After an extended pre-season break, Juan Martin del Potro got his 2017 season off the mark last night with a 6-4 6-4 victory over South African Kevin Anderson at the Delray Beach ATP 250.
On paper, the straight-sets victory mirrors the kind of form that saw del Potro take silver at last year’s Olympics in Rio and, of course, lead that Davis Cup comeback in November. The encounter was a tentative one however, with the one-time US Open Champion surviving a tumble and a grazed knee in the first set.
But, the Argentine pulled through with some clever play at the net, which offset his weak backhand – a result of the injury to his left wrist which has plagued much of his career so far. His strong serve and powerful forehand also put him in good stead for the majority of the match, leaving 6″8 Anderson with few opportunities to break his serve.
Of his forehand, Delpo said: “It was effective but I can hit it even better. I made some easy mistakes with my forehand but fortunately not in the important moments.”
Both players have enjoyed successes at the Florida edition of the ATP 250 series, with Delpo winning in 2011 and Anderson the year after. Plus, it was at Delray Beach where the Argentine began his season last year. He reached the semi-finals and went on to win 32 matches in the season that got him inside the ATP Top 40 Rankings and the ATP Comeback Player of the Year award for the second time.
Del Potro was also cautious to suggest similar levels of success this year, but did speak positively about his expectations for the season after the match: “I felt good, I have the peace of mind that I can recover in the hotel with less focus on my wrist. For a wrist or a body that has been in the operating room this much, it isn’t the same for another playing at this intensity. I can take a lot of positives from today, and the year has only just started. “
Next up in the draw, Delpo will face the player that defeated Anderson just last week in Memphis, Damir Dzumhur.