Bernard Tomic was on court a full five minutes before Lukas Lacko sauntered into his first round main draw match on Grandstand court this afternoon just before 2:30. Early bird Tomic sent Lacko packing in 53 minutes, 6-4, 6-2, and will face top seed John Isner on Wednesday night at the New York Open.
On facing Isner, I got a great quote out of him: “I think it’s gonna be pretty easy, no?”
Bernard Tomic, 2019 New York Open
Bernard Tomic, 2019 New York Open
Seriously though. “We’ve played a couple of times,” he told me after the match. “Last time I had a chance to win. I lost 7-6 in the 4th (set) in Davis Cup. You know, he has one of the best serves in the world. There’s not much you can do sometimes. I have to go out there and try to play the way I did today.”
Tomic appeared on Australian Television last week and described the poor treatment he received from former US Open champion Lleyton Hewitt during the early days of Tomic’s career.
“There’s a lot of pressure in this sport and you learn how to deal with it,” Tomic told me. “I had a lot of pressure when I was young. I’ve played really solid and really well so far in my career. I mean I haven’t won slams and that, but maybe that’s something I can do in the future. But 10 years in this career, maybe 8-10 years still in this career. I still feel super young. I’m 26 and there’s guys who are 38, 37, 39 and still playing. It’s been a long journey, but got to keep going and do what I do and hopefully one day it’ll pay off.”
The night session was partially cancelled due to rain, but 2 (and a half) matches still completed on day 1 of the main draw at the BB&T Atlanta Open 2018.
For over 2 hours Alex De Minaur battled with lucky loser Hubert Hurkacz of Poland. Despite having played over the weekend in qualifying, Hurkacz came out as the fresher player roaring past De Minaur 6-1 in the first set. From there ADM steeled himself and stepped up in a big way though, battling past the Pole in consecutive tiebreaks to win the match 1-6 7-6 7-6, in the end coming back from a set and a break down to win.
De Minaur was strong on second serve despite generating fewer chances on return, breaks were traded early in set 2 and Hurkacz saved a set point to force a tiebreak that De Minaur dominated to force a third. Hurkacz was pressed hard in the third set, nearly getting broken early, and getting broken to let the Australian young gun serve for the match. Hurkacz broke back to continue the action but a closer third set tiebreak saw De Minaur squeak it 7-5. Next for ADM is defending champion John Isner.
Lukas Lacko had a far easier time against qualifier Prajnesh Gunneswaran. The Slovak veteran enjoyed one way traffic in his first match of the tournament prevailing 6-2 6-2 in less than an hour. The errors started early and often off the Gunneswaran racquet as he went 4-0 down and never truly regained his foothold in the match.
In the third match of the day Ivo Karlovic was well on his way to (most likely) wrapping things up in straight sets against Donald Young until the rain came. Karlovic was up 6-2 5-5 as Young played a poor first set. DY recovered a bit in the second to keep things on an even keel, but Karlovic’s serve continued to trouble him. The match will conclude tomorrow.
Tuesday’s singles action features a multitude of matches. Chardy vs. Berankis and Norrie vs. Jaziri start the day. The Ryan Harrison vs. James Duckworth contest that was scratched on Monday due to rain will follow along with Ramanathan vs. Fritz.
The Karlovic and Young match will conclude third on stadium, with Copil vs. Tiafoe, and Youhzny vs Reinberg the remaining singles matches on Stadium. On grandstand it will be Kokkinakis vs. Rubin and Smyczek vs. Zverev with Bolt vs. Baghdatis the late match. Two doubles matches will also take place tomorrow.
The doubles results today saw Bambridge/O’Mara, Raja/Skupski, and Monroe/Smith advance.
By a score of 6-4 6-4 Mischa Zverev, a 30 year old tour veteran and for many years an ATP Challenger Tour journeyman, stepped up and captured his first ATP title, defeating Lukas Lacko in the final. Zverev, contesting a third career final, edged Lacko after previously dropping just a set this week. In his opening match he needed 3 sets to defeat Nicolas Jarry but things got easier from there as his serve and volley game led him past Steve Johnson, Denis Shapovalov, and Mikhail Kukushkin to reach the final.
Lacko, normally a challenger player, found form at the ATP level to defeat Roberto Quiroz, Diego Schwartzman, Cam Norrie, and Marco Cecchinato, dropping just a set to Schwartzman prior to the final. Despite their success at this 250 level tournament, it would be surprise if Zverev or Lacko featured in a major way at Wimbledon.
British pairing Bambridge/O’Mara defeated the Skupski brothers in the doubles final.
#2 seed Damir Dzumhur won his third career ATP title, defeating Adrian Mannarino 6-1 1-6 6-1 in an hour and a half final on grass courts in Turkey. The 250 level title continues to confirm Dzumhur’s rise on tour as the Bosnian slipped past Marius Copil then eased past Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Jiri Vesely to reach the final.
Mannarino having never won an ATP title, was hungry but came up just short. The quirky Frenchman defeated Ricardas Berankis, Joao Sousa, and Gael Monfils, upsetting Monfils in three sets to reach the final.
Demoliner/Gonzalez defeated Dutch pairing Arends/Middelkoop in the doubles final.
Young American Tommy Paul had only one ATP level match win in his career prior to the 2017 BB&T Atlanta Open, and already he’s reached his maiden quarterfinal on tour. The 20 year old continued his great season overall defeating tour veteran Malek Jaziri 6-7 6-4 6-3, as he wore down Jaziri despite creating few chances to break serve until the final set. Jaziri’s shotmaking prevailed early, Paul was broken out of the gate, and although he got the match back to 4-4, he would lose the ensuing first set tiebreak from 5-5. In the second set it was dead even until Jaziri slipped up and got broken at 3-3. Paul would serve out the second set without incident, and force a decider. At this point, the heat was causing Jaziri to struggle physically. The younger player, Paul had a fitness edge, and although Jaziri went up a break 3-1 and looked on his way to victory, Jaziri imploded from there, losing five straight games and with it the match, as the Tunisian’s body failed him. Paul capping off a great comeback as the underdog.
Joining Paul in the quarterfinals as an underdog is Lukas Lacko. If Lacko reaches the semifinals he’ll have more ATP wins than he’s had in the last two seasons combined. Lacko got to face Donald Young in round 2, and Young struggled in his home tournament again, crashing out in an hour of play 6-3 6-1. Young generated no break points and lost service games every time he went down a break point. It was a comprehensive performance from Lacko, and a debacle from Young.
Gilles Muller and John Isner setup a battle of big servers. Muller won the afternoon match against Quentin Halys 6-4 6-7 6-3. After breaking in the opening service game, the net broke, and there was a delay in the match. The in-form Muller saved two break points after resumption at 4-3 in the 1st, and then went on to take the set, as Halys never recovered that early break. In the second set both players took advantage of the fast, high bouncing court, there was routine service games, and then a second set tiebreak where Muller imploded on serve, and Halys force a third set. Muller got back focused in the third though, he didn’t waste time, breaking Halys to go up 3-1, he didn’t face a break point on his serve in the third, and although he missed one more shot at a break of serve, he still took the match 6-3 in the third.
John Isner won the last singles match of the day, comfortable on the Atlanta Open courts, and on a winning streak, he eased past Vasek Pospisil 6-3 6-4. Pospisil was atrocious on return, and after going down a break early in the first set, he seemed resigned to dropping the opening set. Isner lost just one point on serve in that first frame. In the second set, Isner would lost just three points on his serve, and never face a break point. Pospisil, was under pressure twice on his serve, and was broken once, as the scoreline hid how far apart Isner and Pospisil were in terms of performance.
In doubles action the winners were Raja/Sharan in three sets over Gonzalez/Lipsky, Chung/Nedunchezhiyan over the Sock brothers, and Molteni/Shamasdin over Ryan Harrison and Michael Venus in three sets.
Tommy Paul, ranked barely inside the ATP top 300, earned one of the biggest wins of his career in Atlanta. The 20 year old came back to defeat Hyeon Chung 4-6 6-2 6-3 after coming through weekend qualifying with a pair of three set wins. Chung, a top 60 player at just 21, had miles more ATP experience in the matchup, and was a heavy favorite after taking the first set, but it was Paul who found his fourth gear and won the last two sets.
The first set was a sloppy affair as Chung dropped service twice, but Paul dropped serve three times. Paul played his best in set two, breaking Chung twice, while Chung had no breaks. The trend in favor of Paul continued in the third set, he went up a break twice, and in the end he broke Chung to win the match. The young gun Korean was let down by his rusty serve without the match, as it was an unreliable tool in his arsenal. Paul, backed by a strong serve, won just the second ATP match of his career.
Another young American, Stefan Kozlov, wasn’t as lucky, facing Quentin Halys, he came up just a few points short, as Halys won 7-5 7-6. The 20 year old Frenchman won his first tour level match of the season in just under 20 hours as he broke twice in the first set, saved a break point in the second set, and then overcame losing three match point chances up 6-5 in the second set to take the tiebreak after a total of six match points. Kozlov didn’t go away, but he wasn’t able to pull ahead either.
2016 ATP Newport Preview and Predictions Steen Kirby and Steve Fogleman, Tennis Atlantic
The only ATP tournament on Grass in the USA is at the Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island, where Tennis Atlantic once again has on-site coverage. Here is a preview with predictions for this ATP 250 stop in the balmy northeast.
Hall of Fame Tennis Championships
ATP World Tour 250
Newport, RI, USA
July 11-17, 2016
Prize Money: $515,025
Top 4 seeds (who all receive first round byes) (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Steve Johnson (29)
2: Ivo Karlovic (32)
3: Gilles Muller (39)
4: Marcos Baghdatis (40)
Newport lacks elite players but it does have a host of serve and volleyers, alongside Americans seeking an ATP title.
First round matchups to watch:
Benjamin Becker vs. (WC)Stefan Kozlov
Becker has eight wins on grass this year while Kozlov has struggled since reaching the quarterfinals in Den Bosch. Kozlov is a great young talent, and he does enjoy playing in Newport, but the experienced Becker likely has an edge in this one.
Defending champion Rajeev Ram has been in shockingly poor form on grass, as he has just one win, and five losses on the surface this year. Ram tends to find form in Newport however, and American Mackenzie McDonald has limited experience on tour this year, and just turned pro in June after becoming an NCAA champion at UCLA. Given McDonald’s limited experience on grass, Ram is the favorite.
With a 10-3 record on grass, an ATP title on the surface, and a second week result at Wimbledon already on his resume this year, Steve Johnson is both the tournament favorite, and the top seed. The American will open with Yuichi Sugita or a qualifier, he should win that match, then end up opposite Becker/Kozlov, or Jared Donaldson/Donald Young. Young or Becker should be the favorites for the quarters as Donaldson hasn’t played on grass this year. I have Johnson defeating Becker in my bracket.
Gilles Muller could have some opposition as he looks to reach the semifinals. Still, the seed has the most experience on grass in his section, and he posted both an ATP final and semifinal on the surface in recent weeks. Muller should beat Dennis Novikov, a Wimbledon qualifier, or Victor Estrella, with Adrian Mannarino ending up opposite him in the quarterfinals. Mannarino faces a struggling James Duckworth after a successful enough grass court season. Mannarino also has the big serving Sam Groth, or a qualifier in round 2. Groth has failed to capitalize on big serve and win notable results on grass this year. I favor Muller over Mannarino by a small margin in the quarters.
Ivo Karlovic is yet another big server in the Newport draw, the Croatian should cruise past a qualifier or Ryan Harrison, and face Vasek Pospisil in the quarterfinals. Pospisil is a big server as well, the Canadian has been struggling lately, but Marco Chiudinelli isn’t that tough of an opponent in round 1. In round 2 it will be J.P. Smith or Jordan Thompson for Pospisil. He could be troubled by Thompson, who has shown flashes of skill on grass, but I have it Karlovic over Pospisil in the quarters even though Karlovic has been average at best on grass this year.
A healthy Marcos Baghdatis looks set to have a good week in Newport after posting a pair of ATP quarterfinals this grass court season. The Cypriot ball striker will face Austin Krajicek or a qualifier in round 2, with most likely the Dudi Sela/Lukas Lacko winner to follow in the quarters, unless Ram or McDonald find form. Lacko showed a sudden burst of form as a Wimbledon qualifier, as he reached the third round. Sela was terrible in London, bowing out in round 1, but he dominates the h2h against Lacko. The flaky Lacko is my pick to reach the quarters, before falling to Baghdatis.
Lacko has always had the talent, but he has usually failed to live up to it. After qualifying and reaching the third round at Wimbledon he showed not only his overall tennis ability, but also his potential on grass. Given this wide open field, the unseeded Lacko could leave Newport a surprise winner, or lose in the first round.
Johnson d. Muller
Karlovic d. Baghdatis
Johnson is my pick for tournament champion, while Baghdatis can struggle at times against big servers, like he did against John Isner at Wimbledon.
Johnson d. Karlovic
On American soil, Johnson is the clear favorite to win this title, which would be the second ATP title of his career.
2015 Koahsiung, Izmir, Campinas, Columbus, Sibiu and Trnava Challenger Recaps Chris De Waard, Tennis Atlantic
World #40 Jiri Vesely took a wildcard into the event, instantly making him the big favorite to win the title. He started off a bit shaky, dropping the first set against Nicolas Barrientos in the second round, but had no problems against Hiroki Moriya in the quarterfinal, 6-1 6-4. However, in the semi-final things came to an end for him. Fourth seed Yuki Bhambri won a tight opening set, 7-6(2), after which Vesely seemed to throw in the towel and pretty much gifted the match away, 6-0.
In the bottom half third seed Lukas Rosol got upset in the first round, losing 6-7(7) 6-4 6-4 to Ti Chen. The other seeds didn’t slip up, with second seed Hyeon Chung beating eighth seed Jurgen Zopp 6-2 6-4 and fifth seed Tatsuma Ito beating Tsung-Hua Yang in the quarterfinals. Chung easily advanced to the final, with Ito retiring at 6-0 2-0 citing fatigue. Chung has had a remarkable year at Challenger level and it continued here, with the 19-year-old taking down his fourth title of the year after a 7-5 6-4 victory over Bhambri. Chung rose fifteen spots to a career high ranking of #58, while Bhambri moved very close to the top 100, rising twenty-one spots to #104, also a career high.
Top seed and home player Marsel Ilhan surely had his sights on performing well here, but he couldn’t live up to the expectations. He made it to the quarterfinals, but there seventh seed Mirza Basic was too strong, 6-4 6-7(3) 6-3. Marius Copil took advantage of third seed Andrey Kuznetsov withdrawing prior to the tournament, taking over his section and reaching the semi-final. After two very tight three-set matches he crushed eighth seed Farrukh Dustov in the quarterfinal, 6-2 6-0. He continued his good run by getting rud of Basic as well for a place in the final, 6-3 6-4.
In the bottom half the two top seeds lived up to the expectations. Fourth seed Lukas Lacko didn’t drop a set on his way to the semi-final, while second seed Malek Jaziri only dropped a set in his opening round. There Lacko managed to oust Jaziri in a thrilling encounter, 6-7(3) 6-3 6-3. In the final Lacko struggled with Copil in the second set, but managed to come out on top to claim his first Challenger title of the season and his ninth overall, 6-3 7-6(5). The victory takes him to the very edge of the top 100, rising eleven spots to #101. Copil rose sixteen spots to #160.
In the doubles final a very scandalous thing happened, with Denys Molchanov and Malek Jaziri retiring for no apparent reason while 8-9 down in the deciding supertiebreak. The only explanation for this is betting related, with them having made a bet on themselves to win, which would get voided in case of a retirement. Seeing Molchanov do something like this after pulling off one of the most blatant fixes of all-time earlier in the year is a tragic sight. He shouldn’t have been able to play another professional match after that, but it went unpunished. And so will this, I’m afraid. Jaziri isn’t a first time offender either.
Top seed and world #80 Diego Schwartzman was the clear favorite to take home the title, but he knew some struggles. In the second round he dropped a set against Guido Andreozzi and in the semi-final against sixth seed Facundo Bagnis he needed a very long second set tiebreak to secure the victory, 6-3 7-6(11). In the bottom half second seed Guido Pella lost 6-2 7-5 to fifth seed Facundo Arguello in the quarterfinal. Arguello went on to reach the final, beating fourth seed Andre Ghem 7-6(5) 6-3 in the semi-final. There Arguello continued his streak of upsets, beating Schwartzman 7-5 6-3 to claim his second Challenger title of the year. He rose twenty-six spots to #120, while Schwartzman moved up a modest three spots to #77.
Dennis Novikov with Redfoo (Sorry Dennis)
A very rare event took place here. Normally it’s mandatory for Challengers to have ball kids, but since the tournament was thrown together at the last minute, the first couple of rounds had none. It was quite strange to see the players pick up their own balls and it made you realize how ball kids speed up the pace of the game. It didn’t throw off top seed Tim Smyczek and fourth seed Ryan Harrison, as they both lived up to their seeding and faced each other in the semi-final. There Harrison was too strong, although it required a titanic struggle in the first two sets, 7-6(5) 6-7(5) 6-1.
In the bottom half second seed John-Patrick Smith got upset by Chase Buchanan in the second round, 6-4 7-6(2). Buchanan wasn’t able to advance further, however, losing 6-4 6-4 to eighth seed Dennis Novikov in the next round. Novikov faced Alex Kuznetsov in the semi-final, who beat third seed Bjorn Fratangelo a round earlier, and beat him 6-3 3-6 6-3 for a place in the final. This left us with a copy of the Cary final of last week, where Novikov beat Harrison 6-4 7-5 to win his first Challenger title. In Columbus he won his second one, a remarkable achievement. It was closer this time around, but Novikov edged it out in three sets, 6-4 3-6 6-3. The win saw him move up nineteen ranking spots to #144, while Harrison moved within inches of the top 100, rising fourteen spots to #102.
This tournament was all about Adrian Ungur from beginning until the end, with the Romanian fully delivering in front of his home crowd. He first took out seventh seed Tristan Lamasine in the second round, 6-4 6-4, after which he pulled off a great win against top seed Dusan Lajovic, 6-4 2-6 6-3. In the semi-final he faced the surprise of the tournament, fellow Romanian Petru-Alexandru Luncanu, a qualifier, whom he showed no mercy during a 6-1 6-1 beatdown. It was a horrendous tournament for the seeds, with only Lajovic reaching the quarterfinal.
In the bottom half Pere Riba took out fourth seed Germain Gigounon in the second round, 6-0 6-7(0) 6-4, after which he handed out another bagel in the quarterfinal against Victor Crivoi, 6-4 6-0. In the semi-final Riba beat Miljan Zekic 6-3 7-5 for a place in the final. There Ungur continued his dominance, however, beating Riba 6-4 3-6 7-5 to claim his ninth Challenger title. He rose fifty-five ranking spots to #171, while Riba rose twenty-three spots to #236.
Adrian Ungur, campionul Sibiu Open 2015 – prezentat de Raiffeisen Bank. Rezumatul unei finale incredibile. http://t.co/pKA7CQxklY
Top seed Robin Haase was on a mission after crashing out early against world #407 Artem Smirnov in the second round of Szczecin last week, desperately wanting to show that his decision to skip the Davis Cup tie against Switzerland was the right one. It looked to head towards another disaster in the first round, but he survived another qualifier, Riccardo Bellotti, 2-6 6-2 7-6(5). In the quarterfinal against Gerald Melzer he dropped another set, but held on again, 4-6 6-3 6-3. Fourth seed Albert Montanes surely would be another tough hurdle in the semi-final, you would say. But no, Haase easily beat him 6-2 6-2 for a place in the final.
Second seed Marco Cecchinato had withdrawn, leaving a gap to be filled. Sixth seed Horacio Zeballos was the one to do so, beating Stephane Robert 6-1 6-2 for a place in the semi-final. Frank Skugor was no match for him either in the semi-final, getting dispatched with an almost identical 6-2 6-2 scoreline. Haase left no doubt in the final, however, beating Zeballos 6-4 6-1 for his second Challenger title of the year and his eleventh overall. A nice touch was that he received the trophy from former world #12 and renowned giant killer Dominik Hrbaty. Haase moved up ten ranking spots to #59, while Zeballos moved up twelve spots to #148.
Grass court qualifying in two places, both 500 level events with two rounds of qualifying action, took place over the weekend, as some interesting names booked their place in the main draw.
ATP Halle Qualifying
In Halle, defending finalist Alejandro Falla is the strongest of the qualifiers. Last year Falla made a surprise run to that final and he’s also reached the 3rd round at Wimbledon previously in his career. The veteran lefty has a game built for grass and he comfortably defeated Janko Tipsarevic and Tim Puetz, without dropping a set, to qualify.
Another of the four qualifiers in total is lefty Jarkko Nieminen who beat Filip Krajinovic and Tatsuma Ito without dropping a set. Nieminen isn’t a grass court specialist by any stretch of the imagination but he’s fast on his feet and plays aggressively.
A pair of talented but underachieving players also qualified, Slovak Lukas Lacko, now 27,has an aggressive and powerful game built for grass and he beat two solid opponents, Peter Gojowczyk and Jurgen Melzer in three sets to qualify. Lacko faces Falla in round 1. 24 year old Ricardas Berankis upset Austin Krajicek in three sets, and Vasek Pospisil 6-3 6-3 to qualify. The undersized ball striker was a top junior but has been a bust as a pro.
Berankis will have a winnable round 1 match against Tommy Robredo in round 1, while Nieminen could also advance as he faces Alexander Zverev, a wild card, in round 1.
ATP London Queens Qualifying
Sixteen players participated in the qualifying competition at the Aegon Championships, which is held at the Queen’s Club in London.
Italian world number 56 Simone Bolelli was the top seed in the qualifying draw and experienced little trouble. After a straight sets win over Lucas Pouille in the first round, he faced France’s Edouard Roger-Vasselin. The Frenchman produced an impressive performance at the tournament last year when he reached the third round in the singles draw as well as the semi-final in the doubles. Bolelli however, experience no trouble as he dropped his service once on his way to winning 7-6 (4), 6-3.
In the main draw the Italian faces a tough encounter against Richard Gasquet. Bolelli has played Gasquet on five previous occasions and has lost all of them. Their most recent match was earlier this year at the Doha Open where Gasquet eased his way to a 6-3, 6-2, win. Gasquet could face pressure but I presume he’ll prevail.
Rendy Lu was pushed hard during his match against Denis Istomin. The second seed produced a straight sets win over the talented Luca Vanni in the first round whilst Istomin edged his way past Go Soeda. During the match there was only two breaks of serve, one each, as both sets went into tie-breaks with Lu winning 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5).
The reward for Lu is a first round showdown against top seed Andy Murray. He has beaten Murray once before which was in the first round of the 2008 Beijing Olympic games. Since then, Murray has won their two most recent encounters (both in 2013) without dropping a set. Murray should blast through the weaponless Lu to reach round 2.
The biggest surprise was the impressive run by 18-year-old wild card Jared Donaldson. The American knocked out third seed and fellow countryman Tim Smyczek in the first round to face Tobias Kamke. Kamke has experienced a disastrous 2015 so far with only one main draw win to his name. His sole win was against Vincent Millot in Montpellier last February. The misery continued for the German as Donaldson cruised to take the match 7-5, 6-3. Donaldson is currently at a ranking high of 152 in the world and won his first Challenger title in Maui at the start of the year.
Donaldson, the American number 12, will play America’s number 1 John Isner in the first round. Given Isner’s experience, he should win comfortably.
Finally hopes of a British winner in the qualification draw were ended after Paul-Henri Mathieu beat Brydan Klein during the battle of the wild card’s. The former world number 12 produced a three sets win over 4th seed Chung Hyeon in the first round. Mathieu, who hasn’t won a title since 2007, required just over an hour on the court to break the British world number 188 6-3,6-2.
Mathieu will play Stuttgart finalist Viktor Troicki in the first round. Troicki’s run to the final in Germany has clearly demonstrated that the Serbian is currently in impressive shape, especially with his serve. On the other hand, there will be questions about how tired he will be coming into Queen’s. The two players have been drawn to play each other on three previous occasions but none of the matches got completed with one of the retiring (Troicki twice and Mathieu once). Presuming Troicki doesn’t retire and keep up the trend, his superior form should win him the day.
Kudla a Cool customer in Delray, Joins Dolgopolov & Karlovic in Round 2 @DelrayBeachOpen Jessica Luzadas for Tennis Atlantic
2015 Delray Beach Open Day 3 Recap
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.