© AbiertoMexicano

Juan Martin del Potro closes out his match against Frances Tiafoe with his ninth ace.

Del Potro Locks In Djokovic Showdown

Argentine holds off #NextGenATP qualifier in third-set tie-break

Juan Martin del Potro has set a blockbuster second-round clash with top seed Novak Djokovic at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel on Tuesday night. The Argentine, playing just his second event of 2017, narrowly held off the free-swinging Frances Tiafoe 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(1) to claim his opening match in Acapulco.

The 19-year-old #NextGenATP player Tiafoe grew up idolising del Potro and went close to toppling the former World No. 4 in the Emirates ATP Rankings in the two-hour, 33-minute affair. It was del Potro, a semi-finalist last week at the Delray Beach Open, who started stronger when he broke for 5-4 in the opening set.

The Argentine brought up three set points on a return error from the American qualifier’s racquet. Tiafoe saved one with a big forehand winner down the line before threading a backhand pass to save a second. Del Potro clinched the set with one of his signature running forehand winners.

Unperterbed, Tiafoe landed his first break of the match for 2-0 in the second set and went on to level on his third set point when he rifled a backhand winner down the line for 6-3.

With games staying on serve deep into the deciding set, Tiafoe found himself teetering close to defeat when from 40/0 up at 4-5 del Potro closed to within two points of the match. Again the American found himself just two points from defeat on serve at 5-6 before forcing the tie-break.

Back-to-back off-forehand winners catapulted the Argentine to 3/1 and he brought up five match points when Tiafoe rolled a crosscourt forehand well wide.

Del Potro sealed it on his first opportunity with his ninth ace. Djokovic leads the pair's FedEx ATP Head2Head record 11-4.

Fourth seed Dominic Thiem also advanced to the second round in Acapulco on Tuesday night. The Austrian saw off French veteran Gilles Simon 7-6(7), 6-3.

#NextGenATP qualifier Yoshihito Nishioka, of Japan, took down seventh seed Jack Sock. The American was coming off his second ATP World Tour title of the season at the Delray Beach Open but fell 3-6, 6-2, 6-1.

 Watch Full Match Replays

More stories like this in: