14 Feb Lone American Qualifier Novikov Reaches Main Draw
Lone American Qualifier Novikov Reaches Main Draw
He Draws Another Qualifier In First Round
By STEVE DORSEY
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Delray Beach, Fla. – As Mardy Fish was putting the finishing touches on a Team USA victory Sunday afternoon in the ATP Champions Tour on the Stadium Court at the Delray Beach Tennis Center, next door on Court 1 another American was penciling his name into the main draw of the ATP World Tour’s Delray Beach Open that begins Monday.
Dennis Novikov, a 22-year-old American, became the fourth and final qualifier to earn a berth in the Delray Beach Open main singles draw when he delivered a blistering ace on the final point of a 7-6(0), 3-6, 7-6(6) win against Italian Luca Vanni.
“Go USA,” Novikov, the only American qualifier here, said when informed of the Team USA Champions Tour title.
The other qualifiers who also won Sunday to earn a spot in the main draw include No. 80-ranked Radu Albot of Moldova, No. 118 Tatsuma Ito of Japan, and No. 136 Aussie John-Patrick Smith.
Novikov, who has an ATP World ranking of No. 150, will face Ito in a first-round match on Tuesday.
“As long as I play well, I have a chance,” said Novikov, who is making his first appearance at Delray Beach and needed three sets to win both of his qualifying matches here the past two days. “It definitely prepares you mentally and physically. You get a little fatigued, but from the mental aspect you feel strong that if you play your best you can win matches. I need to get a few more first serves in and I had a couple loose errors I just have to tighten up a little bit.”
Smith’s first-round opponent will be defending Delray Beach Open champion Ivo Karlovic of Croatia. Karlovic, ranked No. 26 in the world, is the No. 3 seed here this week and will open defense of his 2015 title on Monday in the first day’s nightcap match on the Stadium Court.
Two other seeded players will play their first-round matches Monday afternoon when Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov, the No. 4 seed, faces Dudi Sela of Israel in the day’s first match of the singles draw. That will be followed by a matchup between No. 8 seed Adrian Mannarino of France and Malek Jaziri of Tunisia.
Three first-round doubles matches also will be contested Monday, including the No. 2-seeded team of Raven Klaasen and Rajeev Ram against Americans Denis Kudla and Donald Young. That match will kick off the evening session as a prelude to the Karlovic-Smith pairing.