Korda, Paul, Querrey Wins Spotlight Day 1 At Delray Beach

Sebastian Korda (photo: Andrew Patron/BigShots)

WASHINGTON, January 8, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)

Fifth-seeded Tommy Paul started his 2021 season on a winning note as the ATP Tour kicked off the new year Thursday at the Delray Beach Open by VITACOST.com, in Delray Beach, Fla.

The 52nd-ranked Delray Beach resident, who is one of 13 Americans in the ATP 250 outdoor hard-court event, defeated 268th-ranked Ji Sung Nam of South Korea, 6-1, 6-4, in 67 minutes to advance. Paul hit five aces and broke his opponent four times in six tries to move into the second round.

Next, Paul will play fellow American rising star Sebastian Korda. The 20-year-old from Bradenton, Fla., ranked No. 119, lit up the evening session at the Delray Beach Stadium & Tennis Club by winning his first ATP Tour-level match in the United States with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over No. 95 Soonwoo Kwon from South Korea. The triumph came on Korda’s third match-point try.

Meanwhile, in an all-Brazilian first-round clash during the day session, No. 84 Thiago Monteiro beat No. 281 Thomaz Bellucci 6-3, 7-5 to advance against 25th-ranked No. 2 seed John Isner of the United States. Also advancing was No. 101 Gianluca Mager of Italy, who took out American wild card Ryan Harrison, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4.

Korda fired eight aces, won 68 percent of his first-serve points, was broken just once and broke Kwon three times. He outpointed his opponent 71-67 for his first win of 2021 after finishing 2020 by lifting his first ATP Challenger Tour trophy in Eckental, Germany, on carpet last November.

“Not only my dad [Petr Korda] but my whole team, we put in a lot of work during the break and I’m super happy with how everything is going right now,” Korda said during a post-match interview on court. “Whenever I get a chance to play a big tournament like here, it’s always a privilege and I always have a smile on my face I kind of enjoy it a little bit more because I know how tough it is to get here.”

No. 6 seed Sam Querrey (ranked 56th) wrapped up the first day of the main draw with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over fellow American Mackenzie McDonald. The 2016 Delray Beach Open champion served 13 aces and broke his opponent three times during their 70-minute match to advance against Mager.

Korda spent December training with Andre Agassi

Sometimes, it helps having a famous father with connections. Just ask Sebastian Korda. Thanks to his dad Petr, who is also his coach, the younger Korda got spend two weeks training last month with Hall of Famer Andre Agassi in Las Vegas.

“During the pandemic, I was practicing just in the courts next door to our house, and I was getting kind of mentally tired,” Korda explained to ATPTour.com in a recent interview. “So, my dad had a great idea to maybe reach out to him. They used to play doubles together; I think Andre’s only doubles title was with my dad.”

What the younger Korda got to do was to learn and appreciate Agassi’s philosophy of tennis. “He sees the game way different than most people, that’s for sure,” said Korda. “He reads opponents, just kind of getting the feeling for how matches are playing. Some of the stuff he thinks about, you would never think about during a match or before a match.”

Main draw updates

Friday’s order of play