The recently exhumed Juan Martin del Potro—now equipped with functional wrists and his first title in 2 years—saw his seven-match win streak severed by Kei Nishikori today at Swiss Indoors Basel. 2016 has been a dope comeback year for the 28-year-old del Potro, but all this playing (and winning) may have sapped his energy reserves: By the second set, he was visibly spent, squandering five break points.
Meanwhile, with this 7-5, 6-4 win, Nishikori finally took down a foe he’d failed to take a single set off of in their four previous encounters. The Japanese star will leapfrog Milos Raonic, who already crashed out of Basel, to claim the No. 4 ranking. He’ll likely smoke Gilles Müller in the next round, and ideally the Basel final will pit him against Stan Wawrinka for a rematch of the U.S. Open semis.
One of tennis’s pleasures is watching a formerly elite player slowly lurch back towards relevance after injury, hanging low in the rankings, lurking in the unlikely parts of the draw to scare the shit out of top seeds in the early rounds. Del Potro has played this role savagely, and my only disappointment is that he’s pulled out of the Paris Masters to train with Argentina for the Davis Cup. See you next month.