SYDNEY (dpa) – Juan Del Potro heads to the Australian Open with three comeback matches in hand after being knocked out in the quarter-finals of the Sydney International on Thursday.
The number 338 Argentine who once stood fourth in the world before left wrist surgery last spring, was defeated 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-3) by qualifier Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan, the number 66.
Del Potro was playing Sydney on a wild card after a decision a week ago to return to tennis following 11 months away due to his recovery.
The 2009 US Open winner lost his chance of retaining the Sydney title he won last year over Australian Bernard Tomic.
Neither Kukushkin nor Del Potro faced a break point in just under two hours of battle. The win was the biggest ever for the Kazakh challenger, who reached a semi-final in Moscow last autumn.