Juan Martín del Potro has suffered an early exit from the 2019 Mutua Madrid Open. The world number 8 found himself faced with a very solid Laslo Djere, who prevented him from advancing to the second round of the tournament (6-3, 2-6, 7-5). The Serbian world number 32, who is enjoying the season of his life, proved to be as lively an opponent as was expected and he made sure that the Argentine never felt completely comfortable.
The first set indicated that the player from Tandil could expect a tough match in the Arantxa Sánchez Vicario stadium. Djere, who won in Rio and reached the semis in Budapest and Sao Paulo, showed the spectators why clay is his favourite surface. It is no surprise that 11 of his 13 victories this season, in which he is gradually establishing himself on the ATP Tour, have come on clay.
‘Delpo’ appeared beaten, and when Djere found his break (4-2) the set was soon to follow. What always looked like it might be a long match eventually lasted almost two and a half hours. At times the supposed favourite lived up to his billing. Del Potro was determined to make the second set his and he got to work quickly. With two breaks of serve in his favour (the first at 3-1 and the second to win the set), he equalled the scores.
However, Djere grew when it mattered most. ‘Delpo’ had only played three matches since October 2018 due to a knee injury. And despite patches of quality, he has more weaknesses than a few months ago. The Serb was able to exploit them, cashing in on his only chance to break in the third set (6-5). For his part, Del Potro was unable to convert any of his five break points in the deciding set. In fact, he only converted 45% of his chances, compared to 55% for Djere. He also gave away a match point.
Therefore, the player from Senta, having first knocked out his compatriot Dusan Lajovic and now sent ‘Delpo’ packing, will take on another opponent from his corner of the world, the Croatian Marin Cilic (no. 11), in the third round. It was a rough day for Argentinian tennis; to go with Del Potro’s exit, Diego Schwartzman (6-1, 6-2 against Jeremy Chardy) and Guido Pella (6-3, 6-4 against Stan Wawrinka) also said their goodbyes to the tournament.