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Stars are out at Sarasota Open

It was Super Tuesday at the 2022 Elizabeth Moore Sarasota Open with several superstars coming out to observe the action at Payne Park venue, including former ATP world no. 1 Marcelo Rios and his daughter Isadora, former Major League Baseball slugger Bobby Bonilla, tennis legend Nick Bollettieri and Jimmy Arias. (Dean Goldfine, as assistant coach for top American Sebastian Korda, who beat Carlos Alcaraz today in Monte Carlo, is also at the Sarasota Open helping coach and support USTA American players.)

The main event of the day was former Grand Slam and Olympic champion Jack Sock trying to recapture his mojo and make a return to the top 100 or preferably the top ten, a station he reached in 2017. His adversary last night was a man who beat him a year ago in their only professional match, Christian Harrison, also determined to improve his ranking from the 300 range after enduring ten surgeries already in his 27 years.

The all American duel was tightly contested but Sock’s advantages in experience and high stakes situations helped him advance to the second round 64 64. Harrison is healthy again and trying to regain the form that powered him to the semifinals of the Delray Beach Open as a wildcard 14 months ago.

First match of the day featured former Australian Open quarterfinalist Tennys Sandgren vs Alex Ritschard. Sandgren has struggled since blowing seven match points at the 2020 Australian Open quarterfinal vs Roger Federer which cost him a grand slam semifinal and about $500,000. Sandgren came up short in the critical moments and fell to Ritschard 75 63. Sandgren has twice reached the Sarasota Open final.

Ryan Harrison played second match on stadium, attempting to capitalize on his wildcard to rebuild his fallen ranking which is in the 500s now. Harrison edged former ITF top junior Adrian Andreev of Bulgaria in the first set but his fitness was not able to sustain the high level effort and Harrison was forced to retire early in the third set. A coach watching the match told me he first saw Harrison play at age 12 and “he still plays the same way using the same patterns.”

Sumit Nagal’s first match in six months because of a hip problem ended in a three set loss to Jason Kubler but the Indian player was grateful for the positives in the loss and happy to be back competing again after the ordeal of inactivity and recovery.

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