Juan Martin del Potro copies Novak Djokovic and Federer in desperate bid to save career

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Injury-hit Juan Martin del Potro has followed in the footsteps of some of tennis’ greatest players in the hope of saving his professional career. The Argentine has spent much of the past three years on the treatment table, with a recurring problem in his knee continuing to prevent his return to the top.

Del Potro was one of the top players in the world for many years, but his nightmare began in October 2018 when he fractured his patella.

The next three years would be difficult for the 2009 US Open champion, who has barely been able to play any tennis since.

He made a brief but much-heralded return to action earlier this month in an appearance at the Argentina Open.

The 33-year-old was quick to stop fans getting their hopes up too soon, as he admitted on the eve of the tournament that it was likely to be “more of a farewell than a return”.

Despite showing some flashes of brilliance, he lost in his first match in straight sets against compatriot Federico Delbonis in front of a packed crowd in Buenos Aires.

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Del Potro was in tears at the end, before hanging his trademark bandana on the net as a possible farewell gesture and hugging his mother, who had come to watch him play live for the first time ever.

“Possibly we may not meet again,” he then told the crowd, adding: “I will speak to doctors again. I have to take care of my knee and then we will see.”

it seems those discussions with doctors have yielded one more opportunity for the Argentine, as he is set to undergo another medical procedure in a bid to save his career.

He has already had four surgeries on his troublesome knee, seeking help from professionals in Barcelona, Miami, Bern and Chicago in the past.

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Argentinian news outlet La Nacion now reports he has travelled back to Switzerland for one final try.

Del Potro is at the Rennbahnklinik in Muttenz, on the outskirts of Basel, for his latest medical procedure.

The “first sports clinic in Switzerland” has been running for more than 40 years and describes itself as “a leader in holistic care for active people”.

By seeking help from the experts at the Rennbahnklinik, del Potro follows in the footsteps of the likes of Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Stefanos Tsitsipas who have all been treated there in the past.

The centre also works with Swiss Olympians and players from the FC Basel football team.

While he has avoided coming across as too optimistic, del Potro did not fully close the door on continuing his career after losing in Buenos Aires.

Shortly after his defeat, he said: “There are cases of players in tennis who close the shutter and then miraculously come back for one thing or another. I will always leave that window open.

“If tonight was the last, I was happy. But who wouldn’t want to feel that again? Now tennis is on the sidelines until I try to improve my leg. If I can do it, I’ll see.”

The Argentine will no doubt take inspiration from Andy Murray, who is working his way back up the rankings having undergone two hip surgeries and competing with a metal implant.

Spanish player Pablo Andujar’s story will be another source of optimism – he had multiple procedures on his elbow, including at the Rennbahnklinik, and has continued to play.

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