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Del Potro vs Nishioka ATP Delray Beach Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Del Potro opens 2019 season after four-month injury lay-off

Leye Aduloju in ATP Tour 19 Feb 2019
  • Juan Martin del Potro vs Yoshihito Nishioka is live from Delray Beach on Tuesday, 19 February from 8:00pm local time/ 1:00am GMT (Wednesday morning)
  • Fit-again del Potro plays first match since October
  • First meeting between del Potro and Nishioka
Juan Martín del Potro. (Photo by JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images)

After a four-month spell on the sidelines, world No. 4, Juan Martin del Potro returns to action on Tuesday when he takes on Japanese left-hander, Yoshihito Nishioka in the first round of the Delray Beach Open.

Del Potro has not played since last year’s Shanghai Masters in October, when he fractured his right knee during his third-round meeting with Borna Coric. The Argentine suffered a heavy fall towards the end of the first set, and after dropping the set to his Croatian opponent, and seeking medical counsel, he decided he could not continue, and would subsequently miss the rest of the season, and the start of 2019.

It was a gut-wrenching way to end the year for the former US Open champion, as he had produced a sensational season, climbing to a career-high mark of No. 3 during the campaign. He won his maiden Masters 1000 title at Indian Wells, beating Roger Federer in an epic final. That Indian Wells success was the pinnacle of a superb 15-match winning streak, which also featured a title run in Acapulco and a semi-final in Miami. Del Potro impressed at the majors, most especially at the US Open, where he advanced to his first Grand Slam final since his tremendous US Open run in 2009, before falling to Novak Djokovic. The 30-year-old also reached the French Open semi-finals, and the last eight at Wimbledon, losing to Rafael Nadal on both occasions. Elsewhere, he made finals in Auckland, Los Cabos and Beijing in a truly sensational season. He looked set for a return to the Nitto ATP Finals, which would have been his first appearance at the season-ending showpiece since 2013, but his season was cruelly ended with that knee injury. 

“[I was thinking] horrible things. I thought that was the final of my life. I got the fracture in the knee that I never expected to have,” Del Potro said ahead of his Delray Beach return… "After four months, I’m going to be playing a tournament, which is good [recovery] time. But I know how difficult it is to be ready for playing in the big events and holding the top positions in the [ATP] Rankings and I know this way because I had it in the past. But this is my life and I know how to deal with these problems.”

The Argentine posted a video of himself back in light training in December, raising hopes that he could be fit for the Australian Open, but he did not play at all in Australia, and will now make his comeback at Delray Bach, starting Tuesday.

The Argentine is of course no stranger to comebacks, as he has recovered from multiple career-threatening wrist injuries and surgeries over the last decade to still maintain a very strong relevance in the sport (He is still inside the top four despite his lay-off). It’s the third time in four years that del Potro would start his season at Delray Beach, as he also opened his 2016 and 2017 campaigns at the venue, reaching the semi-finals on each occasion. He won the tournament in 2011.

“I know how difficult it is to come back and play a tournament like this, but I’m ready for playing a match again,” Del Potro continued. “I know I will need a little bit of time to get confidence in my body and my game. But I’m excited to be playing again so Delray Beach is a good tournament to start at.”

The man he faces on Tuesday, Yoshihito Nishioka has also had his injury problems- the Japanese youngster was just starting to motor up the ATP ladder when he tore his anterior cruciate ligament in Miami in 2017, and would miss the rest of the season. 

Yoshihito Nishioka. (Photo by STR/AFP/Getty Images)
Nishioka had just made the quarter finals in Acapulco and the fourth round at Indian Wells, reaching a career-high ranking of 58th in the process, but he was derailed by that unfortunate incident in Miami, and was down at 166th by the end of 2017.

Nishioka was back in action for the start of last season, but he dipped as low as 380th after failing, understandably, to defend those points in North America from the previous season, but he got better as the year progressed, making the quarter finals in Los Cabos, and then winning his first career title in Shenzhen. Nishioka wrapped up his comeback year nicely on the Challenger tour, reaching the final in Traralgon, and making back-to-back semi-finals in Canberra and Kobe. The 23-year-old ended the season at 75th in the rankings.

Nishioka is 3-3 in 2019, with his best result being a quarter final in Sydney, while he lost to Grigor Dimitrov in the first round in Brisbane, and was beaten by Karen Khachanov in the second round of the Australian Open. He has not played an ATP World Tour match since Melbourne, but he did turn out for Japan in their Davis Cup tie in China, going 1-1 in singles rubbers as the Japanese won 3-2 in Guangzhou to advance to November’s finals.

Can the 23-year-old deny del Potro a winning return to action when he takes on the popular Argentine for the first time on Tuesday?

Nishioka has got very good athleticism and court coverage, and will provide a serious early examination of del Potro’s knee and overall movement. A rusty del Potro can’t possibly be up to speed in his first match in four months, and will thus be found wanting in this department, but he has still got the power to bail him out, and as long as he serves well, it should be a winning return to the sport for the big Argentine. 

Juan Martin del Potro vs Yoshihito Nishioka is live from Delray Beach on Tuesday, 19 February from 8:00pm local time/ 1:00am GMT (Wednesday morning)

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Del Potro vs Nishioka ATP Delray Beach Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Del Potro opens 2019 season after four-month injury lay-off

Juan Martin del Potro finally opens his 2019 season after recovering from knee injury. Will it be a winning return against Yoshihito Nishioka at Delray Beach? Read our preview, predictions and stream the match live online.

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