DELRAY BEACH, February 20, 2016
Five former semi-finalists of the Delray Beach Open contested in Friday’s quarterfinal.
Juan Martin Del Potro, who returned to Florida after winning the title here in 2011, continued his successful comeback through a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Jeremy Chardy. The 27-year-old Argentine broke his opponent’s serve four times and won 56% of the total points to finish the encounter after one hour and 20 minutes.
“I’m surprising myself with the good tennis I’ve been playing,” said Del Potro, who is now 8-0 all-time at Delray Beach. “I’m still working to get back to my top level, if I can. But I’m really enjoying playing tennis again. I’m so glad to be able to play another match. It’s so nice to be in this stadium and have fans come and watch me play.
“Against Top 30 players, you can’t keep hitting slice backhands, so I tried to hit more two-handed backhands than yesterday. I’m still working on improving my backhand and staying with it in competition. It’s part of the recovery for my wrist.”
Del Potro will take on Sam Querrey next, who emerged victorious from the all-US-American-showdown with wild card entry Tim Smyczek, winning 6-7, 7-6, 6-4. Querrey fired 13 aces and converted 12 of his 14 break point opportunities to advance to his second semi-final of the season after two hours and 29 minutes. The 28-year-old Las Vegas resident lost in the stage of the final four to eventual champion Kei Nishikori in Memphis last week.
“I tried to stay aggressive and hit through the wind,” Querrey said. “I probably had a lot of errors out there, but I tried to hit the ball through the court. Tim is a great guy, and I always want the best for my buddies. If he keeps playing well, he will have his chances.”
Debutant and tournament’s number four Grigor Dimitrov, who is the highest remaining seed in the draw, as three of the top four were upset in the first round defeated Adrian Mannarino, who made it into the stage of the final four last year, winning 6-4, 7-5. The world number 28 from Bulgaria won 84% of his first service points and capitalized on three of his five break point chances to prevail in one hour and 19 minutes.
“Adrian is a lefty and one of the trickiest opponents out there,” Dimitrov told. “With the windy conditions, the only thing you can do is to stay focused.”
Dimitrov will face Rajeev Ram next. The 31-year-old US-American beat German veteran and 2007 semi-finalist Benjamin Becker for the first time in the pair’s second meeting 3-6, 6-4, 6-3. Ram hit eight aces and broke his opponent’s serve four times to seal victory in two hours and five minutes.
“It was a lot tougher than it looked,” said Ram of the on-court conditions. “The wind was really blowing around. Both of us struggled to execute much offensively, I’d say. The most important game of the match was a four-all in the second set. I saved a bunch of break points with great serves and came out of the right side of things today.”