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Del Potro falls in Sydney quarterfinals

Del Potro falls in Sydney quarterfinals

Posted by Juan Gavasa on January 15, 2015

Argentine Juan Martin del Potro had a positive week after an 11-month injury layoff but he fell on Thursday in the quarterfinals of the Apia International Sydney event to Kazakhstan's Mikhail Kukushkin 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-3).

Unforced errors by the 6-foot-6 Argentine, who had not played a tournament since last February due to a wrist injury, were his undoing in the tiebreakers against Kukushkin, a qualifier who won three rounds to make it the main draw of this Australian Open tune-up and then knocked off Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin and sixth-seeded Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas.

"When you play six straight matches in a tournament, you start to gain confidence," the Kazakh, who will square off against Del Potro's countryman, fifth-seeded Leonardo Mayer, in Friday's semifinals, said of his play against Del Potro.

The winner of the Kukushkin-Mayer match will face either Luxembourg's Gilles Muller or Serbia's Viktor Troicki in Saturday's final.

"It's very important, especially at the start of the year when you're coming off a two-month offseason, with no competition or matches. I'm very happy to have gotten so many wins in Sydney," Kukushkin said.

Del Potro, for his part, said his wrist "hurt a little more than it did (on Wednesday)" and that that prevented him from "hitting bigger" during his quarterfinal match.

Despite the defeat, the 2009 U.S. Open champion sounded an optimistic note.

"I think it's been a great week for me. I played three straight matches ... against great players," Del Potro said, calling it a good start to his comeback.

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