ATP Delray Beach will run from February 20th to February 26th, and the two headliners for the event are Canada’s Milos Raonic and Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro. The Canadian will be contesting his first event since losing to Rafael Nadal in the 2017 Australian Open quarterfinals. Del Potro will actually be making his season debut. The top-seeded Raonic and 7th-seeded del Potro find themselves on the same side of the 32-player draw.
Raonic, who will open the tournament against a qualifier, does not have a difficult early-round draw. There is a chance that he will meet del Potro in the semifinals but ahead of that round the Canadian can face no one with all that amazing of credentials. Kyle Edmund is the seeded player close to Raonic. However, the Brit hasn’t really been sharp to start the season. That being the case, it is difficult to see Raonic missing out on at least a semifinal appearance at the American hard-court event.
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Del Potro, who is currently ranked 36th, certainly is no stranger to the Delray Beach tournament. The Argentine won the event the first time he played it in 2011, in fact, he ran the tables without dropping a set or without going to a tiebreaker in any match. He looked to do the same thing in 2016 before bumping into Sam Querrey in the semifinals and losing 5-7, 5-7.
But whereas Raonic’s draw looks cushy, the same can’t be said for JMD’s. He has Kevin Anderson up first, a player who is also making his season debut. Del Potro can’t afford to look past Anderson as the South African was in the top ten in the 2015 season. Ahead of the semifinals Delpo could face Querrey again as the four seed in the event is near the Argentine in the draw.
The bottom half of the draw has third-seeded Jack Sock, arguably America’s best hopes for a title. However, 5th-seeded Steve Johnson is also in the draw with a quarterfinal match-up against Sock a possibility. Bernard Tomic is on the bottom half of the draw as well with veteran Ivo Karlovic the second seed in the tournament.
Sleepers in the event are numerous. Borna Coric and Taylor Fritz are the young guns. Each is still finding the net a lot on their passing-shot attempts, but you still can’t take your eyes off of either one of them for a moment. Nikoloz Basilashvili is in the draw for the time being as well, and he’s a better player than many realize. However, the Georgian is also currently in the Memphis draw, and that makes him a withdrawal risk for Delray Beach. Former World No. 2 Tommy Haas is using his protected ranking to get into the event as well. At his age, any tour-level match promises to be challenging for him, and a deep run seems unlikely this upcoming week.
The player under pressure in the event is the top-seeded Canuck. He has no active titles despite a high ranking of World No. 4. Del Potro’s a legitimate tough out, but if Raonic was to lose to any other player in such a low-tiered event, then his goose egg for titles since Brisbane 2016 would be all the more highlighted.