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Tennis News • Paris • French Open • Del Potro Delivers Major Milestone

Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina in action against Nicolas Mahut of France during their men’s first round match during the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros in Paris, France, 29 May 2018. EPA-EFE/IAN LANGSDON

 

 

By Richard Pagliario

 

Juan Martin del Potro confronted challenges on multiple fronts in his French Open opener to master a milestone.

 

The Indian Wells champion was playing his first match since retiring from Rome due to a grade 1 groin strain and was up against a French wild card Nicolas Mahut and a vocal home crowd.

 

Nicolas Mahut of France in action against Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina during their men’s first round match during the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros in Paris, France, 29 May 2018. EPA-EFE/IAN LANGSDON

Sputtering at the start, del Potro found his form and showed his fitness dispatching Mahut, 1-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4, into the Roland Garros second round.

 

It was del Potro’s 80th career Grand Slam match victory.

 

The 2009 US Open champion joins Hall of Famer Guillermo Vilas (139 wins) and former Wimbledon finalist David Nalbandian (86 wins) as just the third Argentine man to post 80 major match victories.

 

The fifth-seeded Argentine looked a little tentative and lacked a bit of explosiveness as Mahut raced to a one-set lead.

 

Broken twice in the opening set, del Potro faced only one break point the rest of the match.

 

The 2009 semifinalist, who was uncertain for Paris after retiring from the Rome round of 16, said he feels fit.

 

“Physically, I finished well,” del Potro told Tennis Channel’s Jon Wertheim afterward. “I didn’t have any problems with my leg, my wrist, my back so it’s a good signal for the next round.

 

“I think my tennis was improving from the beginning to the end of the match so that’s important too. I just play my game serving strong hitting my forehand as good as I could.”

 

In round two, Del Potro will meet either compatriot Leonardo Mayer or another Frenchman, Julien Benneteau, who is playing his final French Open.

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