'Giant' - Argentina thrilled by Del Potro's US Open win

'Giant' - Argentina thrilled by Del Potro's US Open win

“New York established a real giant among giants,” said Argentine daily La Nacion Tuesday. “Giant,” said Clarin.

The country’s two most important newspapers referred to Del Potro’s height - he stands 1.98 metres tall - as a match to “the dimension of the feat.”

“Juan Martin del Potro will have a place in history. In the books there is a place for his great conquest, for the greatest feat, for the dream he always had and eventually fulfilled,” La Nacion noted. The sports daily Ole played on New York’s classic slogan: “I love Delpo.”

“Del Potro is Maradona. He is the joy we had been waiting for,” the daily said, amid poor play and great confusion in the national football team. Tandil - a quiet town of 100,000 people about 350 km south of Buenos Aires - became the capital of Argentine tennis, as one of its most famous residents turned into a national icon.

The media spoke of Del Potro, 20, as a leader and a role model, and highlighted his determination, his humility and the effort that led him to lift the trophy Monday in New York. Tandil was getting ready to welcome its tennis hero Wednesday.

“We will welcome him with full honours, as he deserves. We will drive the fire truck to greet him on the road. Then we will drive through the streets and avenues of the city. We will drive past Independiente, the club that saw him rise as a sportsman, and the party will end at city hall,” said Mayor Miguel Lunghi.

From his neighbours to his first coach, countless people emerged in the media to discuss Del Potro’s epic, 32 years after Argentine legend Guillermo Vilas won the US Open. “I am very happy for him, he deserves it. He got over everything that could have happened to him in a tennis match. I am very proud of him and of everything he’s done,” said Marcelo Gomez, the player’s first coach in his native Tandil.

For Argentine Davis Cup captain Modesto “Tito” Vazquez, Del Potro’s performance was “brilliant”. “You don’t win the US Open every day, and all of us who are in tennis are very happy,” the coach said.

Next year Vazquez is hoping to have Argentina’s first-choice Davis Cup team, complete with “Delpo” and with David Nalbandian, to renew the search for an unprecedented salad bowl trophy.

Nalbandian himself said that Del Potro’s success in the US Open “will not only help him and his career, but also the whole of Argentine tennis.”

“I noticed that he improved as the match progressed, but he ended up playing in a spectacular way,” said Nalbandian.

Del Potro overtook him to become Argentina’s number one player, and apparently the two do not get along well. Nalbandian watched the final on television at home, in the Argentine province of Cordoba, where he is currently recovering from hip surgery.

“How far can he get? I don’t know, but he will probably keep growing,” Nalbandian said.
Fellow-tennis player Juan Monaco, also a native of Tandil and a childhood friend of the champion, actually pictures Del Potro at the top of the rankings.

“There is no doubt that he is going to be number one. Still, we should not put pressure on him, we should let him keep growing. Now it’s important for him to stay calm and to keep his feet on the ground,” Monaco said. Del Potro’s coach Franco Davin reaped applause too.

“Everything he touched as a coach became pure gold,” Clarin recalled. He first coached Guillermo Coria, and then he led Gaston Gaudio to the 2004 French Open title. As captain, he took Argentina to the World Group of the Davis Cup in 2001, and now he has led Del Potro to his first Grand Slam title.

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