Blake Returns from Davis Cup Tonight in Delray Beach, The Donald Also in Action

Posted on February 12, 2008

First round action continues on Tuesday at the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships in Florida with ten Americans, featured led by top seed and 2007 finalist James Blake, No. 3 seed Sam Querrey, No. 6 seed Vince Spadea and No. 8 seed Mardy Fish. Thirteen of the top 17 Americans are playing in the singles main draw this week.

Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller opens against American wild card Jesse Levine in the first match on Stadium. Muller, 24, reached the Delray Beach quarterfinals in his only other event appearance in 2006 (l. to eventual champ Tommy Haas). He is looking for his first win of the season after losing his opener in Chennai (l. to Xavier Malisse). Muller finished 2007 with back-to-back runner-up efforts at Challenger events in Rennes and Kolding. Levine, 20, went 2-1 in his debut last year but did not advance past the round robin stage. The Canadian-born, Boca Raton resident received a wild card into the Australian Open and won in his debut (d. Martin Vassallo Arguello). He has a 3-6 career record at the ATP level. He finished the 2007 season with Challenger titles at Nashville and Champaign.

Eighth-seeded American Mardy Fish takes on Italian qualifier Marco Crugnola in his first round match. Fish, 26, has a 6-4 record in Delray Beach, and has only advanced to the quarterfinals once previously – when he reached the 2003 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. Crugnola, 24, is ranked No. 399 and is making his ATP-level debut. Last year, he reached a Futures final in Italy and the semifinals at the Sarajevo Challenger.

Sam Querrey, the No. 3 seed, faces Russian Yuri Schukin for the first time. Querrey, 20, compiled a 2-1 record in his Delray Beach debut last year 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 year in a row (l. to Novak Djokovic). Last year, he jumped off to a 12-7 start in the first three months including quarterfinal showings at Memphis and Las Vegas. Schukin, 28, is making his event debut and is looking to win his first match at the ATP-level since last September when he reached the Bucharest quarterfinals as a qualifier. He won three Challenger titles last year at Geneva, Dresden and Napoli.

Sixth seed Vince Spadea confronts Denis Gremelmayr for the third straight tournament. Spadea defeated the German 9-7 in the fifth set in the Australian Open second round and then in straight sets in the quarterfinals of the Waikoloa Challenger en route to the final (l. to Yen-Hsun Lu). Spadea, 33, is playing in Delray Beach for a record 11th time and has a 17-10 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. Gremelmayr, 26, is making his first appearance in Delray Beach. He won two Challenger titles in his home country last year (Dusseldorf, Eckental), but went 0-4 in ATP-level play. He snapped his winless streak by winning his first round match at the Australian Open (d. Sergio Roitman) as a qualifier.

Top seed James Blake takes a 1-0 record into his meeting against Robert Kendrick, having defeated his compatriot in round robin action last year in Delray Beach. Blake, 28, has a 5-3 event record and finished as runner-up to Xavier Malisse last year. He has a 5-2 record for 2008, achieving his best finish at the Aussie Open by reaching the quarterfinals for the 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. Kendrick, 28, has a 5-5 record in Delray Beach and reached his first career ATP semifinal in his event debut in 2003 (l. to Jan-Michael Gambill). He finished 2007 at a year-end best No. 106 with a 36-12 Challenger record and three titles (Dallas, Calabasas, Knoxville). He reached the semifinals at the Dallas Challenger two weeks ago, but won his last ATP-level match last October in Tokyo.

In another all-American opener, Donald Young meets qualifier Amer Delic for the second time. Young posted his first career ATP-level match win last August in New Haven against Delic, prevailing 6-4 in the third set of their first round match. His only other match win at the ATP-level came at the 2007 US Open, when he defeated Australia’s Chris Guccione. Young, 18, comes into his Delray Beach debut at a career-high ranking of No. 95. He was the youngest player to finish in the Top 100 last year, and climbed 386 positions from the previous year by putting together solid Challenger results (34-14 mark) with one title (Aptos) and four other finals. Delic, 25, has a 2-3 event record with his best result the second round in 2004 (l. to Mario Ancic). He opened 2008 by qualifying into the Australian Open and reaching the second round (l. to Juan Monaco), snapping an ATP-level winless streak dating back to last June at Wimbledon. Delic also won the Dallas Challenger two weeks ago (d. Stephane Bohli). (ATP Digital Services)