“It gave me a lot of confidence last week winning a lot of tour-level matches and then this week playing a qualifier and then Del Potro - a Grand Slam winner - I wasn't over-awed, we were hitting the same level, he just served big and played the big points better too.”Marinko Matosevic
Marinko Matosevic’s impressive run at the BNP Paribas Open has come to an end, with the Victorian beaten in straight sets to world No.9 Juan Martin del Potro.
Another Aussie, Jarmila Gajdosova, also fell, coming back to win the second set but ultimately losing to American wildcard Jamie Hampton in three sets.
Having come through two rounds of qualifying and then winning his first round match at Indian Wells, Matosevic continued his fine form in the opening set against the 2009 US Open champion.
But as the match wore on, del Potro’s greater experience and firepower began to pay dividends, and the Argentine went on to post a 7-5 6-2 victory after one hour and 40 minutes.
Del Potro moves into the third round where he will face No.19 seed Fernando Verdasco.
Matosevic tipped his hat to the Argentine, explaining that he had simply been beaten by a better opponent on the day.
“With Indian Wells having rest days between matches I felt good physically, Del Potro just played too good in the second set,” the Australian No.3 explained.
“In the first set I had many chances – I had a break point – I had a big shot to my forehand which didn’t make it over the net and he played a couple of good points and I landed one or two short and that was it. You can’t give players like that anything and I did.
“The first game in the second set his first serve percentage increased and I didn’t really get a look in at any of his serves.”
Little separated the pair on the stats sheet, particularly on serve – Matosevic and Del Potro both landed three aces and recorded solid first-serve percentages in the 70s.
But del Potro’s trademark return game proved decisive, contributing to Matosevic’s poor conversion rate (39 per cent) on points that followed on from his second serve. The Argentine won nearly 60 per cent of points on his second delivery.
Despite the loss, Matosevic has built a very impressive record on US hardcourts during the spring circuit, reaching the final at last week’s ATP event in Delray Beach as a qualifier and now having won 10 of his last 12 matches after his second round finish in the Californian desert.
He said he would take plenty of confidence from these results into next week’s event in Miami.
“(Playing) Del Potro – a Grand Slam winner – I wasn’t over-awed, we were hitting the same level, he just served big and played the big points better too,” Matosevic said.
“I just need to start doing the little things better – cut out the loose errors.
“I came from Delray Beach where it was 82 per cent humidity. I sweat a lot so I don’t think humidity is the greatest thing for me but I’m really fit so I’m looking forward to going to Miami and seeing what I can do there.”
Gajdosova falls to wildcard
Later in the day, Matosevic’s compatriot Gajdosova was also bundled out of the $US11 million hardcourt event in the last match of the day on Stadium 2 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
In her previous two matches, Gajdosova had dropped the opening set but come back to win in three.
That pattern looked set to repeat against Hampton, after the Slovakian-turned-Aussie was comprehensively beaten in the opening set before levelling the match at a set apiece with a commanding performance in the second set tiebreak.
But Hampton, who had upended 2010 Indian Wells champion and 12th seed Jelena Jankovic in the previous round, continued her inspiring run on home soil, racing through the third set to post a 6-2 6-7(1) 6-2 victory.
Gajdosova’s serve betrayed her – the Aussie sprayed eight double faults to just three aces, while Hampton finished with a far more pleasing nine aces and four double faults.
The win, which came in just over two hours, sent the world No.99 into the fourth round at Indian Wells, by far the biggest result of her career. She will next face No.5 seed Agnieszka Radwanska.