Former Champions under Friday night lights in Delray

Former Champions under Friday night lights in Delray

Two former Delray Beach Open by champions, Frances Tiafoe and Ivo Karlovic, get their 2021 season underway on Friday night at the Delray Beach Tennis Center.

Tiafoe, the champion here in Delray in 2018, was the tournament’s first ever wild card winner and the first Next Gen American to win a title on the ATP Tour. He will play fellow American Donald Young in the first round on Friday night, not before 8 p.m. on stadium court. Young battled through two lengthy qualifying matches coming from a set down on both occasions to qualify for his first ATP Tour main draw since July of 2019.

Tiafoe finished the 2020 season with a title at the ATP Challenger event in Parma and a semi-final run at the ATP 250 in Nur-Sultan where he lost to eventual winner John Millman. Despite a strong end to 2020, Tiafoe saw his ranking drop outside the top 50 in the world for the first time since 2018. The 22-year-old will be buoyed after a first-round doubles win on Thursday with partner Nicholas Monroe and will hope to better his quarterfinal run last year to kick start his 2021 season.

Young and Tiafoe have not played a professional match since 2016 when they split a pair of matches at Queens and Tallahassee.

The second former Delray champion in action on Friday is arguably the greatest server in the history of the ATP Tour with 13, 619 aces, Ivo Karlovic. Karlovic won the title here in 2015 and now at 41-years-of-age has eight ATP Tour singles titles and is the oldest player in this year’s event.

The six-foot-11 Croat will play Spanish No. 7 seed Pablo Andujar in the first night session match Friday, not before 6 p.m. on stadium court. Karlovic only played three ATP Tour main draw matches in 2020 in Melbourne, New York, and Pune, with his only win coming in the first round of the Australian Open back in January.

Andujar, 34, also played minimal tennis last year with his best result a run to the final at the ATP Challenger event in Prostejov. The Spanish leads the pairs head-to-head 1-0, with a straight sets victory at 2019 ATP Masters 1000 in Miami.

Joining Tiafoe and Young on Friday’s slate are five other Americans, including an all-American match between Kevin King and Bjorn Fratangelo. Christian Harrison, Noah Rubin, and JC Aragone round out the American contingent for Friday’s play.

Play starts at 11 a.m. on both stadium court and Court 1.