Farmers Classic gets underway

LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- Juan Martin del Potro has been asked the same questions about his right wrist and his hip injury so often, he says his answers have begun to sound recorded.

The 2009 U.S. Open champion missed most of last year because of wrist problems and understands why people are curious. He said he would much rather talk about his tennis, which is very good again, than about an injury he said hasn't really bothered him since early April.

Del Potro is the No. 2 seed in this week's Farmers Classic at the Los Angeles Tennis Center on the UCLA campus, where he won his first hard-court title in 2008. The 6-foot-6 Argentine has won 35 of his 44 matches and two titles this year and is No. 19 in the rankings after slipping to No. 485 on Jan. 31. He had been No. 4 before being sidelined.

The tournament got under way Monday with American Ryan Sweeting beating Somdev Devvarman of India 6-4, 7-6 (6) to get even for a first-round loss at Atlanta a week ago, and Yen-Hsun Lu of Taiwan beat wild card Robby Ginepri of the U.S. 6-4, 7-5. In the final match of the session, 33-year-old Michael Russell of the U.S., ranked 110th, upset No. 6 seed and 46th-ranked Dmitry Tursunov of Russia 6-7 (5), 6-0, 6-2.

Del Potro will play his opening match Wednesday night against the winner of Tuesday's James Blake-Michael Berrer match.

"It has been a very long while since my wrist injury, but I think now I'm OK," del Potro said Monday. "I'm not thinking about my wrist, about different injuries that I had last year and the beginning of this season. Now I have everything to improve, starting with my ranking, with my game, with my body, with my physicality.

"I just want to improve on my game, be at the top as soon as I can. I know it's a long road, a very tough road, but I believe in my game, I'm very confident with my level at this moment and maybe I can be better in the next month," he said.

Next month, of course, is when the U.S. Open begins in New York. Del Potro was unable to play last year due to surgery on his wrist and is "very excited" to be going back. After this tournament, he will take a week off, play at Montreal and Cincinnati and spend the final week before the Open practicing in New York.

Mardy Fish, who won the title at Atlanta on Sunday, is the top seed in the 28-player field this week. Sam Querrey, who won the past two Los Angeles titles, withdrew to continue recuperating from recent elbow surgery.