ATP Tour

Del Potro to face Monfils

Juan Martin Del Potro (AFP)
Juan Martin Del Potro (AFP)

Rotterdam - Holder Juan Martin del Potro and British second seed Andy Murray are both using this week's ATP Rotterdam World Tennis to build confidence during injury comebacks.

Top seed Del Potro was Monday subjecting his delicate left wrist to steadily building pressure as the Argentine prepares for a Wednesday start.

Sixth-ranked Murray, watching the Sochi Games during free moments this week, said that he took a late wild card entry to try and carry on his Davis Cup confidence after leading Britain past the USA.

"When you're not playing for a long time, you need to get used to competing again, I'm enjoying playing events," said the 2009 champion in the Dutch port city.

"I quite fancied playing a tournament before Acapulco (this month). My ranking has dropped a bit and I don't have many points to defend. I'm keen to improve my ranking and get back on the match court again."

Murray, who admitted he felt battered and bruised after losing an Australian Open quarter-final to Roger Federer, said that he is working slowly toward full fitness after September back surgery.

"It's been good so far, It's important for me to challenge my body a bit and see how good it is. I played five-set matches in Australia and now at Davis Cup.

"In those events you have a day off between matches, Here, if I can win a match or two, I'll be playing every day. That will indicate how well; I'm recovering from matches.

"The next few months are for learning how the body is feeling. It's tough to adjust to the level of intensity.

"Playing Federer in Australia was quite a shock to the system, but it's been really good so far for me and not too tough."

Del Potro has been managing wrist pain since losing early at the Australian Open and consulted with his Minnesota doctors to get definitive word of his condition.

So far, it's all clear for the Argentine who faces a huge test in the first round when he plays weekend Montpellier champion Gael Monfils of France.

"Doctors are hopeful that my wrist will recover very fast. It is improving slowly, but at least it is improving.

"I'm trying to find a different treatment to fix the injury, to ensure that I can play the whole season."

The 25-year-old knows he is on shaky ground physically but remains relieved that doctors tell him his wrist can heal and that he can do it no more damage by playing.

For now, ranking dreams have to be tempered with reality.

"I'd like to remain in the top five and hopefully reach the top three. It will be difficult to pass (number one) Rafa (Nadal), (Novak) Djokovic and (Stanislas) Wawrinka, particularly after his recent Australian Open win.

"But I'm not the only one in the top 10 who has a lot of points to defend.

In opening-day play, third seed Tomas Berdych beat Italy's Andreas Seppi 6-3, 6-3, his sixth win from eight meetings in the series.

Qualifier Paul-Henri Mathieu, one of eight French players in the field, started with a victory over Croatian Ivan Dodig 4-6, 7-6 (7/2), 6-4.

The winner withstood 21 aces from his opponent to prevail in two and a quarter hours.

Results on the first day of the ATP Rotterdam World Tennis tournament on Monday (x denotes seeded player):

First round:
Tomas Berdych (CZE x3) bt Andreas Seppi (ITA) 6-3, 6-3
Paul-Henri Mathieu (FRA) bt Ivan Dodig (CRO) 4-6, 7-6 (7/2), 6-4
Michael Berrer (GER) bt Jesse Huta Galung (NED) 6-4, 2-6, 6-3

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