Blake the Favorite at Delray Beach Semifinals

Posted on February 16, 2008

Tickets for a shot at the title are on the line in South Florida on Saturday as the semifinals of the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships take court. This is the first time three Americans have reached the semis of an ATP event since Indianapolis in 2006 (Andy Roddick, James Blake, Robby Ginepri). This is also the third time here that three Americans have reached the semifinals (Todd Martin, David Wheaton and Aaron Krickstein in 1993; Jan-Michael Gambill, Mardy Fish and Robert Kendrick in 2003).

The first semifinal of the day at 2pm local time features No. 3 seed Sam Querrey against qualifier Kei Nishikori. Querrey is playing his first ATP semifinal of 2008 and the second of his career. He reached his first ATP semifinal on the hardcourts of Indianapolis last July, falling to Dmitry Tursunov in straight sets. Querrey’s best result in his three previous ATP main draws of this season came at the Australian Open where he made the third round (beating Tursunov en route but falling to eventual champion Novak Djokovic). Prior to that, he reached the second round of Adelaide but fell first round at Auckland.

Kei Nishikori is playing in his first career ATP semifinal. This is Nishikori’s second event of the year, his first coming at the Miami Challenger in January. The 18-year-old from Japan relocated to Florida at age 14 to train at the Bollettieri Academy. Last year he played his first five ATP events posting a 3-5 mark. He is playing his sixth career ATP main draw this week. He is the first Japanese player to reach an ATP semifinal since Shuzo Matsuoka at Beijing in October 1995.

The 7pm semifinal pits top seed James Blake against wild card Robby Ginepri. Blake is playing in his first ATP semifinal of 2008 and the 26th of his career. He is 20-5 in his first 25, which includes 18-3 on hard, 2-1 on grass and 0-1 on clay. He lost his last hardcourt semifinal, at Stockholm last fall, but prior to that he won 16 straight hardcourt semifinals (in that Stockholm semifinal against Thomas Johansson he had five match points before falling in a third set tie-break).

Ginepri is playing his first ATP semifinal of 2008 and the ninth of his career. He is 2-6 in his first eight, which includes 1-5 on hard and 1-1 on grass. He reached his first two career semifinals on the grass of Newport in 2002 and 2003 (winning the title) and his next six on hard, at Washington in 2004, Indianapolis in 2005 (winning the title), at Cincinnati, the US Open and Madrid in 2005 and at Indianapolis in 2006. He comes into today’s match having lost his last four ATP semis, all on hard. This is Ginepri’s second event of the year, his first coming at the Waikoloa Challenger in January. Ginepri has lost his last eight matches in a row against Top 20 players. His last win over a Top 20 player came against then-World No. 14 David Ferrer in straight sets at AMS Paris in October 2006. (ATP Digital Services)