Del Potro upbeat despite Djokovic defeat
Originally published on: 14/10/13 00:00
Del Potro lost a thrilling final 6-1 3-6 7-6(3) to top seed Djokovic, who defended his title to remain unbeaten in 20 matches on Chinese soil.
But the Argentine, titlist at the Rakuten Japan Open in Tokyo the week before, believes he is in better form than when he won the 2009 US Open.
“I think I'm playing even better than many years ago,” said Del Potro, who knocked out new world No.1 Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals.
“I couldn't win a Grand Slam like I did in 2009, but I reached finals in the Masters 1000s. I have already won three tournaments and I beat the top guys, which is fantastic for me.
“I think I'm playing even better than 2009 or 2008 or last year. That's important and a good thing for the future. I still have the same goal, which is to get closer to the top guys. If I still work like this, I hope I can be there one day.”
Djokovic, who picked up his fifth trophy of the season with victory over Del Potro, agrees that the 6’6” right-hander will be a serious contender for the major titles.
“No doubt about it,” Djokovic said. “Since his first Grand Slam title in 2009, we all knew he has the calibre to be a top tennis player and always a contender to win any Grand Slam he plays in. With his serve and his game, for his height, he moves extremely well. He uses the court very [well]. He has very good anticipation. He's really mentally strong.”
"He's a fantastic player and a great person," Djokovic added. "He showed that again. He has a really likable personality [and] he's a big fighter. All the way up to the last point, I didn't know if I was going to win the match. It was a very even match."
Djokovic kept his faint hopes of regaining the world No.1 spot before the end of the season alive with victory in Shanghai. Nadal, who has no ranking points to defend after missing the second half of 2012 with a knee injury, replaced the Serb at the top of the rankings last week despite losing to him in the China Open final.
Djokovic’s hopes of finishing the year on top are slim, but following back-to-back victories in Beijing and Shanghai, Djokovic has not lost hope yet.
"I put myself in a better position right now with back-to-back wins," Djokovic said."But the fact that if I would win, I would put myself in a better position, did not affect my motivation. My motivation is there always, especially when I'm playing finals of such a big event.”