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"Climbing the Comeback Mountain with the Tower of Tandil."

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The Year of the Elf

Posted by gauloises1 on December 20, 2009

Spot the Elf:

I’ll give you a clue: he’s really rather tall.

Delpo was featured by both El Pais and Gente as one of their ‘people of 2009’.

There’s also a nice interview with him in Gente, which some kind soul on MTF translated (under the cut ….)

Only 21 years old, he heads the list of Argentina and is one of the greatest promises of international tennis. Winner of the U.S. Open 2009 and the Masters Tournament finalist, He is fifth in the world´s ranking. His rivals praise him and say “is the future number one.” However, the Tandilian of 1.98 meters in height and Boca fan does not hurry, “I have a long way to go.”

My first image that I remember is when I was four, and in the backyard of my house with a leather soccer ball that my grandfather gave me. I ran all over the yard, shouting Márcico Beto’s goals. At that time I did not understand why, but half the town of Tandil was ornamented with blue and yellow flags. Eventually I found out: after eleven years, Boquita had become a champion and the country was convulsed! Meanwhile, I was hitting the ball against that imaginary arc armed with two pots, I opened his arms and screaming my lungs goals. But as often happens when you trust … Did not enter the last ball! The ball passed up the vase, uproot my mother´s plant, hit the window glass and the referee awarded the match. Mom flew out of the kitchen and said, ‘Enough, it’s over! From today I will inscribe you in the club! If you go on like this you’re going to tear down the house! ‘. And what at first seemed a challenge ended as one of the most beautiful and important things in my life, “says Juan Martin Del Potro, exclusive to PEOPLE, while packing his bags to enjoy a relaxing holiday.

SOCCER AND TENNIS. When he went to prove to Independiente de Tandil, his height was decisive: “You’re going to play nine or above. If you learn to pitch, we win every game by a landslide, “was the first thing he said that the Vasco to that kid with blond, very straight hair and green eyes, with shy eyes, said he nodded and sight nailed to the floor. But soon, by dint of desire, he settled in the middle of the field. “He was a head taller than us, and when he got went as a five, he eat all the rivals. No one passed. Such was the difference that fathers and mothers of the opposite teams wanted to see his ID, they could not believe it he had that age … ‘I saw him shaving in the bathroom! “, Said some parents as a joke,” remembers Matias from Tandil, who was a teammate of Juan Martin and also played the central midfielder. Over the time they went to play on a court of eleven players, and the midfielder that everyone compared with Marangoni striker became top scorer of the team.

The Independent football field was always at the back of the club and is still there. To enter you must pass through the tennis courts and the Walls. Often, Juan was caught in the wire, hoping the ball goes out. Until a cloudy afternoon the miracle happened: “One of the boys sent it so high that the ball left the court and fell very close to where I was. I went to fetch her, but instead of returning it with my hand I hit with my foot and fell right where I wanted to send. I thought if I could hit well with my foot, with my hands would be much easier. When i finished football practice, mom came to pick me and i said ‘I also want to play tennis! “. For her it was a relief. The next day he spoke with the teacher and then pulled with the racket. ”

All Tandil knows that for a boy to begin to play tennis he must have to go see the Negro Marcelo Gomez. And Patricia, the mother of Juan Martin, did not hesitate: “The boy plays football in the club and now wants to learn tennis. The truth, I can’t tolerate him any more at home … He breaks all the floors, walls and windows! And if now he wants to play tennis, He will use as a fronton my walls. So I want you to teach him, and he can do both” She said. Marcelo hardly keep from laughing. And what began as well as a burst of energy, eventually became a phenomenon.

Soon, Delpo began to stand out from the rest of his teammates “for his commitment. While we were playing in the pool, Juan was training under the sun, on double shifts: At the morning soccer, and tennis at the afternoon. Something very strange for a boy of that age, “says Nicholas, his teammate at midfield.

Of course, the effort gave victories soon. At age 8 he started playing in national tournaments, despite facing two years older boys, the difference is not noticeable. “He had natural talent for football and tennis. He played as a nine and was a top scorer, and with the racket He did incredible things. Moreover, everything he learned was mastered it very quickly. When I saw the potential he had, I talked with her parents and began to work differently. We were really on top of him, thinking of preparing it as a top player. And he, of course, helped. At eleven he quit football and said, ‘I want to be a professional tennis player’. I could not believe it was realized that to reach the summit had to abandon one of the things he loved most: playing football … “remembers Marcelo Gomez, the man who discovered Mariano Zabaleta, Juan Monaco, Maximo Gonzalez and Diego Junqueira, among other members of the Phenomenon Tandil.

ROAD TO THE TOP. “Everything that happened to me this year was very strong … (Juan Martin makes a long silence and remembers moments of his childhood). For my physical, the Negro Gomez told me that i was an ideal player for hard court. I started playing on cement and I was excited. So much that at nine years and I dreamed of winning the U.S. Open and be back to my city standing on a fire engine. Seriously! Do not ask me why, but I was so … And suddenly, when I was fifteen, I was in the United States as a sparring partner of Roger Federer, the world´s number one.It was at a definition of a tournament and he asked some boys to play ball with him. I looked and could not believe it. So, this year to enter at the Arthur Ashe Stadium to play my first Grand Slam final against Federer, was like closing a circle. I fought against him, seeking his sixth consecutive title in New York, but against my own fantasies. ‘Can I win my first Grand Slam at the man who for years was my mirror? ” I thought. The night before the game, since I could not sleep, I was chatting with friends. The next day, when his last return went long, I realized that it … Could beat him … and I won! “.

THE SKY IS THE LIMIT. This quote, made in USA, seems be created for him. For that feat on the hard courts of Flushing Meadows would not be the only one. “He still can not find his roof, but will be the world number one,” said Rafael Nadal. And he didn’t go wrong: qualified for the grueling Masters Tournament for the second straight year, returned to beat Federer, who continues as Number One, and lost the final against Nikolay Davydenko-unquestionably a great player, more from exhaustion than by level of play . And even after that defeat, the praise of his peers did not stop. “He can get to where he wishes. I’m surprised, because every day he is playing better. He soon will be number one, “said Federer, the Switzerland´s Machine. “He won the U.S. Open and is playing to be. I would not talk of a possible future. Juan Martin is present, ” said Rafael Nadal. “It’s a great player, and very difficult to overcome,” said Novak Djkovic. “It will be for many years in the top ranking,” predicts Fernando Verdasco.

Meanwhile, the man who surprises with its 1.98 meters (the same height as Emanuel Ginobili), slumps in his chair, and before he finish assembling his bags for the holidays, says: “I’m a bit tired. Many years ago I’ve been doing this, and when reaching the last month of the year takes its toll on the body. But I’m really happy. Luckily we were able to meet all the targets which we had with Franco (Davín, his coach) and now I just want to relax, to recharge my batteries and start a full preseason. ”

– On December 24 at night, when the toast will be done, to become world number one will be among your desires?
“Everyone that ever held a racket always want to become world´s number one. Yes, one of the wishes will be that. But not the principal. I will pray for my family, so everyone is fine, because what I am, I owe to them. With the support of Patricia, my mother, Daniel, my dad and my sister Juliet, I cannot fail!

“The feeling is that from the outside they are more impatient than you …
“I still have a long way to go. I’m not at the top level, but this year I proved I can play as an equal to anyone. But I got my roof.

Del Potro´s best is yet to come.

4 Responses to “The Year of the Elf”

  1. Maria said

    Well done Elf! 😀 That cheered me up no end this morning. He’s between the T and the E. Firstly wanted to lick my screen because of the pic, then I wouldn’t stop smiling after reading the article. Like drinking mulled wine, feel all warm inside. Reason I’m babbling on is because am slightly drunk, apologies. Love the image of naughty Juan breaking things around the house with a football.

    Love this:
    ‘Everyone that ever held a racket always want to become world´s number one. Yes, one of the wishes will be that. But not the principal. I will pray for my family, so everyone is fine, because what I am, I owe to them. With the support of Patricia, my mother, Daniel, my dad and my sister Juliet, I cannot fail!’

  2. mrdarnley said

    Such a nice article and love the kid photo of him. Where do you find this stuff Gauloises? Truly an amazing feat of scrawling through the internet. Merry Christmas to you and all new ballers!

  3. naughty T said

    there are no lengths that our beloved G won’t go to and no level she won’t stoop too to bring us all that Elven goodness. We love her filthy internet trawling. … and god bless you one and all… It’s the most wonderful time of the year… or so I am given to believe.

  4. irefusetotellyou said

    I never get enough of his awkward-looking pose-y poses. Although I’d cringe think of what Tyra would say. (YOU’RE NOT SMILING WITH YOUR EYES!)

    Also, “‘Enough, it’s over! From today I will inscribe you in the club! If you go on like this you’re going to tear down the house!”

    HAAHAHA. I will inscribe him any day of the week.

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