Del Potro returns a winner in Sydney

Sydney, Australia ( – Playing his first tennis since last
February, wild card Juan Martin del Potro returned a winner Tuesday at the
Sydney International tennis event, a final Australian Open tune-up.

The reigning champion from Argentina handled Ukrainian Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-3,
7-6 (7-4) in opening-round play on the hardcourts at NSW Tennis Centre.

The oft-injured 2009 U.S. Open champion del Potro had been sidelined for 11
months with a wrist injury.

“It was a great moment for me,” del Potro said. “I think I played well in my
first match after 10 months. I served well. My forehand is still working out.
So that’s a good signal for the future. I need to work very hard to my
backhands and my movements, but I think now is time to think about my comeback
and enjoy this moment a lot.

“I’ve been at home for a long time; [it’s been] really sad. To be honest, I
didn’t expect this moment to be early in the season. I’m so happy, so glad. I
would like to share with a lot of people who were behind me last year, but all
of them are in Argentina. So I will meet them once again very soon.”

The tall slugger, unseeded this week, beat Aussie and 2013 Sydney titlist
Bernard Tomic in last year’s final here.

Tomic whipped Dutch qualifier Igor Sijsling 6-1, 6-2 on Day 2.

In action involving seeds, No. 7 Frenchman Jeremy Chardy handled American Sam
Querrey 6-4, 6-4 and Serbian qualifier and 2011 runner-up Viktor Troicki
knocked out No. 8 Slovak Martin Klizan 6-2, 6-3.

Meanwhile, Spaniard Pablo Andujar doused Finnish qualifier, 2012 champion
and 2009 runner-up Jarkko Nieminen 6-2, 6-2; Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller
overcame Aussie wild card Sam Groth 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (8-6); Kazakhstani qualifier
Mikhail Kukushkin topped Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin 6-3, 7-6 (7-1); Canadian
Vasek Pospisil bested Italian Andreas Seppi 6-3, 7-6 (7-4); and Poland’s Jerzy
Janowicz outlasted promising Aussie Nick Kyrgios 6-1, 6-7 (6-8), 7-6 (7-5).

In some second-round action on Wednesday, top-seeded Italian Fabio Fognini
will face del Potro and second-seeded Belgian David Goffin will meet Italian
Simone Bolelli.

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