#AnderDelpo, #KevJuan? Call Them Opponents In Delray Beach
It started out with so much promise. A Twitter post. More than 200 retweets and 700-plus favourites. Catchy nicknames with hashtags to boot: #KevJuan, #AnderDelpo, #DelPAnderson.
But, in the end, the powerful combination of Juan Martin del Potro and Kevin Anderson met some unfortunate luck when they tried to make their doubles team debut last October at the If Stockholm Open. Anderson, who dealt with injuries all last season, had to retire from their first-round match after 10 games because of an adductor strain.
“Unfortunately that was right when my hip was getting sore and we couldn't finish the match. Nothing really took off. I think we maybe needed to play a few more matches to gain any traction,” Anderson told ATPWorldTour.com about the proposed nicknames.
The former Top 10 players will take the court together again on Tuesday at the Delray Beach Open during a first-round match between two former tournament champions. Del Potro won the title in 2011; Anderson, in 2012. Del Potro leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 5-0 but the two haven't played in almost four years, since August 2013 in Washington.
“I feel so glad to start the year in this tournament,” del Potro said during his pre-tournament press conference. “It means something special to me after a great comeback last year. I won this title in 2011 as well, and it's a special tournament for me. So I think I made a good decision to come here, and I will see if I can play good tennis.”
Both del Potro and Anderson have dealt with injuries during recent years. Del Potro's four wrist surgeries that have forced him to miss years of action have been well documented. But Anderson also had to miss weeks of the 2016 season due to an array of hiccups, including injuries to his knees, hips, ankles and shoulders. Del Potro is making his 2017 debut on Tuesday; Anderson made his season debut last week at the Memphis Open but lost to Bosnian Damir Dzumhur.
“He's a terrific player,” Anderson said of del Potro. “Looking forward to the match. It will be obviously a challenge but I feel like if I can stick to the tennis that I've been wanting to play and looking to play I'll definitely give myself the best chance.”
For the 6'8” South African, that means trying to take the action to the 6'6” Argentine. “Being as decisive as possible. Using my size to my advantage. Committing and just taking control of as many points as possible,” Anderson said. “I think that's the general theme. Obviously I work hard on my movement. I feel comfortable staying in points. So it's just combining those two aspects.”
It will be a home match of sorts for the Gulf Stream, Florida, resident. Anderson lives just 10 minutes away from the Delray Beach Tennis Center and practises at the facility when he's not playing at tournaments. “It feels pretty comfortable coming out here,” he said. “I know a few people in the area so this will definitely be as much of a home tournament that I could definitely look for outside of something in South Africa.”
Anderson's supporters may be outnumbered on Tuesday night, though. Thousands of del Potro fans will surely pack the Stadium Court, welcoming the Argentine back to the ATP World Tour. The two play the final match on Tuesday night.
“I’ve always kept positive with myself and my wrist. I have a good team behind me that tries to support me with all my decisions. My forehand still works well and my serve helps me in the important matches,” del Potro told ATP World Tour Uncovered. “The fans are still so nice to me. This all helps when I come on court and makes me feel free to play. I just want to keep playing for a few more years and pray that I stay healthy as well.”