herald

Saturday 23 September 2017

Del Potro aiming for Aussie glory

Argentine buoyed by injury return as he targets title

WRIST surgery, depression and the terrifying feeling that his career was about to prematurely end.

With a ranking that plummeted to 485 in the world, pessimism swirled around Argentine Juan Martin del Potro last year before he mounted a scorching comeback that has him bursting with confidence ahead of the Australian Open.

Del Potro pulverised Poland’s Lukasz Kubot 6-4 6-2 today to reach the quarter-finals of the Sydney International, and continue homing in on the untouchable form that won him the US Open title in 2009.

He was on the up back then, number four in the world and rising, but wrist surgery in 2010 wiped him off the tour for eight months.

He spent most of that time worried his career was over – he openly admitted at the time he was “depressed” – and that he would never again scale the heights of 2009.

However, that pessimism has been replaced by unbridled optimism.

One of the few men to beat world number one Novak Djokovic last year, Del Potro looms as one of the dangermen at the |Australian Open after he streaked up the rankings from 485 to 11 in less than a year.

“To beat these kinds of players can be a big goal for this year,” Del Potro said. “I’m working for that. This time last year I was really scared in this tournament because it was my first tournament after the surgery.”

Second-seeded John Isner was beaten by fellow American Bobby Reynolds 3-6 6-4 6-3. Uzbekistsan’s Denis Istomin also advanced with a 6-2 6-1 win over American Ryan Sweeting.

Meanwhile, defending champion and top seed David Ferrer of Spain has advanced to the quarter-finals of the Heineken Open in Auckland with a 6-4 6-2 victory over the Czech Republic’s Lukas Rosol.

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