US Open 2016: Agony for Venus Williams & Joy for Juan Martin del Potro

Former champions at the US Open, Venus Williams and Juan Martin del Potro experienced a different level of emotions at Flushing Meadows.
Williams, meanwhile, suffered one of the toughest losses of her 20-year career — not capitalizing on a match point in a 4-6 6-4 7-6 (7-3) reverse to Karolina Pliskova — and given her age, 36, one couldn’t help but wonder if it was her final US Open. The way Venus patrolled the court, however, and her grit, indicated that the seven-time grand slam winner still had plenty to offer as a player. Quitting tennis is not her agenda.

She said “I live in the present so I move on… learn from this and I just keep going.”

Williams held the match point at 5-4 in the third set but could not convert, with Pliskova — who won the prestigious Cincinnati tournament last month — saving it with a gutsy swinging volley.

Del Potro beat an ailing Dominic Thiem to reach a first grand slam quarterfinal. His recent upturn in professional career has the 27-year-old and his fans hoping all the injuries are a thing of the past.

There was a moment in del Potro’s clash when the Argentinian’s backers must have been holding their breath.

His career derailed by four wrist surgeries — no other grand slam winner in recent history, perhaps ever, has been hit as hard by injuries — del Potro wanted the trainer at the first changeover. The wrist wasn’t the issue but instead his serving shoulder.

And in the second set, a retirement followed.

It wasn’t the 2009 winner, though, but his younger foe.

Whereas the shoulder complaint to del Potro ultimately seemed minor, Thiem grimaced while striking a shot and the eighth seed called it quits with a knee injury while trailing 6-3 3-2 on center court. He has paid the price for playing too much in 2016.

For the first time since Wimbledon 2013, del Potro — who missed most of the previous two seasons due to his wrist problems — had reached the quarters at one of tennis’ top four tournaments.

You know he meant it, what with all his health issues. He needed a wildcard to play at the US Open since his ranking sat at 142nd.

Del Potro returned to the circuit in February and pulled off a memorable victory at Wimbledon by ousting Stan Wawrinka before tiring against Lucas Pouille — the flashy Frenchman who upset Rafael Nadal on Sunday.

Del Potro truly showed some of his older forms, however, at the Olympics in Rio last month. Spurred on by Argentinian fans who made the short trip to Brazil, del Potro ousted Nadal in the semifinals and almost took the most in-form player in tennis, Andy Murray, to a fifth set in the final.

Del Potro is feeling the love in New York, too.

“I really don’t know what’s going on,” he said. “But we have a good connection, between the New York City people, between the Argentinian fans, the American fans, and I’m really enjoying playing in this stadium. It’s amazing for me.

“I was really sad at home during the last two years when I got the injury to my wrist and I was watching this tournament on TV. But now I’m here again and I will have the chance to play in the quarterfinals. That’s great for me.”

Del Potro, arguably, has the most powerful forehand ever in the men’s game; he ripped one down the line against Austria’s Thiem that drew gasps from the crowd.

Pleasingly for his supporters, he is hitting through his backhands more rather than simply slicing. Slicing eliminates the shock to his left wrist, which has been operated on three times. The next step is to add more pace to the backhand.

Del Potro next battles twice grand slam winner Wawrinka and if he triumphs, Murray looms in the semifinals. Wawrinka, forced to save a match point in the third round, had less trouble Monday despite a third-set wobble.


Tags : Del PotroUS Open 2016Venus Williams

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