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January 9, 2014

Juan Martin Del Potro


J. DEL POTRO/R. Stepanek
6‑4, 3‑6, 6‑3

THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.¬† First time in the semifinals for you here.¬† Do you think that reflects your off‑season preparation?¬† Do you think that's been better and that's why you started well immediately?
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO:¬† Well, I think I did a really good pre‑season.¬† I came here with a really high expectations.¬† I'm the No. 1 seed, so if I play well, I have chance to keep going.¬† I'm reaching the semifinals for the first time in this tournament.
Also, I'm looking forward to have the chance to play finals here and then the next week be ready for the first Grand Slam.
But I think I'm doing well.¬† I start to play better today than yesterday.¬† The court, the balls are really fast.¬† It's tough to play rallies or to feel comfortable after a really tough off‑season.
I think I'm doing well.  I also believe I can improve everything for the next matches and the next tournaments.

Q.  You played Tursunov in Cincinnati:  three sets; you got on him pretty well in the third set.  Talk about the matchup.  Veteran player; pretty consistent; hits the ball hard.
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO:  Yeah, he's a difficult opponent for me.  He plays really flat and good shots down the line, backhands and forehands.  He's the past champion of this tournament.  He like when the courts and the condition is like this tournament.
I don't know if I going to have a good day tomorrow, but I need to serve well like I did in the third set of the Stepanek match, and then I keep improving, looking forward for tomorrow and next tournament.

Q.  So are the balls here bouncing high enough for you?  I know you like a little time to set up.
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO:  No, I think the bounce are really low.  Looks like a grass court, you know, because very low bounce and very faster bounce, too.
It's not easy to play on the baseline and feel good on the lines, but I'm trying to do the best I can.  If I keep winning, it's a good signal for me.

Q.  You've done really on grass before.  Took you a few years to get used to it, but you had a very good Olympics and Wimbledon.  Do you feel like you can get used to the low bounce if it's the same in Melbourne?
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO:  I'm not training for this kind of conditions.  I been practicing in hard court, regular hard court, and I was expecting different conditions for this tournament.
Hopefully for Melbourne the courts and balls are slower to play long rallies, to feel the ball like I want.  If not, I will have a couple days before start to change my mind and try to play the best tennis I can.

Q.  Can you talk a little bit about Murray.  I know you had a major wrist injury.  Took you a year and a half, two years before you were very comfortable.  He had back surgery.  Coming back it Australia, he said he does not expect to win the Australian Open.  Is it too early to think that even a great player can come back and win so early?
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO:  Yes, it's really tough to have a fantastic comeback like Rafa, you know.  Rafa is a great champion, a great fighter, and not many players can do the same comeback as he did last year.
But Murray is still the favorite for the Grand Slam.  I know he doesn't feel 100% yet, but he needs time to feel the ball okay, to feel his body fit again.  He's very dangerous for all the players having Murray, expecting what's going to happen with his back or his level.
But for sure he's one of the favorites of the tournament.

Q.  Just in your opinion, if down in Melbourne the courts play similarly and the balls, who do you think might come into title contention or maybe get deep into the second week that perhaps we might not be thinking about?  We know the obvious guys.  If there are similar conditions, any suggestions who might put their hand up and contend?
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO:  Well, before the Grand Slam, I think the favorites are the top four guys.  Then if the condition are like this tournament, you have a big service players like Isner, like Karlovic, too.  It's really tough to return the serve.  Maybe Janowicz, too.  He reached semifinals in Wimbledon serving really well.
I think the top guys are still the favorites, but in every Grand Slam you have to expect a surprise.  Maybe the younger player like Dimitrov or Raonic or maybe Tomic.  He's a local.  He has advantage than the rest of the players.
If he takes a good way of the pressure, he can do very well.

Q.  You didn't play here last year.  Did you come back because you decided this was a better preparation for you for the Australian Open?
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO:  Yes, I think so.  I like to play couple of matches before a Grand Slam.  Play in a good tournament like Sydney, it's a big opportunity for me.  I always having fun in this tournament.  The facility for the players are really good.  And also train before a Grand Slam.
But I'm not thinking in that way.  I just came here trying to win the tournament.  I'm in the semifinals.  I know my match of tomorrow is really, really hard to play.
But I'm not thinking about Melbourne yet.

Q.  You looked frustrated in the second set and like you might even smash a racquet.  What was going through your mind, and how did you calm yourself down coming into the third?
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO:  (Smiling.)  Yeah, I was close, but I can't do that yet.  When I get eight or ten racquets, I will smash all of them.
I will talk before with the chair umpire to don't call me a code violation or something.  I have to be allowed to do that after two years maybe.
But, no, I'm trying to be calm all the time.  I was positive every moment of the match.  Even Radek improve his game during the second set, I was positive, waiting for my chance, and I play a fantastic two pints in the third game of the third set to break his serve.
Then I serve okay.  Just doing my job, and I was close the match really calm.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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