Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Earlier this week, 2009 U.S. Open champ Juan Martin del Potro was spotted back on a tennis court with a racquet in his hand.
That's very good news for the sport, especially if you're interested in seeing someone other than Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer nail down a major tournament.
The 21-year-old "Delpo" has missed just about all of this 2010 campaign because of a lingering right wrist injury that required surgery in May. The 6-foot-6 Argentine star hasn't played an ATP match since losing to Croatia's Marin Cilic in the fourth round at the Aussie Open more than six months ago.
The big-hitting del Potro was riding a 10-match Grand Slam winning streak before falling at the hands of Cilic back in January.
Delpo stunned the tennis world last September when he came from behind to beat the then-reigning five-time champion Federer in the men's final at the U.S. Open. And his semifinal victim there was Nadal, as he became the first- ever player to slay both Roger and Rafa in the same major.
The Tandil native has been a top-10 stud since 2008, as he possesses one of the biggest games on the planet. Del Potro flat-out mashes all of his strokes -- forehand, backhand, serve, whatever. He was a three-time winner and five- time finalist on the tour last year, which, in addition to his U.S. Open victory, included a run into the final at the prestigious year-ending ATP World Tour Finals, where, unfortunately, he lost to determined Russian star Nikolay Davydenko, who has also missed time with a wrist injury this season.
|U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro has been sidelined with a wrist injury since January.|
Of course it is.
Did You Know?: Del Potro tallied the second-longest winning streak in 2008, and the second longest by a teenager in the Open Era (behind only Nadal), when he rattled off 23 straight match wins over a five-tournament span.
Delpo, who has reached at least the quarterfinals in four of his last six Grand Slam events, is currently ranked seventh in the world (due to the inactivity) after entering '10 as the No. 5 dude on the planet. He was ranked as high as No. 4 in January.
And JMdP's the only player not named Nadal or Federer to capture a Grand Slam title since the spring of 2008. (Time to pick-up the pace, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray).
Since Djokovic captured the '08 Oz Open, Nadal and/or Federer have accounted for nine of the last 10 major titles. And the Nadal-Federer domination dates back much further than 2008...that's for sure.
When Delpo stunned the Fed at last year's Open (the U.S. one), he halted the supreme Swiss' unrivaled 41-match Open Era winning streak in the Big Apple, where Roger is a tremendous 51-5 overall. (Delpo's 13-3 at the Open?)
Last month, the USTA said that del Potro was "expected to return to Grand Slam competition" this month, August.
But Delpo's trainer wasn't so sure at the time.
"Nothing is sure," Diego Rivas said, less than two weeks ago. "The goal is to return in Bangkok."
The Bangkok event, which believes that JMdp will make his return to the tour there in Thailand, starts in the last week of September, about two weeks after the Open concludes.
Will del Potro be ready in time to defend his title in New York?
Who knows ... not even Delpo at this point.