Withthe Australian Open Tennis Grand Slam due to begin next week in Melbourne, manyof the players hoping for success there are making their last minutepreparations. Among them are the Argentinian giant Juan Martin del Potro who ison the comeback trail after ten months of injury nightmare which has seen hisworld ranking slip dramatically to number 338.

Theone-time US Open champion and Olympic medallist has been recuperating after havinghad surgery for an injury to his left wrist last year, but still only 26 yearsold has time to make up as he fights his way back up the rankings, and tohopefully emulate his career high ranking of four back in 2010.

The6 foot 6 inch del Potro is the defending champion of the Sydney Internationaltournament and as such was given a wild card into this year’s event. Anyworries over his fitness and readiness to pick up a tennis racket again incompetition were soon dispelled when he claimed a straight sets victory over SergiyStakhovsky 6-3 7-6. The Ukrainian may not be among the top players but at 69 inthe world it was still an uplifting performance from del Potro, as he took just88 minutes to progress to the second round and in all likelihood a far sternerchallenge against the tournament’s top seed, Fabio Fognini.

DelPotro is well-versed in managing the recovery from serious wrist injuries,having also had surgery on his right wrist after his 2009 Grand Slam triumph,the recovery time being eight months on that occasion.

Lastyear’s beaten finalist in Sydney is also through to the second round afterAustralian Bernard Tomic required just 43 minutes to knock out Dutchman IgorSijsling for the loss of only three games. After Hopman Cup success at the weekendin the mixed-team event with Agnieszka Radwanska, Poland’s Jerzy Janowiczmaintained the euphoria with a gritty win over Australia’s rising star NickKyrgios after two tie-breaks, ensuring he also features in round two. 

In the women’s event that is taking place at the sametime in Sydney, Radwanska maintained her form from last week that included avictory over world number one seed Serena Williams, by beating Alize Cornet inthe first round but then suffered a surprise defeat at the hands of theunseeded Garbine Muguruza of Spain in the second round.

Hers was not the onlyshock result in the second round as sixth-seeded Ekaterina Makarova of Russiafell to another Spaniard, Carla Suarez Navarro after taking the first set. Withtop seed Simona Halep withdrawing from the event with sickness, Wimbledonchampion Petra Kvitova steps into the position of favourite after her 6-1 7-5win over China’s Peng Shuai.

There was better news for British tennis in the women’sHobart International event when Heather Watson played aggressively and limitedher error count, to record an encouraging 6-3 6-1 success in the second roundover the American number five seed, Sloane Stephens.