As February 2016 approaches a finish line, three big tennis tournaments wrapped up: Delray Beach, Marseille, and Rio de Janeiro. In all three of these tournaments, an unseeded player exceeded expectations and was crowned a champion. The three champions included American Sam Querrey, Australian Nick Kyrgios, and Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas.
In Delray Beach, Sam Querrey got a few lucky breaks. After winning his first match in three sets against Thiemo de Bakker, Querrey was expected to go up against the number one seed from South Africa, Kevin Anderson. However, Anderson retired after one set in the previous round so Querrey was granted with an easier match, winning his second match in straight sets with a score of 6-4, 6-3. In the semifinals two rounds later, Querrey faced Juan Martin del Potro. In del Potro’s first tournament back he reached the semifinals, which is a good sign for his return to the game after multiple surgeries. However, evidently, del Potro did not have the necessary match experience making it easier for Querrey. Querrey defeated the Argentine 7-5, 7-5 making it to the finals. In the finals, it was expected that since Bernard Tomic got knocked out relatively early, Grigor Dimitrov had a clear path at a shot to the championship. This was not the case, as the number four seed ultimately was defeated in the semifinals at the hands of Rajeev Ram. Querrey ultimately defeated Ram 6-4, 7-6 to win the Delray Beach in what was a highly unanticipated final.
Marseille was no different in the sense of an unseeded player getting the championship. Nick Kyrgios had a phenomenal tournament. The Australian tore through the draw defeating the number two, three, and four seeds on the way to the title. To make matters even more impressive, he did it without dropping a set. Kyrgios won his opening two rounds and then matched up against Richard Gasquet. Kyrgios obliterated the French player 6-0, 6-4. To finish off the rest of the tournament, Kyrgios defeated the two seed Tomas Berdych 6-4, 6-2 and then went on to beat Marin Cilic, the four seed, 6-2, 7-6. The 20-year-old had a terrific week in France and time will tell if he keeps this level of play up and continues the success he has had in Marseille.
Rio de Janeiro was not very exciting or at least not in the matchups Pablo Cuevas faced. Cuevas faced off against qualifiers and wild cards and ultimately did not have too tough of a draw. His hardest match was against Rafael Nadal in a three-set victory. Nadal was the one seed, and although he manages to keep his ranking very high, the world number five is clearly not the same player. Although he remains in the top five, the other four are clearly playing at higher levels than Nadal has currently.
With injuries and playing worse tennis, a lot of top guys did not play or did not achieve the results they were looking for this week. On the other hand, Nick Kyrgios is a threat on tour and needs to be watched carefully after coming off of a huge week in France. With a week like this, it will be no surprise to see him rack up more points and climb the rankings. Kyrgios will continue to challenge the top players as the year progresses. February is almost over and lots of unseeded players are getting the job done as they surprise the tennis world with their unanticipated wins. These players consist of Sam Querrey, Nick Kyrgios, and Pablo Cuevas.