Tennis

Del Potro to open against Stepanek

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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP)

Former US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro will ignore medical advice to rest his injured left wrist and open against Radek Stepanek on Friday in the Davis Cup semifinal between Argentina and the Czech Republic.

Argentina lost last year's Davis Cup to Spain for a record fourth defeat in the final, providing del Potro with all the motivation he needs to play.

''I'll try to give as much as I can despite the fact the doctor has told me not to play,'' said the right-handed del Potro, who lost to Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals of the US Open last week. ''This is a chance to play in front of family and friends and people close to me who can never see me play.

''If this were not a semifinal, perhaps I would have thought more about it.''

Stepanek said he's braced for some wild Argentine support.

''I've heard that Argentine fans put big pressure on opponents, but in a fair atmosphere,'' he said. ''At the end of the day, we have to focus on the match and the rest will take care of itself.''

The second singles match on Friday will pit Argentina's Juan Monaco against Tomas Berdych on clay at a sold-out Parque Roca on the outskirts of the Argentine capital.

The doubles on Saturday will be Argentina pair Carlos Berlocq and Eduardo Schwank up against Ivo Minar and Lukas Rosol. The reverse singles, if necessary, will be played on Sunday.

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Argentina captain Martin Jaite says he's happy del Potro will play.

''Obviously our team with Juan Martin is stronger than our team without him,'' Jaite said.

Berdych lost to eventual champion Andy Murray in the US Open semifinals.

''Berdych is a player who comes here with lots of confidence,'' Monaco said. ''But he's not Andy (Murray), he's not (Roger) Federer.''

The Czechs have won three of four head-to-head matches against Argentina in the Davis Cup. In the two most recent, the Czechs defeated Argentina in the 2009 quarterfinals in Ostrava, Czech Republic. Argentina won in 2005 in a first-round match in Buenos Aires.

The Czechs won the Davis Cup in 1980 playing as Czechoslovakia.

The United States plays Spain in the other semifinal in Gijon, Spain.

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