DELRAY BEACH, FLA./WASHINGTON, February 15, 2022 (by Michael Dickens)
Australian John Millman admitted he was worried about the Delray Beach Open by VITACOST.com draw when it came out over the weekend. However, now that he’s got a match under his belt in which to get used to the playing conditions, he’s glad to finally win a match in south Florida.
The 91st-ranked Millman gained a hard-earned victory over No. 8 seed Maxime Cressy, 6-7 (2), 7-6 (2), 7-6 (3), for just his second win of the season in six outings to wrap up the afternoon session. The two-hour and 53-minute first-round match included three tie-break sets between the Aussie and the 59th-ranked French-born American, and it marked the first time in four tries that Millman has advanced to the second round at Delray Beach.
“You have to look out for your own service games because Maxime is super aggressive on his returns,” Millman said during his on-court interview. “You have to make a lot of first serves and hopefully take advantage of those one or two opportunities you create on his service games.”
— Tennis Channel (@TennisChannel) February 14, 2022
Despite hitting 12 aces and winning 82 percent of his first-serve points, it added up to another tough loss for Cressy. The defeat was his third in a row after starting the season 11-2 and reaching the finals of the Melbourne Summer Set and the fourth round of the Australian Open.
“He’s relentless, massive serve, first and second. [He is] always looking to come forward, whether it’s on his service games or return games,” Millman said of the 24-year-old, 6-foot-5 Cressy, in press. “There is an incredible amount of mental application required to get through your service games and then hopefully take those one or two in his. It was a really challenging match. It was really unfortunate someone had to lose that one.”
Millman finished with five aces and won 74 percent (89 of 121) of his service points. He outpointed Cressy 117-115. Next, he will face another American, either No. 161 Tennys Sandgren or No. 64 Marcos Giron, in Wednesday’s second round.
Former Delray Beach Open finalists lose in first round
Elsewhere, former Delray Beach Open finalists Yoshito Nishioka of Japan (2020) and Peter Gojowczyk of Germany (2018) were also in action. However, both suffered a similar fate and were knocked out in straight sets in the first round.
The 108th-ranked Nishioka, appearing in Delray Beach for the first time since his run to the 2020 title match, is yet to win a match against a higher-ranked opponent on tour-level this season. He lost to No. 85 Oscar Otte of Germany, 7-6 (8), 6-3, who fired 14 aces and won 77 percent (34 of 44) of his first-serve points. It was the German’s first tour-level match against a Japanese player and it was a memorable one as he rallied from 2-5 down in the opening set and saved four set points to pull it out in a tie-break, then took control of the match in the second. Otte is 9-1 in his last 10 matches against lefties.
No. 96 Gojowczyk fell to No. 123 Andreas Seppi of Italy, 7-5, 6-4. It was Seppi’s first tour-level win against the German since 2019 at Rotterdam, while it was Gojowczyk’s fifth straight loss to start the 2022 season – all of them in straight sets – and 11th consecutive loss going back to last season.
Anderson headlines Monday’s night session
Former Delray Beach Open champion Kevin Anderson headlined Monday’s first night session of the main draw at the Delray Beach Tennis Club. The 2012 champion from South Africa, now ranked 93rd, was featured against No. 99 Steve Johnson of the United States. They were meeting for the ninth time with their series tied 4-4.
Anderson beat Johnson in the 2014 Delray Beach Open semifinals, but this time it was Johnson who prevailed 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-2 in two hours and a minute. Like many of the other times they’ve played, it was a match that could have gone either way.
Johnson, who broke to go ahead 4-2 in the final set, withstood 16 aces by Anderson and hit nine of his own plus won 86 percent (42 of 49) of his first-serve points. He saved the only break point he faced and outpointed Anderson 96-77. Next, Johnson will face either No. 6 seed Jenson Brooksby or 152nd-ranked qualifier Stefan Kozlov, both of the United States.
Meanwhile, the youngest player in the main draw, 20-year-old Brandon Nakashima began the night session by scoring an easy 6-1, 6-1 win in 54 minutes over No. 105 Denis Kudla in an all-American match. The 81st-ranked Nakashima, who was a quarterfinalist two years ago at age 18, hit seven aces, won 81 percent (21 of 26) of his first-serve points and faced no break points. Next, he will face either No. 7 seed Adrian Mannarino of France, ranked 53rd, or 116th-ranked qualifer Liam Broady of Great Britain.
— Tennis Channel (@TennisChannel) February 15, 2022
Great Britain’s Norrie is top seed
Top seed Cameron Norrie of Great Britain, ranked 13th, will play Otte, while 2020 Delray Beach Open champion and No. 2 seed Reilly Opelka will face either 141st-ranked wild card Jack Sock of the United States or Germany’s 82nd-ranked Daniel Altmaier in their opening matches. Other seeds include: No. 3 Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria; and No. 4 Tommy Paul, No. 5 Sebastian Korda and No. 5 Jenson Brooksby, all from the United States.
Defending champion Hubert Hurkacz did not return to defend his 2021 title.
— ATP Tour (@atptour) February 14, 2022
Main draw takes shape after weekend qualifying
Three champions in the 30-year history of the Delray Beach Open have won the title coming out of qualifying. After winning two matches over the weekend, two Americans – Stefan Kozlov and Mitchell Krueger – plus Great Britain’s Liam Broady and Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan are into the main draw. All will see action on Tuesday.
Mixed doubles rocks Delray Beach Open
On Sunday afternoon, amidst the qualifying draw matches, mixed doubles were featured at the Delray Beach Open for the first time. The main court featured Bob and Mike Bryan and Leylah and Bianca Fernandez. The match was won by Bob Bryan and Leylah Fernandez over Mike Bryan and Bianca Fernandez, 2-6, 7-5, 10-3.
/ B. Bryan/L. Fernandez def. B. Fernandez/M. Bryan 2-6, 7-5, 10-3.
— Delray Beach Open (@DelrayBeachOpen) February 13, 2022
By the numbers
• There are 10 different countries represented among the 28 players who comprise the singles main draw. The draw includes 14 American players, three Australians, three Germans, plus two from Great Britain and one each from Bulgaria, France, Italy, Japan, South Africa and Uzbekistan.
• No. 2 seed Reilly Opelka, who won his third career ATP Tour singles title at the Dallas Open Sunday, moved up to No. 20 in the new ATP Rankings released Monday. Dallas Open finalist Jenson Brooksby moved up to No. 45.