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Del Potro Begins Title Defence; Next Up 2009-10 Champ Montanes

Estoril, Portugal

del Potro© Lagos SportsDefending champion Juan Martin del Potro is now 24-6 on the season.

Top seed Juan Martin del Potro got his Estoril Open title defence off to a fine start with a 6-1, 6-0 victory in 63 minutes over Portuguese No. 1 Rui Machado on Thursday. He improved to 24-6 this year.

World No. 10 del Potro hit four aces and won 70 per cent of his service points in only his third clay-court match of the season. The World No. 10 will next meet seventh-seeded Spaniard, Albert Montanes, the 2009-2010 titlist, in the quarter-finals.

Del Potro, who hasn't played competitively for five weeks, admitted, "I like to play on clay, I prefer hard courts obviously, but I have been working hard at home, before I came here. This tournament is very important to my clay-court season and for my confidence ahead of [ATP World Tour] Masters 1000 tournaments and Roland Garros."

Twelve months ago, Del Potro, then ranked World No. 46, dropped only one set - to Pedro Sousa in the first round - en route to the ATP World Tour title (d. Verdasco).

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Montanes was made to work for his quarter-final berth when he defeated American Bobby Reynolds 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 in two hours and four minutes. Montanes saved six of seven break points on Centralito, the ATP World Tour 250 tournament's second show court, for his eighth match win of the season.

Del Potro said, "Albert is a two-time former champion here and a very good clay-courter so it will be a tough match. I am looking forward to it."

Later in the day, fourth-seeded Spaniard Albert Ramos hit five aces past 32-year-old Bjorn Phau of Germany for a 7-5, 6-0 win in just over 90 minutes. Twelve months ago, Ramos was the top seed in the qualifying competition.

There was better news for another Portuguese player, World No. 140 Joao Sousa, who advanced to the last eight. Sousa was leading fifth-seeded Uzbekistani Denis Istomin 3-6, 6-3, 4-2, when Istomin retired due to a back injury after a rain delay.

Later, Istomin explained, "During the match, I started to feel my back tightening. After the rain delay, it got worse and now I decided to stop the match, as it is better for me in the future."

Related Topics:

Portugal Open, Oeiras

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