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del Potro hoping to build on success

SHANGHAI: Juan Martin del Potro may have won his first Grand Slam title at the U.S. Open last month but, rather than resting on his laurels, the Argentine remains focused on improving.

The 20-year-old player does not hide his desire to consistently contend with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

“Now, I’m No. 5 in the world,” said del Potro, who beat Nadal in the semifinals and Federer in an epic five-set final to claim the title in New York.

“I have a Grand Slam in my career. Now, I have to work hard to be a better, better player on all surfaces, try to keep winning tournaments, keep beating good players like Federer, Nadal ... That’s what I have to do, now and in the future.”

The U.S. Open champion hopes to emulate the world’s top two players but he is deferential to others ranked ahead of him, even Andy Murray, who has yet to win a Grand Slam.

“It’s very good to be like a star, a little star, because the biggest stars is our Federer, Nadal, (Novak) Djokovic, Murray,” said del Potro, who also won titles at Auckland and Washington, D.C. this year.

Del Potro continues to be moved by memories of his return to Argentina to celebrate the U.S. Open victory, saying he was made to feel “like a president” and that “it was like a dream.I will never forget that moment.”

Now, he is back at work.

He arrived in Shanghai after a disappointing 6-4, 6-4 first-round loss to unheralded French qualifier Edouard Roger-Vasselin at the Japan Open in Tokyo earlier in the week.

That loss came in his first match back after his U.S. Open triumph.

Del Potro is seeded third in Shanghai, a position improved by the withdrawals of Roger Federer and Andy Murray, which places the Argentine right behind Nadal and Djokovic.

He is in the top half of the draw along with Nadal and could face the reigning Australian Open champion in the semifinals.

Having received a first-round bye, del Potro will first either face Jeremy Chardy of France or Jurgen Melzer of Austria. — AP

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