WASHINGTON — Even before Ryan Harrison broke his racket by spiking it on the Citi Open court or screamed “Oh, my God!” in exasperation, top-seeded Juan Martin del Potro was feeling pretty good about the way things were going Thursday.
Playing his first match since losing a record-setting Wimbledon semifinal on a bum left knee nearly a month ago, del Potro began a potentially long day at the hard-court tuneup for the U.S. Open with a quick 6-1, 7-5 victory over Harrison, an American ranked 107th.
Two-time Citi Open champion del Potro said his knee felt fine; he wasn’t wearing any sort of wrap the way he did at the All England Club after hyperextending it on a fall during a match. The Argentine, who is No. 7 in the ATP rankings, hadn’t competed since July 5, when he was eliminated in five sets by No. 1 Novak Djokovic in 4 hours, 43 minutes, the longest semifinal in Wimbledon history.
Del Potro, who received a first-round bye, was scheduled to return to the court to face 14th-seeded Bernard Tomic of Australia later Thursday. That’s because the match against Harrison was supposed to be played Wednesday but was postponed by rain.
“You never know” how the knee will hold up, said del Potro’s coach, Franco Davin. “For now, it’s OK.”
Del Potro only needed to play 70 minutes in muggy conditions against Harrison, who was ranked inside the top 50 last season and is widely seen as the next top American male player.
“He has good potential. He serves well. He plays well on hard courts. But sometimes he looks young,” said del Potro, who was a couple of weeks shy of his 21st birthday when he won the 2009 U.S. Open.
“He’s still 21. He needs to learn a few things to become a better player in the future.”