Juan Martin Del Potro is up against Portugal's Rui Machado on Thursday for a place in the quarter-finals of the Estoril Open.
Del Potro kicks off his clay-court season proper against the dogged Machado in Estoril on Thursday. The top seeds get first round byes at this event and Del Potro will be keen to be back in action and get his title defence underway after a few weeks off.
It's been a pretty decent year so far for Del Potro who's on the verge of returning to the top ten after winning a title in Marseille making a final in Rotterdam and decent shows at the Australian Open and in Indian Wells.
The Argentine won the Estoril title last year without dropping a set, beating Robin Soderling and Fernando Verdasco along the way and he's strong favourite to defend his crown this week. As a former French Open semi-finalist he'll have high hopes for the next month. Del Potro opted out of the Monte Carlo Masters after a weekend of Davis Cup action where he helped Argentina into the semi-finals.
Machado is a tough customer mainly through his consistency and he's pulled himself up through the rankings over the past year. A year ago he was competing mainly in challenger and futures events. He began the week with a 6-7(34), 6-1, 6-2 win over wildcard Pedro Sousa but even in front of his home fans, he's unlikely to trouble Del Potro.
Prediction: Del Potro in two.