Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin del Potro rediscovered their love for tennis when injuries prevented them from playing and sent their rankings and their spirits plummeting. Djokovic’s elbow had bothered him for two years; he finally chose surgery that cut his 2017 season in half. Del Potro waited years to find the right remedy for searing wrist pain that sapped the impact of his famously fierce forehand. Retirement crossed his mind in 2015. “I been suffering a lot,” the 29-year-old Argentinian said. “I got depressed for couple of months, also.”
Del Potro, who finally got relief from the third surgery on his left wrist, adapted to his circumstances by developing an effective slice backhand. Djokovic, a former world No. 1, had to endure early losses in a string of tournaments early this year – including at Indian Wells – before he prevailed at Wimbledon.
With their struggles behind them, the long-time friends and former US Open champions have an enhanced appreciation for the fates that brought them together to meet at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Sunday for the US Open title, their 19th career meeting but first in a grand slam-final.
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