Del Potro comeback bid ends in Sydney quarters

Thu Jan 15, 2015 11:07am EST
 
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SYDNEY (Reuters) - Former U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro's comeback from a lengthy injury layoff was cut short by Kazakhstan qualifier Mikhail Kukushkin in the quarter-finals of the Sydney international on Thursday.

The towering Argentine has been out for 10 months after undergoing surgery to fix a left wrist issue and went down 7-6(5) 7-6(3) to Kukushkin, ranked 66th in the world.

Defending champion Del Potro, who won the U.S. Open in 2009, has seen his ranking plummet to 338 and had hoped to get some match practice in Sydney before the Australian Open begins in Melbourne on Monday.

There was not much to choose between the two players, who went unbroken throughout the match, barring a few points in the tiebreakers.

"It was a tough match," said Del Potro, who beat top seed Fabio Fognini in his second match. "I think he deserved to win because he played better than me in the tie-break.

"I served well, but my wrist hurts a little bit more than yesterday, and I couldn't hit harder than my last match. I think anyway it's a great week for me.

"I played three matches in a row and I played against good players, which means a good comeback for me."

Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova signalled her intent for Melbourne by brushing aside Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova 7-5 6-1 to set up an all-Czech final against Karolina Pliskova.

With her win, second-seeded Kvitova brought Pironkova's dream run at the Sydney Olympic Park to an end after she won 14 straight matches, having come through qualifiers to win in 2014 and again playing qualifiers to reach the main draw this year.   Continued...

 
Argentina's Juan Martin Del Potro reaches for a shot during his quarter-final match against Kazakhstan's Mikhail Kukushkin at the Sydney International tennis tournament at Sydney Olympic Park January 15, 2015. REUTERS/Rick Stevens