10 am Sunday Start For Resumption Of Rain-Delayed Mardy Fish Tennis

Sekou Bangoura (photo: Vero Beach Futures)

VERO BEACH, May 5, 2019 (Press Release)

Play will resume at 10 am Sunday at the $25,000 Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation Tennis Championships with the resumption of the second singles semifinal and the start of the second men’s doubles semifinal.

Diego Hidalgo, a member of Ecuador’s Davis Cup team, led No. 2 seed Sekou Bangoura of Bradenton, Fla., 7-6, 5-3 and was just four points from advancing to the final when lightning and eventually another rain downpour postponed play for the day. The two former University of Florida standouts will continue their match at 10 am Sunday on the Stadium Court. At 10 am on the Grandstand Court, the second doubles semifinal will begin between Felix Corwin of the USA and Matic Spec of Slovenia, both former University of Minnesota standouts, against Italians Lorenzo Frigerio and Adelchi Virgili. After the conclusion of the singles and doubles semifinals, the respective finals will be scheduled based on rest required and requested following the conclusion of the semifinals.

Waiting in the respective finals will be Bangoura and his Bolivian Davis Cupper partner Boris Arias in the doubles final and Dmitry Popko of Kazakhstan in the singles final.

Popko, 22, advanced into his eighth singles final this year on this International Tennis Federation (ITF) World Tennis Tour circuit – or minor league professional tennis tour – with a 6-2, 6-1 victory in just 66 minutes over Paul Oosterbaan of Kalamazoo, Michigan.

The Kazakh, ranked No. 608 in the ATP Tour singles rankings, broke the hard-serving Oosterbaan four times and forced 10 break points. While standing five inches shorter than Oosterbaan, Popko was the more physically imposing player, furiously slamming his deep and steady groundstrokes from both his forehand and backhand side, forcing errors from his opponent and pushing him away from his comfort zone. Popko also dominated on his serve, losing only 13 points in the entire match when he was serving.

Seeded No. 8 here this week, Popko found his rhythm as soon as the match started, opening a 3-0 lead with a service break in second game of the match and sealed the first set with another break in the eighth game.

“Today I played one of the best matches during this week,” said Popko, who was born in Russia in St. Petersburg. “I started to play better and better after the first round and I’m now in the final.”

Oosterbaan played well to reach the semifinals and was the more well-rested player without having to play a singles quarterfinal by virtue of gaining a walk-over win over Nicolas Alvarez of Peru. By contrast, Popko won a hard-fought slug fest over No. 1 Pedro Sakamoto of Brazil 6-4, 6-3 Friday night in the quarterfinals, played in front of enthusiastic crowd of several hundred fans at The Boulevard.

“Last year I was forced to miss six months and I have managed to find the rhythm at the beginning of 2019,” said Popko. “I’ve been improving my game to reach the best possible shape, I don’t think I had played this well before the injury.”