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Can Delpo return to his pre-injury form – ever?

Posted by tennisplanet on July 19, 2010

Granted many tennis players and athletes have had injuries in the past. Some knuckleheads have even played through them just to be called a ‘maverick’. Kobe? Most however take a break, go through surgery / rehab etc. and return to form quite close to the one they left with – sometimes matching it if not exceeding it. Delpo has taken the first step – wisely / had no choice. But can he produce the brilliance even close to the US Open exploits? Under normal conditions it would be the ‘wait and see’ protocol – with heavy leaning towards ‘complete’ recovery.

But these aren’t regular conditions, are they? And what makes it so? Could it be the part ‘infected’? Wrist is not like most other body parts. It could easily qualify as the most fragile component of a tennis player’s anatomy. Unless you can switch hands on the fly, you are grounded until the thing heals like freaking totally. All that when there’s an injury which just requires some rest or TLC. But if it’s a surgery, you jump a whole new chariot. Not enough? How about if your bread and butter IS crushing the ball to nth degree? Now, not only are you on that chariot but Ben Hur is running his sharp wedgie into your spokes to bring you down like yesterday.

Translation: For Delpo to produce the ‘US Open’ magic, he needs his extreme power from both wings just as badly as Nadal needs his picking – from one wing (that we know of). Lame.

It’s hard to imagine ANYONE duplicating that kind of brute force after ANY surgery – leave alone one involving the wrist. Maybe Delpo needs to switch to soccer now until the wrist of that sport – ankle – goes under the knife. Either that or he has to improve the rest of his game so drastically that it more than compensates for the void. If he stupidly continues as if nothing ever happened, look for another Nalbandian – with a Slam – to emerge.

So what’s the best option? Hire Aunt Tony and switch hands instead – in return for never standing in the way of his nephew – until the left wrist breaks, that is. I know we have wheel chair event but is there something with the ankle – yet? It can happen.

Whether all this actually happens or not, it certainly must be the focus of intense debate at the Nadal camp at least for the US Open prospects if not for the rest of his career. With the lop sided destruction of Soderling, Murray and Berdych, Delpo is indisputably the ONLY hurdle on Nadal’s highway leading to the castle named GOAT – on any surface – yeah including that dirt.


20 Responses to “Can Delpo return to his pre-injury form – ever?”

  1. M said

    I’d like to think he will be able to — if he follows his doctor’s instructions, and doesn’t try to return to play prematurely.

  2. Jenny said

    So hard to predict Delpo’s future as to whether he will stay consistently at top of the game, wrist injuries and subsequent surgery, any surgery on a top athlete is not good news and he’s still so young. I mean we’re not talking a broken wrist which is bad enough, but there tends to be a weakness after serious trauma, I know from myself. I wish Juan Martin well, it’s been horrible for him. I don’t think Safin really got back to form after his knee surgery, so many great players past and present who have never got back to their previous best who have been in similar positions.

    • M said

      I don’t think Safin really got back to form after his knee surgery, so many great players past and present who have never got back to their previous best who have been in similar positions.


      So true, Jenny. Marat’s said so himself. And we wait even now for so many greats to return from injury.

      I’ve always been the cockeyed optimist; I was really intrigued finding out about the (apparently state-of-the-art) treatment some players are receiving to improve the knee tendinitis, which allows them to return to play sooner than they otherwise could. And I know the athletes on campus always had access to much more new and advanced forms of medicine than us lay folks (though we dancers did get some special stuff), so I’m hoping since the athletes always seem to get the best stuff, that they’ll get stronger more quickly and return with less downtime than our heroes have had to suffer in the past.

      That said, it really does seem that higher injury rates and “treetop syndrome” do seem to go together …

      • Jenny said

        I’m intrigued with this ‘state of the art’ treatment too, if it works and surgery can be avoided, I’m all for it. I was always worried when Rafa had laser treatments some years ago, I don’t know how that worked, presumably it did at the time, so it would be wrong for me to criticise it because of ignorance. Juan Martin does seem more prone to injury than the other ‘treetops’. Those past and current surgery victims were never over tall. Roger has been lucky thus far, and so has David, but then he’s small, apart from his legs and forearms, is relatively light and has always played lots of tourneys. Same as Davydenko, he hasn’t fared so badly during his career, and he looks almost skeletal. By the same token, Gilles Simon is 5’11”, as thin as a reed, weighs less than David and look at the problems he’s had with his knees these past months. There’s no real pattern that I can see.

    • banti said

      Jenny any wrist injuries to players in the past come to mind ? I mean maybe comparing how others have recovered from similar injuries will tell much. Can’t see a wrist as something that can’t be overcome. I’m thinking a knee injury or surgery is 100 times worse, maybe i’m wrong.

      • Jenny said

        Obviously the knees and hips are weightbearing joints, so has a different impact, but the wrist is equally as important. Other players who have had wrist surgery – just off the top of my head, Nicolas Keifer a former #4 who was never really a power player, but played with variety and guile, and Nicolas Almagro who broke his left wrist a couple of years ago. Davydenko broke his wrist fairly recently, but I don’t think he had surgery. As you know many players have had wrist problems which have sidelined them, including Venus. Tommy Haas seems to have had surgery to various parts of his body.

      • Jenny said

        Haas a former #2 never really got back to his ranking and Coria a former #3 had to retire prematurely, both had been under the knife. Sharapova has never been her best since shoulder surgery.

      • Phil said

        Knee surgery can be devastating, and in my opinion is the worst a tennis player can undergo. I can’t think of any player returning to their best after knee surgery, though there are various examples of guys coming back from almost every other procedure (Agassi for wrist, for example).

        I remember hearing Safin’s coach commenting once that he was never the same after his knee surgery. Even though the joint was back to 100%, he could never psychologically shake the surgery and apparently always hesitated really pushing off on the knee (I think it was his right one).

  3. Manal Ismail said

    hahaha on Nadal and his picking habit!

  4. Phil said

    I might be in the minority here, but I reject the whole “his wrist fell apart because he’s so tall and hits so hard” theory. Delpo’s current situation is entirely his own fault. He had wrist problems after the US Open last year, and NEVER let it heal fully before playing again. He kept taking short breaks, letting the wrist rest for a few weeks, but it never was 100%. Wrist problems are fairly common for tennis players, and the solution is always to let it heal the second it starts. He didn’t, so this surgery was, in my opinion, preventable, and has nothing to do with his “brute power.”

    • Jenny said

      I reject that theory too, Phil. It hasn’t happened in abundance to other tall power players or those regular guys with power, as I stated previously. Pain is a warning sign in anyones book which needs to be taken seriously, if these guys ignore it or choose to play on when pain first strikes, it’s at their peril and responsibility, they will ultimately pay the price, and we all know Delpo isn’t the only one to do this! Gonzo has brute power in his arms, as Stefanki once quoted ‘nuclear’, he isn’t a treetop, hasn’t had wrist problems I’m aware of, but it’s his chronic knee tendinitis that’s eventually caused his loss of form and now he’s been sidelined for weeks.

      • Phil said

        Very true. And if you look closely, the biggest hitters on tour don’t use that much wrist in their shots anyway. Gonzalez, Soderling, Delpo etc. hit VERY flat, unlike people such as Federer, Nadal, Cilic, Murray, Djokovic etc, who tend to use much more wrist to get tons of top spin on the ball. If anything, brute power on the forehand side should equate to less tension on the wrist, whereas heavy topspinners put much more tension on the joint.

      • Jenny said

        Good points, agreed.

      • Jenny said

        Actually, I’ve often wondered why Federer has been so fortunate in the wrist department thus far.

    • Phil said

      Well obviously his careful scheduling plays a large part, but I think it also has to do with his grip. I believe he uses more of an Eastern grip on his forehand, and he uses extreme “whip” on his wrist to get the top spin he needs. The impact is less strenuous and easier on the wrist than doing the same thing with a Western grip, which almost everyone else uses on the forehand side. (Actually, as far as I know Fed is the only one using this grip at the moment, at least of the top guys).

      • Jenny said

        Interesting points about Fed’s grip and I bow to your expert knowledge on this, Phil. I agree about the careful scheduling, but as I recall, he played far more smaller tourneys when he was younger which would make sense as a young, ambitious player on the rise.. It would be interesting to back-track to say 1999/2000/2001/2002. Possibly our colleague Sergeant, or anyone else may find this of interest if they have time 🙂

      • Phil said

        True, he did play much more when he was younger. He has been lucky on the whole.

        Very few people have pointed this out, but Federer’s grip is actually insanely difficult to play with in today’s game. I’ve tried to emulate it, and when you time it just right the ball really does fly beautifully, but the timing required to do so consistently is inhuman. The more traditional Western forehand is much more forgiving. This is why, when Fed is playing poorly, he frames a ton of balls, because there really isn’t that much margin for error on his shots.

        At first I thought I was just not good enough to play with a grip like that, but after talking to many coaches and kids playing elite juniors, it is apparently just insanely difficult. It’s a shame that such a technical marvel isn’t highlighted by commentators more often.

      • Jenny said

        Thanks for the grip info, Phil.

      • Sir Vibhudi Aatmapudi said

        Great observations Phil. I use the semi-western forehand grip on a Wilson N-Code N Tour 85 simply because it seems more natural to me. No strain on the wrist. You are right about shanking forehands with this grip when the timing is off; especially with a smaller frame. I used to wonder why that happened, now I know. The only time I switch to eastern is when taking a high-looping ball on the half-volley near the baseline. Again, this is because it seems to be the best suited grip to effectively get the ball back in play.

      • Phil said

        No worries Jenny. I think it’s good to get into the technical details sometimes. It just gives one a greater depth of appreciation for what these guys do.

        @Sir Vibhudi Aatmapudi…Yeah it’s especially difficult with a heavy, small frame like that. Your timing just needs to be superb every time or you’ll shank the ball into the stands on a regular basis. It’s funny, but Fed seems to make his life as difficult as possible (small frame, difficult grip), but still makes it look so easy.

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