DELRAY BEACH, February 21, 2016
For the eighth time in the history of the Delray Beach Open, dating back to its inception in 1993, at least two US-Americans made it into the semi-finals and both of them won their matches on Saturday to reach the tournament’s climax.
Rajeev Ram upset world number 28 and highest remaining seed in the draw Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 6-3. The 31-year-old Denver native didn’t face a break point, converting three of his own to gain is third win over the Bulgarian in as many meetings in one hour and 12 minutes.
“I felt calm at the start of the match, I had a good game plan going out,” Ram said. “Dimitrov made some adjustments, but I thought I was pretty good the whole way. I wanted to make sure I was on offence a lot. I didn’t want to run side-to-side chasing his forehand.”
“He was returning well and putting me in uncomfortable positions,” Dimitrov said. “There was just nothing out there on my side, but that’s just one tennis match. Onto the next week.”
Sam Querrey secured his final spot by ending the comeback bid of Juan Martin Del Potro, who is playing his first tournament since the ATP Masters 1000 in Indian Wells. The world number 61 from Las Vegas hit 10 aces and won 88% of his first service points to seal a 7-5, 7-5 victory in one hour and 20 minutes.
“That’s the best I’ve played so far and I did a good job of taking care of my own serve,” said Querrey, who notched his first win over Del Potro in the pair’s third meeting. “I got a couple late breaks in each set. There were a couple chances here and there and I managed to get those.
“It’s always exciting to make a final. I’ve known Rajeev for 11 years. He’s got that Pete Sampras flat forehand and will serve and volley. It’s a different game from many guys. He’ll chip the ball around. That will be tough, especially in the day.”
Ram and Querrey will face each other for the fifth time with the latter leading 3-1 in head to head records. Querrey also won the last encounter between the two in the semi-finals in Los Angeles in 2012.
Meanwhile, Del Potro was pleased with his comeback week in Delray Beach. He did not drop a set en route to the stage of the final four.
“I always try to win, that’s for sure,” Del Potro said following his loss to Querrey. “But this week I won more than a tournament. I’m so glad to play tennis again.
“Sam was really smart playing against me tonight,” Del Potro added. “He served really well. I didn’t have a rhythm, but that’s normal because I was tired. I couldn’t move fast on court and I missed too many forehands and he played at a higher level than me tonight.”
The 27-year-old Argentine, who dropped in the ATP rankings to number 1042 will continue his comeback trail at the ATP Masters 1000 event in Indian Wells. He will enter the draw with a wild card.
“I can confirm I will play in Indian Wells, which is good news for me. I have a few weeks to rest and to train. I will be there to play another tournament and I’m looking forward to the future. I can start to make a plan to play more tournaments. I have many positive things to take from this.”