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Rochus Cuts Short del Potro Comeback; Garcia-Lopez Ousts Berrer

Bangkok, Thailand

Juan Martin del Potro© PTT Thailand OpenJuan Martin del Potro fired 16 aces, but could not break down Olivier Rochus.

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.

“I played a good match," reflected del Potro. "I had my chances in the first-set tie-break and he played some great points. He served very good, which was important on this kind of surface.  I’m just happy to be back on the circuit and I hope I get better and better. He played very well today.”

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).

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"It feels great to beat a guy like him, even if was his first tournament back," said Rochus. "Of course, he’s not playing his best tennis yet, but it’s still an amazing victory for me. I can’t play much better than I did today."

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.

Split by two spots in the South African Airways 2010 ATP Rankings, World No. 53 Guillermo Garcia-Lopez defeated No. 51-ranked Michael Berrer, the eighth-seeded German, 6-4, 7-6(4) in one hour and 34 minutes on Tuesday at the PTT Thailand Open in Bangkok. Garcia-Lopez improved to a 22-19 match record on the season.

German Rainer Schuettler, competing for the third time at the ATP World Tour 250 indoor hard-court tennis tournament, converted five of nine break point opportunities to defeat Ricardo Mello of Brazil 6-4, 6-2 in 81 minutes on Tuesday. Elswhere, former World No. 13 Jarkko Nieminen defeated Thai wild card Danai Udomchoke 6-3, 6-2 in 68 minutes. The pair had not met since an opening-round match at Bangkok seven years ago.

Israeli Dudi Sela defeated Russian qualifier Konstantin Kravchuk 6-3, 6-4 in one hour and 46 minutes. Kravchuk beat 2007 Bangkok titlist Dmitry Tursunov in the final round of qualifying.

Belgian Ruben Bemelmans won his first ever ATP World Tour match, beating fellow qualifier Frederik Nielson 6-2, 6-3 in 70 minutes. He will next meet World No.1 Rafael Nadal in the second round.

"Winning my first ATP match is a great thing, and to get to play against Rafael Nadal in the second round is just an extra," said Bemelmans. "I will just go on court, enjoy the match and see what happens. It's not going to be easy against him, he's the No.1 player and already a legend, and he's only 24! I'll give everything I have on court and let's see what it will bring."


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