Mon Nov 15 10:49am EST
There he is, sitting in the lower reaches of the ATP rankings, sandwiched between challenger players Alex Kuznetsov and Michael Lammer. Three months ago, he was ranked No. 9 in the world. Now he's ranked No. 15 in Argentina.
Juan Martin Del Potro. Grand Slam champion. Ranked No. 259 in the world.
Though there's a very logical explanation as to why Del Potro dropped 224 spots in this week's rankings, it's still jarring to see him so low.
This week, the Argentinian's 800 rankings points earned last year at the World Tour Finals finally expired, leaving him only with the 180 points received by virtue of making it to the forth round at the Australian Open earlier this season.
The 2009 US Open champion was sidelined by a wrist injury following the first Grand Slam of the year, but briefly returned during the fall's Pacific swing. After two straight losses in which he failed to win a set, Del Potro called it quits for the season and focused on rehabbing for the start of the 2011 campaign.
He plans to return in Australia, where he'll likely use the protected ranking provision to earn entry into tournaments.