appearance at Crandon Park since 2009. A right wrist injury took him away from the tour for all but three tournaments last year, so this important Miami stop on the ATP Tour calendar is part of the Argentine’s comeback tour.
The good news for the 2009 U.S. Open champ is that with each day he takes to the court he’s looking more like the Grand Slam champion he is. That became very apparent just a few weeks ago when he was playing up the road at the Delray Beach tournament. That’s the very spot where he captured his eighth career title and first winner’s trophy since his surprising U.S. Open victory.
The 22-year-old Del Potro started this season ranked No. 257, a ranking that reflected his inability to play for most of last year. He’s already moved up to No. 51 and is likely to continue his movement in the right direction.
It used to be that taller players like del Potro – he stands a proud 6-foot-6 – would find that height came with advantages and disadvantages. There’s no denying that those less height-challenged have better wingspan: put out your racket arm and catch those passing shots before they pass on by. Nevertheless, tall players used to be considered clunky on the court, never looking fleet of foot.
But, nowadays, lanky players seem to move better and more gracefully. And if you ask del Potro – we did in Delray Beach -- he’ll tell you he feels he’s at no disadvantage being a high and mighty player.
In this first round match, del Potro will play Ricardo Mello of Brazil in a first career meeting between the two.
Mello, 30, has been around the tour since 1999 and hit his career high ranking of No. 50 in 2005, the same year that del Potro turned pro. Interestingly, the Brazilian also won the Delray Beach title, an event that happened in 2004, and it remains his lone career title. Ranked No. 79, the lefty’s best result at the Sony Ericsson Open was three second round finishes.
Mello’s nickname is Papagayo, the Spanish word for parrot. It’s a moniker offered in humor as Mello is hardly a chatty bird – he’s just not the talkative type. But you can bet that Mello is hoping his racket will do some serious talking on court against DelPo.
In this battle of South American next door neighbors, it’s worth remembering that del Potro is 17-5 for the season. And when he walks off court on Wednesday he will be 18-5 and counting.
Get the VIP treatment and go behind the scenes with the 2013 Priceless Experiences Program Presented by MasterCard. Go
This exclusive venue features an upscale restaurant, trendy bar and lounge area which allow guests the opportunity to escape the heat.Go