Sebastian Korda’s ATP Tour level debut ended with a first-round defeat to Frances Tiafoe on Monday night, but it was still a good showing for the 17-year-old American.
Tiafoe prevailed, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2, in a scrappy affair at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum that featured a lot of aces, service winners and service return errors, mixed in with the odd 15-hit rally.
Tiafoe, considered to be one of the bright up-and-coming Americans, proved to be a bit too much for Korda, who last month won the Australian Open boys title and has ascended to the No. 1 junior in the world. Korda may have the tools to be the brightest up-and-comer.
He was given a wild card into the New York Open, playing against Tour level pros on Long Island, where 26 years earlier his father and coach Petr won the Hamlet Cup at Commack.
Nishikori facing Rubin
When Kei Nishikori takes on Merrick’s Noah Rubin Tuesday night, it will be his first ATP Tour level event since last August.
A severe right wrist injury forced him to the sidelines for the better part of six months, causing him to miss last year’s U.S. Open and the Australian Open at the start of this season. He’s eased his way back into the game by playing in two Challenger events, winning in Dallas last week.
Nishikori is a former No. 4 player in the world who lost in the final of the 2014 U.S. Open to Marin Cilic. He has 11 ATP Tour titles, including four at the Memphis Open, which is what the New York Open used to be until it was moved to Long Island this year.
Ranked 27th, Nishikori is expecting to take small strides back into the upper echelon of the game.
“I chose Challengers because there were no ATP Tour events after Australia,” Nishikori said. “My wrist wasn’t ready playing Australia, the conditions [there], five sets. I chose to play the two Challengers because it was better than practicing for two weeks.”
He never has played Rubin, but two weeks ago they practiced together. They are the first match on Tuesday’s night session.
“I know he is good player. He is kind of same height, we play kind of similar,” Nishikori said. “I didn’t know he’s from here so he many support here. I try enjoy a match at the tour level.”
New look in courts
The two black courts that the Open is using at the Coliseum are a first for the ATP Tour. They were introduced at the Laver Cup in Vienna last year.
“I don’t know if you see better, I think it is the same,” said Bjorn Fratangelo, who won his qualifying match over Alexander Bublik on what is designated the Stadium Court. “It’s just different. There’s no place in the world that has a black court to practice on. It’s unique and cool for the fans to see a different color. I think the venue is awesome and it’s nice to play in an arena like this.”
For the record, the color is more gray than black.
The Coliseum is home to the Long Island Nets, the Nets D League team. But the Nets roster doesn’t have anything on the roster of tennis players here this week. Ivo Karlovic, who beat Jared Donaldson on Monday, is 6-11. John Isner is 6-10, Kevin Anderson is 6-8, Sam Querrey is 6-6 and Sebastian Korda is 6-5.