Juan Martin del Potro believes he is gaining momentum on clay, despite a third-round exit on Thursday at the Mutua Madrid Open.

“I’m feeling good,” said Del Potro, who returned this week to the ATP World Tour for the first time since late March. “It’s not the same to be training than to be competing. That’s why two matches perhaps are not too much, but for me it’s okay. I think I am getting some momentum.”

The popular Argentine remained positive after a 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(6) loss to Serbian qualifier Dusan Lajovic at the Caja Magica, and now travels to compete at next week’s Internazionali BNL d’Italia.

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“I think there are always positive things that you can take with you so that you can improve,” said Del Potro. “It’s been my first tournament on clay [in 2018]. I think that I played two acceptable matches. Lajovic is very good on clay. I think it was an even match. I think I can improve a lot of things towards Rome and Roland Garros. I can raise the level of my game. Right now I’m quite calm… What I have to improve is to cut down on the unforced errors.

“Rome is another opportunity for me to feel good on clay, which is, of course, one of the surfaces that is more tricky for me because of movement [and] because the rallies are a little bit longer. But I’m playing well. Tomorrow I can try to train again, and I don’t have to worry about anything physical. I’m in [good] shape.”

The 29-year-old del Potro, who is currently No. 6 in the ATP Rankings, put together a 15-match winning streak that included titles at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC (d. Anderson) and the BNP Paribas Open (d. Federer) — his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown — before losing to John Isner in the Miami semi-finals.

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