Back in action for the first time since his third-round Australian Open run, World No. 43 Sebastian Korda got back to winning ways on Tuesday at the Delray Beach Open by VITACOST.com. In his native Florida, the 21-year-old eased past Thanasi Kokkinakis, 6-4, 6-1.
It was also Kokkinakis’ first match since the Australian swing, during which he won his maiden ATP Tour singles title (Adelaide 2) and his first Grand Slam title alongside Nick Kyrgios in the Australian Open doubles event.
On a windy night, the fifth-seeded American was crisp in his return as he showcased his versatile game. In addition to a largely attacking game plan, he frustrated his opponent with some pesky retrieving as the breeze made winners hard to come by.
“I’m a Florida boy, so I’m used to this wind,” the Bradenton-born Korda said, before thanking the crowd.
Korda won exactly half of his return points in the match (26/52) as Kokkinakis made just 52 per cent of his first serves. But even when the Aussie made his first delivery, he won only 59 per cent of those points, compared to a healthy season average of 79 per cent.
The American was comfortable throughout, starting with an early 3-0 lead and responding well after Kokkinakis levelled the opener at 4-all. Korda again secured an early break to lead 3-0 in the second, and never let his opponent back in the match. He dropped just three points on four service games in the second set.
He next faces Italy’s Andreas Seppi, a 7-5, 6-4 winner of Peter Gojowczyk on Monday.
“We’ve played a lot in the last couple of years. I have a pretty good record against him,” said Korda, who beat Seppi at Roland Garros in 2020 and in Parma in 2021. Their second-round meeting will be their first on a hard court.
“Hopefully I can play some good tennis, and a little less wind,” Korda said.
Adrian Mannarino was the only other seeded player in action Tuesday, and he lived up to that billing with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Liam Broady. The seventh seed will next face American Brandon Nakashima, who got past Denis Kudla, 6-1, 6-1, on Monday.
Four other Americans joined Korda in the winners’ circle, capped off by Jack Sock with a 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over Daniel Altmaier in Tuesday’s nightcap. After reaching the Dallas second round in his first 2022 tour-level event last week, the former World No. 8 can book first quarter-final appearance on the young season with a win over Dallas champion Reilly Opelka, the second seed in Delray, on Thursday.
Stefan Kozlov won the only other three-setter of the day, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, over lucky loser Emilio Gomez. The Florida resident was set to face sixth seed Jenson Brooksby, but the Dallas Open finalist was replaced by Gomez after a late withdrawal.
Dallas semi-finalist Marcos Giron defeated compatriot Tennys Sandgren, 7-5, 6-3, while Mitchell Krueger was a 6-2, 6-4 winner over Jordan Thompson. Sam Querrey could not join his compatriots in the second round after a 6-1, 7-6(5) defeat to Denis Istomin.