Juan Martin del Potro is eyeing a move up the rankings this clay season, which he will kick off by competing at the Mutua Madrid Open this week.
Appearing at the tournament for the first time in two years, Del Potro hasn’t played a singles match since his Miami semi-final exit in late March. He lost his doubles clash, alongside Dominic Thiem, in Madrid on Monday against Pablo Cuevas and Marcel Granollers.
The Argentine world No. 6 took a five-week break after John Isner ended his 15-match winning streak at the Miami Open and many people speculated that Del Potro might opt out of the clay season this year in order to preserve his injury-prone body.
But it seems that time off only fueled him to get back to the tennis court, where he hopes to do better on the red dirt compared to an average performance on the surface last year.
“The last weeks were great to me. I been at home for a while, spending good time with friends, family. Also training to be ready for these tournaments. We decided to come here maybe couple of weeks ago when I got good feelings on the clay court,” Del Potro told reporters in Madrid, where he is seeded No. 4 and had a bye in the first round.
“I’m still thinking it’s a good opportunity for me to keep growing up in the ranking maybe and keep doing well. But I know how tough is this tournament for me. But anyways, I’m happy to be back on Madrid after a long time.”
Del Potro begins his campaign at the Caja Magica on Tuesday against Bosnian Damir Dzumhur (not before 22:00 Dubai time on beIN Sports).
The 29-year-old returned to the top-10 earlier this year, for the first time since 2014, and he has already picked up titles in Acapulco and Indian Wells – which was his maiden triumph at the Masters 1000 level.
The 2009 US Open champion has enjoyed most of his success on hard courts, but he is no push-over on clay, with his winning record on the surface being the seventh-highest among active players (71 per cent).
Asked if that fact surprises him, Del Potro said: “Yes, a little bit. Well, I started to play tennis on clay court, so I know how the game is. But I’m getting older, too.
“Anyways, I like to play Madrid. Here the conditions for play are good. We have altitude. The ball go fast. The server players has chance to win here because these conditions. So it could be a good opportunity to me.”
Four of Del Potro’s 22 career titles have come on clay, and he’ll be looking to add to that over the next few weeks in Madrid, Rome and Roland Garros.
His appearance in the Spanish capital came in 2009 and 2012 when he made the semi-finals and he owns a 14-6 win-loss record at the tournament overall.
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