Del Potro: 'I Had A Beautiful Tournament'
For Juan Martin del Potro, there is victory in defeat. Despite a four-set loss to Karen Khachanov in a bruising baseline slugfest in the Roland Garros fourth round Monday, the Argentine leaves Paris with pep in his step and a positive outlook for the second half of the season.
“I think that I had a beautiful tournament,” said the 2009 US Open champion, who laced up for just the fourth time this season. The eighth seed twice rallied from a set down, including in a gutsy five-set win over Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka in the second round, and his right knee – which he fractured in a fall in Shanghai last October - successfully came through 16 tough sets on clay.
Although the current World No. 9 will slip outside the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings next Monday, he is thankful to be contemplating a return to grass rather than a return to rehab, which consumed a large part of his early season.
“I'm feeling well, beyond this defeat, which is pretty harsh,” said the 30-year-old former World No. 3. “As of tomorrow, we will be talking about my future tournaments, Queen's, Wimbledon. And I think that we won't think about rehabilitation or recovery after this week.”
Against Khachanov, Del Potro found himself in the unusual position of being outhit by the 23-year-old 6’ 6” powerhouse. The Russian clipped 58 winners to Del Potro’s 42 and made 13 fewer unforced errors (35 to 48).
“In the first set, the weather conditions were faster, and I took advantage of that,” Del Potro said. “So I had started better. But then it's true that Karen has very good physical shape, and he's able to load the ball, give a lot of power to it.
“In the third and fourth sets, on these errors that I made because of taking too many risks, he took advantage to be more solid in his game. And in these conditions, very few players can hit the ball so hard. Karen is one of these players, and he made me run a lot…
“I really played to the limit of my capabilities. That's why I made errors.”