Monday, January 4, 2021

Ten Americans Start 2021 in ATP Delray Beach Main Draw, Khan Joins Kentucky's Draxl in Qualifying; Six US Women Set for WTA 500 in Abu Dhabi

photo credit: Bill Kallenberg/CapturedInAction.com

The draws are out for the ATP 250 in Delray Beach and the WTA 500 in Abu Dhabi with ten American men in the main draw of the Florida tournament, and six American women competing in the United Arab Emirates. 

Defending champion Reilly Opelka, who was expected to compete in the Delray Beach tournament as late as yesterday, is a late scratch, as is Canadian Milos Raonic. That leaves Chile's Cristian Garin as the top seed, with John Isner(Georgia) seeded No. 2. Other seeded Americans include No. 5 Tommy Paul, No. 6 Sam Querrey and No. 8 Francis Tiafoe. 

Sebastian Korda pulled out of the Australian Open qualifying once he was assured of a main draw spot in Delray Beach. Mackenzie McDonald(UCLA) and Bjorn Fratangelo also received entry based on their rankings, while Noah Rubin(Wake Forest), Ryan Harrison and JC Aragone(Virginia) received the main draw wild cards. 

Six Americans are in the 16-player qualifying draw, with those matches set to begin on Tuesday. University of Kentucky sophomore Liam Draxl of Canada, who won a pre-qualifying tournament, received a wild card, as did 18-year-old Zane Khan, who trains in the area. Other Americans in the qualifying draw are Christian Harrison, Alexander Ritschard(Virginia), Donald Young, Kevin King(Georgia Tech) and Stefan Kozlov. 

Qualifying also begins Tuesday in Abu Dhabi, with just one American, but plenty of former collegians, among the competitors. Catherine Harrison(UCLA) will take on another former collegian, Italy's Bianca Turati(Texas) in the first round. Because playing in this tournament precludes competing in the Australian Open qualifying, this provides rare opportunities for lower-ranked players to earn a place in an WTA 500 main draw. Several of those who received entry into the qualifying are primarily doubles specialists, including Ena Shibahara(UCLA) of Japan, Luisa Stefani(Pepperdine) of Brazil and Giuliana Olmos(USC) of Mexico.

2015 NCAA singles finalist Carol Zhao of Canada is back on the tour, after injuries kept the former Stanford All-American out of action for most of the first half of 2019 and all of 2020. 

North Carolina Tar Heel Jamie Loeb, who defeated Zhao in that 2015 NCAA final, made the main draw, despite her ranking of 255. The other US women in the main draw are top seed Sofia Kenin, No. 11 seed Jennifer Brady(UCLA), Coco Gauff, Bernarda Pera and Jessica Pegula. Amanda Anisimova withdrew due to illness after the draw, which required some shuffling of the draw, and delayed its release today. Danielle Collins, who originally had entered, withdrew earlier. 

I haven't been able to pull up the draws from the WTA website, but Wikipedia has posted them here.