Delpo Comes Back To Auckland, Eyes Return To Top 10

Argentine faces #NextGenATP Shapovalov in his first match of 2018

Nine years ago, when Juan Martin del Potro marched to his first ASB Classic title, the Argentine was the #NextGenATP of his time. Del Potro was 20 years old, armed with a hammer-like forehand and quickly climbing the ATP Rankings. His 2009 title in New Zealand – then his fifth ATP World Tour title – propelled him to No. 6.

In some ways, much has changed since Delpo hoisted the trophy in Auckland. He's 29 now, far removed from #NextGenATP, and four wrist surgeries have altered his expectations. “If I play healthy all year that would be great to me. I would like to play around 20 tournaments during the season and that will be my first challenge for this year,” Del Potro said in an interview with SKY Network Television (NZ).

But in other ways, it's like 2009 again for the 6'6” Argentine. He still has the thundering forehand, and he's still hovering around the Top 10. Delpo, who's returning to Auckland this week for the first time since his title run, is No. 12 and will rejoin the Top 10 if he wins his second Auckland title.

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“I'm not the rising star anymore after 10 years but it could be a good chance to see how my body is at the beginning of the year, to see how my tennis is before the Australian Open. Also if I do well I will get into the Top 10, which is a good motivation,” Del Potro said.

“I have great memories from 10 years ago when I won the tournament... I'm looking forward to showing my best tennis and enjoying it with the fans, too.”

The ASB Classic will be Delpo's first tournament of the 2018 season. He finished 2017 as if he were a Top 10 player. Delpo went 38-16 on the year but he finished on a 20-5 run. His year-end ranking of No. 13 was his highest year-end finish since 2013 when he finished No. 5.

“I am feeling good. I am in good shape. I've been working hard for four weeks at home,” said Del Potro, who started his off-season in front of more than 1,000 fans in his hometown of Tandil. “I would like to have a complete season this year... My wrists are OK, and I'm having good days on court and I think I will be in good shape.”

Del Potro faces #NextGenATP Canadian Denis Shapovalov on Wednesday night. The 18-year-old Canadian upset Delpo in their only prior FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting, at the 2017 Coupe Rogers in Montreal.

Read More: Shapovalov Beats Delpo To Delight Montreal Crowd

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