Tennis: Del Potro cruises into fourth round without dropping set

Sports Saturday 07/July/2018 20:10 PM
By: Times News Service
Tennis: Del Potro cruises into fourth round without dropping set

LONDON: Fifth seed Juan Martin del Potro overcame service troubles and Benoit Paire's fine serve-and-volley game to beat the Frenchman 6-4, 7-6(4), 6-3 on Court Two and reach the Wimbledon fourth round for the fourth time on Saturday.
The big Argentine world number four, who has yet to drop a set, looked on for a routine win before meeting sterner resistance in the second set from Paire, who delighted the crowd with his drop shots and a break of serve to go 4-2 up.
Del Potro, a semi-finalist in 2013, immediately broke back after a slip by Paire and fears he might have hurt his heavily bandaged left knee, but the Frenchman resumed and saw the set through to the tiebreak, but lost it 7-4.
The 47th-ranked Paire, who reached the fourth round last year and won his only previous meeting with Del Potro in Rome in 2013, said he had a minor cartilage problem but the bandage was for security and he had felt no pain.
"You have to be good to beat Paire, he's dangerous and I was lucky in the tiebreak," said Del Potro.
He added that his two-handed backhand has improved a lot after the difficulties he had with it following wrist surgery.
"It's almost good, I have no pain. I'm hitting more often with the two-handed backhand, which is good for my whole game.
"On this surface, I can mix it up with the slices and hit hard when I have the chance to make a winner with a two-handed backhand. I think I am improving all my game when I have also my backhand working good. It's pretty important for me."
Del Potro, looking for a second Grand Slam title after the U.S. Open in 2009, marched into a 3-0 lead in the deciding set only to allow Paire back to 3-3 with a broken service game that included three double faults.
However, the Argentine, who had problems throughout the match serving into the sun at the northern end of the court, broke again and took it in straight sets after a brief hold-up while officials helped a person who had fainted in the crowd.
"The sun bothered me quite a bit, from one end of the court it was very difficult to serve, it was difficult to find the exact spots to place the ball," he said.
"But, well, I won in three sets and that's important for my fitness, despite not serving as well as the other day," he added referring to his win over Feliciano Lopez on Thursday.
Del Potro faces another very different Frenchman, Gilles Simon, in the fourth round.
"Simon is a very smart player, he likes to play from the baseline with long rallies. I need to be prepared for that, to be accurate down the lines," del Potro said.
Nadal stretched
Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal was kept on Centre Court longer than he would have liked but that did not stop him from putting baby-faced Alex de Minaur firmly in his place with a 6-1, 6-2, 6-4, win in the third round of Wimbledon on Saturday.
The 19-year-old Alicante-based Australian played his part in an entertaining duel as he chased after everything Nadal could throw at him but the world number one stuck to his own game plan to chalk up his third successive straight-sets win.
Nadal has endured his fair share of losing to young upstarts at Wimbledon, having lost to players ranked 100 or lower in four of his five previous appearances, but there was no danger of that happening on Saturday.
His main target appeared to be getting off court before the 3pm local time kickoff of England's World Cup last-16 showdown with Sweden.
De Minaur made him play 26-minutes of extra time but the final result was never in doubt and a lunging volley winner sealed the win - and prompted a mass exodus from Centre Court as fans rushed to watch the football on their phones and tablets elsewhere in the grounds.
The Spaniard will next play either Italian maverick Fabio Fognini or Jiri Vesely as he bids to reach the Wimbledon quarter-finals for the first time since contesting the 2011 final.
Halep stunned
Women's top seed Simona Halep crashed out in the third round of Wimbledon on Saturday when she was beaten 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 by Taiwan's Hsieh Su-wei.
The Romanian world number one, who claimd her first Grand Slam title at last month's French Open, never got to grips with the tricky 32-year-old who battled back from 5-3 down in the deciding set to claim a stunning victory.
A weary-looking Halep ended the match with successive forehand errors.
Her defeat means only one of the top 10 seeds has reached the last 16 in the women's draw.