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Triumphant Davis return for Argentina's Del Potro

sports Updated: Jul 08, 2011 01:57 IST
Juan Martin Del Potro

Former US Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro made a triumphant return to Davis Cup competition on Thursday, thrashing Mikhail Kukushkin to give Argentina a 2-0 opening day quarterfinal lead over Kazakhstan.

Argentina, who could face holders Serbia in the semis, are keen to shrug off three final losses and land the trophy for the first time and are relying on Del Potro, ranked 19 on the ATP computer, to bolster their quest.

The South Americans lost the final at Mar del Plata in 2008 to Spain but with Del Potro seemingly on form and bent on making up for a 2010 mostly lost to a serious wrist problem, they believe this year could produce a maiden victory in the competition.

With Del Potro crushing 67th-ranked Kukushkin por 6-2, 6-1, 6-2 at Parque Roca in Buenos Aires, skipper Modesto 'Tito' Vazquez's side are finding the tie a cakewalk after Juan Monaco also sped past Andrey Golubev 6-3, 6-0, 6-4.

The 19th-ranked Del Potro, who dominated from the backcourt on the red clay, tore his rival to shreds in just two hours.

He insisted he had had to work despite the scoreline before a 9,000 crowd.

"The result gives a bit of a false impression as there were long points and he played very well," insisted the 2009 US Open champ, who on that occasion beat both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer to lift his only Grand Slam to date.

"The important thing was to win and get 2-0 ahead."

Kukushkin, ranked 67, was not expected to provide a major obstacle and duly crumbled in the face of a stout showing from Del Potro, keen to make up for his absence of the past two years as well as the unavailability of the experienced David Nalbandian, injured at Wimbledon just after returning from a hernia operation.

Earlier, 43rd-ranked Monaco easily swamped Golubev, ranked just two places below him.

Golubev helped to instigate his own downfall in committing 70 unforced errors but Monaco in contrast found his game quickly.

"I played really well from the start and as soon as I broke his serve I realised he was not comfortable," said Monaco.

On Friday, Juan Ignacio Chela and Eduardo Schwank will duel Yuriy Schukin and Evgeny Korolev in the doubles before Saturday sees the reverse singles between Del Potro and Golubev and Monaco and Kukushkin.

The tie was brought forward a day to avoid a clash with Sunday's elections in Buenos Aires.

The Kazakhs, whose teams consists of naturalised Russians, reached this stage after shocking the Czech Republic away on their World Group debut.

The winners of the tie will next face either Sweden or holders Serbia, who were to face off indoors from Friday in Halmstad with newly-crowned Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic on board.

The cold snap afflicting much of Argentina saw the start of the day's play put back an hour.