At one point, a young man seated just behind the court, leaned forward and shouted, “Delpo, thanks for coming back.” Del Potro did not answer the fan directly, but responded in his own way. He skipped to the baseline, shadowboxed a two-handed backhand and then took a loopy forehand delivered by Sock and crushed it cross court into the far corner. Then he turned and smiled ever so slightly.
“I have such a high level of respect for him,” Sock said after the session. “He’s one of the good guys in the locker room. And for him to win a Grand Slam, be out for a long time and then come back the way he did last year, well, you have to respect that.”
At 28, del Potro has found a tennis contentment he never thought possible when he was home in 2015, watching “The Simpsons” and “Breaking Bad” on television instead of playing tennis. Del Potro, the 2009 United States Open champion and former world No. 4, is now ever mindful of the frailty of his body.
“I got exhausted after the Davis Cup final,” said del Potro, who fought back from two sets down for the first time in his career to defeat Cilic, 6-7 (4), 2-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-3, while competing with a broken left pinkie finger sustained early in the fifth set.
“I just couldn’t recover and be competitive so I decided to stop and do a preseason,’’ he said. “I’m healthy at the moment and that’s important to me. I just want to play tennis whenever I can and wherever I can.”
One of the new fitness regimens del Potro has added is yoga, which he practices every morning, more to gain flexibility and strengthen his wrists than for anything else….