Del Potro Stuns Djokovic In Rio Opener

Novak Djokovic (photo: facebook/ITF)

RIO DE JANEIRO, August 8, 2016

Novak Djokovic is out on Day 2 of the Olympic Tennis event. The world number one lost his opening match to Juan Martin Del Potro 7-6, 7-6. The Argentine took two tie-breaks, winning  7-4, 7-2. He converted his second match point with a bulldozer of a forehand that clips the net and cruelly drops short. The encounter lasted two hours and 27 minutes.

“It was a great atmosphere and a great match for me. I hit my forehand as hard as I can, I hit a lot of winners, I served well and my backhand was okay. I tried just to put in court the ball and put in good slices as well. I didn’t expect to beat Novak tonight. It’s an amazing night for me,” Del Potro told.

“Delpo was just a better player and he deserved to win, that’s just sport. At decisive moments he came up with some extraordinary tennis and I just have to congratulate him,” Djkovoic had to admit.

“It’s obviously very sad and disappointing to go out in a tournament this early but on the other hand I am glad a good friend of mine and someone who has struggled a lot in the last couple of years is back and plays at this level.

“No doubt this is one of my toughest losses in my career,” Djokovic said. “It’s not easy to handle, especially now just after the match, the wounds are still fresh, but you have to deal with it. It’s not the first or the last time I am losing a tennis match at the Olympic Games. It’s completely different.”

A seemingly straightforward victory for 2008 Beijing gold medallist Rafael Nadal, winning 6-2, 6-1 against Federico Delbonis, but the encouter still took a good 86 minutes despite the fact that only 15 games were played.

“If there was not Olympic Games here I would not be competing. The wrist need a little more time to be 100% recovered. It’s only one chance every four years and is something unforgettable. I missed London so I didn’t want to miss this one. I am enjoying a lot, I am happy, I am doing the best thing I can do every single moment to be ready for the action and today was a great feeling on court,” Nadal said and was proud to carry the Spanish flag at the Opening Ceremony.

“The feeling bringing the Spanish flag in was a feeling that will stay for the rest of my life. It was an unforgettable things for me and I enjoy it a lot with the rest of my colleagues of the Spanish delegation so just happy for that and something unforgettable.”

Still, a good start for the Spaniard in his first competitive match since the French Open. He will face Andreas Seppi in the second round. The Italian conquered Illya Marchenko.

Fabio Fognini had a real battle on his hands against 36-year-old Victor Estrella Burgos but, after winning a close second set on a tiebreak, it was one way traffic for the Italian as he rounded off a 2-6, 7-6, 6-0 triumph. Fognini will next play either Benoit Paire or Lukas Rosol in the second round, with the winner earning a clash against Andy Murray or Juan Monaco.

The world number two defeated Viktor Troicki 6-3, 6-2. Murray sent down three aces and hit 14 winners to seal victory one hour and 23 minutes.

On defending his gold medal, Murray said: “I’m not defending the gold medal – I keep that, I don’t have to give it back. It’s trying to win another medal is what builds the pressure and wanting to do something here is the pressure I am putting on myself. I’m not thinking what happened four years ago, which was an amazing experience for me. Having the Olympics come so soon after Wimbledon, which was a big win for me, it would’ve been easy to have a bit of a lull after that, but that’s not going to happen with the Olympics. It’s worked out extremely well and I hope I can have another good run here.”

Local hero Thomaz Bellucci benefited from the retirement of Dustin Brown. The German was forced to give up due to a left ankle injury, leading 6-4, 4-5 after 79 minutes.

“I’m happy to be in the second round but I am very sad to see a friend with a serious injury. I hope it will not be too serious and hope to see Dustin soon on the tour. I am happy to be in the second round. It was very tough conditions today, it was very windy and for both players it was not easy to play so I’m just happy to be in the second round,” Bellucci said and added:

“It was fun, it was a lot of fun and Dustin too was enjoying the atmosphere. For me it was amazing and to be playing the Olympic Games in my country is amazing and the experience is unbelievable and I hope to keep like this. For me it is a very special tournament and I hope to play better in the next round.”