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Juan Martin del Potro vs Kevin Anderson Abierto Mexicano Telcel tennis live: Anderson tries for first victory over del Potro to claim biggest career title

Hannah Wilks in ATP Tour 3 Mar 2018
  • Juan Martin del Potro faces Kevin Anderson in the ATP Acapulco final on Saturday
  • Del Potro vs Anderson Abierto Mexicano Telcel tennis is live from Acapulco on Saturday at 9pm local/3am GMT (Sunday)
Juan Martin del Potro (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images )

Kevin Anderson looks for his first win over Juan Martin del Potro in seven attempts with the 500-level Abierto Mexicano Telcel title on the line in Acapulco on Saturday. 

Top-10 players face off but who will boost their Indian Wells chances by claiming the ATP Acapulco title? It’s Juan Martin del Potro vs Kevin Anderson in the Abierto Mexicano Telcel final.

World no. 8 Anderson is looking for his second title of 2018 and his first ever win over del Potro, while the Argentine is trying to win his first 500 title since 2013. Either way the Abierto Mexicano Telcel will crown a new champion on Saturday.

Both men are playing their second ATP World Tour final of 2018 in Acapulco, and for del Potro it’s come as a welcome fillip to a season that got a bit of track over the last few weeks. Champion in Stockholm for the second straight year at the end of 2017, as part of a strong end to the season which included semifinals at the US Open and Shanghai Rolex Masters and a runner-up finish in Basel, del Potro secured a long-awaited return to the top 10 with his run to the final at the ASB Classic in Auckland, beating Denis Shapovalov, Karen Khachanov and David Ferrer before losing in the final to an in-form Roberto Bautista Agut. But he fell early at the Australian Open to Tomas Berdych in the third round, and when he returned to action three weeks or so later in Delray Beach, suffered an early defeat to eventual champion Frances Tiafoe.

Del Potro has been on fire in Acapulco, though – there’s no other word for it. Unfortunate to run into Novak Djokovic in the second round of last year’s event, del Potro opened this year with a win over Mischa Zverev before weathering former champion and former top-10 player Ferrer in three sets. Then came back-to-back wins in fairly crushing style over top-10 players, beating world no. 6 Dominic Thiem 6-2, 7-6(7) and then world no. 5 Alexander Zverev 6-4, 6-2 to reach the final. The last time del Potro beat top-10 players in back-to-back matches, he’d made the US Open final – and that took some draining, dramatic, lengthy matches, not these straightforward victories in trademark pulverizing del Potro style. Against Zverev, he broke serve three times without losing his own and was thoroughly in charge of the 91-minute match.

Anderson, seeded fifth at the Abierto Mexicano, has had a much smoother route through the draw thanks to the withdrawal of top seed Rafael Nadal and the first-round losses of the other seeds in his quarter, Jack Sock (who lost to Ernesto Escobedo) and defending champion Sam Querrey (out to Matthew Ebden). 

This is already the third ATP World Tour of 2018 for the big-serving South African, who started off the season with a runner-up finish to Gilles Simon at the Marahashtra Open in Pune. Like del Potro, Anderson suffered a hiccup at the Australian Open – in his case, a first-round defeat to Kyle Edmund, who of course went on to reach the semifinals – but at the inaugural New York Open, Anderson put together a great run, winning four matches that all went to three sets against some tough opponents: Escobedo, Tiafoe, Kei Nishikori and Querrey. It snapped a three-match losing streak in finals for the 2017 US Open runner-up.

Anderson has now extended his winning streak to eight matches with his run through the draw at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel, which has seen him beat Radu Albot and Adrian Mannarino before ousting a pair of ‘Next Gen’ opponents, Australian Open semifinalist Hyeon Chung and then the USA’s Jared Donaldson in the semifinals – the only player to succeed in taking a set from Anderson this week. 

‘I really felt I did well just fighting as hard as I could,’ Anderson said. ‘The match point felt great to really go after it and execute the way I wanted to. So, right now I'm just really pleased to be through to the finals here. I have a shot at playing for a title.’

All four of Anderson’s previous ATP World Tour titles have come at 250 level, so this would be a significant win for the world no. 8, who won his way back to the top 10 when he triumphed in New York.

But he faces an uphill battle to claim the Abierto Mexicano Telcel title – he has never beaten del Potro, losing all six of their previous matches. All of those previous encounters came on hard courts, most recently at Delray Beach in 2017, and in all that time Anderson has won only two sets against del Potro, who has a fearsome serve to help him hold his own against the giant South African and a more solid, powerful baseline game. 

‘It's another opportunity for me,’ Anderson said. ‘I'm looking forward to it. I feel like I'm playing great tennis. [It's] just about recovering and resting up right now and being as prepared as possible for tomorrow.’

Is there a case that Anderson, despite the head-to-head, will be the one who claims the title in Acapulco on Saturday? Perhaps. Although a 6-0 lead in the head-to-head is a huge mark in del Potro’s favour, the two players have only faced off once since 2013 – the aforementioned Delray Beach meeting in 2017, which was only the second match Anderson had played since the previous October. Overall, the South African is a much improved and much more assured player than he was in 2013, and del Potro has had a much tougher route through the draw, even if his last two wins came in straight sets. I think there’s a distinct possibility that Anderson pulls off a shock win against del Potro and claims the Abierto Mexicano Telcel title on Saturday. 

Del Potro vs Anderson Abierto Mexicano Telcel tennis is live from Acapulco on Saturday at 9pm local/3am GMT

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Juan Martin del Potro vs Kevin Anderson Abierto Mexicano Telcel tennis live: Anderson tries for first victory over del Potro to claim biggest career title

Juan Martin del Potro looks for his third straight win vs top-10 opposition as he targets the 21st title of his career: ATP Abierto Mexicano tennis live from Acapulco

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