07 Jan Querrey Back on Winning Track
By STEVE DORSEY
DELRAY BEACH, Fla. – Sam Querrey had not tasted victory in almost a year when the lanky American arrived here for the ATP Tour’s season-opening Delray Beach Open by Vitacost.com. He ended that drought Thursday night.
Querrey, ranked No. 56 in the world, became the third American to win a first-round singles match on the first day of the main draw competition – joining Tommy Paul and Sebastian Korda – by dispatching fellow American Mackenzie McDonald 6-3, 6-4 in the nightcap match.
It’s the first win for Querrey, the No. 6 seed here this week, since the Australian Open last year. The 6-foot-6 hard-serving Querrey delivered 13 aces and saved six of seven break points in the match.
“I felt good,” said Querrey, who won the title here in 2016. “I was little nervous to begin with. First match I’ve won in almost a year. I played those big break points well, and overall I was happy with how I played. . . . I felt like I was aggressive, felt like I moved in well even though Mackie is really fast and hit a lot of great passing shots. I felt like I kept putting pressure on him and that’s something I really worked on in the offseason, and hopefully will continue to do this week.”
Querrey’s resume includes 10 ATP Tour titles – including a win here in 2016 – but it’s been over three years since he captured his last one. His next step in attempting to end that drought will come against Italian Gianluca Mager, whom Querrey never has faced.
“I don’t know him, but all these guys are good out here,” Querrey said of his second-round opponent. “It’s always tricky playing a guy you’ve never even seen play before. sometimes it takes a few games or even a set to get used to his ball or how he serves or how he returns and things like that.”
For now though, Querrey is just going to enjoy this win.
“I was really happy that these guys, the Barons, were able to pull this tournament together, so that we kind of get a warmup here (to start the season,” Querrey said of the annual tournament that was bumped up from its normal mid-February dates.
Korda also advanced to the second round with a straight-sets 6-4, 6-4 win against Korean Soonwoo Kwon, who was a quarterfinalist here last year.
Korda, 20, is a rising star on the ATP Tour, which should not be surprising considering his bloodlines – both of his parents, Petr and Regina, had successful professional tennis careers, and his older sisters Nelly and Jessica are pro golfers on the LPGA Tour. Petr, a former Australian Open champion, and Jessica were on hand to watch Sebastian’s first-round match.
Korda, who starts the 2021 season ranked No. 119 in the world, quickly set the tone for the match by winning the first four games and then held off Kwon to notch his first ATP Tour hardcourt victory.
“I started off super well, but he kind of found his feet a little bit and started playing a lot better,” Korda said. “It was a hard-fought win, and I’m super happy with it. . . . At the tough moments, I really dug deep and played a super good game. I was serving really well.”
The win earned Korda, a former No. 1-ranked junior, a second-round match against his friend and fellow American Tommy Paul, the No. 5 seed here who also advanced with a straight-sets win Thursday.
“Play my game and stay aggressive,” Korda said of his strategy against Paul. “Tommy’s a super quick guy, so it’s definitely not going to be easy, but I’m going to have a lot of fun with it. It’s going to be a fun match for sure.”