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In 2020, Delray Beach teen Victor Lilov was a hitting partner at the Delray Beach Open, looking ahead to what might be.
“I was watching a lot of matches of the pros, imagining myself being able to one day play there,” Lilov said. “I have a ways to go before becoming an ATP professional, but I am happy to have given myself the chance to play in an ATP event at this age.”
Lilov rallied for a three-set victory and punched his ticket for an opportunity to play in front of his home fans in the upcoming Delray Beach Open by VITACOST.com.
Dropping the first set 6-0 was no problem for the 17-year-old Lilov as he stormed back for a three-set victory to claim a wild card for qualifying at the Delray Beach Open at the first of two Survivor Series events.
“I am very happy to have won the (Survivor Series) tournament as I have now allowed myself to play in the qualifying of an ATP 250 event next February,” he said.
Lilov came through the 56-player field, clinching the final 0-6, 6-2, 10-5 over Canadian Liam Draxl. It was the third three-set win in the five matches Lilov played to earn the spot in February’s qualifying draw.
“I started the tournament rather poorly, but when I got to the quarterfinals, I started playing much better and much closer to my level,” he said. “I had some tough opponents in the later stages of the tournament but managed a way through.”
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Currently ranked No. 6 in the ITF Junior rankings after adding a U.S. Open quarterfinal to his Wimbledon runner-up finish this summer, Lilov is now just two wins in the qualifying tournament from making his ATP Tour debut in February’s Delray Beach Open.
“The Wimbledon run honestly helped me in many ways with my tennis,” he said. “Before that tournament, I hadn’t had a good result in juniors since the 14s and I was ranked (No.) 34 in the world. Getting the finals really boosted my self-belief and also gave my junior ranking a good boost as well. The junior ranking has been important so I could get accepted into lower-level professional events.”
“I have played quite a few professional tournaments this fall,” he said, “and I think that experience helped me improve my game a lot and gave me confidence in my base game, which in turn helped me find a way [in the Survivor Series event].”
After winning last year’s Survivor Series, the 19-year-old Draxl was bidding to be the fifth player to twice earn the qualifying wild card. Playing at the University of Kentucky, Draxl finished last season as the No. 1-ranked college player, earning him National Player of the Year honors.
A second opportunity for any player to earn a wild card to join the ATP qualifying field will take place Jan. 1 to 4 in a UTR event at Pro World Tennis Academy in Delray Beach. Players may register at app.universaltennis.com/events/27457.
The Delray Beach Open will take place Feb. 11 to 20 and will feature both an ATP 250 tournament as well as an ATP Champions Tour event.