BANGKOK, Thailand -- Playing his first tennis in eight months, former U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro came up a first-round loser Tuesday at the Thailand Open tennis event.
The fifth-seeded 6-foot-6 del Potro succumbed to 5-foot-6 Belgian Olivier Rochus in 7-6 (9-7), 6-4 fashion on the hardcourts at Impact Arena. The diminutive Rochus captured his first-ever meeting with del Potro in 1 hour, 44 minutes despite a 16-ace onslaught from the towering Argentine. Fortunately for Rochus, he tallied two service breaks, compared to only one for del Potro.
Del Potro saved a pair of break points in the opening set to no avail.
"I played a good match," del Potro said. "I had my chances in the first-set tiebreak and he played some great points. I'm just happy to be back on the circuit, and I hope I get better and better."
The 22-year-old del Potro had been sidelined since the Australian Open in January after suffering a right wrist injury that wound up requiring surgery. The former top-five star is currently ranked 36th in the world due to his inactivity.
Another Bangkok upset came when Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez took out eighth-seeded German Michael Berrer 6-4, 7-6 (7-4).
Additional opening-round wins came for Finn Jarkko Nieminen, Israeli Dudi Sela, German Rainer Schuettler, Belgian qualifier Ruben Bemelmans, and Russian Mikhail Kukushkin.
The top seed here is world No. 1 superstar Rafael Nadal, the reigning U.S. Open, Wimbledon and French Open champ. Nadal received a bye into the second round and will meet Bemelmans here on Thursday.
The winner of this $608,500 tournament will claim $99,725.