Del Potro falls in Sydney quarters

Sydney, Australia ( – Defending champion Juan Martin del
Potro came up a quarterfinal loser Thursday at the Sydney International tennis
event, a final Australian Open tune-up.

Kazakhstani qualifier Mikhail Kukushkin doused his wild card fellow non-seed
del Potro in 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-3) fashion on the hardcourts at NSW Tennis

The oft-injured 2009 U.S. Open champion del Potro had won his first two
matches this week after being sidelined since last February with a wrist

The tall Argentine slugger beat Aussie and 2013 Sydney titlist Bernard
Tomic in last year’s finale here.

Tomic also lost on Wednesday, as Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller snuck past the
inconsistent Aussie, 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (15-13).

Meanwhile, fifth-seeded Argentine Leonardo Mayer upended fourth-seeded
Frenchman and 2012 runner-up Julien Benneteau 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) and 2011 Sydney
runner-up Viktor Troicki of Serbia outlasted Italian Simone Bolelli 6-3, 3-6,

Friday’s semifinals will pit Mayer against Kukushkin and Muller versus
the qualifier Troicki.

This week’s winner will claim $80,000.