Hubert Hurkacz and Christiaan Harrison as well as Sebastian Korda and Cameron Norrie.
ATP 250 Series
Delray Beach Open
Delray Beach Tennis Centre (Hard Outdoor)
Semi-Final Preview- 12-13 January
Hubert Hurkacz (4) (2/9) vs
Christiaan Harrison (29/10)
Hubert Hurkacz has looked every bit the 4th seed on route to this year’s semi-final. The Pole is yet to drop a set thus far and has only surrendered 12 games in total. It really shouldn’t be a surprise given this surface. The big-hitter is well over six foot and seems tailor-made for these brisk conditions. 2019 was a breakthrough year for the Pole. He captured his first title on another North American Hardcourt: he won at the Winston-Salem event. He seemed intent on bringing that form into 2020. He beat the formidable trio of Schwartzman, Thiem and Coric at the ATP Cup. He then reached the semi-final in Adelaide. But he failed to capitalize on that start to the season. His form never really improved in the post-lockdown events. The only saving grace of his season was a season-ending double title at the Paris Masters. You get the sense that Hurkacz is looking for a fast start this season, hoping to eradicate some of last year’s disappointment.
Everybody loves a fairy-tale. And what a fairy-tale it has been thus far for Chris Harrison (the younger brother of PGA journeyman Ryan Harrison). Harrison is a complete outlier, barely registering on the outer regions of the tour. Furthermore, he entered this event off the back of an extensive injury layoff. So little was expected of a man ranked outside the top 700 in the world. But he defied everyone with a shock victory over top seed Cristian Garin: the Chilean was ranked over 700 places above him in the world rankings. All three of his victories have unsurprisingly come against those ranked above him. He is yet to drop a set in the tournament proper, though he did drop one in the qualifying rounds.
This will be the first time that these two would have met (unsurprising given Harrison’s lowly ranking). The American will need to overcome a significant class gulf and win his 6th game this week. Hurkacz just has a game that is tailor made for the job here. Perhaps the most profitable venture would be to back Hurkacz to win in three at 5/2.
Sebastian Korda (10/11) vs
Cameron Norrie (10/11)
It’s little surprise that Sebastian Korda is starting to develop as an exciting young prospect. The 20-year-old American is the son of two former Czech tennis players: Petr Korda was a former Aussie Open Champion. Sisters Jessica and Nelly are both elite LPGA golfers. So, he comes from good stock. The 2018 Aussie Open Junior Champion exploded on the scene towards the end of last year. He defied all expectations with a stunning 4th round run at Roland Garros: he would unfortunately run into clay-court juggernaut Rafa Nadal in the 4th round. He then closed out the season by winning the Eckental Challenger event. Korda is a tall guy who has been able to impose himself on court this week. He did need three sets to beat fellow American Tommy Paul. Korda will need to probably raise his game even more as he enters this semi-final.
Cameron Norrie defied expectations with that gruelling three-set victory over the seemingly rejuvenated Frances Tiafoe. I really thought that Tiafoe was the man to beat in this event. Norrie is a player whose progression was undoubtedly hampered by last year’s Covid upheaval. Norrie actually enjoyed a highly promising 2019 campaign. He reached his one and only ATP Final on the Auckland hardcourts. He also importantly reached his first ATP 500 semi-final on the Acapulco hardcourts: he also would go on to reach the semi-finals in Atlanta. But 2020 was really an anti-climax for the young Brit. He really entered this event on the opposite side of the form spectrum to Frances Tiafoe. But the Brit has looked really strong this week. He demolished 3rd set in emphatic fashion before his herculean effort against Tiafoe.
This will unsurprisingly be the first time these two will have met. Norrie is a fairly seasoned hardcourt player while Korda is something of an unheralded maverick. A fairly classic match-up. At equals odds you have to go for the tried and tested Norrie.