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Querrey, Koubek Make Winning Starts; Dent Qualifies

Delray Beach, U.S.A.

American Taylor Dent survived the qualifying rounds with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Giovanni Lapennti.© Camera SportAmerican Taylor Dent survived the qualifying rounds with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Giovanni Lapennti.

Second-seeded American Sam Querrey opened his title bid Monday at the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships with a 7-6(3), 6-4 win over former Top 10 player Guillermo Canas. Querrey previously defeated the Argentine last year in the Las Vegas semi-finals en route to his first ATP World Tour title.

The 34th-ranked Querrey prevailed in a tie-break after both players dropped serve twice in the opening set, and then needed just one break of serve in the second set to close out the match at the ATP World Tour 250 tennis tournament. The 21-year-old Californian now improves to a 9-5 season record, highlighted by a runner-up finish in January at Auckland (l. to del Potro) and back-to-back quarter-finals at San Jose (l. to Blake) and Memphis (l. to Roddick).

He will look to reach the quarter-finals for a third straight week when he faces Belgian Christophe Rochus, who advanced after defeating Croatian Roko Karanusic 6-3, 6-4. Though Rochus could not save the two break points he faced on serve, he succeeded in converting four of his nine chances during the 64-minute match. The Belgian No. 2 was also a quarter-finalist last week in Memphis (l. to Hewitt).

Austrian Stefan Koubek made a winning return in his first Delray Beach appearance in six years, converting all three of his break points against American Bobby Reynolds to post the 6-4, 6-3 victory in one hour. It marked Koubek’s first match win at the ATP World Tour 250 tennis tournament since winning the hard-court title in 2000 (d. Calatrava). He had lost in first-round action the following three years.

The 32-year-old Koubek, who reached a career-high No. 20 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings in March 2000, is making a comeback from a back injury that sidelined him for six months last season. He will attempt to reach his first ATP World Tour quarter-final since September 2007 at Mumbai when he faces the winner between No. 8 seed Yen-Hsun Lu and Lleyton Hewitt. Former World No. 1 Hewitt won the Delray Beach title in 1999 when the event was contested on green clay.

Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez held No. 5 seed Steve Darcis to a winless season record, defeating the Belgian 6-3, 6-3 in one hour and 17 minutes. Darcis, Belgium’s top tennis player at a No. 49 ranking, has now lost in the first round of his five ATP World Tour appearances this season, including last week as the defending champion at Memphis (l. to eventual champion Roddick).

Garcia-Lopez, a quarter-finalist earlier this month at the hard-court tournament in Johannesburg, is playing in Delray Beach for the fourth straight year. He made his best showing on his event debut, upsetting World No. 9 Andre Agassi to reach the semi-finals (l. to Malisse).

American Robert Kendrick fired 19 aces in his opener against Chilean Paul Capdeville and won all five of his break point chances in the final two sets to earn a 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 win in one hour and 28 minutes. The 29 year old, who currently resides in Orlando, is making his seventh straight appearance in Delray Beach. He was a semi-finalist in 2003 (l. to Gambill).

Also on Monday, sixth-seeded Frenchman Florent Serra notched his first match win in Delray Beach by defeating Finn Jarkko Nieminen 6-3, 7-6(5). Serra improves to a 3-0 head-to-head record against Nieminen.

Big-serving American Taylor Dent (pictured above) survived the qualifying rounds with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Giovanni Lapennti. Dent faces German Mischa Zverev in the first round of the main draw.

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