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 a clay court for the first time this season after winning two clay-court Davis Cup rubbers at home last month 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.
“I played well for only my first match after Davis Cup. The score might not have looked it, but he’s dangerous on clay,” said Del Potro, who won his last title in Marseille, France, in February, prior to a semi-final in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, against Roger Federer. “But I played much better than him and took all of my break points.”
A year ago, Del Potro arrived at the Estadio Nacionale ranked 46th and unsure of his game after missing much of the previous year 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 Argentine said: “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 record this year to 24-6 ahead of his semi-final against two-time champion Albert Montanes.
Montanes, seeded seventh, advanced to the last eight with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 win over Bobby Reynolds of the US.
Fourth seed Albert Ramos of Spain beat German Bjorn Phau 7-5, 6-0 to reach the quarters, where he is set to face the last Portuguese in contention, Joao Sousa.
The local player won 3-6, 6-3, 4-2 when Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan quit after a half-hour 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.
“I’m playing very well again this season,” said 29-year-old Vinci, who won three clay-court trophies last year. “It is some of my best tennis. I’m more consistent now than when I was young.”
Estonian Kaia Kanepi, the sixth 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.