Juan Martin del Potro def Henri Laaksonen 64 76(3) 76(5)
Just stating the obvious: Juan Martin del Potro is one of the most beloved athletes in tennis. After two-years away, he returned to the sport last season to capture his 19th career singles title in Stockholm, earn Olympic Silver, and lift Argentina to its first Davis Cup title in history.
He hoisted the trophy here in Flushing 8-years-ago, becoming the only player ever to defeat both Nadal and Federer in the same Major. That was several wrist surguries ago. Today, he’s just happy to play; to be able to compete…and both fans and players alike are ecstatic to join him on the journey.
Wednesday’s win over World #94 Henri Laaksonen felt very…disciplined. After the match, Delpo talked about needing to improve his forehand moving forward, his career’s most significant weapon. Watching the match, though, it seemed more like the big Argentine was holding back from his signature right-wing rip, as if to conserve his wrist for the long two weeks. The tie-breaks were the exception. In both, Juan Martin unloaded on the right side to great affect, dispatching Laaksonen in straight-sets.
During the interview, Delpo talked about how it was a dream to come back and play in Arthur Ashe Stadium. He said the best memories of his career come from playing matches in New York, and he implored fans not to make him cry this year. Oddly enough, that seems entirely up to him.