2017 ATP Delray Beach Preview and Predictions
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The first of Florida’s two ATP World Tour stops, here is your preview with predictions for the 2017 Delray Beach Open.
Delray Beach Open
ATP World Tour 250
Delray Beach, FL, USA
February 20-26, 2017
Prize Money: $534,625
Top 4 seeds (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Milos Raonic (4)
2: Ivo Karlovic (20)
3: Jack Sock (21)
4: Sam Querrey (29)
Delray boasts top 20 players, but otherwise it’s a pretty open field on the beach.
First round matches to watch
(8)Kyle Edmund vs. Adrian Mannarino
Mannarino has a h2h win, but this should be a very competitive hard court matchup. Both players could use a form boost, Mannarino’s shotmaking is a bit better than Edmund, which should make him the slightest of favorites.
Jared Donaldson vs. Mikhail Kukushkin
Donaldson has hit a skid, losing five straight matches. Kukushkin for his part has won three of his last four, reaching the semis in Memphis. The steady ATP veteran is never going to be an elite player, while Donaldson might be, but the young American seems listless right now, making Kukushkin a surprising favorite.
Kevin Anderson vs. (7)Juan Martin Del Potro
Two of the ATP’s most talented tall players, both of these players have been bit hard by the injury bug, and had their careers derailed in the process. Anderson hasn’t won a match this year, while Del Potro is making his season debut. Last year even a rusty Del Potro showed what a talented player he is. Remaining Argentina’s best player, JMDP has never lost to South Africa’s best Anderson (5-0 h2h), and presuming he can kick off the rust he should win his first match of 2017.
(6)Bernard Tomic vs. (Q)Steve Darcis
Tomic is just 2-3 this year, while Darcis has seven wins just this month. The veteran Belgian has never played the junkballing Tomic, it should be an interesting style contrast. Tomic is the better player, but he’s looked unfit in 2017, Darcis is playing quite well and at his best he should groove past a frustrated Tomic.
Taylor Fritz vs. (Q)Akira Santillan
Australian teen Santillan will be bidding for his first ever ATP win against American teen Fritz in this matchup of potential future ATP stars. Santillan has good form, having come through qualifying, but the more experienced Fritz should have a slight edge in this one, despite not having a great start in 2017. Be sure to check these young guns out before they get famous.
(2)Ivo Karlovic vs. Donald Young
Karlovic is 3-0 against Young, but he’s lost three straight matches, while Young reached the semifinals in Memphis. If Karlovic wins this, he could take home the Delray title, but Young also his eyes on a potential title here and won’t be broken easily. Karlovic, a former Delray champ, should win the tiebreaks to advance here.
Milos Raonic is the best player in this field and should blitz past Tim Smyczek, Borna Coric/Santiago Giraldo, and most likely Rendy Lu/Adrian Mannarino in his first three matches. Coric is slowly easing into form, but still won’t be able to deal with Raonic’s serve in his current form. Lu opens with wild card Bjorn Fratangelo, Mannarino/Edmund will be his round 2 opponent, with most likely Mannarino the slight favorite to reach the quarters given Lu hasn’t been in great form recently. Raonic will have lost focus if he doesn’t reach at least the semifinals here.
Sam Querrey looked awful in Memphis, but there are much worse draws in round 1 than Israeli veteran Dudi Sela, and the American should power into round 2 against Kukushkin (or Donaldson). I have the defending champion Querrey defeating Kukushkin before falling to another former champion, Del Potro, in the quarterfinals (2-1 h2h in favor of Del Potro). JMDP will face Memphis quarterfinalist Damir Dzumhur in round 2, after a win against Anderson, presuming Dzumhur continues his positive play against Konstantin Kravchuk.
The Karlovic/Young winner looks set to face Darcis or Tomic in the quarterfinals, unless the nearly retired former champion Tommy Haas or Memphis finalist Nikoloz Basilashvili interrupts that. Karlovic should serve past Young and Fritz/Santillan, while I have Darcis beating a tired Basilashvili, after the Georgian defeats Haas. It’s tough to pick between Karlovic and Darcis, form favors Darcis, but in Delray I’ll go with Karlovic.
Two of America’s best, Jack Sock and Steve Johnson should face off in the quarterfinals, presuming Johnson defeats his young countryman Stefan Kozlov, then Yoshihito Nishioka/Kimmer Coppejans and Sock eases past Radu Albot and Dustin Brown/Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. Sock beat Johnson when they met in Auckland earlier this year, Sock will be the favorite to reach the semis. Brown is coming off a back injury, Garcia-Lopez continues to struggle, Kozlov is yet to reach an ATP caliber level, and both Coppejans and Nishioka are vulnerable to getting overpowered.
Dark Horse: Steve Darcis
The qualifier Darcis has a shot at getting past Tomic, Basilashvili and the big serving Karlovic to reach the semifinals. He’s been playing some of the best tennis of his career lately, and it was a bit of a quirk that he had to go through qualifying in the first place. If a non-seed is going to exceed expectations, this veteran is a good choice to do it.
Raonic d. Del Potro
Sock d. Karlovic
Raonic has split meetings against Del Potro, but should be in better form, giving him an edge. Karlovic has consistently battled past Sock on hard courts, but the American’s form is too good to pass up, he has a great shot at reaching another ATP final.
Raonic d. Sock
6-2 this year, Raonic is playing well enough, should be fresh, and has an 8-2 h2h lead against Sock, making him a clear favorite to take home this ATP title.