Read & Watch: Del Potro Takes First Step In Beijing
Argentine can qualify for Nitto ATP Finals with a win Wednesday
Juan Martin del Potro stepped up his bid for a spot at the Nitto ATP Finals in November on Tuesday at the China Open. The popular Argentine, who knocked out Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain 7-5, 6-3 for a place in the second round at the ATP World Tour 500 tournament, can clinch his spot alongside Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer at The O2 in London should he win his match Wednesday.
“I think it's a good battle between us to qualify for London,” said Del Potro. “It's something extra, another extra pressure for us. But it's a nice pressure, I think. We enjoy that pressure because we are fighting for the same goal. There's still five spots free. [There] are more than six players fighting for those five spots. It's interesting to watch, as well. Hopefully I can reach London after many years [away]. It will be great for me. But I know I have to still win couple of matches to be there.”
In his first match since the US Open final on 9 September, top seed Del Potro fought hard in the first set. He opened up a 5-3 advantage and held one set point opportunity on serve at 5-4, 40/30, but Ramos-Vinolas broke back. Del Potro bounced back by winning the next four games and, later, broke for a 5-2 lead in the second set. Having hit 10 aces and won 86 per cent of his first-service points, he’ll next play Russia’s Karen Khachanov.
“It was a difficult start of the tournament for me,” said Del Potro, who received on-court treatment for a twisted knee, sustained during the second point of the match. “I think I did well. I serve well, which is important for my whole game… [My knee is] nothing dangerous.”
Del Potro, who is currently in fourth position in the ATP Race To London, has a 44-11 match record on the season, which includes his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown at the BNP Paribas Open (d. Federer) in March. The 30-year-old is looking to return to the season finale in London for the first time since 2013.