AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
ESTORIL: Juan Martin del Potro made a strong start to his French Open preparations with a 6-1, 6-0 hammering of Portugal’s Rui Machado to reach the quarter-finals of the Estoril Open on Thursday.
Del Potro, the top seed and defending champion, was playing an ATP match on the surface
for the first time this season after winning two clay Davis Cup rubbers at home in April when Argentina defeated Croatia. Despite the scoreline, the 23-year-old admitted that Machado had tested him as he looks to build up his form.
A year ago, Del Potro arrived at the Estadio Nacionale ranked 46th and unsure of his game after missing much of 2010 following wrist surgery. However, the 2009 US Open champion dug deep to claim his first title in the country with a victory over Spaniard Fernando Verdasco.
Now ranked a more respectable 12th, the Argentinian added: “I’m pleased with my performance. This was good for a first match of this part of the season.”
Victory over Machado improved Del Potro’s 2012 record to 24-6 ahead of his semi-final against two-time champion Albert Montanes on Friday.
Montanes, seeded seventh, advanced to the last eight with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 win over American Bobby Reynolds. Fourth seed Albert Ramos of Spain beat German Bjorn Phau 7-5, 6-0 to reach the quarter-finals, where he will face the last Portuguese in contention, Joao Sousa. The local player won 3-6, 6-3, 4-2 when Uzbek Denis Istomin quit after a 30-minute evening rain interruption, citing a bad back as his reason for not returning to the court.
In the women’s draw, Italian top seed Roberta Vinci reached the semi-finals by defeating Russian seventh seed Nadia Petrova 6-2, 1-6, 6-4. Estonian Kaia Kanepi, the No 6 seed, upset Czech fourth seed Petra Cetkovska 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. Unseeded Carla Suarez Navarro defeated Spanish compatriot Silvia Soler-Espinosa 6-3, 6-3 to set up a meeting with Karin Knapp after the unseeded Italian defeated Galina Voskoboeva of Kazakhstan 7-6 (7/4), 2-6, 6-4.