Del Potro’s Bad Breaks and How Luck Can Change the Game
In 2009, Juan Martin del Potro had his coming out party in New York when he upset Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer back-to-back to capture his first—and only—Major title.  Del Potro finished the year ranked #5 in the world and seemed poised to enter the conversation as a consistent Grand Slam contender.  Unfortunately, an injury to his right wrist derailed him early on in 2010 and the ensuing surgery caused him to miss most of the rest of the season.

After recovering from surgery, del Potro's results steadily improved as he rounded back into championship form.  He finished 2011 ranked #11, 2012 ranked #7, and 2013 ranked #5.  Along with three consecutive top-twenty finishes, del Potro also bagged ten titles and an Olympic Bronze medal during that three year span.  By the end of 2013, it seemed like del Potro was finally back to form and ready to make some noise again at the big events.

Unfortunately, as many die-hard tennis fans already know, his 2014 hasn't been going too smoothly so far.  After winning in Sydney, del Potro was upset in the second round of the Australian Open and began complaining of pain in his left wrist.  After consulting the doctor who operated on his right wrist, del Potro returned to competition a few weeks ago in Rotterdam with mediocre results, including a straight-sets loss to Ernests Gulbis in the quarterfinals.  This week, del Potro entered Dubai as the #2 seed, but was forced to retire from his first-round match against Somdev Devvarman due to the wrist injury.

I definitely feel bad for del Potro and hope he gets well and gets back to competition soon.  But more than anything, seeing such a talented player struggle with bad luck and injuries makes me appreciate just how many things have to go right for players to have any success—let alone the kind of extended dominance we've seen from some of the world's top players.  There's never much point in indulging all the what-ifs, but consider how different things would be if Roger Federer's back started acting up three or four years ago?  What if Djokovic hadn't been able to overcome his breathing issues?  What if Nadal hadn't been able to rebound from his initial knee issues?  What if Serena's foot injury had been worse?

My point is that sometimes it's a fine line between greatness and mediocrity.  To be among the best in the world, players need talent, discipline and some luck!  So, in hopes of seeing more of Argentina's big man soon, I'm wishing him better health for the rest of his career and—well—good luck!