2014 ATP @DelrayBeachOpen Preview, Picks
Steen Kirby, Tennis East Coast
We’re looking forward to providing you with some on-site coverage from Delray Beach this week from Jonathan Morgan.
ATP Delray Beach
Delray Beach Open by The Venetian® Las Vegas
ATP World Tour 250
Delray Beach, Florida, USA
February 17-February 23, 2014|
Prize Money: $474,005
Top 4 seeds (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Tommy Haas (12)
2: John Isner (13)
3: Kei Nishikori (16)
4: Kevin Anderson (22)
All the seeds are ranked in the top 40, giving Delray Beach a good field for a 250, and a better field than Memphis last week.
First Round matchups to watch:
(6)Feliciano Lopez vs. Sam Querrey
Lopez lost his opening match in Memphis and will be looking to rebound against Querrey, who is struggling badly right now, having lost four straight matches. That 4 straight includes a very bad loss to Alex Bogomolov in Memphis where he choked away the lead. Lopez has a 2-1 edge against Querrey on outdoor hard courts historically, and should be favored in this one as well.
(8)Lleyton Hewitt vs. Bradley Klahn
The 23-year-old American Bradley Klahn will have a great chance at winning his fourth career ATP main draw level match against the tenacious veteran Hewitt, who won the Delray Beach title way back in 1999.
Klahn is up to 67 in the rankings, a career high, and is on a 10 match winning streak, having won 2 straight hard court challengers in Hawaii and Australia. Klahn is at the point in his career ranking-wise where he is going to have to step up to the tougher competition of the ATP level, but I think he is talented and has a good mental focus that will give him staying power in the long term.
Hewitt played poorly in Memphis, though he did win a match, and he is just 1-4 in his last five matches. He will grind away against Klahn’s quality forehand, and I’m going with Bradley to pull off the upset.
(5)Vasek Pospisil vs. Alejandro Falla
This is a rematch of the Bogota semifinals last year which Falla won in 3 tough sets against Pospisil. Pospisil returns to the ATP tour after a back injury sidelined him for a few weeks. Vashy has a great chance to make some noise and keep moving up his ranking, but matches against steady competitors like Falla are must wins for any top 30 player.
Falla is playing well this year, as he has won 2 challengers, including a hard court challenger.
This match is a toss-up to me, and a lot depends on if Pospisil’s rust factor.
Jiri Vesely vs. (WC) Marcos Baghdatis
Baghdatis finally won a match this year, beating Rajeev Ram in the opening round of Memphis. He played well for a set against Hewitt in Memphis, but then fell apart and crashed out. He’s just not a reliable competitor anymore, having fallen well outside the top 100.
Vesely, meanwhile, continues to rise and he grabbed a nice win against Marinko Matosevic in Memphis before being drubbed by Jack Sock in the next round. The Czech is talented but struggles with consistently playing well. All that said, he should be favored against Baggy, and I think he gets this win.
Zagreb finalist Tommy Haas lost in the second round of Rotterdam and has made his way back to the states.
He opens with a qualifier and will face Mikhail Kukushkin or a qualifier in round 2. Haas vs. Lopez/Querrey is the likely quarterfinal, though Jack Sock/Adrian Mannarino are also in this section.
Sock repeated as a quarterfinalist in Memphis, and gets a wild card. He just beat Mannarino in Memphis last week. Overall, he is 2-0 against the Frenchman, with both of those wins coming on hard courts this year. Sock beat Haas in Auckland in January on hard courts, and Tommy will be looking for revenge if he meets him in the quarters.
Kevin Anderson returns to the ATP tour against Tim Smyczek. Anderson is 3-0 career against Smyczek, all on hard courts. Anderson should advance to a second round match against fellow big server Ivo Karlovic, a finalist in Memphis. Karlovic will need to beat a qualifier to get there. The h2h in that one is 1-1, with Karlovic having the hard court win in Bogota last year. Karlovic/Anderson vs, Klahn/Hewitt or Marinko Matosevic/David Goffin will be the quarterfinal. Matosevic and Goffin are simply hoping to find form.
John Isner also returns to the ATP tour this week after being sidelined with an ankle problem. His first match will be against Memphis semifinalist Michael Russell (Isner 4-0 h2h), and then he will face Dudi Sela or Memphis quarterfinalist Alex Bogomolov in round 2. Isner will get Pospisil/Falla or Vesely/Baghdatis in the quarters, and he should be favored in all of those matches, assuming he is healthy. He feasts on American outdoor hard courts.
Memphis champion and former Delray Champion Kei Nishikori faces a qualifier before Teymuraz Gabashvili/Matt Ebden in round 2 and one of Rendy Lu/Ryan Harrison/Marin Cilic/Benjamin Becker in the quarters.
Cilic comes off the title in Zagreb and the final in Rotterdam, but given the geographic distance and his fatigue level after so much tennis over the past 2 weeks, I suspect he will withdraw and be replaced by a lucky loser. If he does not, I still don’t think he gets past his first 2 matches.
Memphis semifinalist Lu has a great chance at yet another strong showing in what has been a great year for him (reached final in Auckland as well), but he retired in his last match in Memphis and will need to heal quickly.
Becker and Harrison, meanwhile, are struggling with their form. This is a weak section where even a fatigued Nishikori should be able to take advantage.
Dark Horse: Yen-Hsun Lu
Rendy Lu has had a career year thus far, reaching his first ATP final in Auckland and an ATP semi in Memphis, both career showings after 13 years on tour.
He has a chance to shine again in Delray, given the big hole in the draw that is Cilic, who will either be very fatigued, or withdraw. Lu must first beat Ryan Harrison, who he has never defeated in three attempts. If he survives, he will get a tired Cilic or Becker/lucky loser in round 2 and should get Nishikori in the quarters, who could also be fatigued. Lu is a slight favorite for the quarterfinals in my book and has a chance at the semis as an unseeded player.
Anderson d. Haas
Isner d. Nishikori
Former champion Anderson should get past a fatigued Karlovic and anyone else in his way until the semis, where I predict he meets Haas (1-1 h2h). Their last meeting was a win for Haas in Cincy last year. Haas hasn’t played that well this year though, and he may be tired, giving Kev an edge. This semi would be a meeting of former Delray Beach champions.
Both top 20 players, Isner and Nishikori have surprisingly never met in a tournament match. That being said it’s an outdoor American hard court and Isner is fresh, while Nishikori has played a lot more tennis as of late.
Big John should prevail.
Isner d. Anderson
Isner and Anderson, two former college tennis players, have met a lot on tour and all but once on outdoor hard courts. Most recently, Isner prevailed in the ATP Atlanta final last year in a close 3 setter.
Isner also beat Anderson in Delray Beach last year in straight sets, but Anderson beat him in the 2012 Delray Beach semifinals en route to a title. Tiebreaks have to be expected in this one, and both players are coming off of layoffs and have struggled to stay healthy. I give Isner a slight edge because of the 5-4 hard court h2h record.