MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Juan Martin del Potro's injury time-off from Grand Slam tournaments just got a little longer.
The 2009 U.S. Open winner withdrew Sunday from the Australian Open on the eve of the tournament to avoid re-injuring a surgically-repaired wrist that he said had been hurting him for the "last couple days and weeks."
The 26-year-old Argentine was one of the most significant absentees from the men's game for much of last season, which he spent recovering from major left wrist surgery after bouncing back from right wrist surgery in 2010. He hasn't played at a major since Melbourne last year, where he lost in the second round.
"Nothing new. Nothing dangerous. But I think my wrist is not ready for playing in this important tournament," del Potro told a media conference, after cutting short a practice session. "It was a tough decision but could be a smart decision if I want to stay healthy and play for the whole year."
Del Potro made it the quarterfinals of the Sydney International last week, his first tournament after 11 months off the tour.
"I really enjoyed playing tennis again last week in Sydney, winning a couple matches. I didn't expect that for sure," said del Potro, who had a career-high ranking of No. 4 in 2010 but has slipped to 276th.
Del Potro said he would consult with his doctor and hoped to return to tournaments "very, very soon."
Del Potro had drawn one of the toughest first-round assignments in Melbourne against 24-year-old Jerzy Janowicz, who won last week's Hopman Cup team event with Poland teammate Agnieszka Radwanska.
Janowicz will now play 24-year-old lucky-loser Hiroki Moriya, a Japanese player ranked 146th.