LONDON – Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro brushed aside Croatia’s Ivan Dodig 6-4, 6-1 on Saturday in just over an hour to advance to the second round of the Olympics tennis men’s singles competition.
The ninth-ranked Argentine, who looked comfortable on the Wimbledon grass, said afterward that he has been waiting for four years to make his Olympic debut and wants to enjoy the experience to the utmost.
In 2008, Del Potro did not compete in Beijing but that summer marked the start of his ascendance in the tennis world, as he won four ATP tournaments in a row shortly before his 20th birthday.
The towering Argentine has struggled with injuries, however, since winning his lone Grand Slam title – the 2009 U.S. Open – and hopes the Olympics can be a springboard to better results.
“I feel happy because I’m experiencing a lot of new things that I’d been waiting four years for,” referring to his mingling with other great athletes in the Olympic Village.
Evaluating his recent tennis career and future prospects, the 24-year-old said “these four years haven’t been easy. I think you have to enjoy yourself, without losing sight of your goal, without forgetting that you have to work and keep learning.”
Next up for Del Potro in the second round of Olympic singles play will be 28th-ranked Italian Andreas Seppi.
In other men’s first-round tennis action Saturday at the All England Club involving Spanish and Latin American players, Colombia’s Alejandro Falla gave world No. 1 Roger Federer of Switzerland a tough battle but fell 6-3, 5-7, 6-3.
Argentina’s David Nalbandian, who lost to Serbia’s Janko Tipsarevic 6-3, 6-4 in the singles before he and partner Eduardo Schwank fell to France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Michael Llodra in the doubles, lamented that at age 30 his odds of competing in another Olympics are slim.
Spain’s Fernando Verdasco was eliminated by Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin 6-4, 7-6, Spain’s Nicolas Almagro defeated Serbia’s Viktor Troicki 6-4, 7-6, Argentina’s Carlos Berlocq was bounced out by Russian Alex Bogomolov Jr. 7-5, 7-6 and Colombia’s Santiago Giraldo knocked off American Ryan Harrison 7-5, 6-3.
In women’s play, Spain’s Anabel Medina Garrigues lost to Belgium’s Yanina Wickmayer 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 and Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro defeated reigning U.S. Open champion Sam Stosur of Australia 3-6, 7-5, 10-8.