24 Feb DELPO DIGS IN
By STEVE DORSEY
DELRAY BEACH, FLA. – Juan Martin del Potro will have an opportunity to avenge his semifinal loss to Sam Querrey at last year’s ATP World Tour Delray Beach Open when they face each other Friday night in the quarterfinals at the Delray Beach Stadium and Tennis Center.
That rematch was secured Thursday night when del Potro turned away upset-minded Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia-Herzegovina 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-3 in the nightcap on the Stadium Court. Del Potro, the No. 7 seed here, didn’t take control of the decisive third set until he broke serve in the sixth game to grab a 4-2 lead against the unseeded 24-year-old Dzumhur, who is ranked No. 79 in the world and coming off a quarterfinal appearance last week at Memphis.
“It was a really tough match for me,” said del Potro, who needed 2 hours, 24 minutes to record the win. “He was really fast from the baseline and I couldn’t find the place to make winners with my forehands. But I think I was positive all the time and I got my chances at the end of the match and I took it. I think I played my best game in the third set.”
It was the first time del Potro and Dzumhur had met, and the world No. 42 Argentine had nothing but praise for Dzumhur’s game.
“He played very smart,” del Potro said. “He was trying all the time to put the ball to my backhand and coming to the net when I hit slices. He was smart, but in the end I was more offensive from the baseline. He’s so good, and he’s going to be an interesting guy to watch on Tour.”
As for Friday’s quarterfinal showdown against Querrey, del Potro considers himself the underdog.
“I think he’s the favorite to win because he beat me the last time and he has a better ranking than me,” del Potro said. “I’ll see what I can do against him tomorrow.”
Querrey, who advanced earlier in the day with a straight-sets win against Jared Donaldson, said he will have to be on top of his game to take down del Potro here again.
“He’s definitely at a different level than he was a year ago,” Querrey said of del Potro, whose world ranking is exactly 1,000 points higher than he was a year ago here when was coming off a long injury-induced hiatus from the Tour. “It’ll be a different match. I’ll definitely have to elevate my game.”
The No. 1 seed Bryan brothers, Bob and Mike, opened the evening session Thursday with a 6-4, 7-5 win against fellow Americans Jared Donaldson and Sam Querrey. The Bryans are gunning for their fifth Delray Beach doubles title after being denied last year in the finals by Oliver Marach and Fabrice Martin in a compelling three-set tiebreaker.
It was of the beginning of a disappointing first part of the season for the Bryans, who slipped in the ATP World Tour rankings to No. 9 at one point but since have climbed to No. 3.
“We had a few tough weeks there at the beginning of last year,” Bob Bryan said after the twins’ first-round win Wednesday night. “It was tough to bounce back. We had a few long discussions after Miami, basically that we were putting too much pressure on each other and we just need to have a little more love and a little more fun on the court and stop with the crazy expectations. It really turned our year around during the clay court season.”
There has been some speculation that this might be the final year that the Bryan twins will compete on the ATP World Tour, but Bob said that he and his brother have not yet decided when they will call it quits.
“We’ve talked about it and we’ve decided that we’re going to keep going and we’re not going to put a finish line on this career yet,” Bob said.
The Bryan brothers next face Yen-Hsun Lu and Leander Paes at 2:30 p.m. Friday following the all-American singles quarterfinal between No. 3 seed Jack Sock and No. 5 Steve Johnson at 12:30 p.m. The other singles quarterfinal matches will comprise the evening session on the Stadium Court. Top seed Milos Raonic will face No. 8 seed Kyle Edmund at 6 p.m., followed by the nightcap between del Potro and Querrey.