By Ros Satar, in Madrid
- Juan Martin Del Potro stuns Dominic Thiem 7-6(5) 63
- Rafael Nadal coasts into the third round over Andrey Kuznetsov 6-3 6-3
- Andy Murray gets his defence off with a 7-6(3) 3-6 6-1 win over Radek Stepanek
MADRID, SPAIN – Juan Martin Del Potro is building up confidence as he notched up what he called his best win since his injury issues.
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It was an emotional win for Del Potro, who had already picked up a few wins on the vastly different conditions on the clay of Munich. He reached the quarter-finals there, and win a section of the draw split apart by the withdrawal of Roger Federer, he stands a decent chance of reaching a second straight quarter-final.
He said: “It’s quite difficult because I was fighting one of the best opponents that I can have. I knew how well I was playing and my conditions these days, and I am missing a lot of what I need be to at the highest level, the level I want to be, because I’ve been through very difficult things in the past years. That’s why sometimes it’s difficult to handle the emotions.
“But I think that today I have a lot of joy. I’m very happy. It’s because some great things are happening to me right now. I wasn’t crying because I had to leave or because my wrist were hurting or anything. I was just very happy about it.”
It has been a long hard road for the Argentine, playing in just two tournament in 2015 before undergoing two more surgeries on his left wrist.
He continued: “[It is] starting to feel natural. I’m feeling much better with my backhand in this tournament than a couple months ago. That means that very good improvement on my game.
“I think I believe on the way that I’m working now, and that’s what I have to do to get better in the future. I’m getting closer every day, but still I’m very far away from my highest level. I’m glad with my success in this comeback.”
By contrast the expectations were high that Rafael Nadal would coast into the round of 16, and he opened up a commanding 4-0 lead in the first set before Andrey Kuznetsov started to make some impact. Nadal booked his place in the third round where he will face the winner of Sam Querrey v Lucas Pouille.
Closing out the ATP action on Court Manolo Santana was defending champion Andy Murray, who met his match with a spirited Radek Stepanek. The Czech took the advantage early on, as Murray seemed at odds with his range, going up an immediate break before Murray redressed the balance, eventually forcing a tie-break.
However Stepanek was not done yet, breaking again at the start of the second set and this time surging to a lead, to level the match. Murray was in no mood to hang about in the decider, leaping out to a 5-0 lead before allowing Stepanek at least one game. There was a flurry of resistance from the Czech as he forced two break points but cold not consolidate, saving the Brit’s blushes.
Murray said: “He obviously started the match a little bit better than me. I was playing a little bit too flat, so I think he obviously likes it when it’s like that, when the ball is bouncing a bit lower. He was hitting the ball big up the lines. He hit a lot of lines the first set and a half to get himself in a good position.
“In the second set, the game where he broke me, I hit good second serves and he hit like four or five clean return winners in that game. Nothing you could do there. He was just going big and it was going in. Third set I started to play with a little bit more height. I was playing a little bit more spin, which made it harder for him. When I was getting the ball up high he started making a few more mistakes.
“I played some good stuff against a guy making it very difficult. He’s not like any of the guys that you practice with or play against much now. He has a very different game style and had come in having played three matches in these conditions and some pretty good wins.
“I’m happy I got through. I got a day off tomorrow now to work on a couple things and get ready for Thursday.”
Play continues at the Caja Magica at 12pm (11am BST).
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