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Del Potro digs deep to down Gasquet

Ismail Vedat at the O2
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Juan Martin del Potro was a losing finalist here back in 2009 © Getty Images
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Juan Martin del Potro ensured he was not going to be on the wrong side of two French problems in the space of a few days as he fought from behind to beat Richard Gasquet in the first night session of the ATP World Tour Finals.

The Argentinian had his bag stolen while signing an autograph before boarding a train to London from Paris on Saturday, but after coming to the World Tour Finals minus his belongings, his stay is off to the start he wanted as he overcame Gasquet 6-7(4) 6-3 7-5 to begin his group campaign with a win.

The Verdict

  • Juan Martin del Potro could easily have let this match slip away from him, but given the confidence he is playing with right now demonstrated the strong self-belief that only a grand slam champion has.
  • While Gasquet played some delightful tennis with that smooth and silky backhand he possesses, grit and determination came through at the end of the day through Del Potro, who will take any win as it comes.
  • Both players have encounters against Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer to follow in the group. Del Potro will need to raise his game if he is to beat either player to come out of the group, while for Gasquet, the supposed 'weak' player of the group, he will have his work cut out to get anything after throwing away the advantage against Del Potro.

Despite the warm conditions of London's O2 Arena, both players had no troubles in holding serve after seven games.

However, it was Gasquet who made the first move to pounce on Del Potro's slip in concentration and get the break to lead 5-3. The Frenchman squandered the opportunity though to close out the set as Del Potro hit straight back, and with the following two games shared a tiebreak was required to separate the pair.

Gasquet began to show his frustrations in the tiebreak as he relinquished a mini-break, but he managed to channel his anger into teeing up two set points, which he converted after his forehand to an open court clipped the net cord and landed safely in. Despite his record of only one win in six against Del Potro, Gasquet played the opening set like a player who had won five of those six encounters.

Del Potro, who became the first player to win four ATP 500 events in a season after winning in Basel, bounced straight back in the second set by racing into a commanding 4-1 lead, hitting Gasquet with a couple of powerful forehand winners.

Gasquet twice denied the former US Open champion taking the set in the eighth game, but only delayed the inevitable as Del Potro clinched it 6-3 to take the match into a final set.

At one set all and three games all, it was Del Potro who turned up the heat on Gasquet, creating a couple of break point opportunities before landing the third to move 4-3 in front.

Serving for the win at 5-4, Del Potro dropped his serve as Gasquet found his way back into the game. But, the Frenchman was broken yet again, and this time Del Potro made no mistake in sealing the win when Gasquet hit his shot into the net.

"In the beginning of the match, I couldn't be positive as I was frustrated before I came here. I was thinking [of] too many things and not playing my game, so it was difficult to be positive and just focused on the match, but the atmosphere out there was incredible and that helped me to enjoy the match," Del Potro said.

With clashes to come against Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, Del Potro insists he will give it his all.

"The next two matches are going to be different. We [me and Federer] played many times this year. I beat Roger two weeks ago [in Basel], and he beat me last week [in Paris]. We always play good matches so I will see against him.

"And Novak is playing really well and is unbeaten after the US Open. He won in Beijing, then Shanghai and in Paris also. I don't have nothing to lose against them and it's another good chance to play good tennis and get closer to the best in the world."

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