20 Feb QUERREY IS NEAR-FLAWLESS IN ELIMINATING DEL POTRO
Bryans Going For Fifth Title And Third Straight
By STEVE DORSEY
Delray Beach, Fla. – Sam Querrey ended Juan Martin Del Potro’s storybook return to the ATP World Tour with a steady and near-flawless performance Saturday night at the Delray Beach Open.
Querrey’s 7-5, 7-5 win against the former World No. 5 Argentine secured an all-USA final on Sunday afternoon at the Delray Beach Stadium and Tennis Center after Rajeev Ram ousted Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov in the other semifinal earlier Saturday.
“That’s definitely the best I’ve played so far. This was by far my best match in the last two weeks,” said Querrey, who lost in the semifinals at Memphis a week ago. “I’m thrilled and looking forward to tomorrow.”
Del Potro was playing in his first ATP tournament following an 11-month hiatus from the sport following two surgeries last year on his left wrist. The 27-year-old won the Delray Beach Open in 2011 and amazingly won his first three matches here this week despite lacking his usually strong backhand and admitting that he was fatigued after each of his matches. He took an 8-0 record into Saturday night’s semifinal before Querrey snapped that streak.
“He was really smart in playing against me tonight,” Del Potro said of Querrey, who consistently tested the Argentine’s backhand when given the opportunity. “I think he played much better and was a higher level than me tonight.”
There were only two service breaks in the match, and both were registered by Querrey in the 11th game of each set, after which the World No. 61 Californian held service to win the set. After breaking Del Potro to take a 6-5 lead in the second set, Querrey took four consecutive points on his serve to close out the match and ink his name on the final pairings.
“I just did a really good job of taking care of my own serve,” said Querrey, who recorded 10 aces. “Then I just kind of happened to claw my way into a couple of late breaks in each set and that was basically it. It was such a simple match with a couple of chances here and there, and I just happened to get those. I thought I served great. I needed to do that against him, he’s such a tough player.”
Del Potro said after the match that he has accepted a wild card invitation to play at Indian Wells next month and that he is taking more positives than negatives out of his week at Delray Beach.
“I always try to win,” Del Potro said. “I think this week I won more than a tournament. I’m so glad to play tennis again. I’m looking forward to the future. I have too many positives to get from this tournament.”
Sunday’s all-American championship match will have a somewhat nostalgic feel to it for the finalists. Ram has won two ATP World Tour titles, both at Newport where he beat Querrey in 2009 to notch his first Tour title.
“I’ve known him for 11 years. He’s got a different game than a lot of guys,” Querrey said of Ram. “He kind of has that Pete Sampras flat forehand. He’ll serve and volley, he’ll chip the ball around. It’s going to be tough, and we play (Sunday) during the day and I haven’t played a day match yet, so it might take me a couple games to adjust to that.”
Delray Beach fans, however, will be seeing their first All-American final in 13 years. The last matchup was in 2003 when Jan-Michael Gambill beat Mardy Fish on these courts. The only other time it has occurred in the 24 years of this tournament was in its inaugural year, 1993, when Todd Martin met David Wheaton when the tournament was in Coral Springs.
Championship Sunday will begin at 1 p.m. with the doubles final, followed by the singles final at approximately 3 p.m.
The World No. 1 Bryan brothers breezed into the doubles final with a 6-2, 6-3 win against Jeremy Chardy and Leander Paes. The defending champion Bryans will be aiming to capture their fifth Delray Beach Open title when they face Oliver Marach and Fabrice Martin, who defeated Treat Huey and Max Mirnyi in the other semifinal Saturday.
“If we played a small part in helping to save doubles when it was at its lowest point, 2005, that makes us really proud,” said Bob Bryan, who has teamed with his brother Mike to win a record 109 titles. “If we can go out there and entertain the fans and get more kids excited about tennis and doubles, then we’re happy guys.”