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Beyond the Baseline

Juan Martin del Potro meets new pope

Juan Martin del Potro Can the pope's touch heal Juan Martin del Potro's troublesome right wrist? (EPA)

Juan Martin del Potro met newly elected Pope Francis on Wednesday after attending mass at the Vatican. The 24-year-old presented the fellow Argentine with a Wilson racket that Del Potro used during his victory against Roger Federer in the 2009 U.S. Open final.

"It was an incredible experience with Pope Francis, something that I'll never forget,” Del Potro told ATPWorldTour.com. “It was a dream come true for a guy like me. It was an unforgettable moment. I was very nervous before meeting him, to be able to congratulate him and talk with him. He was nice. Everybody knows he is very humble. Today was a day that I'll remember forever."

Del Potro said he was surprised when the pope recognized him in the crowd and gave him a thumbs up.

"He told me that he knew I was playing at the tournament in Rome, he blessed me and wished me the best," Del Potro said. "I congratulated him and thanked him for the opportunity to talk to him."

On Thursday, Del Potro lost to Benoit Paire in the third round of the Italian Open.

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