Del Potro wins comeback, ill Halep withdraws

Tue Jan 13, 2015 1:54am EST
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MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Former U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro made a successful return to the tennis circuit on Tuesday, winning his opening match at the Sydney International.

Playing for the first time in 11 months after undergoing surgery to his left wrist, the Argentine beat Ukraine's Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-3 7-6(4).

"It's time to get back on the train again," del Potro told reporters. "This tournament is very special to me."

Del Potro won the Sydney International last year and is among dozens of competing players fine-tuning their preparations for the Australian Open, starting on Monday.

Romania's Simona Halep was among the high-profile entrants but she pulled out on Tuesday, saying she was suffering from gastroenteritis.

The world number three told organizers she was unable to take her place after falling ill in China, where she won the Shenzhen Open.

"During the tournament in China I got this problem in my stomach," she said. "I didn't play for three days. I was waiting until today to see if I was ready to play again, but I feel like I cannot play.

"It's tough to play a tournament like this so unfortunately I decided to withdraw."

Halep, runner-up at last year's French Open, said she expected to recover in time for the Australian Open, where she is among the favorites.   Continued...

Argentina's Juan Martin Del Potro reacts after defeating Ukraine's Sergiy Stakhovsky in their first round match at the Sydney International tennis tournament at Sydney Olympic Park January 13, 2015. REUTERS/Rick Stevens