Juan Martin del Potro continued his comeback on the ATP World Tour circuit Monday, but sixth-seeded Spaniard Feliciano Lopez proved too strong in a 6-3, 6-0 victory in 82 minutes at the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships. “It is difficult to come back and play against these players, especially Feliciano on such a fast court,” admitted del Potro. “I need time, I need to work on a few things to get back to my best level. If I work in a good way, I will be in good shape in a month or so.”
Lopez hit 11 aces and saved 11 of 12 break point opportunities to record his third straight win over del Potro, who returned to competitive tennis after an eight-month absence at the PTT Thailand Open last week. Lopez, who won the SA Tennis Open at Johannesburg (d. Robert) in February, improved to a 25-19 match record on the season.
“When you are away for as long as Juan has been, it takes time to get back to your best level, but I have no doubt that he will be one of the top players again soon,” said Lopez. “These courts really suit my style, they are very fast.” Del Potro added, “He knows my game well, he has beaten me the last three times. He played well today, never missed his forehand. I played sometimes good, sometimes not so good.”
Russian Dmitry Tursunov, who has undergone three left ankle surgeries and dropped outside of the Top 400, did not face a break in earning a confidence-boosting 6-3, 6-4 victory over seventh seed Ernests Gulbis of Latvia in 74 minutes. Gulbis reached the Bangkok quarter-finals (l. to Garcia-Lopez) last week and dropped to a 29-17 season record.