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Juan Martin del Potro, the 2009 champion, knocks out Denis Shapovalov on Wednesday for a place in the Auckland quarter-finals.

Experience The Key For Del Potro In Auckland

Argentinian star to play Khachanov in last eight

Juan Martin del Potro drew on his experience to overcome #NextGenATP Canadian Denis Shapovalov on Wednesday for a place in the ASB Classic quarter-finals.

The World No. 12 struck just six winners, and committed 11 unforced errors, in a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Shapovalov in 65 minutes. Shapovalov, who hit 20 winners and made 40 unforced errors, had previously beaten Del Potro in August 2017 en route to the Coupe Rogers semi-finals in Montreal.

“I was surprised by the match today,” said Del Potro. “I didn’t expect to play at this level in the first match of the year. But I’ve been working hard to play this tennis and hopefully I can still improve in the next matches.

“If he has a good day, he is very dangerous as a lefty, he serves well and volleys. Denis played better than me in the Montreal match, but today I broke him three times to love and that was the key. I served well throughout the match.”

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Shapovalov said, “I was struggling on my serve a little bit, but I felt pretty decent off the ground – except for those three games. I was a little bit too excited and missed a lot. I’m pretty optimistic for the next tournaments. He served massive and played incredibly well. Unfortunately, I didn’t have many chances today.”

Del Potro is competing at the ATP World Tour 250 tournament for the first time since 2009, when he beat Sam Querrey for the Auckland title as a 20-year-old. The victory, nine years ago, propelled him to No. 6 in the ATP Rankings. “It’s so nice to come back to this tournament,” said Del Potro. “Many Argentinean fans came to support me in this match and the crowd was full.”

The 29-year-old Del Potro will now face Russian Karen Khachanov for the first time. Khachanov knocked out sixth-seeded Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas 6-2, 7-6(4) earlier in the day. “Karen is as tall as me and his forehand is very powerful, so I will see if I can play at the same level as today,” said Del Potro.

In the final match of the day, South Korea’s Hyeon Chung broke a two-match losing streak against fourth-seeded American John Isner, the 2010 and 2014 titlist, 7-6(3), 5-7, 6-2 in two hours and 25 minutes. Chung, the 2017 Next Gen ATP Finals champion, struck 15 aces to Isner’s 30 in the pair’s third FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting. He now plays David Ferrer, the 2007, 2011, 2012, 2013 titlist.

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