Melbourne: World No. 5 Juan Martin del Potro began his 2014 season with a win, albeit a scrappy one over Frenchman Nicolas Mahut to advance to the quarter finals of the Sydney International on Wednesday.
The tournament has proved a graveyard for the seeds this week but the 25-year-old former U.S. Open champion avoided an early flight to Melbourne by coming back to win 1-6, 6-3, 6-4.
In doubles, Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi progressed to the semi-finals but Leander Paes failed to rescue his 2014 season from a poor start as he crashed out in the first round with Stepanek.
Bopanna and his Pakistani partner, seeded third, faced stiff resistance from Trat Huey of Philippines and Briton Dominic Inglot before prevailing 6-7 (3), 7-6 (5), 10-3.
For Paes, it has been a nightmarish start to the new season. At the Chennai Open, he did not get to play a single ball as his partner Fabio Fognini pulled out due to an injury.
On Tuesday, Paes and Stepanek, seeded second, were ousted 4-6, 4-6 in 65 minutes by the French pair of Julien Benneteau and Edouard Roger-Vasselin.