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By Elena Scuro Photo Credit: Anne-Christine Poujoulot/AFP/Getty Images

In 2009, Juan Martin Del Potro stirred up the ATP, defeating both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer en route to his first Grand Slam title at the US Open. Called “Delpo” by many, he’s been playing tennis since he was 7 years old and winning the Slam in Flushing Meadows was one of his biggest dreams. He’s since overcome a bump in the road in 2010 due to a wrist injury (and surgery that followed) and stormed back in 2011, becoming the ATP’s Comeback Player of the Year. Here are some things you may not know about the tall Argentine: 

1) Soccer Took A Backseat:
As a child, Del Potro reportedly would only play tennis when he wasn't playing soccer. "Now I'm the worst soccer player you'll ever see. I lost all my abilities for that," he said.
2) Childhood nickname: Now called “la Torre de Tandil” and “the tower,” Del Potro’s nickname as a child was “Palito” or “tiny stick.”
3) Building Towers: Del Potro has said if he wasn’t a tennis player he would have pursued a career in architecture.
4) Off To A Roaring Start: In 2008, he became the first player in ATP history to win his first four career titles in as many tournaments (Stuttgart, Kitzbuhel, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.)
5) All In The Family: After winning his first title in Stuttgart in July 2008, Del Potro gave his CLK Mercedes-Benz prize to his sister, Julieta.
6) His Most Stressful Moment: Del Potro has said that when he served on match point in the final of the 2009 US Open, it was “the most stressful moment in my life. I was close to winning my favorite tournament, to fulfilling my dream. It was a difficult moment, but an amazing one."
7) How He Beat The Nerves: Despite being extremely nervous prior to the US Open final, Del Potro found a way to calm himself down: Late-night chats with friends. "The night before the final I was talking all night with my friends, on the phone, friends from Tandil I have known since I was a young boy,” he said. “I couldn't sleep, so I said 'Talk to me all night'. Without that, I would have been very nervous. So we talked for maybe four hours, not about tennis at all."
8) An Unforgettable Reception: At his post-Grand Slam win celebration in Argentina, Del Potro was shocked by the size of the crowd. "My friends told me almost a third of the population of Tandil was there, I will never forget that moment in my life,” he said. It’s true, around 40,000 gathered on the streets. Del Potro was also given the keys of Tandil from the governor.
9) Brotherhood Of Tennis: When he was recovering from wrist surgery in 2010, Del Potro received numerous supportive text messages from other top players, among them Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. "That was a nice signal. It showed they were still thinking of me. That is more important than the actual game. If the others care about you it means you are a good person. For me that's more important than playing good tennis,” Del Potro said.
10) Always In His Memory: After his wins, Del Potro, a Catholic, always does his cross. What could be seen as a sign of thanks is actually a sign of remembrance. "I had a sister who died many years ago, and I believe that she protects me from the sky,” he said.

 

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