Day 3 Preview: Del Potro, Djokovic, Wawrinka Return On Wednesday
New World No. 3 to contest first match since Wimbledon against Chung
Juan Martin del Potro’s goals upon returning to competition in early 2016 were understandably modest. After a string of wrist surgeries, the Argentine entered the Delray Beach Open ranked No. 1042 in the ATP Rankings.
That return went better than expected with a run to the semi-finals. Two and a half years later, the Tower from Tandil has risen to a career-high of No. 3 in the ATP Rankings. It is a return the Argentine could not have imagined, hitting the practice courts ahead of his Delray Beach return in 2016.
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Nishikori vs Wawrinka | Kyrgios vs Coric | Del Potro vs Chung
Del Potro skipped last week’s Rogers Cup in Toronto to rest a sore left wrist so the new ATP Ranking is more cause for cautious optimism than outright celebration. He makes his return to the Western & Southern Open on Wednesday when he faces the inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals champion Hyeon Chung in the second round.
Chung handed Jack Sock his eighth straight first-round defeat on Tuesday to set the clash. He and del Potro have never played. The winner will face 2017 Western & Southern Open runner-up, Nick Kyrgios, or Croat Borna Coric in the third round.
Tenth seed Novak Djokovic has won all ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events except the Western & Southern Open and on Tuesday, took the first steps towards adding a trophy from Cincinnati to his collection with a straight-sets triumph over American Steve Johnson. The 31-year-old has not looked as sharp on the North American hard courts since winning his fourth Wimbledon title.
After a surprise third-round defeat to #NextGenATP Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas at the Rogers Cup last week, the Serb conceded he was “not really satisfied” with his opening-round victory – a match in which he needed nine match points to close out.
“Obviously it takes a little bit of time now to get used to the hard courts and get to that top level of performance,” Djokovic said. “I don’t think I’m there yet, but hopefully I can get as many matches this week as possible. This has been the tournament that I have never won out of all the Masters events, and I have been trying (smiling). I have another shot. We’ll see.”
Djokovic will have the chance to build that momentum when he meets Adrian Mannarino on Wednesday. The Frenchman defeated Djokovic’s Roland-Garros conqueror Marco Cecchinato in the first round. Djokovic leads the pair’s FedEx ATP Head2Head series 3-0.
Former World No. 3 Stan Wawrinka knows there are no easy matches when your ranking has plummeted after two knee surgeries. But the Swiss is finally showing signs he is well on his way back in the second half of 2018.
After a narrow three-set triumph over Nick Kyrgios and a match-points-saving epic against Marton Fucsovics at the Rogers Cup last week, Wawrinka fell to eventual champion Rafael Nadal in two tight sets. He carried his form to Cincinnati, where on Monday, he defeated No. 12 seed Diego Schwartzman to set a second-round clash with a fellow former Top 10 player, Kei Nishikori.
The pair has split eight FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings, with seven of those matches coming on hard courts. Nishikori scored a solid win over #NextGenATP Russian Andrey Rublev in the first round.