16 Feb Americans Upset Top Seeds
Americans Upset Top Seeds
Anderson and Tomic Go Down In First Round
By STEVE DORSEY
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Delray Beach, Fla. – Austin Krajicek was sent on a light-hearted public relations scavenger hunt through Delray Beach last Saturday to find out who his first-round opponent would be at the ATP World Tour’s Delray Beach Open. His final clue divulged, perhaps to the dismay of Krajicek, that he would face South African Kevin Anderson, the No. 14-ranked player in the world and the top seed here this week.
That pairing proved not to be as daunting as Krajicek might have thought, however. The 25-year-old American pulled off the first of back-to-back upsets Tuesday afternoon when Anderson retired after losing the first set 7-6(3) because of a right shoulder injury.
Following Krajicek’s upset, American Rajeev Ram strode onto the Stadium Court at the Delray Beach Tennis Center and delivered another stunner by ousting No. 2 seed and World No. 20-ranked Bernard Tomic in straight sets 7-6(3), 6-1. Tuesday’s results followed No. 3 seed Ivo Karlovic’s loss to Aussie qualifier John-Patrick Smith on Monday night, so the top three seeds here this week had fallen before the sun set on the second day of the 32-player tournament.
Krajicek didn’t hesitate to list his win against Anderson at the top of his career resume.
“Ranking-wise, it’s obviously my biggest win, so that’s exciting, but it’s never the way you want to get it done, especially (against) someone that’s a good friend,” Krajicek, ranked No. 103 in the world, said. “I had an idea that maybe his shoulder had been bothering him a little bit, but I just tried to prepare and take care of my side of the court. . . . Hopefully, it’s nothing serious for (Anderson) and he’s back at it soon.”
Anderson, who beat Krajicek in the first round en route to winning the Delray Beach Open in 2012, was playing his first match since retiring in the first round of the Australian Open last month with a left knee injury, which he said he has been rehabbing for the past two weeks.
“I’ve been trying really hard to get back, and doing so I think maybe I’ve compensated a little bit and my right shoulder has taken a bit of excess strain, especially on my serve,” the 6-foot-8 right-hander said. “I felt pretty confident coming into the match today, but it’s much worse than I (thought). I felt it in (my) very first serve game and just tried to keep going at it, but the third game it was tough just to get the ball in.”
Anderson said he decided after the first set that he might risk further injury if he continued to play Tuesday.
“It was incredibly painful,” he said, adding that he will have an MRI scan on the shoulder Wednesday to assess the injury. “Obviously, it’s been a very frustrating start to the season. At this point, I don’t think it’s worth pushing too soon.”
Ram’s victory completed a Stadium Court sweep by Americans of the day session matches. Wild card American Noah Rubin’s 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(6) win against Aussie Sam Groth jump-started a very successful day for American players in the main draw. No. 6 seed Steve Johnson’s 6-3, 5-7, 7-6(8) victory against Aussie John Millman on Court 1 was the third American win against Australian opponents in the afternoon session.
“I’m playing the best tennis of my career right now,” said Ram, who is No. 89 in the ATP World Tour rankings. “I picked up a new racquet last May and just really felt like I was finding all the parts of my game, and the results show. Since then, I’ve won a title (Newport), won a doubles event, have had a couple top 20 wins, so it’s been good.”
Tomic said he struggled with Ram’s serve-and-volley style of play and never felt comfortable against the 31-year-old right-hander.
“I thought he served very well,” Tomic said of Ram. “I didn’t have any chances at all. I didn’t feel like I played that good, but he just didn’t let me play, and that’s why he’s won titles before. He’s just very, very difficult to play. . . . Full credit to him. After the (first) set, I played very badly early on and the match got away from me.”
The other seeded player in action Tuesday afternoon, Frenchman Jeremy Chardy who is seeded No. 6, needed only 47 minutes to oust Aussie Matthew Ebden 6-2, 6-1.
Sam Querrey bettered Thiemo de Bakker of the Netherlands 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 and Donald Young advanced to the second round when Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan retired with a left leg injury with Young leading 7-6(3), 3-0 to give American players their fifth and sixth wins of the day. Japan’s Tatsuma Ito handed the Americans their only setback of the afternoon when he defeated Dennis Novikhov 6-2, 6-4 in a matchup of qualifiers.