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Del Potro Issues Intent In Melbourne Opener

Melbourne, Australia

delPo© Getty ImagesJuan Martin del Potro ruthlessly dismissed Adrian Mannarino in the first round.

Sixth seed Juan Martin del Potro has set his sights on winning a second major title in 2013 and opened his Australian Open bid on Tuesday with a ruthless first-round dismissal of Adrian Mannarino

The 24-year-old del Potro triumphed at the 2009 US Open, when he defeated Roger Federer in five sets. The Tandil native is a two-time quarter-finalist at Melbourne Park, falling to Federer on both occasions in 2009 and 2012.  

“The last 33 Grand Slams were won by the same players. I know how tough it is to win a Grand Slam. But I also know the way to win a Grand Slam,” said del Potro. “I'm trying to do that this year. It could be my biggest challenge this year, winning another Grand Slam. But [the big four] are playing really good tennis, and it's not easy.”

In contrast to a much tougher contest with Mannarino in the 2012 first round, del Potro hit 24 winners to just eight unforced errors as he raced to a 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 victory in 76 minutes. “I think I played really aggressive,” said del Potro. “I made a lot of winners with my forehand. I served well. I made a very good start to this Open.”

Ninth seed Richard Gasquet finished strongly to defeat Spain’s Albert Montanes 7-5, 6-2, 6-1 in one hour and 36 minutes. In an attacking performance, the Frenchman won points on 16 of his 21 net approaches and hit 45 winners. The 26 year old is undefeated in 2013, having opened the season with victory at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha (d. Davydenko).

Marin Cilic, the No. 12 seed from Croatia, upset home hope Marinko Matosevic 6-4, 7-5, 6-2 in two hours and 22 minutes. The 24 year old was a semi-finalist in Melbourne two years ago, falling to Andy Murray.

Gilles Simon rallied from a set down to defeat Italy’s Filippo Volandri 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2. The No. 14 seed converted six of his 12 break point opportunities and hit eight aces as he prevailed in just over two hours. He goes onto face Canadian Jesse Levine, who overcame Spain’s Tommy Robredo 7-6(5), 6-7(2), 6-4, 6-4. 

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