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“You were the first pro to ever sign a ball for me” Frances Tiafoe posts an emotional tribute for Juan Martin del Potro

Frances Tiafoe puts up a classy post to pay tribute to his childhood idol Juan Martin del Potro who is set to retire from tennis after long injury battles.

Juan Martin del Potro and Frances Tiafoe

Ever since Juan Martin del Potro announced that he is considering retirement and potentially played his last match in his first-round defeat at the 2022 Argentina Open, tributes have been pouring in for the former World No. 3 and of the humblest guy on the Tour known for his sportsmanship and following the spirit of the game.

It was an emotional affair on the Court Guillermo Vilas where the wildcard entrant del Potro took on 6th seeded Federico Delbonis in his first match since 2019. While Delbonis picked up a 6-1, 6-3 win over the 2009 US Open champion, the crowd serenaded the outgoing Argentine who kissed the net after tying his famous headband on it and hugged his mother who was watching her son play for the first time in his career knowing well it could have been his last match.

With the tennis fraternity reminiscing their memories of del Potro, American youngster Frances Tiafoe also joined the party and shared his fondest memory of the Argentine great and paid a classy tribute to him via an Instagram post.

“Man this is crazy. I really hope this ain’t your last match. But if it is I want to say thank you. You were my favourite player growing up. I remember watching you at the @citiopen as a kid. You were the first pro to ever sign a ball for me. After that, I was a mega fan. I remember saying to my coach this guy is going to win the @usopen one day and you did it. I cried in 09 when you did.

“I sound like a complete fanboy right now because I am. What you went through in your career and still achieve what you did is remarkable. You’re a Hall of Famer in my eyes. Living legend. I got nothing but love and respect for you man. Walk with your head up forever man you left a big mark on this game. Give this man his love,” wrote Tiafoe in a long Instagram post.

Frances Tiafoe and Juan Martin del Potro met thrice on the Tour

Juan Martin del Potro thanks the crowd at the Argentina Open

Tiafoe had the honour of sharing the court with del Potro thrice on the Tour. They first met in the 1st round of the 2017 Acapulco Open where del Potro won the match in 3-sets against Tiafoe who entered the main-draw as a qualifier. They next met in the 1st round of the 2018 Australian Open where the Argentine won in straight-sets to take a 2-0 lead.

In their final meeting, wildcard entrant Tiaofe defeated the 2nd seeded del Potro in the 2nd round of the 2018 Delray Beach Open as Tiafoe picked up his first win against his childhood idol in a special week as he picked up his first career title and became the youngest American since Andy Roddick in 2002 to win a Tour title.

Also Read: WATCH: An emotional Juan Martin Del Potro breaks down in tears during the last game of his farewell match