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Tearful Del Potro nears retirement, exits Argentina Open


Argentine tennis player Juan Martin Del Potro reacts during the ATP 250 Argentina Open tennis tournament tennis match against Argentine Federico Delbonis in Buenos Aires, on February 8, 2022. (Photo by Juan Mabromata / AFP) (Photo by JUAN MABROMATA/AFP via Getty Images)

AFP via Getty Images

BUENOS AIRES -- Juan Martin del Potro lost in what appeared to be a farewell match in front of his home fans at the Argentina Open tournament.

The 33-year-old, who had not played since 2019 due to injuries, was eliminated by compatriot and friend Federico Delbonis 6-1, 6-3 in an emotional match in Buenos Aires. Del Potro was already in tears as the final game unraveled.

The Argentinian said in a press conference he will decide whether he will play at the Rio Open tournament in Brazil next week.

“I will speak to doctors again. I have to take care of my knee and then we will see,” said Del Potro, who did not rule out a full return to the circuit. “I will always leave the window open,” he said.

"(But) if today was the last time I will leave happy,” the Argentinian said.

Once ranked as high as No. 3 in the world, Del Potro told fans after the match his decision was motivated by his health problems.

“This is the moment I hoped would never come,” he said. “I don’t have the strength to go ahead. I gave it all.” Minutes later, Del Potro placed his headband on the net as emotional fans chanted.

Del Potro, who has also won the 2016 Davis Cup and a silver medalist at the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games in the same year, has had multiple wrist and knee surgeries in the past decade.

About 5,000 fans showed up to watch Del Potro, one of Argentina’s best tennis players in history, alongside Guillermo Villas and Gabriela Sabatini.

Delbonis, the 6th seed of the tournament, will face Spain’s Pablo Andujar in the round-of-16 of the Argentina Open on Thursday.

Top seed Casper Ruud of Norway will play on Wednesday against Spain’s Roberto Carballes Baena.