• Auckland summary - Del Potro roars into Melbourne

    1/17/09 3:29 PM | Ricky Dimon
    Auckland summary - Del Potro roars into Melbourne Players were looking to find their forms in Auckland, New Zealand this week in time for the upcoming Australian Open. In the end, it was Juan Martin Del Potro who continued his streak of brilliant tennis.

    While upsets permeated the opening week of the 2009 season and also wreaked havoc on the Sydney draw, order was mostly restored at this week's Heineken Open in Auckland, New Zealand. Juan Martin Del Potro became the first No. 1 seed in 2009 to win his respective ATP tournament.

    Del Potro ran through Ernests Gulbis, Viktor Troicki, Robin Soderling, and Sam Querrey en route to the trophy. He did not lose a set after dropping his opener to Gulbis in the second round. The 20-year-old Argentine, who won four straight tournaments last summer in between Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, is back in business and looking like a contender for next week's Australian Open.

    Let's take a look at other Auckland participants and how they prepared themselves for the season's first Grand Slam:

    Sam Querrey - He fell to Del Potro in the final, but his run in Auckland did not come to an end before he and David Ferrer contested the best match of the tournament. Querrey saved two match points at 5-6 in the third set and went on to win the decisive tiebreaker. The 6'6'' American has a tough first-round Aussie Open match on his hands with Philipp Kohlschreiber.

    David Ferrer - He won only one match in Auckland, but that was enough to reach the semifinals. Ferrer received a first-round bye and then got a free pass into the semifinals when Kohlschreiber pulled out of the tournament. The Spaniard will meet Denis Gremelmayr in his Melbourne opener and could face Chennai champion Marin Cilic in the third round.

    Robin Soderling - He looked impressive in wins over Bobby Reynolds and John Isner, but Del Potro was too good for him in the semis. Soderling also reached the quarterfinals in Brisbane earlier this month, so he is playing well, but apparently not well enough to knock off the top players. The Swede starts the Australian Open with Robert Kendrick and could meet defending champ Novak Djokovic in the fourth round.

    Ernests Gulbis - He can beat anyone on any given day, as he showed against Novak Djokovic in Brisbane. It looked like Gulbis would do the same to Del Potro before crumbling late in the second set and throughout the third. The Latvian has Grand Slam experience (quarterfinals of the 2008 French Open) and a great draw Down Under (especially considering he isn't seeded), so look for a potential third-round clash between Gulbis and James Blake.

    Kei Nishikori - He made it to the Brisbane quarterfinals, but pulled out during the first set of his Auckland opener against Juan Carlos Ferrero with an arm injury. If the Japanese teenager is 100 percent for Melbourne, he should be able to give Jurgen Melzer a tough test in round one.

    Del Potro, meanwhile, will do battle with Mischa Zverev to kick off his Australian Open campaign and he could run into Roger Federer in the quarterfinals.

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Current ATP-rankings

1. Djokovic 12 500 pts
2. Murray 8 750 pts
3. Federer 8 670 pts
4. Ferrer 6 970 pts
5. Nadal 6 385 pts

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