Sunday, November 18, 2018

Zverev stuns Djokovic for title; Bryan, 40, sets record

   Even though he's only 21, Alexander Zverev has long been touted as a future Grand Slam champion.
   The 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) German reached his first major quarterfinal this year and could go further in 2019, perhaps all the way.
   One day after beating second-seeded Roger Federer in straight sets, the third-seeded Zverev shocked top seed and five-time champion Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-3 today to win the Nitto ATP Finals in London.
   Zverev, who began working with International Tennis Hall of Famer Ivan Lendl in August in an effort to improve his Grand Slam results, became the youngest ATP Finals champion since Djokovic 10 years ago at 21.
   Zverev also became the first player to defeat Djokovic and Federer in the tournament, and the first to beat the top two seeds in the semifinals and final of the event since Andre Agassi in 1990.
   "This is the biggest title of my career so far," Zverev, who had lost to Djokovic 6-4, 6-1 on Wednesday in a round-robin match, told reporters. "This trophy means a lot, everything, to all the players. I mean, you only have so many chances of winning it. You play against the best players only. How I played today, how I won it, for me it's just amazing."
   Djokovic, who had won 35 of his previous 37 matches, was trying to tie Federer's record of six ATP Finals titles.
   "(Zverev) had big serves. I wasn't returning well," said Djokovic, who returned to No. 1 this month after undergoing right elbow surgery in February. "I wasn't making him move too much. I was making way too many unforced errors.
   "From 4-4 in the first set, my game fell apart. But if we put things in perspective, it has been an amazing year and a great comeback."
   Zverev pocketed $2,509,000, and Djokovic collected $1,432,000.
   ATP Finals doubles -- Since pairing for the first time in June, Mike Bryan and Jack Sock have won three titles.
   And we're not talking Umag, Winston-Salem and Chengdu.
   We're talking Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and the Nitto ATP Finals.
   Bryan (Stanford, 2017-18) and Sock of the United States completed a dream half-season with a 5-7, 6-1 [13-11] victory over Frenchmen Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut in the title match of the ATP Finals.
   Bryan and Sock, seeded fifth, saved a championship point at 10-11 in the match tiebreaker and converted their sixth championship point when Herbert double-faulted. Herbert and Mahut, the eighth seeds and this year's French Open champions, had routed Bryan and Sock 6-2, 6-2 in 53 minutes on Friday in round-robin play.
   Bryan, 40, became the oldest champion in the history of the ATP Finals and the sixth player to win the title with at least two partners. It was the fifth crown in the tournament for Bryan, who won the others with twin Bob Bryan, and first for Sock, the singles champion in the $100,000 Tiburon (Calif.) Challenger in 2012 and the doubles runner-up in the $100,000 Sacramento Challenger in 2011 with countryman Nicholas Monroe.
   Bob, who's recovering from August hip surgery, and Mike plan to reunite next year. They have won a record 16 Grand Slam men's doubles titles together but none since the 2014 U.S. Open.
   "I've had a magical partnership with Jack, but his No. 1 focus has always been singles," Mike said in a New York Times story published Tuesday. "He knows he was just filling in until Bob comes back."
   Mike Bryan and Sock became the first team to win Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in the same season since Jonas Bjorkman of Sweden and Todd Woodbridge of Australia in 2003.
   Herbert and Mahut were bidding to become the first French team to win the ATP Finals since Michael Llodra and Fabrice Santoro in 2005.
   Bryan and Sock shared $479,000; Herbert and Mahut split $279,00.
   ATP Challenger Tour -- Second-seeded Bradley Klahn, a 28-year-old Stanford graduate, beat wild card Roy Smith, a sophomore at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (4) in a matchup of American left-handers to win the $150,000 Oracle Challenger Series -- Houston.
   The match was moved indoors because of rain.
   Klahn won his seventh Challenger singles title, his second this year and the biggest of his career. He rose 20 places to No. 77, 14 spots below his career high in 2014. Klahn underwent his second operation for a herniated disc in his back in 2015.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Zverev booed after beating Fed; Bryan in doubles final

Alexander Zverev, shown in 2016, said he was "really upset"
by the London crowd's reaction after he beat Roger Federer
in the semifinals of the ATP Finals. Photo by Paul Bauman
   For the second time in less than three months, a young player was booed after defeating an icon in a big tournament.
   Third-seeded Alexander Zverev toppled second-seeded Roger Federer 7-5, 7-6 (5) today to reach the final of the Nitto ATP Finals in London.
   Zverev, a 21-year-old German, halted play after hitting a second serve at 4-4 in the tiebreaker when a ballboy accidentally dropped a ball during the point. According to the rules, the point must be replayed. With another first serve, the 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Zverev fired an ace.
   The pro-Federer crowd at O2 Arena thought Zverev, the son of the former Soviet pro with the same name, was using gamesmanship.
   "I was a little bit sad at the end with the booing and reaction of the crowd," Zverev, the first German since Boris Becker in 1996 to reach the title match of the ATP Finals, told reporters. "I was very emotional afterwards. The booing went into cheering kind of afterwards, which kind of helped me.
   "I was really upset afterwards in the locker room -- I'm not going to lie. I had to take a few minutes for myself."
   Federer, who made his Northern California debut in a March exhibition in San Jose, supported Zverev afterward.
   "It's unfortunate that this happened," said the 37-year-old Federer, who fell to 3-3 against Zverev. "Sascha doesn't deserve it."
   The controversy was reminiscent of the U.S. Open final in September, when the crowd booed 20-year-old winner Naomi Osaka during the award ceremony after Serena Williams had been assessed a game penalty for her third code violation.
   Zverev is scheduled to face top-seeded Novak Djokovic on Sunday not before 10 a.m. PST (ESPN2). Djokovic, seeking his sixth crown in the tournament, dismissed fourth-seeded Kevin Anderson 6-2, 6-2 to improve to 35-2 since the start of Wimbledon.
   This is the first time Djokovic has reached the title match in the ATP Finals without dropping a set.
   Djokovic beat Zverev 6-4, 6-1 on Wednesday in the round-robin phase of the ATP Finals to improve to 2-1 (2-0 on hardcourts) in the head-to-head series.
   In Sunday's doubles final at 7:30 a.m. (Tennis Channel), fifth-seeded Mike Bryan (Stanford, 2017-18) and Jack Sock will meet eighth-seeded Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut of France.
    Bryan and Sock, this year's Wimbledon and U.S. Open champions, topped fourth-seeded Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares 6-3, 4-6 [10-4]. Herbert and Mahut, who won the French Open in June, edged second-seeded Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah of Colombia 6-3, 5-7 [10-5].
   Herbert and Mahut routed Bryan and Sock 6-2, 6-2 in 53 minutes on Friday in round-robin play.
   Bryan, 40, hopes to become the oldest doubles champion in ATP Finals history. He is 4-2 in finals in the tournament, all with twin Bob.
   WTA Tour -- Unseeded Maegan Manasse (Cal, 2014-17) and Jessica Pegula of the United States nipped third-seeded Desirae Krawczyk of the U.S. and Giuliana Olmos, a product of Fremont in the San Francisco Bay Area who plays for Mexico, 1-6, 6-4 [10-8] to win the $150,000 Oracle Challenger Series -- Houston.
   It's by far the biggest title of the 23-year-old Manasse's career and her first with Pegula, the daughter of Buffalo Bills and Sabres owners Terrence and Kim Pegula.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Bryan, Sock lose but reach doubles semis in ATP Finals

   Mike Bryan and Jack Sock didn't exactly end the round-robin phase of the Nitto ATP Finals on a high note.
   But the fifth seeds reached Saturday's doubles semifinals anyway.
   Eighth-seeded Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut dominated Bryan (Stanford, 2017-18) and Sock 6-2, 6-2 in 53 minutes today in London to win Group Knowles Nestor. Both teams finished 2-1. Top-seeded Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic (1-2) and third-seeded Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo (1-2) were eliminated.
   Fourth-seeded Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares (3-0) and second-seeded Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah (2-1) advanced in Group Llodra Santoro on Thursday. Sixth-seeded Raven Klaasen and Michael Venus (1-2), seventh-seeded Nikola Mektic and Alexander Peya (0-2), and ninth-seeded Henri Kontinen and John Peers (0-1) were ousted.
   Kontinen and Peers, the two-time defending champions, replaced Mektic and Peya after the 37-year-old Peya suffered an elbow injury.
   In singles today, top seed and five-time champion Novak Djokovic beat fifth-seeded Marin Cilic 7-6 (7), 6-2 to improve to 34-2 since the start of Wimbledon. Also, third-seeded Alexander Zverev downed eighth-seeded John Isner 7-6 (5), 6-3. Isner replaced two-time runner-up Rafael Nadal, who withdrew on Nov. 5 with ankle and abdominal injuries.
   Djokovic (3-0) and Zverev (2-1) advanced to the semifinals in Group Guga Kuerten, while Cilic (1-2) and Isner (0-3) were eliminated. Second seed and six-time champion Roger Federer (2-1) and fourth-seeded Kevin Anderson (2-1) moved into the semis in Group Lleyton Hewitt, while sixth-seeded Dominic Thiem (1-2) and seventh-seeded Kei Nishikori (1-2) fell short.
   In Saturday's semis on Tennis Channel, Bryan and Sock are scheduled to face Murray and Soares at 4 a.m. PST, followed by Federer against Zverev not before 6 a.m., Cabal and Farah versus Herbert and Mahut not before 10 a.m., and Djokovic against Anderson not before noon.
   Federer, 37, is 3-2 against the 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Zverev, 21. Federer won their last meeting, 7-6 (6), 5-7, 6-1 in the round-robin portion of last year's ATP Finals.
   Djokovic defeated the 6-foot-8 (2.03-meter) Anderson 6-2, 6-2, 7-6 (3) to win his fourth Wimbledon singles title in July. Djokovic leads the head-to-head series 7-1 and owns a seven-match winning streak against Anderson.
   WTA tour -- Third-seeded Desirae Krawczyk and Giuliana Olmos, a product of Fremont in the San Francisco Bay Area, will play unseeded Maegan Manasse (Cal, 2014-17) and Jessica Pegula for the doubles title in the $150,000 Oracle Challenger Series -- Houston.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Federer beats Anderson; both advance in ATP Finals

Roger Federer, playing in a March exhibition in San Jose, reached the semifinals
of the ATP Finals for the 15th time. Photo by Mal Taam
   Roger Federer avenged a loss to Kevin Anderson at Wimbledon, defeating the 6-foot-8 (2.03-meter) South African 6-4, 6-3 today in the Nitto ATP Finals in London.
   Both the second-seeded Federer, who made his Northern California debut in a March exhibition in San Jose, and the fourth-seeded Anderson, a quarterfinalist in the now-defunct SAP Open in San Jose in 2012, finished 2-1 in Group Lleyton Hewitt to reach Saturday's semifinals. Sixth-seeded Dominic Thiem and seventh-seeded Kei Nishikori were eliminated with 1-2 records.
   Federer, who has won a record six titles in the ATP Finals, advanced to the semis for the 15th time. Anderson, who rallied from two sets down and saved a match point to stun Federer in the Wimbledon quarterfinals in July, became the first South African to move into the semis of the elite tournament since it began in 1970.
   Federer will face the second-place finisher in Group Guga Kuerten, and Anderson will meet the group winner. In Friday's round-robin finales, third-seeded Alexander Zverev (1-1) is scheduled to meet eighth-seeded John Isner (0-2) not before 6 a.m. PST, and top-seeded Novak Djokovic (2-0) will play fifth-seeded Marin Cilic (1-1) not before noon.
   In a doubles round-robin finale, fifth-seeded Mike Bryan (Stanford, 1997-98) and Jack Sock (2-0) will meet eighth-seeded Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut (1-1) not before 9:45 a.m.
   Tennis Channel will televise all four of Friday's matches live beginning at 4 a.m.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Radwanska retires at 29; Bryan wins in ATP Finals

Agnieszka Radwanska reached the
final at Wimbledon in 2012 and Stan-
ford in 2013. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Agnieszka Radwanska, the runner-up at Wimbledon in 2012 and the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford in 2013, announced her retirement today at age 29.
   "Unfortunately, I am no longer able to train and play the way I used to, and recently my body can't live up to my expectations," Radwanska, a petite 5-foot-8 (1.73 meters), said in a statement. "Taking into consideration my health and the heavy burdens of professional tennis, I have to concede that I'm not able to push my body to the limits required."
   Radwanska became the first Pole to reach a Grand Slam singles final in the Open era, catapulting her to a career-high No. 2, and the first to win the WTA Finals (2015 in Singapore). She reached two Australian Open semifinals and one French Open quarterfinal, won 20 WTA singles titles and earned more than $27.6 million in prize money, seventh all time.
   Known as "the Magician" for her crafty play, Radwanska was voted the WTA Fan Favorite for six consecutive years.
   Radwanska lost to Dominika Cibulkova 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 in the 2013 Bank of the West final after thrashing the Slovakian 6-0, 6-0 in the Sydney final six months earlier. Radwanska also reached the Stanford semifinals in 2010 and the quarterfinals in 2011 and 2015, the last of her six appearances in the tournament.
   The Bank of the West Classic moved to San Jose this year as the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic after a 21-year run at Stanford.
   ATP Finals -- Fifth-seeded Mike Bryan (Stanford, 1997-98) and Jack Sock of the United States beat top-seeded Oliver Marach of Austria and Mate Pavic of Croatia 6-4, 7-6 (4) in London to improve to 2-0 in Group Knowles Nestor.
   Bryan and Sock, this year's Wimbledon and U.S. Open champions, are scheduled to play Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut (1-1) on Friday in a round-robin finale.
   In singles, top-seeded Novak Djokovic outplayed third-seeded Alexander Zverev 6-4, 6-1 and clinched a semifinal berth as he seeks a record-tying sixth title in the ATP Finals.
   Fifth-seeded Marin Cilic topped eighth-seeded John Isner 6-7 (2), 6-3, 6-4 to improve to 1-1 in Group Guga Kuerten. Isner fell to 0-2.
   Isner won his first pro title in the Shingle Springs Futures in the Sacramento area in 2007 and reach the Chico Futures final in 2006. Ten years ago, he advanced to the singles quarterfinals of the now-defunct SAP Open in San Jose and the doubles final of the $50,000 Sacramento Challenger with countryman Rajeev Ram.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Federer bounces back; Mayo loses Challenger debut

Roger Federer, playing in a March exhibition in San Jose,
remains alive in his quest for a seventh title in the ATP
Finals. Photo by Mal Taam
   Second-seeded Roger Federer rebounded from a straight-sets loss to Kei Nishikori on Sunday with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over sixth-seeded Dominic Thiem today in the Nitto ATP Finals in London.
   Federer, who made his Northern California debut in a March exhibition in San Jose, stayed alive in his quest for a seventh ATP Finals title with a 1-1 record.
   Federer is scheduled to play fourth-seeded Kevin Anderson, who demolished the seventh-seeded Nishikori 6-0, 6-1 in 64 minutes to improve to 2-0, on Thursday in a round-robin finale.
   Anderson, 6-foot-8 (2.03 meters), saved a match point and stunned eight-time champion Federer 2-6, 6-7 (5), 7-5, 6-4, 13-11 in the Wimbledon quarterfinals in July en route to the final. Federer had won all eight sets in four previous matches against Anderson, never even needing a tiebreaker.
   Anderson won a $15,000 Futures tournament in the Sacramento suburb of Loomis in 2007. He also reached the quarterfinals of the now-defunct SAP Open in San Jose and played part-time for the Sacramento Capitals of World TeamTennis in 2012.
   Nishikori lost in the second round in all three of his appearances in the SAP Open (2008, 2009 and 2011). Brad Gilbert of San Rafael in the San Francisco Bay Area coached Nishikori in 2011.
   USTA Pro Circuit -- Keenan Mayo, a 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Illinois freshman who grew up in Roseville in the Sacramento area, lost to fellow qualifier Ryan Shane, the 2015 NCAA singles champion from Virginia, 6-3, 6-4 in the first round of the $75,000 JSM Challenger of Champaign-Urbana (Ill.). Mayo, playing on his home courts, made his Challenger main-draw debut.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Bryan, Sock win ATP Finals opener; Mayo to debut

   Fifth-seeded Mike Bryan (Stanford, 1997-98) and Jack Sock of the United States beat third seeds and 2017 runners-up Lukasz Kubot of Poland and Marcelo Melo of Brazil 6-3, 7-6 (5) today in a round-robin opener at the Nitto ATP Finals in London.
   Bryan and Sock, this year's Wimbledon and U.S. Open champions, saved a set point with Sock serving at 4-5 in the second set. Kubot double-faulted on match point.
   Mike Bryan's 40-year-old twin, Bob, is recovering from hip surgery in August. They have won a record 16 Grand Slam men's doubles championships and captured four ATP Finals titles (2003, 2004, 2009 and 2014).
   The ATP Finals consists of the top eight singles players and best eight doubles teams of 2018. The four singles players and four doubles teams with the best records after three round-robin matches each advance to Saturday's semifinals.
   Also in Group Knowles/Nestor, top-seeded Oliver Marach of Austria and Mate Pavic of Croatia downed eighth-seeded Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut of France 6-4, 7-6 (3). Bryan and Sock are scheduled to play Marach and Pavic on Wednesday at 4 a.m. PST (Tennis Channel).
   In Group Llodra/Santoro, second-seeded Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah of Colombia are 1-0 with fourth-seeded Jamie Murray of Great Britain and Bruno Soares of Brazil. Sixth-seeded Raven Klaasen of South Africa and Michael Venus of New Zealand are 0-1 with seventh-seeded Nikola Mektic of Croatia and Alexander Peya of Austria.
   USTA Pro Circuit -- Keenan Mayo, a 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Illinois freshman who grew up in the Sacramento suburb of Roseville, is scheduled to make his Challenger main-draw debut on his home courts in Champaign, Ill., on Tuesday.
   Mayo, 18, will play fellow qualifier Ryan Shane, the 2015 NCAA singles champion from Virginia, in the first round of the $75,000 JSM Challenger of Champaign-Urbana.
   Mayo defeated Sem Verbeek, a 24-year-old Dutch left-hander who starred at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif., 7-6 (5), 7-6 (6) on Sunday in the final round of qualifying.
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