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June 8, 2018

Juan Martin Del Potro

Paris, France

R. NADAL/J.M. Del Potro

6-4, 6-1, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: Questions in English.

Q. Probably in the first set you felt a better player. How crucial was the switch in momentum after he could not convert your break points at 4-All in the opening set?
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: Yeah, I think that was my chance of the match. I had a lot of break points. I couldn't make it.

Rafa served well, played good points in that break points, and I got unlucky in that moment. Could be different match if I win the first set.

But then he made me run a lot. Intensity is too high the whole match, and I couldn't stay thereafter the first set.

He deserved to win. He played much better from the beginning till the end. He made a great match.

Q. I think we saw the trainer/doctor come on the court and I think you took some pills. Were you feeling pain or anything in particular?
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: No, no. Just did a bad movement with my hip at the beginning of the match, but it wasn't nothing, nothing dangerous.

I finished the match. I ran to everywhere and I did -- I mean, I'm finishing in good shape, which is good to me. I'm healthy. That's important to keep looking for the future.

Q. On the hip, when you pulled it or when you pulled up, was it playing on your mind? How did you fight through it and keep fighting for every point?
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: I tried to fight all the time. Doesn't matter my pains, you know. Against Rafa you must be 100%, as I thought that I had been before the match.

What I said, I had my opportunities at the first set. I couldn't break his serves in few times.

And when you don't take your chances against the No. 1 in the world, you're in trouble, and that happens today.

Q. There is nevertheless a familiar pattern. Bolelli had chances in the first set, Schwartzman had chances in the first set, and you. Why do you think Nadal is vulnerable in the first set and then he isn't afterwards?
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: Well, I don't know. Anyways, at least we can win a set, not the match (smiling).

But Rafa is playing every point better from the beginning until the last point of the match, and his intensity very growing up during the match, and it's tough to be there all the time.

I mean, not many players can beat him on clay. And I had my chances today, but I couldn't play my best because of him. His game is too good for me.

Q. Over the last few days, I have taken time to look at the reaction from tennis fans to how you have played at Roland Garros. So many tennis fans are so pleased that you are now competing again at the highest level and still determined to win. Coming into Roland Garros, did you feel like you had something to prove to yourself? If so, after everything you have been through, what do you think you have proved to yourself?
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: Well, of course I got too much love from the fans around the world. That's amazing to me. I'm very proud of that. I have been doing a big effort to keep playing tennis.

Next Monday I think I will be the No. 4 in the world after many years, which is something special for me, for my family, for the people who were behind me all the time.

I like to keep surprising myself. You know, doesn't matter what my ranking is in the future, but I can get semifinals in Grand Slam in my worst surface, which is very important for my life, as well.

Q. You keep saying that this is your worst surface, but you have had good results here. Are you changing your mind about this?
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: Well, of course I would like to play in different surface, but I grow up playing on clay, so I know how the game is.

But these matches we play in different surface with Rafa, maybe the game is little different, no? To win a big event like this in this surface, beating Rafa or the top guys, you must be even better than the player who I am today and is not easy to get that in my age (smiling).

Q. How do you think Nadal is a better player than he was even a few years ago?
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: Yes, I think so. He's too strong. He's improving his backhand a lot. That's why he's the No. 1 and beating all the guys. He looks fresh. I mean, he's healthy. And the strength that he has and the mentally, everything is perfect, works perfect for him playing in clay.

And I think it's gonna be a fun match to watch. I will be at home, I think (smiling).

I wish all the best for both guys. They both deserve to win.

Q. Is there anybody who can beat Nadal here at Roland Garros, or do we have to wait until he stops playing?
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: Maybe (smiling). Yeah, well, let's see what Dominic can do. I mean, Dominic beat Rafa in Madrid. Maybe on Sunday he can repeat.

But it's not easy. I been on court just couple of minutes ago. It was almost impossible to beat him.

THE MODERATOR: Questions in Spanish.

Q. What was the most difficult thing in the match when you realized that you couldn't win the first set?
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: When you're playing against the best player in the world and you have a few opportunities and you don't seize these opportunities, you have to wait for them to come back and wait for the same chances that I had at the beginning.

And I had a lot of break points in the first set. I was playing better at the beginning of the match. But I knew that Rafa was going to play from worse to better and, if I was not able to win the first set, the match would be as it was.

Unfortunately, I was not able to convert my break points. I made a few errors. And he played well. If I had won that break, we could have played a longer match.

But anyway, I did a beautiful tournament, better than expected. And losing against Rafa on his best surface, his best court, I'm quite relaxed about that.

Q. Was it worrying, the fact that you had a hip problem? And apparently it was quite painful but you continued playing.
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: Well, I was able to continue moving. It was bothering me a bit, but not so much. I was able to play normally. I was able to run a lot, and I gave everything I could.

To play a better match, I should have seized my opportunities in the first set. Otherwise, well, Rafa played very well. He was playing all the balls inside.

And as I was saying, he was playing better and better, and I was not able to seize my opportunities at the beginning of the match.

Q. You talked about the ranking, but you said in English that you will be No. 4 after many years. Can you say something about that? What it means to come back to this level, such a high level?
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: I would have never imagined that. Any person who follows my recovery knows that when I came back to play tennis, would have never thought I would become No. 4 again in the world. I was feeling that, because my body was going through these difficult times.

But now I'm here, and I'm enjoying and thanking all these people who didn't let me retire a few years ago. They encouraged me to continue fighting.

And although the ranking is not my priority, when I'm so close to the first positions, it's beautiful. And I see that those who are in front of me are the same as 10 years ago, and they are the best players in tennis history. So it's a beautiful image for me.

Q. I know that we have finished the clay season, but what feelings do you have about having finished healthy? Are you eager to play on grass?
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: Well, everything went pretty well. Despite the tiredness, I'm moving to a more comfortable surface. I hope that I'm going to have great successes.

I'm going to play Wimbledon, of course, and then I will have to analyze the situation afterwards, when I will be ready to play.

But Wimbledon I will try to be well-prepared to continue hitting my best tennis.

Q. As you said, Nadal in this match was fantastic. Do you think that the prophecy that Nadal will win until 40 in Roland Garros will be fulfilled?
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: Well, I think that Nadal can win tomorrow. If Rafa plays at this level and is healthy, it will be very difficult to be winning in this tournament.

If he continues with this desire, he can win many more times, like Federer for Wimbledon, and other major tournaments.

As I said recently, 10 years ago, it was Rafa and Roger, and now it's always the same. So they always win the big tournaments. It just speaks to their virtues in terms of tennis, physical and mental strength.

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