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By Richard Pagliaro | Monday, February 17, 2020

 
Nick Kyrgios

Top-seeded Nick Kyrgios aims to keep the competitive fire burning headlining a Delray Beach field that features three of the game's most explosive servers.

Photo credit: Mark Peterson/Corleve

Art galleries dot Delray Beach’s downtown.

Creative players aim to apply comeback visions on the blue Delray Beach court this week.

More: Muguruza Quells Inspired Clijsters in Dubai Return

Talent, unpredictability and volatility collide in an intriguing Delray Beach Open draw with several players seeking to reboot their seasons.

The ATP’s Top 3 leaders in holding serve this season—Milos Raonic, Nick Kyrgios and Reilly Opelka—will try to hit through the sometime blustery Delray conditions.



New York Open champion Kyle Edmund, fresh of his first ATP title in two years, resides in Kyrgios’ quarter and will try to sustain his roll vs. sixth-seeded Frenchman Ugo Humbert. Former world No. 14 Edmund, off to a 7-3 start to the season, reached the Delray quarterfinals in his lone appearance three years ago.

Top-seeded Kyrgios opens against buddy Tommy Paul in a shot-makers battle. Inspired by his fund-raising efforts for Australian bushfire relief, Kyrgios will play his first match since bowing to Rafael Nadal in a pulsating AO fourth-round match. Three of Kyrgios’ six career titles have come on North American soil.

The winner of the Kyrgios vs. Paul opener will meet either 2018 champion Frances Tiafoe or qualifier Emilio Gomez in the round of 16.

In his Delray Beach debut last year, Kyrgios lost to Radu Albot. The 5’9” pride of Moldova went on to edge Dan Evans in a third-set tie breaker to win his first ATP title last February.




Defending champion Albot arrives in Delray Beach winless this season and will try to jump-start 2020 against former world No. 8 Jack Sock, who has dropped nine straight opening-round tournament matches to spiral out of the singles rankings.

The 27-year-old Sock, who is playing for his first tournament match win since the 2018 Paris Masters, won the 2017 Delray Beach title on a walkover from Milos Raonic.

The second-seeded Raonic showed signs of his familiar explosiveness charging into his fifth Australian Open quarterfinal in the last six years last month. After an opening exit at last week’s New York Open, Raonic looks to bounce back in his first-rounder vs. New York Open finalist Andreas Seppi.

Joining Raonic in the bottom of the draw, 6’11” tower of power Opelka will face a stiff opening-round test in two-time Delray champion Ernests Gulbis, who played through qualifying to reach the main draw.

Ten Americans—including wild cards Ryan Harrison, Brandon Nakashima and Sock—made the 32-player main draw.

Tennis Express

One of the most compelling first-rounders pits third-seeded Taylor Fritz vs. British qualifier Cameron Norrie in a rematch of the 2019 Atlanta semifinals. Fritz has beaten Norrie in two of their three meetings and owns the bigger serve, but the left-handed Norrie is skilled on the counter-strike particularly off his flat two-handed backhand.

Former Delray Beach semifinalist Adrian Mannarino hits flat shots that can play well in windy Florida conditions. The seventh-seeded Frenchman opens against Soonwoo Kwon.

This article was originally published on the TennisOne app. Download the TennisOne app here.

 

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