Juan Martin del Potro’s eagerly anticipated comeback to the ATP World Tour ended in disappointment Tuesday evening in Bangkok as Belgian Olivier Rochus defeated the fifth-seeded Argentine 7-6(7), 6-4 in the first round of the PTT Thailand Open.
The 22-year-old del Potro was playing his first match since a fourth-round exit (l. to Cilic) at the Australian Open in January, having since been sidelined for eight months with a right wrist injury. He underwent surgery on 4 May in Rochester, Minnesota and was forced to withdraw from last month’s US Open, where he was the defending champion.
The diminutive Rochus, a foot shorter than the 6’6 del Potro, withstood 16 aces as edged a close first set and fended off a short-lived comeback from the Argentine in the second set, recovering from 0-2 down to seal victory in one hour and 44 minutes. World No. 78 Rochus recorded his 16th tour-level win of the season, highlighted by a run to his eighth ATP World Tour final in Newport (l. to Fish).
Rochus next will face Kazakhstani Mikhail Kukushkin, who recorded his 10th tour-level win of the season after he beat American qualifier Ryler Deheart 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-4 in two hours and eight minutes.