By Marvin Glassman, Contributing Reporter
DELRAY BEACH, FLORIDA – Hubert Hurkacz became the first tennis player from Poland to have won the Delray Beach Open when he defeated upcoming American Sebastian Korda 6-3, 6-3 in the 68 minute dramatic final played on January 13th at the Delray Beach Tennis Stadium.
Although the match was not a long three setter, the 2021 Delray Beach Open was memorable, featuring changes of momentum and plenty of lobs and volleys in long points between the two players.
Korda began the final by racing to leads of 2-0 and 3-1 by breaking serve on Hurkacz in the second game of the first set. However, Hurkacz cut down on his unforced errors and won long drawn out points, breaking Korda twice, in winning the next five games in a row to win the first set 6-3.
“Sebastian [Korda] started well and I was fortunate to have raised the level of my game to compete and win the first set,” said the 23-year-old Hurkacz following his victory.
Korda, composed in the second set, fired off backhand winners to lead the second set 2-1. However, during the changeover following the third game Korda called the trainer to tend to his left thigh and was grimacing while lying on the stadium floor during his injury time out.
When play resumed, Korda was noticeably distraught, and lost the next three games in a row, including a break of serve that gave Hurkacz a 4-2 lead.
Hurkacz continued his momentum by holding serve twice to emerge victorious to win his second career title on the pro tennis circuit. “It is too bad he [Korda] was not 100 percent fit today. His game is there and, being only twenty years old, he will be holding more tennis trophies in the future,” said Hurkacz.
Earlier on January 13th, the doubles championship was won by the team of Ariel Behar of Uruguay and Gonzalo Escobar of Ecuador, who defeated brothers Christian and Ryan Harrison of the United States in a close match, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (4), 10-6 in a back and forth match that featured two tie breakers.
Behar/Escobar were especially brilliant in saving nine break points from the Harrson brothers to claim their title. “We were elated by coming from behind to win today. I want to thank my partner and the crowd to bring out our highest quality of tennis today,” said Behar at the trophy presentation.
The 29th edition of the Delray Beach Open will be historically remembered as the first pro tennis event in Florida to be played during the pandemic. The staff and volunteers offered fans a healthy environment by limiting spectators to less than 2,000 per session at the 8,000 seat Delray Beach Stadium.
Before entering the stadium, players, staff, spectators and volunteers all had their temperatures checked and followed medical protocol to insure that all were safe at the weeklong event, which began on January 4th.
Volunteer ushers were outstanding in citing fans without masks to put them on instantly, as all had to wear masks in the stadium, except for eating and drinking.
The competition was notable for multiple upsets of top ranked players, such as Korda defeating top ranked American John Isner 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 in the quarter-finals.
Hurkacz was memorable throughout the week, not dropping a set with straight set victories over four opponents to win the singles championship.
Next year, the Delray Beach Open will be taking place February 11th-20th at Delray Beach Stadium, for updates and tickets, go to www.yellowtennisball.com.