Tennis Prose




Feb/19

15

Delray Beach Dream Draw

By Scoop Malinowski

The 2019 Delray Beach Open is a dream draw for tennis fans. Almost every first round match has some sort of intrigue factors attached. Let’s examine…

Top seed and fourth ranked Juan Martin Del Potro returns from injury hiatus to take on the super talented Japanese lefty Yoshihito Nishioka, the ATP no. 71. This is their first meeting.

Tennys Sandgren vs Reilly Opelka will be a rematch of their 76 in the third, first round marathon at Sarasota Open in 2017, the win that perhaps triggered Sandgren’s rise to prominence.  76 ranked Sandgren beat 89 Opelka again later in 2017 in Charlottesville 63 64. Opelka will seek revenge.

Jared Donaldson makes his return after about eight months and faces Guillermo Garcia Lopez. Both are ranked just outside the top 100. GGL won their only meeting in 2017 at Paris Indoors qualies 64 in the third.

McKenzie McDonald vs his good friend Taylor Fritz, the 7 seed. Both Californians train and travel together.

Struggling Steve Johnson vs Bradley Klahn in another battle of two Americans. Klahn won their only meeting in Auckland qualies in 2014 76 76.

Paolo Lorenzi vs qualifier.

Radu Albot rematches Ivo Karlovic, they just played at New York Open, Albot won 67 76 76.

Nick Kyrgios vs John Millman in a battle of contrasting Aussies, the showman trick shot artist vs the blue collar grinder. Millman won their 2017 US Open match in four sets. Kyrgios should be motivated to improve his 66 ranking. Millman is ranked 37.

Andreas Seppi vs Bernard Tomic, two touch and finesse players. Bernie won both of their previous matches in 2010 and 2013 but both duels were very close.

Jordan Thompson vs Marcel Granollers.

Wildcard Lloyd Harris vs  a qualifier.

Defending champ Frances Tiafoe vs a qualifier.

Adrian Mannarino vs Brayden Schnur, the rising Canadian who is in the semis now at New York Open.

Feliciano Lopez vs Denis Istomin. Two veterans over 30 looking to get back into the top 50. F Lo has won all three meetings, in Memphis (2013), Barcelona (2010) and Queens (2009). Each match featured super competitive scorelines.

Lukas Lacko vs a qualifier.

2 seed John Isner vs Peter Polansky.

 

 

 

 

 

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73 comments

  • Dan Markowitz · February 15, 2019 at 9:30 pm

    What happened to Raonic, Shapovalov and Nishikori? Are they playing?

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 15, 2019 at 10:45 pm

    No, but Nishioka, Schnur and F Lo are playing.

  • Chazz · February 15, 2019 at 10:46 pm

    This is a huge tournament for Tiafoe, he has a lot of points defend from last year and looked out of it in his loss yesterday against the journeyman Jung.

    Del Potro-Nishioka – doesn’t get much better than that in first round matchups.

    Not that I’m a big fan or anything but it would be nice to see Donaldson do something. Hate to see anyone knocked out of the game for 8 months.

  • Dan Markowitz · February 16, 2019 at 3:40 am

    That’s a big blow to lose Raonic, Shapovalov and Nishikori because that means unless someone’s treeing like Kyrgios or Tiafoe, you know Delpo’s going to win the event if he’s playing back to his high level. Nishioka might be a novelty to watch, but F Lo’s well past his prime and when has Schnur turned into a player who puts fannies in the seats?

    It’s a shame these smaller American tournaments just can’t draw the top players or anywhere near the top players. There was the day when Agassi and Roddick played Delray and LA and San Jose. That’s not happening anymore and the American players with the exception of Tiafoe to a certain extent, just aren’t draws anymore. Sock had the potential to be that IT American player, but now he’s that WHAT American player as in , What the hell happened to him?

  • Hartt · February 16, 2019 at 7:01 am

    The big names who are playing in Feb. are playing either Dubai or Acapulco, so it makes sense they are skipping Delray Beach. Originally Milos was scheduled to play both Delray and Dubai, which I thought was nuts.

    But surely local fans will come out to see all those American players – the tourney is stacked with them. Delpo will bring out a lot of fans and even Brayden Schnur will have some Canadian fans.

  • Dan Markowitz · February 16, 2019 at 10:30 am

    Please Brayden Schnur is a nice young player who played in college, but he’s not a draw. Unless you’re Brayden Schnur’s mother or brother, I don’t think there are even Canadians in Florida who are going, “Honey, finish with breakfast quickly, we have to go watch Schnur play in Delray.”

    I’m going with my son to Amelia Island next month to play in a 14’s Nationals and I’m sure when word gets out there’s going to be a caravan of Floridians (funny, I remember Chris Evert used to live or practice on Amelia Island, but I didn’t know where it was until I googled it and found you fly into Jacksonville) coming out saying, “I heard this Markowitz kid is really entertaining to watch.”

    Delray’s actually pretty disappointing this year. When I look at the draw, yes there are some nice matches, but the only two names that really pop out at you are Delpo and Kyrgios. Maybe Tiafoe if he gets his act together. That’s it and Delpo and Kyrgios are suspect too because they’re either coming back from injury or listlessness.

  • Hartt · February 16, 2019 at 11:35 am

    Dan, don’t underestimate Canadian patriotism. 🙂
    I think there will be some snow birds at Brayden’s matches. I have followed him for a few years now, after seeing him win a qualies match at the Rogers Cup. I had no idea who that kid was, but was impressed with how well he played that day. If I were near Delray Beach, I’d be at his matches.

    Brayden is now at No. 120 in the live rankings, one spot ahead of Polansky, which must be discouraging for Peter. I think Brayden will make the top 100 this season.

  • Hartt · February 16, 2019 at 7:28 pm

    Brayden Schnur beat Sam Querrey in the New York Open SF and will face either Isner or Opelka in the final. Pretty good results for the first time he won matches on the main tour. He had to go through qualies, so he may be tired tomorrow.

    He is now at No. 107 in live rankings, 3 spots behind Felix and 1 spot behind Sock.

    Brayden did have some fans in the stands, including pals from college and new fans he made this past week, who even had signs supporting him. And he had a few online at Match Call Migrants – a German, 2 Canadians and an American. 🙂

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 16, 2019 at 8:29 pm

    Hewitt watching big Popyrin beat 17 yr old wc 6 ft 6 lefty american i never heard of before. Pop won 64 63, he plays with Monfils demeanor. EX BOXER Joe Gatti watching with wife vicky. They moved here from NJ for daughter Versace to train. I will play her tomorrow. Amazing practice nishioka vs polansky. Amazing points. I mean AMAZING. Ling points but both trying so hard. Some 30 ball rallies in last tiebreaker won by Peter 11-9. Nishioka will beat Delpo. Tim Herman was here watching Evans vs koepfer. Wayne Ferreira was watching some kids play.

  • Hartt · February 17, 2019 at 8:27 am

    Schnur will play Opelka in the New York Open final. Opelka beat Isner in, what else, 3 TBs. So both youngsters will have played a lot of tennis right before Delray Beach. Brayden in particular, because he had to go through qualies which means he is playing 7 matches in a row.

  • catherine · February 17, 2019 at 9:26 am

    Off topic but I’ll put here – very interesting interview from WTA with Oaska in Dubai. Among the quotes: Naomi says she made the change for the sake of ‘personal happiness and changing the energy on my team. If I’m not happy around certain people I’m not going to torture myelf. I’d rather surround myself with people I like and that truly care about me – someone that’s kind of direct and not afraid to say things to my face, I’d rather someone say it directly to me than go around my back.’ The whole interview is on the WTA site. It points to a growing dislike and distrust of Bajin from Naomi’s side. She says definitely not a financial issue.

    The Japanese Federation coach Yoshikawa will be in her team in Dubai and Naomi will choose a new coach after the tournament.

    I must say one of the frankest comments I’ve seen after a coaching change and not exactly a ringing endorsement of Sascha’s personal qualities and coaching abilities. I wonder who’s going to hire him now ?

  • catherine · February 17, 2019 at 9:42 am

    If Naomi were more sophisticated or had had better advice she might have stuck to ‘no comment’.

    Damaging remarks about Bajin and leaves him looking bad and unprofessional and we don’t know his side.

  • catherine · February 17, 2019 at 10:53 am

    Well, Simona’s free. Already ended stint with Van Cleemput. After 1 week. Because she lost in Doha ? This is getting a bit ridiculous. Next – Kerber/Scheuttler part ?

  • Jg · February 17, 2019 at 11:03 am

    NY Open Challenger final today, It’s nice one of these guys will get their first ATP tour win, but really? Opelka owns Isner, isn’t that 2 in a row against Isner, Opelka has a better return game than Isner.

  • Chazz · February 17, 2019 at 11:08 am

    Lol Jg it isn’t the NY Open challenger although it kind of feels like it. Opelka will probably fill Isner’s role as American giant in the top 20 in coming years. Isner’s head doesn’t seem in the game since baby news. Life changes can do that.

  • Jg · February 17, 2019 at 1:01 pm

    Dan, re Amelia Island, I’ve gone there the last 2 years with about 12 others I play tennis with for long weekends, we went to the Omni which has a Cliff Drysdale tennis program, lots of courts, assume that’s where they are playing the tournament, Sal the head pro is a good guy, and there is a female pro who just finished playing at Ohio State. It’s like a 40 minute drive from Jacksonville, the drive is pretty scenic, if you are staying on site no need for a car, can take Uber or whatever

  • Hartt · February 17, 2019 at 1:29 pm

    Simona and Van Cleemput were just on a trial basis. He wasn’t even registered to do OCC. It sounds like it simply wasn’t a good fit.

  • catherine · February 17, 2019 at 2:43 pm

    Hartt – The way Simona talked it was a done deal.He even went to Roumania with her. My feeling is she’s just waiting out the time until Cahill’s free again.

    Konta was on a trial basis with her coach and she made that clear. (He’s now permanent.)

    How do you know if a coach is registered for OCC ?

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 17, 2019 at 7:58 pm

    Michael Russell is working with Taylor Fritz this week. St looked pretty weak vs Dan Evans, even laughing after some misses. Asked ballkids to pickup his fallen bottle after changeover. Evans sporting some new clothing line, all white looked good, crisp. Hrbaty was watching Tomic practice. Kyrgios was hitting with Tisfoe, didn’t see any clown shots. Bernie and Nick talked between court change. Bryans vs Skupski brother battle in practice. Met Preston Brown and his parents, he’s the 17 yr old lefty wildcard who lost in qualies to Popyrin 6463. He’s 6 ft 6 and guess what, a Marcelo Rios fan. He and his dad Randy read my Rios book. Very interesting story, the Preston Brown story.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 17, 2019 at 8:04 pm

    Feliciano Lopez hit with John Millman. Lopez is the most aesthetic player in tennis. Hit with Steve Johnson. Haas beat Jesse Levine in senior final. Nice match, decided by super breaker. Ernesto ruiz bry has a collage art exhibition at the venue. He onced played Roland Garros doubles and coached Guillermo Vilas. He shared dozens of stories and I missed my match with Versace Gatti daughter of ex pro boxer Joe Gatti and niece of Arturo Gatti. We last played 5 years ago in NJ now they live and train here. She serves 120. Will play tomorrow.

  • catherine · February 18, 2019 at 2:00 am

    Honest statement from Van Clampeet about his time with Simona. (Tennis Now). If anyone has to say anything in these situations that’s how it should be done.

    Coaching ? Just a lottery.

    Serena is creeping back to the top 10 and meanwhile honing her pottery skills. Truly a Rennaissance woman 🙂

  • Hartt · February 18, 2019 at 8:20 am

    American fans must be pleased that Reilly Opelka won his first ATP title at the New York Open. This Canadian fan was happy to see Brayden Schnur do so well, making it a close final in his 7th match in a row. Brayden kept his cool and, after a poor first set, played pretty well overall in the last 2 sets.

    Reilly hit 43 aces. I like big servers, but don’t really enjoy matches that are ace fests. Am not sure if I will watch many of Opelka’s matches in the future, although he does seem like a more rounded player than Isner.

  • Dan Markowitz · February 18, 2019 at 8:31 am

    I think Opelka matches are more interesting when he plays outdoors and can’t dominate with his serve so much. Indoors it’s like a pinball machine. Opelka did show some good groundies and he’ll be interesting to watch.

    I think now it appears there are only three young Americans who have a chance to be top 20, Opelka, Tiafoe and Fritz. The rest have either been injured or unimpressive, Kozlov, Rubin, Donaldson, Mmoh and Escobedo. Whether any of the top 3 can be a slam contender, well, I guess Tiafoe already has been in AO this year, remains to be seen.

  • Hartt · February 18, 2019 at 10:23 am

    So if Opelka plays outdoors against a player I like, will probably watch.

    I agree with you about the young Americans. For a while I thought Donaldson could do well, but he seems to have faded.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 18, 2019 at 11:21 pm

    Monday in delray… Ginepri is now with Donaldson. Keep your out for Lloyd Harris, the 21 yr old South African beat Monfils in chengdu last year for his first ATP win and tonight was his second over Darian king 7564. He saved like 12 of 14 bps and won 3 of 3 bps on king. Very impressive player, better under pressure. Wayne Ferreira is working with him, their first week together. Milkman played kyrgios at 8 pm and was here practicing at 10 am. Nick skipped his practice and shot hoops instead for 45 minutes. I got more Vilas stories from his ex coach. Will share later. ATP guy told me Hewitt followed Tomic into locker room after Bernie lost to Isner in new York Open and they were alone but nothing happened. Or no witnesses saw what happened or heard what was said. Hewitt was here Saturday, so was Tomic. Bryan bros and Millman both thanked fans for watching their practices yesterday. Also I learned a certain no longer young American has a south florida strip club fixation and has for years. Lloyd Harris biofile coming soon.

  • catherine · February 19, 2019 at 1:45 am

    I can understand the focus here on Delray B but as this is the current thread I’ll use it to comment on Dubai and other tournaments where there are interesting things going on this week.

  • Dan Markowitz · February 19, 2019 at 3:15 am

    Sounds like the Nick v Millman match was quite a show with Nick winning 7-6 in the third. Does Kyrgios have a coach yet? F Lo seems like he’s just not the same player losing in SS to Istomin.

    Tomorrow or today should be a great day with all three courts having gems like Manny v. Schnur, Opelka v Sandgren and Tiafoe v Evans. Donaldson is making his rounds through the former American pros now as his coach, having already sampled Dent, Gambill and now Ginepri. Who’s next? Fish?

  • Scoop malinowski · February 19, 2019 at 6:47 am

    Flo lost to Istomin who he was 3-0 vs h2h. Zane Khan was outfitting Lopez in practice the day before in Boca West I was scooped. Zane, if you remember, lost in Eddie herr 12 finals, Kalamazoo 16 f and orange bowl 18 f. He’s 17 now but playing great tennis. Breakout coming. Nick has no coach but his friend Nathan pasha is with him. Nick played smart, patient, mixed it up. Then a few times he looked ready to tank, muttered four f bombs in first two sets, got one earning. But he’s serious now, needs to get ranking up.

  • Chazz · February 19, 2019 at 9:32 am

    Never thought I’d say it again, but good win for Kyrgios. Millman is not an easy opponent.

  • catherine · February 19, 2019 at 10:41 am

    Dubai – Kvitova, Hsieh, Svitolina (Jabeur ret)Halep win. Simona bt Bouchard but Genie played well, 7/6 6-4. Just hasn’t the firepower.

    Kerber bt Jakupovic 7/6 6-3 but that was an uphill battle. Angie is poor form (again), no weight of shot, drifting around, defeatist body language. Schuettler comes out and Angie stares at a point above his head. He talks, she doesn’t. Unless something or somebody lights a spark there soon I can see Rainer joining Sascha in the unemployed queue.

    The crowd wrapped up like Arctic explorers. All waiting for Naomi.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 19, 2019 at 10:47 am

    I think we will see many good wins from kyrgios in the near future. He’s back.

  • catherine · February 19, 2019 at 11:07 am

    Which players are the least likely to appear on Noah Rubin’s tell all Instagram feature Behind the Racquet ?

  • catherine · February 19, 2019 at 11:21 am

    Sabalenka leads her opponent by a set, calls out her coach, they have a laugh together and Aryna doesn’t lose another game. I think that’s pretty cool.

    Naomi lost the first set to Kiki M (Kiki B is out) and she didn’t get much sympathy. Naomi may be a little unpopular for a while.

  • catherine · February 19, 2019 at 12:44 pm

    Naomi goes out to Kiki in SS. The coach search must be hotting up. TBH, I’m not surprised. Too much stress from the fall-out over her split with Bajin. She seems to lack a firm hand guiding her in the right direction at the moment. Unnecessary washing of dirty linen in public.

    ‘I don’t want to say anything bad about him’ – this from Naomi who then proceeded to chuck Sascha under the bus. Lesson learned ?

  • Hartt · February 19, 2019 at 1:05 pm

    I did not see the Simona vs Genie match, although I followed the match call by the Romanian poster. I was rooting for Simona but understand that Genie played well until she had an abdominal injury. Hope it is nothing serious, she has had a lot of abdominal issues.

  • catherine · February 19, 2019 at 1:37 pm

    Hartt – maybe over or under training ? Or poor upper body movement. Not that I’m an expert.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 19, 2019 at 1:54 pm

    Osaka may be feeling guilty for the split with the man who sparked her to greatness. To say she was unhappy with him, while sharing no details, is suspect. How could she feel unhappy after all her dreams just came true. Not buying it. She should retire him. There is no way Sasha would intentionally make her unhappy. Fake news victim card by Osaka?

  • Hartt · February 19, 2019 at 7:38 pm

    Catherine, back when Genie was having so much success, an expert in sports physio from Toronto was brought in and he identified a structural problem that he thought should be addressed. He did not have time to work with Genie but recommended someone who could. Her team decided not to go that route and I have wondered if her many injuries resulted, at least in part, from whatever he was concerned about. Also, there is something about her service motion that looks like it could cause abdominal strain.

    As far as training goes, she is a player who wants a lot of practice, so over-training would be more likely than under-training.

  • Hartt · February 19, 2019 at 7:41 pm

    Felix Auger-Aliassime won in straight sets over Fognini in Rio. Fognini was not at his very best, but he was far from terrible, so it was a good win for Felix, who played well and is now in the top 100 in live rankings.

  • catherine · February 20, 2019 at 2:31 am

    Dubai – Why does Kvitova have to play two consecutive matches in the heat of the day ? She’s playing Brady,again the first match on.

    Interesting contests – Muguruza v Svitolina, Kerber v Hsieh. Hsieh will either succumb quickly or she’ll have Angie in fits. Good matches between these two in the past.

  • catherine · February 20, 2019 at 7:57 am

    I went out with Hsieh/Kerber split sets and came back to find H had won 3rd set 6-0. This isn’t the first time Angie has collapsed in the 3rd set. What is wrong with her ? She was a bit listless in places but fine in others. She’s just turned 31. Not as old as Hsieh. Not ill as far as we know. What is it ? Complete mental collapse ? Out of the top 10 soon. I’m her supporter as everyone here knows but even if I weren’t I’d feel pretty concerned.

    Can’t see Schuettler is helping. Maybe she knows she’s made a mistake in hiring him.

    But all credit to Hsieh. One of those matches where she wins and you’re not sure how she’s done it. A ghost around the court.

  • catherine · February 20, 2019 at 10:24 am

    Hsieh she raised her game in the 3rd set. She could see herself winning. Angie did not, and could not.

    From her comments after the match it’s obvious Hsieh has a good analytical knowledge of her unique style and a recognition of the importance of mental attitude. Some of that comes over and is one of the reasons she’s such a popular player. That, and seeming the perpetual underdog because of her slight build and soft touch with which many people can identify.

  • catherine · February 20, 2019 at 1:13 pm

    Hartt – saw Denis lost in Marseille – from highlights he didn’t seem to play too badly – hit 18 aces. I’d never heard of his opponent.

  • Hartt · February 20, 2019 at 1:28 pm

    Catherine, I couldn’t see Denis’ match and was disappointed that he lost. But Kukushkin, 31 years old and No. 50 in the rankings is an experienced player, and can dangerous.

    I am looking forward to Felix’s match later today. Hope he can be more successful.

  • Scoopmalinowski · February 20, 2019 at 2:07 pm

    Poor Schuettler is taking a beating here, he is taking the brunt of the blame for Kerber ‘s kollapse. How about dunk telling muguruza “you better try something different or you’ll be in the locker room in five minutes.” While offering no specific tactics. What a close bond those two have.

  • catherine · February 20, 2019 at 2:46 pm

    2 1/2 hour struggle between Bencic and Sabalenka ends with Bencic winning the t/b. Last set nearly an hour.

    An exhausting experience for Belinda; a learning experience for Aryna. I thought this would be another blowout of a promising young player but it turned out a bit of an epic.

  • catherine · February 20, 2019 at 3:01 pm

    Scoop – I’m not blaming Schuettler really – Angie hired him after all. The way she is, as Beltz and Fisette learned, is the way she is. Muguruza’s coach’s advice seems as good as any 🙂

    After a big win (GSs 2016, W’don) Angie seems to be emptied out. Only she knows how to fill herself up again. I’m sure she’s not finished in tennis. It’s been her life for so long. She needs to rediscover that spirit of the game she talked about last year (but never got around to explaining exactly what it was). Find her way back.

  • catherine · February 21, 2019 at 7:54 am

    The irresistable rise of Hsieh S-W – beats Ka Pliskova in 3 sets. So it wasn’t just you Angie.

    Had to come: Kasatkina splits from coach Delhaes. In contrast to some recent separations Dasha has gone on social media with a long and obviously sincere message explaining the end of their partnership and her feelings. Interesting to see who picks up the baton. Are you free Sascha ?

  • scoop malinowski · February 21, 2019 at 8:30 am

    Kerber may have one foot mentally out of the door, she’s just too normal to be a Serena freak who still hungers to win as much as she ever has, maybe even more. It’s very freakish how Serena, Federer, Nadal and Djokovic are, their obsession and drive to win is not normal. Kerber strikes me as a more normal person

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 21, 2019 at 8:32 am

    Hsieh is blossoming right now, player her best singles tennis. She is taking down the very best. In miraculous fashion. She gave Osaka a major challenge at AO and easily could have won that match – and perhaps the title? Possibly.

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