Tennis: Gracious Del Potro hails Murray strategy, seeks backhand improvement


Juan Martin del Potro knows improving his backhand is a top priority after he bowed out of the French Open courtesy of a straight-sets defeat to world number one Andy Murray on Saturday.

Playing his first French Open in five years after a succession of serious wrist injuries, Del Potro certainly had chances in his third-round tie on Court Philippe Chatrier.

The Argentinian had four set points in the opener - wasting one with a double fault - and also made life difficult for Murray in the second before the Briton cruised through the third to triumph 7-6 (10-8) 7-5 6-0.

Reflecting on his missed opportunities, Del Potro said: "When you play the best players, they give you very few opportunities. When they do, you can't make a double fault like I did. There was [also] this other point. I had a set point and I was going to win the set, right? Instead of being aggressive, I didn't really do much and he won that point.

"But beyond my tennis and so on, I need to improve my backhand. Andy is one of the smartest guys on the circuit, and he knew what my weak point was. If I had been in slightly better condition and with a better backhand, it would have been more difficult for him."

Continuing to praise the strategy employed by Murray, Del Potro added: "He played very smartly. I knew that if I stayed behind the baseline, he can only do so much. So that's why he kept forcing me to move, to move away from the baseline.

"And then he forced me to play backhand first, and then he sliced me. Sometimes his balls would then go cross-court diagonally and only very, very few smart players can do that. So he really used my weakness at that point. That was his strategy, very clearly.

"I hope that my slice will work better on grass going forward. Again, when he was doing drop shots and slices, it's different. It's different on clay versus grass. And if I want to hurt my opponent, I need, at that point, to use my two-handed backhand.

"I'm getting better at it, but I'm still finding - you know, I can't go faster in terms of improvement. My wrist is getting there. But he knew very well what my weak points were."