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Del Potro Credits Bautista Agut, Stays Optimistic For 2014

Melbourne, Australia

del Potro© Getty ImagesJuan Martin del Potro is the first Top 10 player to bow out of the draw.

World No. 5 Juan Martin del Potro didn’t cite weather conditions, a lengthy delay, fatigue or a lack of preparation. He had one simple reason to explain his early exit at the Australian Open: His opponent, Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut, played brilliantly throughout the whole match.

“I think he played a great match during the four hours,” said del Potro. “It’s tough when you play a very high level during four hours. Tough to beat the opponent. I was close.

“But in every moment I had, he played unbelievable shots. In break point down, he served well. He made winners with forehands, backhands, and he played to the line very often during the match. When you don't have that little luck on your side, it's another thing negative to play. I think he did really well.”

It marked the fourth time in eight Australian Open appearances that the Argentine bowed out in the second round, as well as the second straight year that he became the first major casualty of the tournament. In 2013, in another match that spanned four hours and five sets, he fell to an inspired Jeremy Chardy in the third round after rallying from two sets down. 

Despite his record, del Potro said he was “still confident playing this tournament”, where he reached the quarter-finals in 2009 and ’12.

“I think sometimes the favourites lose very early in a Grand Slam, like Federer in Wimbledon or Rafa, and then other ones in the US Open,” he continued. “Here is my chance to get out very early in the tournament. But the season just started. I will try to be positive for the rest of the year.”

Following the Australian Open last season, del Potro went on to win four titles. He already has one to his name this year after triumphing at the Apia International Sydney last week, and hoped to build on both the good and bad of his early 2014 campaign.

“I need to keep working,” he said. “I already won the tournament last week, and that gives me confidence to improve my game. But this kind of match also helps me to learn something, and I will try to take my positive things about this match and change the negative to improve my game.”

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