Americans Blake, Fish, Querrey In Charge at Delray Beach

Posted on February 15, 2008

Quarterfinal action takes place Friday at the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships with six Americans – No. 1 James Blake, No. 3 Sam Querrey, No. 6 Vince Spadea, No. 8 Mardy Fish, Bobby Reynolds and wild card Robby Ginepri – among the eight singles players standing.

This marks the first time six Americans have reached the quarterfinals of an ATP event since Memphis in 2003 when the quarterfinalists included Taylor Dent, Andy Roddick, Brian Vahaly, Vince Spadea, Mardy Fish and Robby Ginepri. Dent defeated Roddick in that final. The only time six Americans reached the quarterfinals of the Delray Beach event was in 1993 when the tournament was held on red clay at Coral Springs. The quarterfinalists that year were Todd Martin, David Wheaton, Aaron Krickstein, Alex O’Brien, Bryan Shelton and Patrick McEnroe. Martin defeated Wheaton in that final.

In the first match on Stadium, Japanese qualifier Kei Nishikori meets American Bobby Reynolds. Nishikori, 18, compiled a 3-5 record in five ATP tournaments last year. He made his ATP debut as a qualifier in Los Angeles, and the following week qualified into the Indianapolis main draw and reached the quarterfinals (l. to eventual champion Dmitry Tursunov). Nishikori moved to the Florida at 14 years of age to train at the Bollettieri Academy. Reynolds, 25, saved one match point in his second round match against Diego Hartfield to reach his first ATP quarterfinal since Washington in August 2005 (l. to Tomas Berdych). He played primarily on the Challenger circuit last year, compiling a 41-26 match record and winning the title at Naples. Prior to this week, his last ATP win came in 2006 at Queen’s. Reynolds is making his second appearance at Delray Beach; he lost his first round match in 2006.

Sam Querrey, the No. 3 seed, meets sixth seed Vince Spadea for the third time. Their two previous meetings came on North American hard courts in 2006 with Spadea winning in San Jose and Querrey in Los Angeles. Querrey, 20, is appearing in his first quarterfinal at Delray Beach. Last year in his event debut, he compiled a 2-1 record but did not advance past the round robin stage. The third-ranked American player at No. 62 in South African Airways ATP Rankings (behind No. 6 Andy Roddick, No. 12 James Blake) reached the third round at the Australian Open for the second straight year (l. to Novak Djokovic). Last year, he advanced to the quarterfinals or better at four ATP tournaments: the semifinals at Indianapolis and quarterfinals at Memphis, Las Vegas and AMS Cincinnati. Spadea, 33, is playing in Delray Beach for a record 11th time and has a 19-10 event mark. He reached the final in 2004 (l. to Ricardo Mello) and the semifinals the last three years, losing to the eventual champion each time. He has enjoyed a solid start to 2008, reaching the Adelaide quarterfinals (l. to Jarkko Nieminen), Australian Open third round (l. to David Ferrer) and final at the Waikoloa Challenger (l. to Yen-Hsun Lu).

Eighth-seeded American Mardy Fish faces fellow American Robby Ginepri, against whom he has a 1-2 ATP record. Ginepri won their two encounters in 2005, on hard courts in Memphis and clay in Houston, while Fish won their last meeting in 2006 at Wimbledon. Fish, 26, has an 8-4 record in Delray Beach, and will be appearing in the quarterfinals for the second time in five event appearances. He also reached this stage in 2003 when he went on to reach the final (l. to Jan-Michael Gambill). He finished 2007 in the Top 50 (No. 39) for fourth time in last five years highlighted by a strong start, winning 12 of his first 16 matches through February including semifinals at Auckland and Memphis and the quarterfinals at the Australian Open and San Jose. He has a 4-2 record this season and reached the third round at the Australian Open (l. to Jarkko Nieminen). Ginepri, 25, is making his first main draw appearance of the 2008 season. The former World No. 15, who has slipped to No. 169 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings, was relegated to the qualifying rounds during the Australian Open swing. Monday’s win (d. Mathieu Montcourt) marked his first at the ATP-level since last October at AMS Madrid (d. Jurgen Melzer in first round), and also his first in Delray Beach; he lost in the first round in his only previous event appearance in 2006. Ginepri is appearing in his first ATP quarterfinal since Lyon on October 27, 2006 (l. to Xavier Malisse). He last reached an ATP semifinal in 2006 at Indianapolis.

Top seed James Blake defeated his quarterfinal opponent, Russian Igor Kunitsyn, in their only previous meeting last year in San Jose. Blake, 28, has a 7-3 event record and finished as runner-up to Xavier Malisse last year. He has a 7-2 record for 2008, achieving his best finish at the Australian Open where he reached the quarterfinals for the first time (l. to Roger Federer). Last year, he won two titles (Sydney, New Haven) in five finals (Delray Beach, Los Angeles, AMS Cincinnati) and compiled the third most wins on hard courts with 41-14 mark. Kunitsyn, 26, is making his third appearance in Delray Beach and went winless (0-3) the last two years. He reached the quarterfinals with straight-sets wins over Benjamin Becker and Max Mirnyi. Last year, he achieved a personal-best 16 match wins and reached three ATP quarterfinals at Adelaide, Indianapolis and Beijing. He is appearing in his first ATP tournament of this season. (ATP Digital Services)