I thought that getting absolutely no information on Delpo’s probable return to the tour was bad. But the morass of contradictory rumours going around of late is possibly worse.
So today, it was announced that Delpo would play the Thailand Open starting September 24th. (That’s the week after the Davis Cup semi-final which he may or may not be being a unicorn in or around, or not.) It was announced, not entirely coincidentally, by the Thailand Open.
“I am looking forward to playing the PTT Thailand Open on my return from injury,” said Del Potro.
“I really enjoyed myself on my last visit to Bangkok and hope for good results at this year’s tournament.”
So Siam is going to be the witness of the ultimate test of wristular fitness (which thrills me more than any muddy old river or reclining Buddha). It seems plausible enough, given that Delpo had already said that he wanted to be healthy to play in the Davis Cup semi-final or maybe sooner. And the tournament, after all, would have no reason whatsoever to exaggerate the chances of this happening.
But wait! Delpo’s still on the provisional entry list for the US Open. Despite the fact that it’s customary in this kind of situation for players to remain on such a list until shortly before the tournament when they know for sure whether or not they will be able to play, this somehow segued into Delpo being ‘expected’ to play the US Open. When this met with consternation from the intertennisfanpunditnetosphere, the USTA rather huffily backed up its statement by insisting that Delpo was already hitting, according to spokesman Tim Curry. Although this contradicts Delpo’s comments last week that he would only return to the courts after a couple of weeks of strengthening work, the USTA apparently had the information from a member of Delpo’s team.
The only comment I can find is from Ugo Colombini, Delpo’s agent, who said “Del Potro is working and hopefully he will be back soon.” Admittedly I haven’t turned over any every stone, but assuming this is the comment that the USTA is referring to as their source, it seems a bit nebulous to justify this much fuss – unless there’s been a mistranslation somewhere, or the USTA genuinely took ‘working’ as synonymous with ‘hitting’, or, you know, wanted to milk some publicity out of the situation without any particular regard for the player, his fans or the facts.
Am I being too harsh? Probably. I’m sure the USTA had really good reasons for saying what they did and nobody forced the intertennisfanpunditnetosphere to jump on it like they did, after all. Also, I’m 90% sure they’re full of crap and should shut up. (Unless spokesman Tim Curry is actually Tim Curry, in which case all is forgiven, and no, I haven’t seen your tambourine.) We’ll see. But while it seems to be popular to indict Delpo and his team for their lack of communication, I really don’t know if that’s the issue here. Is it that inconceivable that there isn’t a definite return date because he simply doesn’t know when he’ll be able to come back? He hasn’t hit a ball since May. He hasn’t played a match since January. And I don’t care how encouraging his doctor’s reports allegedly were, there’s absolutely no way to know if the wrist will hold up until he actually starts practicing again. What exactly is he supposed to communicate? And wearing as this uncertainty is for the tour and his fans, I’m fairly sure it’s a lot, lot worse for Delpo. I’m sure that he’d love to attempt to defend his US Open title. I’m sure he’d love to play for Argentina against France. I’m equally sure that he has no way to know at this point whether or not he will definitively be able to, or what risks and rewards might potentially be associated with doing so, or whether he’ll be able to play in 2010 at all. And that sucks, but it’s the way it is. So can we just slightly leave him alone to find out?
Anyway. Jorge from FueBuena tweeted earlier that he had spoken to a member of Delpo’s team and confirmed that Delpo wasn’t hitting yet, which was backed up by GRIP magazine and accords with what Delpo said last week. And frankly I would trust their information much further than I could throw the entire USTA right now – and I’m fuelled with anger (and wine). Whatever Delpo’s situation is right now, I hope that all this crap isn’t making it worse.
He’ll come back when he comes back. Unhelpful but true, in the best koan tradition.
In the meantime, reality is what you make of it.
P.S. USTA – to quote C. J. Cregg, “Shut up. You’re annoying.”