With his match tied 1-1 in the third set, Juan Martin del Potro did what most tennis players would to in a high-stakes Grand Slam tournament: he watched his opponent carefully, evaluating his every move.
And when he saw his opponent Nicolas Almagro fall onto the court, plagued by a knee-injury mid-match, del Porto sprung into action.
The 6-foot-6 Argentine climbed over the net, kneeling next to the player he had just a few minutes ago been focused on defeating. Del Porto attempted to comfort Almargo and showed a level of sportsmanship praised by the tennis community.
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“I tried to — I don’t know — tried to find good words for that moment,” del Potro said. “I told him to try to be calm. And I told him to think about his family, his baby. And sometimes the heart is first than the tennis match or the tennis life.”
Del Porto has faced a string of medical problems in his own career and said that he understands the pain of injury in a major tournament.
“He was in agony. It was tough,” del Potro said. “I told him that tennis is important, but health matters more than tennis in this case.”
When Almagro regained his footing, the two men embraced, and del Porto sat and chatted with him while Almagro recovered.
Del Porto said he still faces lingering pain from injuries but will face No. 1 Andy Murray in the next round.
“Andy is one of the favorites to win this tournament,” del Porto said. “And now I know his game a lot, but I need to be in good shape and physically be stronger to hold a long match if we play a long match, long rallies.”