Australia’s Nick Kyrgios was beaten yesterday by Radu Albot, after a ridiculous dispplay of antics. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
Australia’s Nick Kyrgios was beaten yesterday by Radu Albot, after a ridiculous dispplay of antics. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)|Associated Press
Tennis

Tennis: Neal Abrams picks three of today’s Delray quarterfinals

Aussie Nick Kyrgios is out after wacky behavior and poor play

Neal Abrams

Neal Abrams

Delray Beach Open
Men’s Quaterfinals

Juan Martin del Potro over Mackie McDonald
Last night Juan Martin del Potro made Reilly Opelka look exactly like what he is: a one-dimensional player. Del Potro overcame the 6’11” American youngster in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4, and looked like he’s the odds-on favorite to win this tournament. His serve is cracking, his legendary forehand is smoking, and even his backhand, which he has struggled with over the years because of all his wrist injuries and resultant surgeries, looked better. Instead of being relegated to simply slicing and pushing it, he hit his two-hander with force and power, and was able to control it with topspin, which was a notable improvement. Now he plays another young American, Mackie McDonald, the former UCLA Bruin who won the NCAA Men’s singles title and is making a name for himself on the Tour. McDonald plays a very mature all-court game, and presents an entirely different set of problems for del Potro to solve. But the 4th ranked, and top-seeded Argentinian will simply impose his rather straight-forward game on the game ex-Bruin, and come away with a straight-forward win.

Radu Albot over Stevie Johnson
I’ve seen almost everything there is to see on a tennis court over the past number of decades, but I’ve never seen anything close to what I witnessed yesterday from the obviously troubled Australian Nick Kyrgios in his match with Radu Albot. For his own good, someone should Baker Act the volatile nut from Down Under while they’re in Florida so mental health professionals can take a look at what’s under that crazy hood of his. I was so impressed that Albot was able to ignore all the nuttiness and focus on the task at hand, that I think the Moldavian should be able to figure out that Johnson, a two-time NCAA champion out of USC, simply can’t hit a backhand, and come up with a game-plan on how to attack it. I think that Albot can pressure that side early and often enough to take control of this match and take down Johnson, who broke his nine-match losing streak that stretched back to last August, with his two wins here. Frankly, the rest of Johnson’s game is superior to Albot’s, and Johnson is the better player. But that one flaw is fatal, and will prove to be the decider here.

John Isner over Adrian Mannarino
This week Isner has quietly and efficiently ground up both Peter Polansky and Lukas Lacko in straight sets. He’s done what he does; serves howitzers and follows it up with killer forehands, when necessary. Mannarino has had a really good week, taking out Brayden Schnur, the rising Canadian, and Denis Istomin, the veteran from Uzbekistan, both in straight sets. But when Isner serves well, it really doesn’t matter how well his opponent plays. The match becomes a referendum on whether an opponent can put four or more of Isner’s serves per game into play, and more often than not, the answer is “no”. I don’t see a different answer here, because Isner is focused and serving well, and that’s all he needs.

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