RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) – Fresh off his Olympic silver medal, 2009 U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro will return to Flushing Meadows for the first time in three years after receiving a wild-card invitation from the U.S. Tennis Association on Tuesday.
Del Potro missed 2½ years' worth of major tournaments because of three operations on his left wrist, returning to Grand Slam action at Wimbledon in June.
His ranking was too low to gain direct entry into the field at the U.S. Open, the year's last Grand Slam tournament, which starts in New York on Aug. 29. He is 141st this week.
On Sunday, del Potro lost to Andy Murray in the men's final at the Rio de Janeiro Games, getting a silver to add to the bronze he won for Argentina at the 2012 London Olympics. It was quite a run for del Potro in Brazil: With his terrific forehand in top form, he stunned 12-time major champion Novak Djokovic in the first round and 14-time major champion Rafael Nadal in the semifinals.
"If he stays fit," Murray said about del Potro, "there's no reason why he can't be up at the top of the game."
Seven years ago at age 20, del Potro beat five-time U.S. Open champion Roger Federer in five sets in the U.S. Open final and was considered the next big thing in tennis. But soon afterward, del Potro developed problems with his right wrist. Then came the issues with his left wrist, which he uses for a two-handed backhand.
"He's done amazing, really, to get back to playing and competing again at this level after all of the issues he had with his wrists," Murray said Sunday night. "Mentally, I can only imagine how frustrating that must have been, to kind of keep going through the same problem and having to try and come back."
Among the players on the list of wild-card recipients announced Tuesday by the USTA were two Americans who earned mixed doubles medals in Rio: gold medalist Bethanie Mattek-Sands and silver medalist Rajeev Ram.
Other men receiving wild cards: Bjorn Fratangelo, Frances Tiafoe, Mackenzie McDonald, Michael Mmoh and Ernesto Escobedo.
Women given entry into the field: Danielle Collins, Kayla Day, Lauren Davis, Sofia Kenin, Vania King and France's Virginie Razzano.
The USTA also handed out wild cards for qualifying, including to surprise 2009 U.S. Open quarterfinalist Melanie Oudin of Marietta, Georgia, and Laura Robson of Britain.