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Del Potro slipping quietly through U.S. Open draw

Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina hits a return to compatriot Diego Junqueira during their match at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New
Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina hits a return to compatriot Diego Junqueira during their match at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New

By Julian Linden

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Juan Martin Del Potro might be forgiven for thinking he is the forgotten man of the U.S. Open.

While the towering Argentine was hailed as the next big thing in men's tennis after he won the title two years ago, beating Roger Federer in a classic five-set final, he has been an almost anonymous figure this time.

While Federer, Rafa Nadal and Andy Roddick, the only other players in the men's draw to have won the men's titles, have played all their matches in the Arthur Ashe Stadium, Del Potro has not played on the center court for two years.

He was unable to defend his title last year because of an injury that kept him out of the game for almost nine months but his first two matches have been played on smaller courts during the day this year.

But the 18th seed, who is struggling to rediscover his best, said he had no complaints about being overlooked for the feature night matches and said the organizers were right to save the red carpet treatment for the bigger names.

"I've never played at night here. It would be nice, but I should win more matches to do that," he said.

"They have Federer, (Novak) Djokovic. I'm in the second part of the draw, so I play same day like Nadal, (Andy) Murray, Roddick, and they are fantastic players to play at night.

"So I think they are doing a good schedule."

Del Potro will certainly get his chance on the big stage if he continues in the tournament and the early signs are encouraging.

He has been steadily improving and was starting to rebuild his confidence after easily winning his second-round clash on Friday against fellow Argentine Diego Junqueira, 6-2 6-1 7-5.

"I played better than my first round," he said.

"I was more confident with my forehand especially in the beginning of the match, and it is always important to go through.

"It doesn't matter if you play good or not in the first round, as long as you win. Now I'm in the third one, so I need to improve."

(Editing by Steve Ginsburg)

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