18 Feb Haas, Hewitt, Baghdatis Lead Parade Of Winners In Delray Beach
Haas, Hewitt, Baghdatis Lead Parade Of Winners In Delray Beach
The primetime lineup starred in the afternoon session
By Hayley Byrnes
No.2 seed John Isner fought back from a set down, relying on 20 aces to put away fellow countryman Michael Russell at the Delray Beach Open Tuesday night.
Isner, the top-ranked American, led 2-0 until he was broken at 4-3 in the first set. Russell, who played at the top of his game in reaching the Memphis semifinal last week, kept up his aggressive play to take the first set, 6-4. Isner won the second set, 7-6, in a tie break thanks to nine aces, and coasted home to take the final set, 6-2.
Isner had been on the sidelines since injuring his ankle in January’s Australian Open, but still viewed the Delray Beach Open a tournament he is capable of winning.
“I felt good out there, and even if I lost I would have walked away happy because my ankle felt great,” said Isner.
In the other evening match, No. 3 seed and former Delray Beach champion (2008) Kei Nishikori also won in a slugfest with qualifier Gastao Elias, 6-1, 5-7, 6-2.
[spacer size=”5″][frame align=”left”][/frame]Fresh off of winning the Memphis title on Sunday, the world No. 15 Nishikori was looking like he was on pace for a straight set victory until qualifier Elias had different ideas.
Elias, who survived the third round of qualifying after coming back from a set down to defeat former Top 20 American Robby Ginepri, again showed his fighting prowess. After losing the opening set, the 23-year-old Elias dug deep and fought back to even the sets at 1-1.
Nishikori, clearly frustrated with his effort, wasted no time wrapping up the third 6-2. He next faces No. 65 Teymuraz Gabashvili of Russia, who earlier eliminated Australian Matthew Ebden.
Tuesday’s day session also saw veterans Tommy Haas, Lleyton Hewitt and even 28-year-old Marcos Baghdatis getting into the win column.
With Aussie compatriot and legendary golfer Greg Norman looking on, Hewitt added to the continuing exit of Americans, beating 23-year-old American Bradley Klahn in straight sets 6-3, 6-1.
“It took me a few games to obviously work him out, I’d never seen him play before” Hewitt said of Klahn, who is already the No. 3 American despite his limited matches on the ATP World Tour.
And while the 8th seeded Hewitt is forever reminded of his own age (he will turn 33 on Monday), it was the 35-year-old Tommy Haas who is the top seeded player here in Delray Beach.
Haas, who cruised through a 6-2,6-1 win over qualifier Wayne Odesnik, was pleased to be back at Delray Beach.
[frame align=”left”][/frame]“It is always nice to be here but it’s always tough to find rhythm here,” said the world’s No. 12-ranked player. ”I find the balls extremely tough to get a feel for, sometimes they have a mind of their own but I focused on my game plan and I’m really proud of that today.”
Haas was asked if he envied former World No. 1 Andy Roddick, who retired close to the top of his game at age 30.
“Look I know everyone knows what is best for their career, their life” said Haas. “I’m sure Andy woke up one day and felt “you know, this is it for me.” I’ve spoken to him a couple times since then and he’s as happy as can be.
“For Lleyton it’s different I’m sure, similar to me, with injuries, I lost probably three or four years of my career, and I always felt I wanted to end this on my terms like when the mind is not there anymore or physically I can’t do it anymore. I just want to continue and enjoy.”
Despite being defeated by Hewitt less than a week ago, Marco Baghdatis bounced backed with a 3-6,6-2,6-1 win over 20-year-old Jiri Vesely in the opening match on center court.
There was no sign of the shoulder pain which plagued Baghdatis in Memphis. Despite losing the opening set, he picked up an early break in the second set and put away the youngest player in the main draw.
Other early afternoon action included No. 4 seed and 2012 Delray Beach champion Kevin Anderson getting a 4-6,6-1,6-3 victory over American Tim Smyczek, and Israeli Dudi Sela racing to a straight set 6-0, 6-2 thumping of Russian Alex Bogomolov.
2012 Delray Beach Open finalist Marinko Matosevic won comfortably over on Court 2, defeating Belgium’s David Goffin 6-2, 6-4. Matosevic, an Australian, will now face childhood idol and two-time Grand Slam champion Hewitt in the second round feature match Wednesday night at 8:30 pm.
[frame align=”left”][/frame]Wednesday’s day session begins at 11 am on center court with red-hot Marin Cilic meeting German Benjamin Becker. Cilic won the Zagreb title two weeks ago and defeated No. 10 Jo Wilfred Tsonga and No. 6 Andy Murray last week in reaching the Rotterdam final.