London – Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro advanced to the third round of Wimbledon for the first time in his career, rallying for a 6-7 (7-9), 6-1, 6-0, 6-4 victory Thursday over Olivier Rochus in a match played over two days.
Del Potro, who found himself down a set when play was suspended by darkness late Wednesday, completely dominated the Belgian once the match resumed with his powerful serve and ground strokes.
The six-foot, six-inch Del Potro, the No. 24 seed, seized the momentum right away on Thursday by breaking Rochus' serve to take a 2-0 lead in the second set, part of a stretch in which he won 12 of 13 games to take a two-sets-to-one lead
During those middle two sets, the Argentine struck 32 winners to just nine for the diminutive Belgian.
Rochus put up more of a fight in the fourth set, which was suspended by rain for about 20 minutes, but was unable to break the Argentine's serve once in the entire match and could do little more than watch as 30 aces sped past him.
"It's a good number. I hope to do the same tomorrow," Del Potro said of his high ace count in the post-match interview.
"That could be the key. If you have a good serve and you're focused, you have a good chance to play a good match (on the fast grass courts of Wimbledon). I don't know if you'll lose or win, but you'll have your chances."
"I felt better than yesterday. Today was a better match. I played very aggressively. I took advantage of the opportunity to keep the match short," Del Potro, who has played every day since Monday due to frequent rain delays, said.
The 2009 U.S. Open champion, who is steadily climbing the rankings again after undergoing wrist surgery and missing most of last season, will next take on Frenchman Gilles Simon on Friday.
Nadal will face Luxembourg's Gilles Muller, who upset the Spaniard at this tournament in 2005, in another third-round match Friday.
In other second-round action Thursday involving Latin American players, Argentina's David Nalbandian defeated Austria's Andreas Haider-Maurer to set up a third-round match against Swiss great Roger Federer, Chile's Fernando Gonzalez ousted South Africa's Rik de Voest 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 and Brazil's Ricardo Mello lost to France's Michael Llodra 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.
Among the Spanish men, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez fell to Slovakia's Karol Beck 7-6 (7-5), 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, No. 16 seed Nicolas Almagro defeated big-serving American John Isner 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-5), 6-7 (5-7), 6-3 and No. 7 seed David Ferrer was trailing American Ryan Harrison 6-7 (6-8), 6-1, 4-6, 4-2 in a match suspended by darkness.