Kudla a Cool customer in Delray, Joins Dolgopolov & Karlovic in Round 2 @DelrayBeachOpen
Jessica Luzadas for Tennis Atlantic
American Denis Kudla continued his solid start to 2015, with a round 1 win in Delray Beach over Slovak Lukas Lacko 6-3 6-4. From the start of the match Kudla looked energetic and confident. He quickly won the first set with solid and consistent strokes, mixing in quality serving to take Lacko off guard. Kudla’s cool calm and collective nature seemed to frustrate Lacko, causing him to rack up unforced errors as he overhit on his shots and went for too much when fed a steady diet of clean returns and defensive slices by Kudla. Both players had to deal with tough weather conditions, primarily strong winds and a bright sunshine that disrupted the players field of vision at times, Kudla managed to stay composed and ahead in the sets, which resulted in a comfortable victory for the American. Lacko only broke Kudla once in the match, in set 2, which was slightly more competitive, and Kudla saved 6 of 7 break point chances he faced, in the end the match was over in just over 1 hour.
#3 seed Alex Dolgopolov joined Kudla with a winning start, Dolgo faced a relatively stern test from Russian veteran Teymuraz Gabashvili, but prevailed in an hour and a half 7-6(4) 6-3. Dolgopolov, was, as to be expected given his playstyle, the more aggressive competitor in this one, while Gabashvili’s skillset was limited to baseline defense and rallying. Dolgopolov generated more break point chances (8) and won nearly twice as many return points as Gabashvili did on the Dolgopolov serve. In this contest, Dolgo’s form varied, but after saving break point chances in set 2, after taking the first set tiebreak, Dolgopolov broke Gabashvili himself and then held onto his serve the rest of the way to finish off the match.
Ivo Karlovic won the late match, over fellow big server Dustin Brown. Karlovic, rather astoundingly continued his record of having never won a tiebreak against the German (0-4 in tiebreaks in all of their matches put together), but still won anyway 6-3 6-7(3) 6-2. Brown’s form was rather disappointing given the 2-0 h2h record going into the match in his favor. He got broken early in set 1, which as one knows, almost always results in Karlovic winning the set when he gets a break, and though he hung around in set 2, and then read Karlovic’s serve well in that tiebreak, in set 3 he looked emotionally fatigued out there, broken and then comfortably dispatched. Karlovic put up 23 aces and won nearly 80% of his service points, in a match where both players came to net on at least half the points.
Men’s singles qualifying also concluded today in Delray on the outer courts, JP Smith beat American vet Robby Ginepri 3-6 6-3 6-0, American Eric Quigley upset another veteran competitor, Victor Hanescu, in a 3 set battle 6-3 5-7 6-4. Quigley, will be I believe, making his ATP main draw debut in Delray Beach, having qualified for his maiden ATP event. Thanasi Kokkinakis also qualified in the most straightforward fashion of all the competitors, beating Alex Kuznetsov 6-1 6-3. Last but not least, Yoshito Nishioka beat Sekou Bangoura 7-6 6-4 for the final qualifying spot. Nishioka, who is primed to rise at a young age, is also making his ATP main draw debut this week.
When it comes to qualifier placement in the main draw, Smith was placed against top seed Kevin Anderson, Quigley was placed against 5 seed Adrian Mannarino, Kokkinakis will play Filip Krajinovic in a great chance for him to reach round 2, and Nishioka will face Igor Sijsling of The Netherlands for his maiden ATP main draw match.
In doubles main draw action, Eric Butorac and Rajeev Ram beat Mikhail Kukushkin/Rendy Lu 7-5 4-6 10-4, Bernard Tomic and Viktor Troicki beat all the Aussie tandem of Sam Groth and Chris Guccione 6-7(10) 6-2 10-7, and Raven Klaasen and Leander Paes, a doubles specialist pairing, toppled Malek Jaziri and Marino Matosevic 6-3 7-6.
Many of the main draw players including Sam Querrey, and Andrey Rublev were out in force on the practice courts today, and I’ll be back later in the week to cover some of the later round action at the 2015 Delray Beach Open.