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Del Potro makes return to Auckland Classic

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 29/11/2016

Juan Martin del Potro has signed to play the ASB Classic in New Zealand, two days after completing one of the great feats of Argentina tennis.

A former champion in Auckland, del Potro was the hero as Argentina beat Croatia 3-2 in Zagreb to land the Davis Cup, winning both of his singles matches and the doubles.

The 28-year-old's fightback from 2-0 down to beat world No.6 Marin Cilic in five sets on Sunday was the decisive match of the tie which thrust the injury-plagued Argentinian back into global headlines.

The fact he won the match, and helped clinch a first Davis Cup crown for his country, while sporting a broken finger on his non-playing hand simply capped an exceptional year, according to ASB Classic director Karl Budge.

He will come to Auckland in January as one of the world's in-form players, despite a relatively low ranking of 38th.

Out of the game for nearly two years, forced to undergo three wrist operations and contemplating retirement, Del Potro has engineered a comeback which features an Olympic silver medal and wins over heavyweights Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic, Stan Wawrinka and Rafael Nadal.

He won his first ATP title in nearly three years at the Stockholm Open in October.

"His year has been incredible, especially to beat two current world number ones," Budge said.

"It's a hell of a comeback."

Del Potro won the Auckland crown in 2009 as the top seed and went on to win the US Open later that year, beating Nadal and Roger Federer in the last four.

The Argentinian, seeded ninth for the Classic, joins a strong field which sits entirely inside the world's top 60, with six players ranked in the top 30.

Former Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis has been seeded eighth, making his third appearance at the Classic, with 33rd-ranked American Steve Johnson seventh.

Spanish pair Feliciano Lopez and Albert Ramos-Vinolas are seeded sixth and seventh respectively, with Jack Sock fourth and four-time Classic winner David Ferrer third.

World No.19 American John Isner is the No.2 seed, and defending champion Roberto Bautista Agut No.1.

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