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Del Potro, Serena give us reason to appreciate the 2016 season

Juan Martin del Potro is ready to give it a whirl again when he returns to Delray Beach. AP Photo/J Pat Carter

It wasn't all gambling controversies and tennis tantrums in the season's opening month. With chivalry, sportsmanship and comebacks, the players also set good examples and upheld the image of the sport. Here are some of their finer moments:

Juan Martin del Potro to come back

After multiple surgeries to his wrists, former world No. 4 del Potro is making another comeback. He is scheduled to return to Delray Beach next week. One of the more genial players on tour, del Potro played only two events last season.

Now 27, del Potro has won 18 career titles, none bigger than his run to the US Open championship in 2009.

"I wanted to share the news, and also the happiness that I feel, knowing that I will play a tennis tournament once again after such a long time," del Potro said in a video posted on YouTube. "The uncertainty. All the bad moments I had to go through. So many mood swings, really difficult days that make you think about giving up. Still, I am lucky to be surrounded by great people."

Dominic Thiem's gift to David Goffin

It's extremely rare to see a top pro give an opponent any advantage, which is what makes this gesture special.

Dominic Thiem appeared to have won the point in the second set of his third-round match against Goffin when Goffin's shot was called long. But a Hawk-Eye challenge showed the ball had been in. Thiem's reply to the shot had sailed long, but the umpire ordered the point replayed because the linesman's call could have affected Thiem.

But Thiem declined, conceding the call had not interfered with his shot and gave the point to Goffin.

The 21-year-old didn't win the match, but he won a lot of admirers -- including his opponent.


Serena Williams flips the script

Williams received kudos for her show of graciousness following her defeat in the Australian Open final, hugging Angelique Kerber and smiling more broadly through the trophy ceremony than her opponent.

But there was also an account of another Williams' generosity during the tournament -- correcting the umpire during the coin toss before her fourth-round match. If accurate, it was less prominent but more substantive.


Madison Keys, others help make Zhang Shuai's day

Injured and in tears, Keys looked ready to retire during her fourth-round match against Zhang in Melbourne, Australia, but kept going because she didn't want to spoil her opponent's victory. Having won the first set before her hip began bothering her, Keys fell in three sets but didn't quit.

"One, I hate retiring," she said to the press after the match. "Two, you don't want to do that to someone who's trying to get into the quarterfinals."

The 21-year-old may have had to hobble off the court, but her determined display meant she could walk tall.

Keys wasn't the only one getting behind Zhang's improbable run. The 27-year-old had been ready to call it a career when the tournament began. She even brought her parents to see her play before she hung up her racket, but qualified for the tournament and reached the quarterfinals.

Along the way, she revealed that sidelined compatriot Zheng Jie, a former semifinalist who has regularly produced good showings in Australia, lent her Zheng's "lucky locker" for the event.


Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, John Millman give a hand

Tsonga was concentrating on his second-round match in Melbourne but wasn't too preoccupied to notice that a ball girl was ill. He talked to the young girl and then offered her an arm to hold as she left the court.

Usually the ball kids are the ones running around the players, but this time, it was the opposite.

And it's not just ball kids that players were concerned about. Millman went around to the other side of the court when his opponent, Diego Schwartzman, had to retire with cramps and be stretchered off during their first-round match, asking if he could give him anything that would help. The Australian also handed drinks to spectators who had been watching on the hot day.


Andy Murray's courtside photography

He had the Aussie men's final to play next evening and had just played a five-setter against Milos Raonic the day before, on top of all kinds of personal distractions during the tournament. But that didn't stop Murray from being courtside at 1 a.m. taking pictures of brother Jamie's first Grand Slam men's doubles victory.

"You should be in bed, Andy," Jamie instructed his little brother.