Argentine Juan Martin del Potro overcame a first round scare at the International BNL d’Italia Masters in Rome as he needed three sets on his way to victory over Frenchman Michael Llodra, winning 7-5 3-6 6-4.
10th seed Del Potro, who has been playing some high quality clay court tennis this season, broke his opponent in the 11th game of the first set, just after Llodra failed to convert two set points on the Argentine’s serve when 5-4 up. Del Potro then went on and with some big serves closed out the set.
Llodra kept on asking the question at the beginning of the second set, and he got rewarded with a break in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead. Both players then held serve and the Frenchman managed to force a deciding set.
Del Potro raised his level in the third set and some stunning backhand returns helped him to take Llodra’s serve to go 3-1 up. He seemed to be in control of the set, but failed to serve out the match when leading 5-4, giving the Frenchman another opportunity to mix up the cards. However, the last week’s Madrid Open semifinalist Del Potro fought back in the best possible way, breaking Llodra once more to sail to victory.
Next up for Del Potro will be Russia’s Mikhail Youzhny, who overcame Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil 6-2 3-6 6-3.
Also through to the second round is American qualifier Sam Querrey, who dismissed Jarkko Nieminen of Finland 7-6 (4) 5-7 6-4 and Argentine Juan Monaco, who eased passed Romanian qualifier Adrian Ungur, defeating him 6-2 6-2.