Delpo Digs Deep In Shanghai

Argentine star saves four set points in second set tie-break

Juan Martin del Potro may have been under the weather on Wednesday, but such is the confidence of the Argentine that he fought back on two occasions to beat Richard Gasquet at the Rolex Shanghai Masters. Third seed Del Potro won four straight games from 3-5 down in the first set and recovered from a 2/6 deficit in the second set tie-break en route to a 7-5, 7-6(7) victory over Gasquet, who had been seeking his biggest win since beating then No. 4-ranked Stan Wawrinka in the 2015 Wimbledon quarter-finals.

“It wasn't easy to play for me today,” said Del Potro, who has been struggling with a cold since arriving from the China Open in Beijing. “I did what I could. I didn't run too much. But I think I played with all my strength in the important moments of the match.

“I got lucky that I win, but tomorrow will be a different day. If I have a good night today and I have a good recovery tomorrow morning, maybe I will feel a little bit better for tomorrow night and play better than today. But I'm going like hour by hour and see how I'm feeling.”

With a 47-12 record, the 2013 Shanghai finalist (l. to Djokovic) is tied second with Alexander Zverev for most tour-level victories in 2018 and Del Potro will have the opportunity to draw level with leader Dominic Thiem (48) on Thursday when he meets Borna Coric of Croatia in the third round at the Qi Zhong Stadium. Del Potro beat Coric 6-4, 6-3, 6-1 in the US Open fourth round last month. 

Del Potro will achieve a career-high No. 2 in the ATP Rankings if he claims the Shanghai title on Sunday and three-time former champion Novak Djokovic does not advance to the semi-finals.

Watch Live

Del Potro regrouped from a slow start, which saw Gasquet win the first two games. Two groundstroke errors from Gasquet at 5-4 gifted Del Potro a route back and when serving at 5-6, 30/40, Gasquet struck a backhand drop shot into the net. Having been in complete control of the first set, which lasted 45 minutes, Gasquet let slip the final four games.

No quarter was given in the second set, which was decided on a tie-break and saw Gasquet tighten up his baseline game to open a 6/2 lead. At that point, Del Potro physically looked down and out. But he summoned inner-strength to save four set point chances with devastating touch and groundstroke power. Gasquet saved a match point at 6/7 with an ace, yet Del Potro soon closed out with his ninth ace of the one-hour and 51-minute encounter.

Nitto ATP Finals qualifier Del Potro is having the best season of his career, including a first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title at the BNP Paribas Open (d. Federer), the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC (d. Anderson). Additionally, he has finished runner-up in Auckland, Los Cabos, the US Open and last week in Beijing.

“I’ve qualified very early for London, which is good for me,” said Del Potro. “I don't know what could be in the next months to my career, but I'm very pleased with my year.”

Tennis Radio