Ivan Lendl Moves Into ATP Champions Final To Face Carlos Moya

By Steve Dorsey

Eighth-seeded Bernard Tomic of Australia advanced to the second round with a straight-set victory, Ivan Lendl secured a chance to add yet another title to his lengthy resume, and qualifiers filled the final four open lines for the singles main draw Monday at the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships.

Tomic, who is making his Delray Beach debut, dispatched wild-card entrant Tommy Haas of Germany 6-4, 6-3 in the final first-round match of the first day of the main draw competition.

Tomic began his 2012 season by advancing to his first semifinal on the ATP Tour at the Brisbane International where he lost to World No. 4 Andy Murray in straight sets, and followed that up with a 4th round showing at the Australian Open.  He entered the Delray Beach ITC ranked No. 37 and hopes a good showing here this week will improve his standing.

“I’ve matured a lot more since last year and I’m playing much, much better tennis,” Tomic said.

Tomic started off a little slow against Haas, but his forehand was working well as the match progressed.

“Tommy played really well in the first few games and managed to break me,” Tomic said. “I was a little bit tight, and after I started to free up, I started to play better and hit the ball harder. And he started missing a little bit more and dropping a little bit more balls short and allowing me to come in.”

Lendl claimed a spot in the ATP Champions Tour final without playing a match Monday. The eight-time Grand Slam champion and International Tennis Hall of Famer gained the other spot in the final opposite Carlos Moya when Johan Kriek, who defeated Lendl in straight sets Sunday night, lost his final Group A pool match Monday afternoon.

Kriek was down to Mikael Pernfors 6-4, 5-2 when Kriek retired because of a foot injury. Pernfors and Lendl each finished round-robin pool play tied for first place with 2-1 records in Group A, but Lendl earned a berth in the championship match because he defeated Pernfors in their head-to-head match, sending Pernfors to the third-place match.

Moya, who was 3-0 in Group B pool play, will face Lendl Tuesday night prior to the Delray Beach ITC match between American Andy Roddick, the No. 4 seed, and Philipp Petzschner of Germany.

The Champions Tour final will provide an intriguing matchup. Moya, 35, is the youngest player in the eight-player Delray Beach field this year and will face his boyhood hero in Lendl, who turns 52 next week.

“Lendl is one of the all-time greats, and he made history,” Moya said. “This is what makes the Champions Tour unique, being able to bridge the generations. It is a dream for me (to play Lendl), and hopefully McEnroe as well one day. It’s amazing to look up to them for so long and then to be on the same court with them. I have so many memories of watching (Lendl) when I was a kid, and I have so much respect for what he did and everything he achieved. He changed the game.”

The Champions Tour third-place match will kick off a busy Tuesday schedule at the Delray Beach Tennis Center, with Pernfors and Michael Chang meeting at 11 a.m. on the Stadium Court. Chang, Pat Cash and Aaron Krickstein, who defeated Chang 7-6(4), 4-6, 10-6 Monday night, each had 1-2 records in pool play, but a tiebreaker awarded Chang second place in Group B.

Among the other ITC first-round winners Monday was Ryan Sweeting, who breezed to a 6-1, 6-1 win against fellow American Donald Young.

“It was quicker than I expected,” Sweeting said of his straight-set victory. “I didn’t really do too many things wrong today. I don’t think Donald played his best tennis at all.”

Dudi Sela of Israel also advanced to the second round with a 6-4, 6-3 win against American Denis Kudla, and Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan ousted Aussie Matthew Ebden 6-2, 6-3. Ivo Karlovic of Croatia and Frank Moser of Germany teamed to defeat Croatians Marin Cilic and Ivan Dodig 7-5, 7-6(6) in the only ITC doubles match of the day.

Tuesday’s daytime featured match will pit No. 1 seed John Isner, who is No. 11 in the ATP rankings, against fellow American Jesse Levine.
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Qualilfying Round-Up:

Marinko Matosevic of Australia reached his second straight main draw here via the qualifying rounds, and three Americans advanced into the 20th Delray Beach ITC main draw. Austin Krajieck, a 2011 grad of Texas A&M, rallied to beat Nicholas Monroe, 3-6, 7-6 (6), 6-3, and advance to his second career ATP tour match while Tim Smyczek beat American teen Jack Sock, 7-6 (1), 6-2. Michael Yani, 31, went three sets with Germany’s Mischa Zverev and came out on top of the 2 hour, 28 minute match  7-6 (6), 3-6, 7-5