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Del Potro Lifts Spirits In Damp Tokyo, Pays Tribute To Nalbandian

Tokyo, Japan

del Potro© AFP/Getty ImagesJuan Martin del Potro won 86 per cent of his first service points.

Top seed Juan Martin del Potro improved to 12-5 lifetime against fellow Argentines on Wednesday with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Carlos Berlocq for a quarter-final berth at the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships.

As rain fell outside, under a closed roof at the Ariake Coliseum – venue of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Tennis Event – del Potro produced a service masterclass losing just eight points. He converted four of his seven break point opportunities.

“I played better than yesterday, which was pleasing,” said del Potro. “I hit my forehand really strong and I was confident, able to break serve many times. Playing under a closed roof is a little different to the outdoor conditions, but it helps my game and especially my serve.”

Del Potro has 3,365 points in the Emirates ATP Race To London and is bidding to qualify for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals for the fourth time.  The 25 year old has a 2-1 record in ATP World Tour finals this year. 

Del Potro will next play Alexandr Dolgopolov, who defeated eighth seed Janko Tipsarevic 6-3, 7-6(4).

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He also paid tribute to his compatriot, David Nalbandian, who announced his retirement on Tuesday.

“David was a really good player," he said. "When he was fit he could beat anyone. He won big tournaments. We have lost a great player on the tour. I wish him all the best in the future.

“I remember, when I was younger, watching him reach the Wimbledon final. His [2005] Masters Cup win over Roger Federer [in 2005] and some of his Davis Cup wins against Russia also stand out in the memory.”

Del Potro had a 1-3 record against Nalbandian. All of their matches were contested indoors.

Bryans Fall In Doubles First Round

Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan lost on their Tokyo debuts. Despite leading 4-1 in the first set, the American twins lost to Nicolas Almagro and Pablo Cuevas 7-5, 1-6, 10-6 in 70 minutes on Centre Court.

“We won the first 12 points of the match, but a sloppy volley here and there can turn the match around,” said Mike Bryan. “At 4-1 up, they played a good game and that gave them energy. We didn’t play bad tennis, but it came down to a few points and a crazy [Match] tie-break.”

Bob Bryan said, “We’ve only been here three days but it has been an overwhelming experience. It has been a great feeling being at this tournament.”

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