Mercedes Cup: Juan Martin del Potro makes a winning return
Former champion Juan Martin del Potro made a winning return to the Mercedes Cup by knocking out Grigor Dimitrov, 6-4, 6-2 in his first round match at Stuttgart on Tuesday. This is the Argentine’s first grasscourt match since losing a marathon Wimbledon semi-final to Novak Djokovic in 2013.
The 2009 US Open champion, who made a return to the Tour this year following his wrist surgery, has had a cautious approach to his schedule so far. After losing in the second round of the Madrid Masters to Jack Sock, he opted not to play in the rest of the claycourt events.
Tuesday’s match was his first competitive outing since then. The World No. 223, who had 60% of his first serves in, thundered 12 aces and broke the Bulgarian thrice en route to the 1 hour 9 minute victory. He did not face a single break point himself.
Feliciano Lopez, who won the French Open doubles title on Saturday, saw his good fortunes changing pretty soon. The fifth seed slumped to a 6(3)-7, 3-6 defeat to former World No. 8 Mikhail Youzhny.
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Viktor Troicki, who lost last year’s final to Rafael Nadal, was also bundled out 4-6, 6(4)-7 by qualifier and former World No. 18 Florian Mayer.
37-year-old Radek Stepanek, who stretched eventual runner-up Andy Murray to five sets in the first round of the French Open, also made a winning start to his campaign. The Czech, a qualifier at this tournament, prevailed 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 over the 29th ranked Denis Istomin.
German No. 1 and 2013 finalist Philipp Kohlschreiber needed just 55 minutes to enter the second round. The 32-year-old thrashed France’s Pierre Hugues-Herbert 6-4, 6-1 in his opening match.
Federer to open against Fritz
18-year-old Taylor Fritz, one of the fastest-rising teens on the ATP circuit, produced a gutsy performance to edge past French qualifier Fabrice Martin 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-1 in 1 hour 28 minutes. The American saved a match point for the win.
He is next set to play the 17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer, who is making his debut at Stuttgart. This is the Swiss maestro’s first match since pulling out of Roland Garros last month due to back injury.