Argentine Olympic medal winner Juan Martin Del Potro made his return to the ATP World Tour at the Delray Beach Open in Florida, beating fifth seed Denis Kudla in straight sets – 6-1, 6-4 in the pair’s first round match at the ATP250 event.
Playing his first match in 11 months, Del Potro broke Kudla in the American’s first service game, and within 10 minutes had capitalized on it to take a 3-0 lead.
65th-ranked Kudla was unable to break his rival’s serve during the match, with the 1041-ranked ‘Delpo’ hitting 5 aces over the course of the match; he took a double break in the first set to win it in under 25 minutes, then breaking his younger rival straightaway in the second.
Del Potro has won the title at Delray Beach in 2011, a victory that followed his first return from injury. The US Open winner has been plagued by a recurrent wrist injury, which first affected his game in 2010. After that year’s Australian Open, where he was seeded fourth and managed a fourth-round finish before losing to the lower-ranked Marin Cilic, he took a month off from the game.
He then withdrew from a number of tournaments that year, and did not defend his US Open title. Although Del Potro played a few matches towards the end of that season, he did not have much success, and that lack of form and momentum continued into early 2011, where he dropped to 485th in the ATP rankings.
Although his results were marginally patchy that year, Del Potro managed to move back up the rankings with title wins and a number of robust performances against a series of top-ranked players – and from 485th, managed to finish that year in 11th. He also won the ATP’s Comeback Player of the Year award that year.
He played only two tournaments last year – the Apia International in Sydney, where he crashed out in the quarter-finals, and the Miami Masters, where he suffered a first-round loss to Vasek Pospisil. He had two surgeries on his wrist that year, one following the January tournament and the other later that year in June.