The No. 6 seed furthered his case for a return trip to the final for the first time since 2013 (l. to Rafael Nadal 4-6, 6-3, 6-4), moving into the third round with a businesslike 6-2, 6-1 win over rising Aussie 19-year-old Alex de Minaur.
“I played my game during whole match,” Del Potro told BNPParibasOpen.com. “I played very aggressive in my return games. I served well, and I think I played better than I expected before the match.”
The Lleyton Hewitt pupil de Minaur, nicknamed “Demon,” made waves earlier this year when he reached the Brisbane semifinals as a wild card, following that with a run to the Sydney final. He became the youngest player to reach semis in consecutive weeks since 18-year-old Nadal in 2005. But de Minaur couldn’t solve the 6-foot-6 Argentine in Stadium 1.
Del Potro, who defeated three of his fellow Top-10 players in succession en route to his 21st ATP title in Acapulco only days ago, moves on to face 29th seed David Ferrer. He’s an even 6-6 against the Spaniard in FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings.
No. 2 seed Marin Cilic, a potential quarterfinal opponent for Del Potro, also advanced on Sunday with a 7-5, 6-3 decision over Hungary’s Martin Fucsovics. No. 6 seeded American Jack Sock claimed a 6-2, 7-5 win over Italy’s Thomas Fabbiano, while qualifier Marcos Baghdatis upset No. 14 seed Diego Schwartzman 7-5, 6-4.
Joao Sousa of Portugal reeled off five straight games in the third set to score a 7-5, 5-7, 6-4 upset of No. 4 seed Alexander Zverev, who was aiming to reach the third round for the third straight year.