Matija Pecotic became one of the stories of the young season on the ATP Tour by qualifying for his tour-level debut at the age of 33. But the Croatian, who holds a full-time job in finance, was not content just to make the main draw at the Delray Beach Open.
On Tuesday, Pecotic extended his dream run in Florida with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 win against former Top 10 player Jack Sock. After falling behind 0-4 in the opening set and fighting off a break point early in the second, the Princeton and Harvard graduate dominated the second half of the match. He won the final four games of sets two and three, and did not face a break point beyond the third game of the second set.
“I certainly didn’t expect to win, but certainly didn’t come into the match thinking that I’m definitely going to lose,” said Pecotic, who represented Croatia at the inaugural United Cup last month. “You’ve got to be realistic. This is a former Top 10 guy with an incredible amount of tennis experience, with a huge serve. He came out serving 134 [mph] on the first serve. It would be arrogant to think that I’m going to come out and expect to win.
“But I certainly figured if I could sink my teeth into the match and work on the two or three patterns that I prepared before, that I’m going to have a chance. And then let’s see… if I was going to fall under pressure or not be able to serve it out at some point. But I didn’t and I got the win.”
Pecotic hit 10 aces and 30 winners in the two-hour, 10-minute match, saving six of eight break points. He attacked the net 31 times, winning 21 of those points.
The 33-year-old won just three games in the opening round of a Cleveland ATP Tour Challenger event two weeks ago, but now finds himself in the last 16 at the ATP 250 level. He will next face Marcos Giron, who defeated eighth seed Ben Shelton 6-4, 6-4 to close the evening’s play in Delray Beach. Pecotic has already beaten three Americans this week, beginning with Stefan Kozlov and Tennys Sandgren in qualifying.
“I had to leave work early today,” joked Pecotic, whose boss was in his player box. “I had to send an email to the whole team. [My boss] let me off. I’m going to have to ask for another day off tomorrow.”
Also advancing on Tuesday in Delray Beach were Americans J.J. Wolf and Mackenzie McDonald. The ninth-seeded Wolf defeated Ilya Ivashka 7-5, 6-3, while McDonald downed Taro Daniel 6-2, 6-2. Adrian Mannarino joined them in the last 16 with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 win against Daniel Altmaier.