Cape Town - It could not have emerged a more intriguing and fascinating return to tournament tennis for Kevin Anderson after a five-week break than his opening game in the Estoril Open on Thursday against new sensation Stefanos Tsitsipas.
The rising 19-year-old star became the first Greek player to reach the final of an ATP tournament in 44 years during the Barcelona Open last week, accounting for a succession of recognised top players - including the world's seventh-ranked Dominic Thiem - before succumbing like all others at the final hurdle against the unerring brilliance of "King of Clay" Rafael Nadal.
Tsitsipas's barnstorming appearance in Barcelona has elevated him to a 44th world ranking and with the current tournament in Portugal also being played on a clay surface, world No 8 and top seed Anderson will surely be aware of the tricky nature of his return to action after receiving a bye into the second round.
Anderson, who has enjoyed a largely successful, but gruelling 2018 season, last played in the Miami Open, where he lost at the quarter-final stage to Spain's Pablo Carreno Busta.
Tsitsipas, for his part, came through his first-round game in Estoril with a 7-6 (7/2), 6-3 win over Spain's Pablo Andujar, demonstrating no ill-effects from his battering against Nadal.
Meanwhile, the Estoril Open has already provided a shock setback for South African doubles stalwart, Raven Klaasen, with an opening match defeat with new partner Michael Venus against "retired" 37-year-old former Grand Slam champion Lleyton Hewitt and the teenaged partner Alex de Minaur he is now coaching.