Juan Martin del Potro, the only player outside the "big four" of men's tennis to have won a grand slam in the last eight years, remained circumspect about his chances of breaking back into the elite after a winning start at the Australian Open on Tuesday.
The tall Argentine lost a year of his career to a wrist injury after winning the US Open in 2009, and since his return has failed to rediscover the heights of form he reached at Flushing Meadows three-and-a-half years ago.
The sixth seed beat qualifier Adrian Mannarino 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 to reach the second round, an improvement on the four sets he took to beat the Frenchman at the same stage last year.
"They are so far from me at the moment," he said. "We play five sets and matches can be tough for all the players, so I [am] just thinking about my second round.
"Hopefully I can go far, but I need to play better and better.
"I think the favourites are the same even if Rafa [Nadal] is not here. If Rafa was here, he would be a favourite for sure also. But Roger [Federer], Novak [Djokovic], Andy Murray, and other guys are the favourites to win the tournament."
Del Potro will face Germany's Benjamin Becker in the second round on Thursday.
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