Juan Martin del Potro’s comeback from injury has briefly stalled with his 6-2, 7-5 loss to Germany’s Florian Mayer in the second round of the Sydney International on Wednesday.
After beating Feliciano Lopez in his comeback match in the first round on Monday, the 2009 U.S. Open champion lost to the unseeded Mayer in 74 minutes. Del Potro dropped his serve three times in the match including, crucially, at 5-5 in the second set.
Mayer said later it was clear del Potro was not yet 100 percent after a long battle with a wrist injury last year.
“You could see he’s not 100 percent,” Mayer said. “His serve is really strong but from the baseline he missed a lot.
“I think also he was maybe a little bit tired from his long match Monday because when you don’t play for such a long time and you play your first match over three hours, it’s really tough.
“But I really played well from the baseline. I knew when I played my game I had a good chance to win today, and I took it.”
Before his win on Monday, del Potro’s last tour-level victory came against Mayer in the third round of the 2010 Australian Open. Del Potro was sidelined for most of the 2010 season, causing him to drop out of the world’s top 200.
“Of course I want to play and win a tournament,” del Potro said.
“When you lose, it’s hard. But now it’s different. I have different sensations. I lost, but I have another tournament in three days. I’m in good shape. I have my wrist in good shape. That’s good.”
In other matches on Wednesday, the No. 3-seeded Ernests Gulbis of Latvia beat Igor Andreev of Russia 2-6, 6-4, 6-3.
The world No. 24, who lost to Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals of last week’s Qatar Open, made a shaky start, losing his serve twice in the opening set. But he broke Andreev once in each of the last two sets and dropped only five points on serve in the final set, finishing with 17 aces.
Gulbis’ quarterfinal opponent will be Ukrainian Sergiy Stakhovsky, who beat No. 7-seeded Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain 6-3, 6-4.
Last year’s finalist and No. 5-seeded Richard Gasquet came back from a set down to beat Italian Andreas Seppi 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 in 2 hours, 4 minutes. Gasquet next meets fourth-seeded Serbian Viktor Troicki, who beat former finalist Juan Ignacio Chela of Argentina 6-2, 6-3.
Troicki converted four of 11 break point chances.
Frenchman Gilles Simon earned a quarterfinal spot by winning two matches on Wednesday. He completed a 6-0, 6-3 win over No. 8-seeded Yen-hsun Lu, in a rain-delayed match, them beat Portugal’s Frederico Gil 6-1, 6-3.
In the women’s draw, No. 3-seeded Kim Clijsters beat No. 7 Victoria Azarenka 6-3, 6-2 in 85 minutes to advance to the semifinals. No. 8 Li Na of China beat Svetlana Kuznetsova 3-6, 7-6 (4), 6-3.
Clijsters improved to 4-1 in matches against Azarenka. She also beat the Belarusian recently at last year’s WTA Championships in Qatar in three sets.
Clijsters served six aces on Wednesday in a dominating performance, winning 78 percent of points on her first serve. She also saved 12 of 14 break points while converting five of 12 break-point chances.