After a heartbreaking loss in five sets to Roger Federer today in the quarterfinals of the French Open, soft-spoken Juan Martin Del Potro met the press to discuss the outcome:
Q. Just talk about the match. You got off to the great start, played the good tiebreak, and then looks like the knee started hurting, but then in the fifth set it looks like you moved better. Can you just take me through it.
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: No, I think anyways I play a great match, even the third and fourth set. He start to play much better than in the beginning of the match and I feel his ball more in the baseline. He put me to run a lot in the third and fourth set.
He made better match than me after the second set. I don’t have any chance to win until the first game in the fifth set when I had break point. He play well points and he take the opportunity in the fifth set and he win.
Q. When you called the trainer onto the court, did he give you some painkillers for your knee?
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: Yeah, but was to remove my tape just for be more tight. Nothing special.
Q. Are you saying that your knee did not affect your movement at all after the second set?
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: No.
Q. No? Because in the fourth set I think he had 13 winners and no unforced errors at that point. Did you feel he was feeling so well there’s nothing I can do?
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: Yeah, I feel, like you say, I serve really bad in the fourth set, also. And if I serve bad against Federer or the top guys, you don’t have too many chance to win points.
I serve bad in the fourth set, and then in the fifth set he broke me very early to take the advantage. He was playing with more confidence the fifth set than me.
When he had the chance to close the match, he made it.
Q. What do you do now? Will you go to Queen’s?
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: I’m going to rest now.
Q. You may not play Queen’s?
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: I don’t know now. I would love to play Queen’s. I supposed to play Queen’s. I just finish and I don’t know what I’m going to do in the next hours, so I can’t tell you that.
THE MODERATOR: Spanish questions, please.
Q. Can you analyze the match for us and explain what happened?
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: Well, I have not had time to analyze it yet. As I said, I played very well at the beginning. Then he started playing better. I missed a few serves, as my serve was not as good as in the first two sets. Then my game was no longer the same.
During the fifth set, he took the only opportunity I had. I had a break point, but he won it. I think that’s when the difference was huge.
Q. You had two first sets which were fantastic. What happened afterwards?
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: Well, same thing: it’s my serve. I didn’t serve well, and this is why I lost intensity in my game. Let me say that again: Federer played much better. I had to make efforts to serve better, and he did everything so that my serve was not as good as I wanted it to be and I couldn’t take my chances.
I had opportunities. I missed them; when he had opportunities he won, and that made the difference.
Q. It’s more than two years since you last won sets to Federer; you did that. So what can you learn from this match?
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: Well, the tournament was a great tournament for me. I’m very happy I made it to this level. I played four Grand Slams, and I’m amongst the eight players in the world who can make it to the final on a great tournament.
So when I win sets, when I win games against big players, against those who have a better ranking than mine, there’s always something to learn. There is positive and negative, and I have to work on the negative aspects.
Q. You said you didn’t know when you would be back on the courts and where. It’s probably a bit early. You have problems with your knee. So were you told you should rest or have you been told you can continue playing?
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: Well, after Estoril, I continued playing many matches. I think I’m one of the players who played the largest number of matches this year.
I’m feeling it a bit right now, but I really want to start playing on grass. I want to raise my level on grass. So maybe Wimbledon and the Olympic Games. That’s a great motivation for me to continue to work.
Q. We know that you never try and find excuses for a bad match and you always congratulate the winner, but we had the feeling that you were not moving as fast on the court during the fourth and the fifth set. Did you feel pain?
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: No. What I felt was that Federer was playing his best tennis. As I said, he raised his level; mine started to decrease. We started at the same level. The match was very close. He took my serve on the first set; then I took his back.
During the third and fourth set when his level raised, mine went down. In the fifth set I gave everything I had. I gave him an opportunity, and he took it.
Q. It started raining at one stage. How was the court? Was it a problem for you to play your shots or to move on the court?
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: No, because Federer’s shots were slower, as well, so the conditions have an impact on both players. I don’t think they had an influence on the quality of the game. The two others are still playing, so they didn’t stop because of the rain.
As I said, I gave him an opportunity during the fifth set; he took it.
Good for him.
Q. Did you feel you could win the match at one stage after the end of the second set? Did you start thinking, Okay, this match is going to be for me?
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: Well, until the very last ball I thought I could win, even if I was down 5 2 during the fifth set. I have enough experience now and I can come back even when the match is very complicated and we’re in the fifth set.
That’s why I was never discouraged. Well, I always think that Federer has far more experience than I have and he can win a match more quickly. Against another player I could have won a break and I could have won perhaps, but it was Federer.
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