LONDON - Juan Martin del Potro's trip to the year-ending ATP World Tour Finals got off to a rough start Saturday.
The fifth-ranked Argentine was robbed of his passport, money and other belongings as he traveled by train from Paris to London Saturday morning after losing to Roger Federer in the quarterfinals of the Paris Masters one day earlier.
He also lost one of his most prized possessions - a rosary blessed by Pope Francis when he met the pontiff earlier this year in Rome.
The 2009 U.S. Open champion stopped to sign an autograph as he checked in at Paris' Gare du Nord train station when robbers swiped his suitcase, according to an email from his communications manager, Jorge Viale.
"I was finishing the check-in and was asked for an autograph," del Potro said in a statement. "I turned around to sign it and within 20 seconds, it was stolen."
Del Potro spoke to French police and showed up about two hours late to his scheduled pre-tournament press conference where he confirmed the details.
He said he was most distraught about losing the rosary, which he carried everywhere.
"That's important for me but the other things doesn't matter," he said.
He took the stolen property in stride. "It's over, I'm safe, so it's nice," the 6-6 player said.
Luckily, the perpetrator did not make off with del Potro's small reserve of rackets.
At the Paris Masters last week, del Potro was down to his final two preferred frames.
Del Potro is making his fourth appearance at the ATP World Tour Finals, where his best finish was runner-up in 2009. The elite eight-player event runs Nov. 4-11.
The 25-year-old was drawn into the tougher Group B with Novak Djokovic, Federer and Richard Gasquet.
No. 1 Rafael Nadal leads Group A with David Ferrer, Tomas Berdych and Stanislas Wawrinka.
"It's a tough draw," del Potro said.