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May 30, 2017

Juan Martin Del Potro

Paris, France


6-2, 6-1, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions in English.

Q. You seem seemed to be friendly with Mr. Pella, seemed to be a friend of yours. This is the first round of a big tournament, and you're playing a fellow Argentine, right? Is anything going through your mind? People like to see Argentines play longer than Mr. Pella played today. Before the match and the draw, did you think anything about playing a fellow Argentine?
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: Well, of course we would prefer to play against another player, for sure. Is never easy when you have to play a friend, a guy like Guido, which is so good on court. Off court, as well, we have a great relationship. We both got the Davis Cup trophy few months ago.

Of course I would like to play another player, for sure, but that's the draw. I got lucky because I play a very good match today and I could beat him in three sets in a row.

Q. You have had a few experiences now where you have come back to places after your injury. Was this any different than some of the other tournaments you have returned to?
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: Well, I am having good experience in this tournament because I never find the place where I have to go after five years I get losing everywhere. But I think the French Open is amazing tournament for Argentinian people, and I love to be playing this tournament again after five years.

And also, when you have a great match as I played today, everything is easier to yourself. I'm looking forward to keep playing in the same way.

Q. Just a follow-up. I asked Mr. Pella this similar question. I wonder about the state or Latin American tennis today. There are no great really top U.S. players, I know that. And Latin America used to have Guga and Vilas and Rios and Nalbandian. Used to be pretty dominant. Mr. Pella said it's the economy or suggested it was the economy. You have to travel a long way, costs a lot of money. It's difficult. But what makes it more difficult today than it was before?
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: I don't know. I think that the times changes, the tour change. But also, you had Roddick, you have Connors, McEnroe, many American good players for the history. Now, also you have Isner, Querrey, Sock. Those guys are so good on the tour. We also fight for the good place in the ranking, but I think all the American players are doing his best.

Q. Does it seem like a very long time since you have played here, the five years, or is it...
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: Yeah, yeah, what I said before, I never could find the place where I have to go, because in five years, five years ago was really different tournament. I think that the tournament is getting better every day, every day, every year. I am so happy to be here after five years.

Q. Where do you feel your game is in terms of how much room for improvement you have in terms of getting back to being at your best?
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: Well, I can say my level is in the high level after my return, because I have, with the high ranking after my comeback, I'm top 30 in the world. I won the first round in the Grand Slam after five years, and I already make quarterfinals in Masters 1000 after long time, too. And I think I'm playing good tennis on the surface where I don't feel good enough.

Q. Where were you and what do you remember about the men's tournament here in 2004?

Q. Yes. With Nalbandian, Coria, Gaudio.
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: Oh, it was that year. I think I was at home watching them on TV.

Q. Any particular memories about it?
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: No, no, no. Of course me and also the Argentina people were watching that finals on TV and enjoyed the game between both great players.

Q. You talk about being in the top 30 and happy to go past the first round of a slam today. Have you set yourself any sort of targets for the rest of the year or here that you kind of want to achieve?
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: No, no. I don't mind about the ranking. I just want to keep improving my game, my backhand. And I know after this tournament starting, the grass tournament, the grass season which I feel good in that surface, so I'm looking forward to be in good shape for doing good tournaments on grass.

THE MODERATOR: Questions in Spanish.

Q. You said your backhand wasn't quite there yet. What did you think? Because I thought it was pretty good.
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: It's getting better and better. But from time to time I wish I could have played faster. I think -- I wish I could have done things I was able to do a few years ago. So sometimes it creates a little bit of frustration.

Nonetheless, I was able to show today that my weak point, which used to be my weak point until recently, my backhand has got better. I think his strategy was to force me into using the backhand, and he was able to see that it was no longer my weak point and that I was able to use my backhand quite well.

But it's true that sometimes I was a little upset, because I know that my backhand is not quite what it used to be.

Q. How did you feel in general?
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: Much better. Much better this morning during the match than what I expected. I knew my opponent was going to test me on my backhand, and as I just said, my backhand is getting better. I think my backhand play is more solid.

So that helped me. I think that my serve was also pretty good this morning, and that gave me the confidence I needed.

Again, this is an important tournament and feeling that way is important.

Q. Who is your staff, your future staff?
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: I'm with my physio, who has been traveling with me. He's been with me for several tournaments now.

For physical reasons, I feel quite good with him. After what happened with my family, I didn't really have the time I needed to truly train well and prepare for clay. I decided I was going to go back to Rome, but again, I didn't really have enough time to prepare with my staff.

Q. (off microphone.)
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: I'm really not in a big hurry to find a coach. Right now things are okay. I guess I feel free to play my tennis, and I don't really think that my game play can change that much. I have a very unique game play, and it's good that way.

Q. There are more and more former tennis players who become either coaches or consultants, advisors. Do you think that is positive or not? What do you think?
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: Well, being a good former player doesn't mean you can be a good coach. There are some, you know, players out there who became, you know, very good players who tried to coach and it was not very positive. I heard from Wawrinka and other players that it doesn't always work that way.

Todd Martin and Djokovic is another example. They didn't really achieve what they were hoping for.

Edberg is a great coach. I think it's also very personal. It's really based on personal choices.

Q. In 2009 and 2012 again you played a great tournament here, and this was at the eve of other big successes in your career. How do you see the future? Do you think that in the upcoming season similar great moments could happen?
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: I focus on each single tournament. I remember back in 2009 when I lost against Federer in the semifinal. That year I thought it was my year. I was really thinking I would make it into the finals. Well, you know, I thought I could beat Federer that year. Then I lost. And at that point, I thought I'm never going to have good results again.

And then I ended up winning the US Open. And then last year I didn't think I would be able to come back to, you know, such a high level. This year, you know what? I don't really think about it too much. I'm just -- I think I have adopted a sort of wait-and-see attitude. We'll see. We'll see. I try not to make things too complicated, and I try not to set long-term objectives. I really play match after match.

Q. Last year and maybe even this year you were not very lucky in the draws, and your ranking never made it possible for you to, you know, have a good draw. Now you're in the top 30. Has that changed things a little bit? Would you say it's different compared to previous years?
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: True. Well, first of all, entering the top 30 is not easy. You know, I had to go through Rome and having a good ranking is difficult. The draw is what it is. Again, I ended up playing one of my fellow Argentinians, which is not great.

And the second round is going to be complicated. And that's the way it is. There is really not much you can do. I think to avoid a complicated draw, I would really have to further improve my ranking.

Q. I'd like to come back to the question of the coach. You talked about Wimbledon and Vallverdu.
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: Yes. Vallverdu. Vallverdu was a good experience. He was a great coach. I think he's still showing today that he's a great coach with Dimitrov. He's still working with him. So he's really improved his level.

Q. In Miami, you said you were feeling great, you had good sensations on hard surface. Now you're playing on a slightly slower surface. But you played well, but as you said, you had some family issues so you sort of put your career on hold and you came back to Lyon. So the first question: Do you still have these good sensations? Good feelings? Would you say Lyon is now behind? That's my first question. My second question is the following: Could you clarify one thing for me? The Argentinian Tennis Federation chairman mentioned you when you answered questions as being problematic. Could you come back to that?
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: Well, let me answer your first question first. In Rome -- I guess in Lyon I was really focused. It was an important tournament for me. At that point, I knew I needed to be very careful. And I had to stay focused.

To the second question about this sentence of the chairman of the Argentinian Tennis Federation. I told him I didn't talk about this, and what he said is not what I said. As a matter of fact, I think he agreed that what he said was, when he quoted me is not what I really said.

Q. (off microphone.)

Q. (off microphone.)
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: That's the way it is. The other message I saw, what I said was very clear, I checked it with my colleagues, so you can make all kinds of assumptions, you know. I know what my statements are and I'm not going to clarify things that I didn't say.

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