- Associated Press - Saturday, August 21, 2010

Juan Martin del Potro will not defend his U.S. Open title because he is not ready to compete after having surgery on his right wrist.

A person familiar with del Potro’s plans told The Associated Press on Saturday that the player informed the U.S. Tennis Association of his intention to withdraw. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because an official announcement had not been made.

Del Potro was expected to make his decision public later Saturday.

Word of del Potro’s absence came a day after No. 1-ranked Serena Williams pulled out of the year’s last Grand Slam tournament because she still is recovering from surgery for cuts on her right foot.

The U.S. Open starts Aug. 30.

The 6-foot-6 del Potro has not played on tour since the Australian Open in January because of an injury to his right, racket-swinging wrist. The 21-year-old Argentine had surgery in May, then recently began practicing in hopes of playing at Flushing Meadows, where he won his first major championship a year ago by upsetting Rafael Nadal in the semifinals and Roger Federer in the final.

Del Potro becomes only the third U.S. Open men’s champion in the 42-year Open era to not defend his title. The others were Ken Rosewall in 1971 and Pete Sampras in 2003. Sampras retired after winning the 2002 U.S. Open in his final match as a professional.

Del Potro’s right wrist has been a problem since last year; he retired in the second round of the Shanghai Masters in October because of tendinitis in the wrist. In January, he pulled out of an exhibition tournament just days before the start of the Australian Open, citing the wrist.

He lost in the fourth round at Melbourne, and hasn’t entered a tournament since. Del Potro is No. 9 in this week’s rankings but will slide from there after the U.S. Open because he will lose the ATP points that came with his 2009 title.

In late July, del Potro was on the provisional entry list released by the USTA for the men’s field at the 2010 U.S. Open. In a statement then, the USTA said del Potro was "expected to return to Grand Slam competition" at the U.S. Open.

But now del Potro’s return to action could come at the Thailand Open, an indoor tournament that begins Sept. 24 in Bangkok. Del Potro said in July he planned to play in that event.

In addition to del Potro and Williams _ the three-time U.S. Open champion who cut her foot in July shortly after winning Wimbledon _ the American Grand Slam tournament will be without two-time champion Justine Henin. Three other past U.S. Open winners _ Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova and Kim Clijsters _ have been injured recently.

Two other men withdrew late Friday: No. 10-ranked Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and three-time U.S. Open quarterfinalist Tommy Haas.

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