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#NextGenATP Korda Contains Kwon In Delray Beach Debut

  • Posted: Jan 08, 2021

#NextGenATP American Sebastian Korda set up an all-American second-round clash against fifth-seeded Tommy Paul at the Delray Beach Open by after fighting past Soonwoo Kwon 6-4, 6-4 on Thursday.

Korda, who is currently No. 119 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, made a winning start to the season after closing 2020 on a milestone, lifting his first ATP Challenger Tour trophy in Eckental at the end of the year.

“Not only my dad [Petr Korda] but my whole team, we put in a lot of work during the break and I’m super happy with how everything is going right now,” Korda said in his on-court interview.

“Whenever I get a chance to play a big tournament like here, it’s always a privilege and  I always have a smile on my face. I kind of enjoy it a little bit more because I know how tough it is to get here.”

The American started out on a tear against Kwon, keeping his opponent under pressure as he reeled off back-to-back breaks of serve to take a 4-0 lead. But once the South Korea player finally got on the scoreboard, he seemed to relax and swing more freely against Korda.

Kwon stormed back as he won the next three games and was a point away from levelling the score at 4-4. But Korda stayed cool to save break point and instead served out the set after taking a 5-3 lead.

Kwon kept up the punishing pace against Korda in a tightly contested second set, which saw the first eight games go to the server. But the South Korean player blinked first, and Korda pounced on his brief dip in form to claim a crucial break at 4-4. He needed three match points before grinding through in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4.


“I think in the end I just stayed pretty positive, even though I was up a double break and he got it back to 4-3 and had a couple of break points,” Paul said. “But I played a great match and I’m super happy to be through.”

Korda’s victory set up an all-American clash against Delray Beach resident Paul, the fifth seed. Paul needed just over an hour to defeat Ji Sung Nam in straight sets, 6-1, 6-4 and make a winning start to the new season.

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Paul Leads Opening Day Winners In Delray Beach

  • Posted: Jan 08, 2021

Fifth-seeded Tommy Paul needed just over an hour to defeat Ji Sung Nam in straight sets, 6-1, 6-4 and make a winning start to the new season on Thursday at the Delray Beach Open by

Paul, a resident of Delray Beach, is one of 13 Americans in the draw and currently sits at a career-high No. 52 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. He’s looking to continue with the momentum that last year saw him reach the semi-finals in Adelaide as well as record his biggest win to date over No. 7 Alexander Zverev in Acapulco.

The American fired five aces and converted four of the six break points on offer to see off Nam, who was making his Delray Beach debut.

Paul awaits the winner in the match between countryman Sebastian Korda and Soonwoo Kwon for a spot in the quarter-finals.

Also in action in South Florida, Thiago Monteiro took down Thomaz Bellucci in an all-Brazilian clash to book a showdown with the second-seeded John Isner. Monteiro, ranked No. 84, only dropped serve once during their hour and 40-minute clash to win 6-3, 7-5.

Joining Paul and Monteiro in the second round is Gianluca Mager of Italy, who won his first match at Delray Beach after a tight three-set battle against wildcard Ryan Harrison. Mager won 77% of points behind his first serve, and fired nine aces en route to a 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 victory.

More to follow…


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Bautista Agut Trains With Nadal In Mallorca Ahead Of ATP Cup

  • Posted: Jan 07, 2021

With the new ATP Tour season officially kicking off on Thursday, some players are still looking to squeeze in some last-minute preparation ahead of their own tournament debuts. Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut is the latest player to hit the courts in Mallorca at the Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar to continue his pre-season with the top-ranked Spaniard.

The current World No. 13 travelled to Mallorca with his coach Pepe Vendrell to train alongside 20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal, both players focusing on their first tournament of the year. The pair are set to represent Spain in the ATP Cup, where they will be the No. 1 and No. 2 players for the nation that finished last year’s edition as runners-up after losing to Novak Djokovic’s Serbia.

In 2020, Nadal and Bautista Agut were also part of the Spanish outfit at the inaugural ATP Cup. While the Mallorcan led his country, as is customary, the Castellon native made a name for himself in the competition by winning all six singles matches he played and ending the event unbeaten.

This time around, the ATP Cup takes place at Melbourne Park from 1 to 5 February with 12 countries battling it out for the prestigious title. Spain, with Nadal, Bautista Agut, Pablo Carreño Busta and Marcel Granollers, are one of the favourites for the event.

Roberto Bautista Agut

Bautista Agut, who will stay at the Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar until next Sunday, completed his first training session with Nadal on Thursday on one of the facility’s indoor courts under the watchful eyes of Nadal’s coach Carlos Moya and Vendrell.

The No. 13 in the FedEx ATP Ranking is visiting the Nadal’s academy for the first time, following preseason visits from players such as Felix Auger-Aliassime and Lorenzo Sonego.


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#NextGenATP Korda On Training With Agassi: ‘He Sees The Game Way Different’

  • Posted: Jan 07, 2021

Sebastian Korda closed out the 2020 season with a major milestone when he picked up his first ATP Challenger Tour title. Now back in action, the 20-year-old American is hoping that having champion expertise on his side will keep him on the rise in the new year.

Korda, who is kicking off the 2021 season on Thursday at the Delray Beach Open by against Soonwoo Kwon, spent two weeks in December training in Las Vegas under the watchful eye of former World No. 1 Andre Agassi.

“During the pandemic, I was practising just in the courts next door to our house, and I was getting kind of mentally tired,” Korda told “So my dad had a great idea to maybe reach out to him. They used to play doubles together; I think Andre’s only doubles title was with my dad.”

Coached by another Grand Slam champion in dad Petr Korda, Sebastian spent those two weeks learning and absorbing Agassi’s tennis philosophy.

“He sees the game way different than most people, that’s for sure,” Korda said. “He reads opponents, just kind of getting the feeling for how matches are playing. Some of the stuff he thinks about, you would never think about during a match or before a match.”


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Korda is hoping the extra mental edge will prove key as he begins the 2021 season, currently knocking on the door of the Top 100 in the FedEx ATP Rankings at World No. 119. The American made a memorable debut at Roland Garros, where he reached the fourth round after battling past the qualifying rounds and upsetting John Isner and Andreas Sepppi along the way.

His standout Grand Slam performance was rewarded with Korda’s “ultimate match” in the fourth round as he faced eventual champion Rafael Nadal, his childhood idol, on Court Philippe Chatrier.

“When the draw came out after I qualified, I saw there were two qualifier spots right next to him, and I was like ‘Oh, give it to me,’” Korda recalled with a grin. “But I landed in the section above him, so I knew I would have to work for it a little bit now. So for it to come true was an awesome week for me.”

“I remember when we were warming up, they were announcing how many titles he has. I was kind of smiling a bit during that,” he admitted. “But once we started playing, I was fully focused.”


On the eve of his 2021 debut, Korda admitted that he’s already looking beyond making a strong start in Delray Beach, as the 20-year-old set has his sights on making a debut in Milan for the Next Gen ATP Finals.

“It would be huge for me to get there,” he said. “Basically the Top 8 best Next Gen players of the year get to play there, so if you’re playing there you’ve had a great year and you’re doing the right thing. So that’s definitely a big goal of mine this year.”

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No Hard Feelings! Goffin Beats Doubles Partner Herbert, Saves 5 M.P.

  • Posted: Jan 07, 2021

David Goffin got his 2021 ATP Tour campaign off to a memorable start on Thursday at the Antalya Open. The Belgian not only beat his doubles partner this week, Pierre-Hugues Herbert, but did so by saving five match points.

Goffin completed a 3-6, 7-5, 6-0 victory, having saved five match points at 4-5 in the second set. He won nine straight games en route to improving to 6-0 against Herbert in their ATP Head2Head series. Goffin now challenges German qualifier Matthias Bachinger or Nicola Kuhn of Spain.

“It’s always great to start the new year with a tough win, saving match points,” Goffin told “It was definitely tricky to play Pierre. I’m happy with the way I played, especially after the beginning. I stayed in the match and believed until the end.”

Italian Andrea Arnaboldi served for the match against sixth seed Nikoloz Basilashvili at 5-4 in the second set, only to see the Georgian begin his comeback. The former World No. 16 completed a 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 win over two hours and two minutes.

Basilashvili now faces local wild card Altug Celikbilek, who recorded his first ATP Tour match win since June 2019 after a hard-fought 7-6(7), 7-5 win over Kacper Zuk of Poland in one hour and 49 minutes. Celikbilek saved four set points in the first set at 2-5, 3-5 and then at 6/7 in the tie-break.

Eighth-seeded Kazakhstani Alexander Bublik produced a strong service performance to get his 2021 campaign off to a winning start with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Salvatore Caruso of Italy in 68 minutes. He awaits the winner of France’s Tristan Lamasine and Egor Gerasimov of Belarus.

Elsewhere, Italy’s Stefano Travaglia got the better of seventh-seeded Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic 1-6, 6-4, 6-0 and now plays Finn Emil Ruusuvuori, who was a 6-3, 7-6(4) winner over Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic.

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Bryan Brothers On 2021 Doubles Season: 'It's Pretty Wide Open'

  • Posted: Jan 07, 2021

For years, fans and experts alike pointed to Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan as one of if not the doubles teams to watch. But now that they are retired, put the twins on the hot seat.

The American brothers, who are on the outside looking in at the start of an ATP Tour season for the first time in more than two decades, do not believe there will be a dominant doubles force in 2021.

“It’s pretty wide open. There are a lot of new teams. It was surprising to see some of the best teams from last year break up, so I’m interested to see how that chemistry is going to work out,” Mike said. “Some of those pairings have never played before. Some have rejoined and they’re Grand Slam champs from the past, so it’s all going to kick off… and [we will] see who meshes and gets some confidence going into the year.”

Two of the teams the brothers have their sights set on are “new”. But one of those duos, Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares, finished at year-end No. 1 in the FedEx ATP Doubles Team Rankings in 2016.

“Bruno Soares and Jamie Murray were a force to be reckoned with. They finished No. 1 in 2016, won two Slams, then went their separate ways,” Bob said. “Bruno’s back with Jamie. Jamie’s got even more experience now. They’re both getting up there in years. They’ve seen it all, they’ve done it all, so there’s no reason why they can’t hold up a Grand Slam trophy this year.”


Mike agrees with Bob, and they were both surprised in 2019 when Murray and Soares split to end their first team stint.

“They complement each other very well. Bruno’s got the great returns. Murray’s all over the net with just awesome hands. He’s got the chip lob,” Mike said. “They blanket the net and they have a lot of experience. I would say they’re in the hunt for a lot of these tournaments, probably going to win another Grand Slam.”

Brazilian Marcelo Melo will play the Australian Open with Romanian Horia Tecau. But his full-time partner for the year will be Tecau’s former partner, Dutchman Jean-Julien Rojer. The Bryan Brothers believe Melo and Rojer could be an interesting duo, adding that they believe the veterans will be a hard-working team.

“[They are] two guys that have been around a long time. They’ve had success with different partners. They’ve won Slams, both veterans,” Bob said. “You have Melo the tall guy, solid on the returns and solid on the volleys. Rojer is explosive at net and a great athlete. They’re coming together for probably for one of the last partnerships of their career. I look for them to do some damage this year.”


The twins explained why the teams remaining together, especially those that have been together for many years, have an advantage. Mike pointed to Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah, the year-end No. 1 team in 2019, as a duo that should not take long to fire up. The Colombians have been close since childhood.

“I know that when we saw teams break up, we were always salivating because we know it takes time. To have that momentum, to have that shared experience of all those matches together, it bodes well,” Mike said. “Cabal and Farah, they’re going to start off pretty hot I bet. Herbert and Mahut, those are the two teams in my mind that are the favourites [because of their experience together].”

Neither Bryan thinks that one team is a shoe-in to dominate the doubles circuit this year. They believe there are many pairs capable of surging to year-end No. 1. When pushed to predict the 2021 year-end No. 1 team, Mike chose Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury, and Bob selected Cabal and Farah. But as Mike added, any duo could step up.

“The doubles is wide open. I think whoever finishes No. 1 is going to have to win one or two Slams and there are 10 or 15 great teams and it just depends who saves a match point early in a tournament [and then goes on a big run],” Mike said. “It’s going to come down to maybe the Austrralian Open, whoever starts strong.”

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After Eight Surgeries, Christian Harrison Shows He’s Still Standing

  • Posted: Jan 07, 2021

Christian Harrison’s three-set win over 18-year-old upstart Zane Khan in the second round of qualifying at the Delray Beach Open was like a microcosm of his tennis career.

First, there was smooth sailing in the form of a 6-1, 5-2 start. But then came adversity — his opponent stormed back into the match, sending the second set into a tie-break. Harrison made a comeback, just like he always does, saving two set points, before ultimately falling 11-9.

Harrison, 26, then broke serve at 5-5 in the third set. His opponent appeared to be cramping and took a medical timeout before the Louisiana native served for the match at 6-5. But he was broken and was then down a mini-break in the decisive tie-break before he staged yet another big comeback to win it 7/4, capping a thoroughly entertaining two hour, 49 minute win.

Nothing has ever come easy for Harrison — who has endured a bone infection and eight surgeries, including operations on both legs, both hips, his right wrist, and both adductors, but has refused to give up on his tennis dream. The hardships, he says, have made the wins even sweeter.

When asked how many comebacks he’s currently on after his win Wednesday, Harrison, now ranked No. 949, admits he’s lost count. The man has made more comebacks than Rocky Balboa, Apollo Creed, Tom Brady, and Freddy Krueger combined.

“I would say it’s at least six comebacks, I think, where I’ve missed more than six months at a time,” says Harrison, who trains at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. “I’ve never really put it all on paper… I just think it was determination that kept me going.”


Harrison’s win vaults him into the main draw of a tour-level event for the first time since 2018, when he won his opening-round match at the Hall of Fame Open in Newport. Even more important, it provides fuel to his latest comeback, which began last September after a year-and-a half-absence from the tour after he had surgery on his left femur.

Harrison said after the match that despite all of the adversity he’s faced, he never once considered giving up the sport. Last year, he thought that perhaps he might have to focus on playing doubles, with his partner and brother, Ryan. But the more he rehabbed, the more he realised that he still had the game, and the legs, to cover the whole court. During all of the dark times, tennis served as a tonic — being on the court literally made him feel better, it picked him up at times when he wondered if he’d ever be healthy and gave him perspective on what really matters in life.

“In a doctor’s office, you get terrible news and the things you took for granted (assuming you can play tennis forever) are no longer a given,” he says. “Life is tough. You take the simple things for granted.”

He travels, practises and plays with his older brother Ryan, who helped him through the tough times. Like all brothers, they fight occasionally and sometimes need their space. But at tournaments like this one, they try to get hotel rooms next to each other and like to order Uber Eats together.

Harrison will be at Ryan’s next match, and his brother will be at his. They’ve never faced each other on the tour, and won’t meet in the first round but could face each other down the line. “We know the highs and lows, that’s the one thing we can both relate to even if we fight,” Christian says.

Ryan cracked the Top 50 in 2012 and many felt that Christian’s ceiling was even higher before his career was derailed by injuries. Now that Christian’s healthy and still in his prime, he’s poised to finally make a splash in a sport he’s never appreciated more. But he’s not focused on his FedEx ATP Ranking, he says. Having gone through years of medical hell, he’s just happy to be back on court, playing at a high level and having fun after all the tough times.

“I had high expectations during my teenage years, but then things are taken away from you and you want to go back and prove yourself, make a career doing what you love,” he says. “That’s what I want right now. To do well enough to keep playing and have a healthy career and make a living doing what I love.”

Through all the good times and bad, his father and coach, Pat, was his rock on the court, and his mom, Susie, was the one who never missed one of his doctor’s appointments. “Sometimes I took out my emotions too much on them,” he recalls. “Now I get to enjoy success and credit both of them.”

Without that support system in place, he says, he couldn’t have kept his sanity and his tennis dream alive. And on days like Wednesday, when he was facing a hungry young opponent who was hell bent on making a name for himself, Harrison was able to draw strength from a deep reservoir of life experience and perspective.

“Worse things can happen (than losing),” he says. “You always remember that.”

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