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(Reuters) - Argentine Juan del Potro has withdrawn from next week's Brisbane International due to a persistent left wrist injury, tournament officials announced on Thursday.
The injury-ravaged 2009 U.S. Open winner, who has not played since undergoing surgery last March, had hoped to return to competition in Brisbane in preparation for the Australian Open.
“I won’t surrender and I work every day to overcome each stone that appears in my path and so be able to play without niggles and enjoy competing again,” Del Potro said on his Facebook page on Thursday.
The 26-year-old thanked his fans for their support during a difficult year after missing almost a whole season for the second time in his career.
“I very much miss the to and fro with you all in a tennis court. Have a great 2015. I’ll see you soon,” the Argentine known to his fans as Delpo added.
The former world number four plans to return a week later in Sydney to defend his title.
“Last year I played some of my best tennis there and it is the perfect way to start the year. I am looking forward to being back in Sydney as it is one of my favorite cities to play," he said.
"I remember there were a lot of Argentine fans who came out to support me which was amazing."
Del Potro is the second U.S. Open champion to pull out of the Brisbane event in the past 48 hours following the withdrawal of Marin Cilic with a shoulder injury.
Croatia's Cilic won his first grand slam when he claimed the U.S. Open title last year.
Del Potro's withdrawal comes less than three weeks before the first grand slam of the year starts in Melbourne on Jan. 19.
Despite losing two high-profile players, a strong field is expected for the event, including Roger Federer, Kei Nishikori, Milos Raonic and Grigor Dimitrov, who have all confirmed their participation.
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by John O'Brien