Juan Martin Del Potro, with Argentina on brink of Davis Cup final, could sit out crucial fifth tie

Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro could sit out a potentially make-or-break Davis Cup semi-final decider against Great Britain on Sunday after playing for eight hours over two days.
Juan Martin del Potro, second right, has played over eight hours of tennis in the past two days to help Argentina to a 2-1 lead in their Davis Cup semi-final with Great Britain. Andrew Boyers / Reuters
Juan Martin del Potro, second right, has played over eight hours of tennis in the past two days to help Argentina to a 2-1 lead in their Davis Cup semi-final with Great Britain. Andrew Boyers / Reuters

Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro could sit out a potentially make-or-break Davis Cup semi-final decider against Great Britain on Sunday after playing for eight hours over two days.

The South Americans lead the reigning champions 2-1 going into Sunday’s reverse singles where three-time grand slam winner Andy Murray is expected to see off Guido Pella.

That would set the scene for the decisive clash which was expected to feature 2009 US Open champion del Potro against Kyle Edmund.

But Del Potro, still feeling his way back after a series of wrist injuries pushed him to the brink of retirement, has said he is concerned for his long-term health after a tiring summer which saw him make the final of the Olympic Games in Rio and the US Open quarter-finals.

“I’m not thinking about tomorrow. First Guido Pella has to play against Great Britain’s No 1 and he could win and close the tie,” said Del Potro who beat Andy Murray in five sets on Friday in a rubber lasting over five hours.

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It was Del Potro’s longest ever match and he was back in action on Saturday partnering Leonardo Mayer in a 6-1, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 loss to Andy and Jamie Murray in the doubles.

“Of course I feel something bothering me with my body but that is normal,” Del Potro, 27, said.

“I didn’t expect to play eight hours in two days. That is enough for me at this moment in my comeback.

“I’m doing great and I didn’t expect to play at this level. I have already beaten the top four guys in the world in the past two months but my biggest aim for this year is to finish it healthy.

“If something were to happen to me in these situations I would be very sad and I want to take care of my health. I fought a lot and spent a lot of time to come back to this situation.

“This is just the beginning of my new career. I want to play for many more years not just a few more matches.”

In the absence of Del Potro, Argentina could call on either Federico Delbonis or Mayer.

Andy Murray has said he still believes Great Britain can book a place in the final.

The holders found themselves trailing 2-0 after the opening day’s singles rubbers with Murray’s defeat to Del Potro followed by Edmund being beaten by Pella.

“I’ll give it my best effort tomorrow. Whether I win or not, I don’t know. But I can definitely guarantee I’ll give it my best effort to win,” Murray said.

“Hopefully I can and it makes it interesting if it goes to a fifth rubber. But I’m not going to be the fresher of the players going in to the match. I’ll be tired. I have to accept that and deal with it and try to play the match on my terms if possible.”

Great Britain beat Belgium in last year’s final while Argentina are trying to reach a fourth final in 10 years.

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Published: September 18, 2016 04:00 AM

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