Friday, January 18, 2019

Serena to face Halep or Venus in Australian Open

   Serena Williams continues to roll in a quest for a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title.
   Williams, a 37-year-old part-time resident of Silicon Valley, dismissed 18-year-old Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine 6-2, 6-1 in 67 minutes today in the third round of the Australian Open in Melbourne.
   The 16th-seeded Williams has not lost more than two games in a set in the tournament. She will face the winner of the late match between top-ranked Simona Halep and Venus Williams for a quarterfinal berth.
   Serena Williams is 8-2 against Halep, including a loss by retirement, and 18-12 against older sister Venus.
   Fourth-seeded Naomi Osaka, the reigning U.S. Open champion, overcame 28th-seeded Hsieh Su-Wei of Chinese Taipei 5-7, 6-4, 6-1. Osaka, 21, of Japan trailed 4-1 (one service break) in the second set.
   Osaka will meet 13th-seeded Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia. Osaka beat Sevastova 3-6, 6-0, 6-4 two weeks ago in the Brisbane quarterfinals to even the head-to-head series 2-2.
   On the men's side, top-ranked Novak Djokovic beat 25th-seeded Denis Shapovalov, a 19-year-old Canadian, 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 6-0.
   Djokovic, a six-time Australian Open champion, will play 15th-seeded Daniil Medvedev of Russia. Djokovic leads the head-to-head series 2-0.
   In the second round of women's doubles, ninth-seeded Raquel Atawo (Cal, 2001-04) of Sacramento and Katerina Srebotnik of Slovenia downed Margarita Gasparyan of Russia and Daria Gavrilova of Australia 6-2, 6-4. Both Gasparyan and Gavrilova were born in Moscow.

Anisimova, 17, routs No. 11 seed; Stephens, Tiafoe win

Amanda Anisimova displays her credential at the Indian
Wells Challenger last February. Photo courtesy of JFS
Communications
   Amanda Anisimova, a 17-year-old American, dismantled No. 11 seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus 6-3, 6-2 in 65 minutes on Thursday (California time) to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open in Melbourne.
   Sabalenka, 20, is coached by former Northern California resident Dmitry Tursunov.
   Anisimova, who won her maiden professional title in the 2017 Sacramento Challenger at 15, has advanced to the second week of a major for the first time.
   Anisimova will meet No. 8 seed Petra Kvitova, who beat Belinda Bencic of Switzerland 6-1, 6-4. Anisimova defeated Kvitova, a two-time Wimbledon singles champion, 6-2, 6-4 in the third round at Indian Wells last March in their only previous meeting.
   Meanwhile, No. 30 seed and 2008 Australian Open champion Maria Sharapova eliminated No. 3 seed and defending champ Caroline Wozniacki 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.
   No. 5 seed Sloane Stephens, who grew up in Fresno, topped No. 31 seed Petra Martic of Croatia 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5). Stephens will play Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who dismissed Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus 6-0, 6-3 in 60 minutes. Pavlyuchenkova played for the Sacramento Capitals of World TeamTennis at 15 in 2006.
   On the men's side, 20-year-old Frances Tiafoe of Orlando, Fla., outlasted Andreas Seppi, a 34-year-old Italian, 6-7 (3), 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.
   Tiafoe, who won the 2016 Stockton (Calif.) Challenger at 18, is the last remaining U.S. man in singles. He will face No. 20 seed Grigor Dimitrov, a 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-4 winner over Thomas Fabbiano of Italy and a two-time Grand Slam semifinalist.
   Fabbiano, only 5-foot-8 (1.73 meters), reached the semifinals of the $100,000 Aptos (Calif.) Challenger last August as the top seed.
   No. 3 seed Roger Federer, seeking his third consecutive Australian Open title and seventh overall, dismantled Taylor Fritz, a 21-year-old American, 6-2, 7-5, 6-2. Fritz won the $100,000 Sacramento and Fairfield Challengers back-to-back in 2015 at 17.
   In the second round of men's doubles, No. 4 seeds and ex-Stanford stars Bob and Mike Bryan beat Adrian Mannarino of France and Andreas Mies of Germany 7-5, 4-6, 6-2.
   Like Federer, the 40-year-old Bryans seek their seventh Australian Open title. The difference is that the Bryans' last one came in 2013. They are playing in their first major since Bob underwent hip surgery in August.
   Ryan Harrison of Austin, Texas, and Sam Querrey, a 31-year-old San Francisco native, beat Austin Krajicek of Bryan, Texas, and Artem Sitak, a Russia native who plays for New Zealand, 6-4, 7-6 (5).
   In the first round, Jeremy Chardy and Fabrice Martin of France defeated Mackenzie McDonald, from Piedmont in the San Francisco Bay Area, and Tennys Sandgren of Gallatin, Tenn., 6-4, 6-4.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Berkeley champ Kenin blows late lead, loses to Halep

Sofia Kenin, playing in the $60,000 Berkeley Tennis
Club Challenge last July, lost to top-ranked Simona
Halep today in the Australian Open after leading 4-2
in the third set. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Top-ranked Simona Halep rallied to defeat Sofia Kenin, a 20-year-old American, 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-4 today in the second round of the Australian Open.
   Kenin, who won the inaugural $60,000 Berkeley Tennis Club Challenge last July, overcame a 6-3, 3-0 deficit to lead 4-2 in the third set of a grueling baseline battle that lasted 2 hours, 31 minutes at Rod Laver Arena.
   Halep will play Venus Williams, a 6-3, 4-6, 6-0 winner over Alize Cornet of France, in a matchup of Australian Open runners-up.
   No. 16 seed Serena Williams, who has a residence in Silicon Valley, dominated Eugenie Bouchard of Canada 6-2, 6-2. Williams will play Dayana Yastremska, an 18-year-old Ukrainian who beat No. 23 seed Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain 6-3, 3-6, 6-1.
   Williams, 37, seeks her eighth Australian Open title and record-tying 24th Grand Slam crown in singles. She improved to 3-0 against Bouchard, 24, also winning 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 in the second round at Cincinnati in 2013 and 6-1, 6-1 in the round-robin phase of the 2014 WTA Finals in Singapore.
   Bouchard, the 2014 Wimbledon runner-up to Petra Kvitova, has slumped from a career-high No. 5 that year to No. 79. She won her first career WTA doubles title two weeks ago in Auckland with Kenin.
   Bouchard sued the USTA after slipping on the wet floor of a dimly lit trainers room during the 2015 U.S. Open and suffering a head injury. The parties reached an undisclosed settlement last February.
   Meanwhile, Alexei Popyrin, a 19-year-old wild card from Australia, ousted seventh-seeded Dominic Thiem of Austria 7-5, 6-4, 2-0, retired (fatigue). Popyrin squandered six match points in a 4-6, 7-6 (2), 7-6 (6) loss to countryman James Duckworth in the second round of the $100,000 Tiburon (Calif.) Challenger last September.
   Aussie wild card Alex Bolt, the runner-up in the $100,000 Fairfield (Calif.) Challenger last October, took out No. 29 seed Gilles Simon of France, 2-6, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (8), 6-4 in 4 hours, 4 minutes.
   In the first round of women's doubles, ninth-seeded Raquel Atawo, a 36-year-old former Cal star from Sacramento, and Katerina Srebotnik, 37, of Slovenia dominated Americans Amanda Anisimova, 17, and Danielle Collins 6-1, 6-3.
   On the men's side, eighth-seeded Ben McLachlan (Cal, 2011-14) of Japan and Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany lost in the first round after reaching the semifinals last year in their first tournament together. They fell to Radu Albot of Moldova and Malek Jaziri of Tunisia 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (11-9).

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Young Americans Tiafoe, Fritz, Anisimova upset seeds

Frances Tiafoe, right, poses with his trophy after beating fellow
American Noah Rubin to win the $100,000 Stockton (Calif.)
Challenger at age 18 in 2016. Photo by Paul Bauman
   The United States' youth brigade is beginning to make a big impact in Grand Slam tournaments.
   For the second time in three days, a U.S. male prospect ousted a top-10 seed in the Australian Open. Also, 21-year-old Taylor Fritz and 17-year-old Amanda Anisimova knocked off low seeds.
   Frances Tiafoe, who will turn 21 on Sunday, stunned 6-foot-8 (2.03-meter) Kevin Anderson, the fifth seed in Melbourne and runner-up in two of the last five majors, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 today in the second round.
   Anderson led 6-4, 3-0 before Tiafoe "just went to a different place," he told reporters. "I dug insanely deep. ... It's all about competing. Guys are so good, it's just how bad do you really want it? I wanted it real bad."
   Afterward, Tiafoe repeatedly slapped his right biceps and yelled in exultation.
   Anderson, 32, received treatment on his right elbow after the third set.
   On Sunday (California time), 6-foot-11 (2.11-meter) Reilly Opelka, 21, eliminated 6-foot-10 (2.08-meter) John Isner, seeded ninth, in the first round.
   Thomas Fabbiano of Italy beat Opelka 6-7 (17-15), 6-2, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (10-5) in a late second-round match. Opelka pounded 67 aces, the fifth-highest match total ever.
   Fabbiano, only 5-foot-8 (1.73 meters), reached the semifinals of the $100,000 Aptos (Calif.) Challenger last August as the top seed.
   Opelka lost in the first round of back-to-back $100,000 Challengers in Northern California last October as the second seed in Stockton and fourth seed in Fairfield.
   Tiafoe, who won the $100,000 Stockton Challenger in 2016 at 18, reached the third round of a major for the second time. He will face 34-year-old Italian Andreas Seppi, who shocked Roger Federer to reach the fourth round of the 2015 Australian Open.
   Fritz, who won the $100,000 Sacramento and Fairfield Challengers back-to-back at 17 in 2015, topped 30th-seeded Gael Monfils of France 6-3, 6-7 (8), 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5) in 3 hours, 24 minutes.
   "Tiafoe, Opelka and Fritz are the new Big 3," trumpeted ESPN commentator Brad Gilbert, who could have included extremely athletic Michael Mmoh in a Big 4. "That's the future of American men's tennis."
   Fritz will take on the third-seeded Federer, 37, for the second time. Federer, who seeks his third consecutive Australian Open title and seventh overall, beat 5-foot-9 (1.75-meter) Briton Daniel Evans, the Aptos champion in 2016 and runner-up to Stanford graduate Bradley Klahn in 2013, 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-3), 6-3. Evans returned from 10-month cocaine suspension last April.
   Federer edged Fritz 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 in the second round at Stuttgart on grass in 2016.
   Anisimova, who won her first professional title in the $60,000 Sacramento Challenger in 2017 at 15, crushed 24th-seeded Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine 6-0, 6-2 in 54 minutes. Tsurenko advanced to the U.S. Open quarterfinals last September before losing to eventual champion Naomi Osaka.
   Anisimova will play 11th-seeded Aryna Sabalenka, a 20-year-old Belarusian coached by former Northern California resident Dmitry Tursunov of Russia.
   Meanwhile, fifth seed and Fresno product Sloane Stephens dispatched Timea Babos of Hungary 6-3, 6-1. Stephens, the 2017 U.S. Open champion and 2018 French Open runner-up, will meet 31st-seeded Petra Martic of Croatia.
   Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who played for the Sacramento Capitals of World TeamTennis at 15 in 2006, took out ninth-seeded Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.
   Sixth-seeded Marin Cilic, a 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Croat, beat 5-foot-10 (1.78-meter) Mackenzie McDonald, a 23-year-old product of Piedmont in the San Francisco Bay Area, 7-5, 6-7 (11-9), 6-4, 6-4. McDonald reached the fourth round at Wimbledon last July.
   In the first round of men's doubles, fourth seeds and ex-Stanford stars Bob and Mike Bryan beat Australian wild cards Alex Bolt and Marc Polmans 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-1).
   The 40-year-old Bryans seek their seventh Australian Open men's doubles title but first since 2013. Bolt and Polmans reached the singles final in Fairfield and Stockton, respectively, last October.
   Americans Ryan Harrison and Sam Querrey, a 31-year-old San Francisco native, downed 16th-seeded Robin Haase and Matwe Middelkoop of the Netherlands 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.
   Sixth-seeded Raven Klaasen of South Africa and Michael Venus of New Zealand eliminated Bradley Klahn, a 28-year-old Stanford graduate from Los Angeles, and Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.
   Kukushkin lost to Marcos Baghdatis, the 2006 Australian Open runner-up to Federer, in the 2014 Aptos final.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Stanford grad, up two sets to none, falls to Chung

Bradley Klahn, playing in the $100,000 San Francisco Chal-
lenger last February, lost to No. 24 seed Hyeon Chung 6-7 (5),
6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 in the first round of the Australian Open.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   Bradley Klahn was on his way to a big upset and his first main-draw victory in the Australian Open.
   But South Korea's Hyeon Chung, the 24th seed and a surprise semifinalist in Melbourne last year, beat the 28-year-old Stanford graduate 6-7 (5), 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 in 3 hours, 37 minutes today.
   Klahn, who underwent his second operation for a herniated disc in 2015, had his back treated during the third set.
   Klahn, a 6-foot (1.83-meter) left-hander, finished with 22 aces, 58 winners and 84 unforced errors. Chung, 22, had 10 aces, 34 winners and 35 unforced errors.
   Meanwhile, Sam Querrey's slump continued with a 5-7, 7-6 (6), 6-3, 6-1 loss to Pierre-Hugues Herbert of France. Querrey, a 31-year-old San Francisco native, has tumbled from a career-high No. 11 last February to No. 49.
   Serena Williams, seeded 16th, dismantled Tatjana Maria of Germany 6-0, 6-2 in a 49-minute matchup of neighbors in Palm Beach, Fla., and mothers.
   Williams, who also has a residence in Silicon Valley, seeks her eighth Australian Open title and a record-tying 24th Grand Slam crown in singles. She will face Canadian Eugenie Bouchard, the Wimbledon runner-up in 2014 to Petra Kvitova.
   Venus Williams, a two-time Australian Open runner-up (2003 and 2017), eliminated 25th-seeded Mihaela Buzarnescu of Romania 6-7 (3), 7-6 (3), 6-2.
   Venus Williams, 38, has a long history in Northern California. She made her WTA debut in Oakland at 14 in 1994, won two titles in the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford (2000 and 2002) and reached the final there six times (1998, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2009 and 2016).
   Buzarnescu, a 30-year-old left-hander with a long history of injuries, won the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic, which replaced the Bank of the West Classic, last August in San Jose.
   Top-ranked Simona Halep avoided a second consecutive loss to Kaia Kanepi of Estonia in the first round of a Grand Slam tournament, prevailing 6-7 (2), 6-4, 6-2. It was Halep's first match win since she reached the Cincinnati final last August.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Stephens ends Aussie Open drought; Isner, Murray lose

Reilly Opelka, serving during his first-
round loss in the $100,000 Stockton
(Calif.) Challenger last October, ousted
ninth seed and fellow U.S. giant John
Isner today in the opening round of the
Australian Open in Melbourne. Photo
by Paul Bauman
   Sloane Stephens won her first match in the Australian Open in five years today, beating fellow American Taylor Townsend 6-4, 6-2 in Melbourne.
   Stephens, a 25-year-old Fresno product now based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., lost in the first round of the Australian Open in 2015, 2016 and 2018. She missed the 2017 tournament because of foot surgery but won the U.S. Open nine months later for her first Grand Slam title.
   Townsend, a 22-year-old left-hander, played for the Sacramento Capitals of World TeamTennis in 2013, the team's final year of existence.
   Stephens, seeded fifth, is scheduled to play Timea Babos of Hungary on Tuesday (California time). Babos, also 25, defeated Tunisia's Ons Jabeur, the 2011 French Open girls singles champion, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (3).
   Stephens and Babos know each other well, having won three of four major girls doubles titles in 2010.
   Stephens made her first big splash in the 2013 Australian Open, stunning Serena Williams to reach the semifinals before losing to eventual champion Victoria Azarenka.
   Meanwhile, Reilly Opelka's first main-draw victory in a Grand Slam tournament was a big one — in more ways than one.
   The 6-foot-11 (2.11-meter) Opelka ousted 6-foot-10 (2.08-meter) John Isner, seeded ninth, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (6), 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5) in an all-American matchup. Isner blasted 47 aces, and Opelka had 40.
   Opelka lost in the first round of back-to-back $100,000 Challengers in Northern California last October as the second seed in Stockton and fourth seed in Fairfield.
   Five-time runner-up Andy Murray played his last match in the Australian Open -- if not his career -- losing 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-7 (4), 6-2 to 22nd-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain.
   The 31-year-old Murray, who won the first two of his 45 tour-level singles titles in San Jose (2006-07), announced Friday that he will retire by Wimbledon because of chronic hip pain.
   Bautista Agut won his ninth career ATP singles title two weeks ago in Doha, stunning top-ranked Novak Djokovic in the semifinals.
   Mackenzie McDonald, a 23-year-old product of Piedmont in the San Francisco Bay Area, defeated Andrey Rublev, a promising 21-year-old Russian rebounding from a stress fracture in his lower back, 6-4, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4. McDonald, only 5-foot-10 (1.78 meters) and 160 pounds (73 kilograms), next will face sixth-seeded Marin Cilic, who's 6-foot-6 (1.98 meters).
  McDonald, ranked No. 81, is making his second appearance in the Australian Open. He lost to third-seeded Grigor Dimitrov 8-6 in the fifth set in the second round last year as a qualifier.
   ATP Challenger Tour -- Bernardo Saraiva, a 25-year-old former University of San Francisco star from Portugal, won his first Challenger doubles title.
   Unseeded Maxime Cressy, a 6-foot-7 (2.01-meter) American originally from France, and Saraiva beat second-seeded Robert Galloway and Nathaniel Lammons of the United States 7-5, 7-6 (3) in the final of the $54,160 Columbus Challenger.
   In the $54,160 Canberra (Australia) Challenger, third-seeded Marcelo Demoliner of Brazil and Hugo Nys of France topped unseeded Andre Goransson of Sweden and Sem Verbeek of the Netherlands 3-6, 6-4 [10-3] for the crown. Goransson and Verbeek played at Cal and Pacific, respectively.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Berkeley champion Kenin earns first WTA singles title

Sofia Kenin, playing in Berkeley last July, routed Anna Karo-
lina Schmiedlova 6-3, 6-0 today to win the Hobart (Australia)
International. Photo by Paul Bauman
   You might say Sofia Kenin is in good form entering the Australian Open.
   Ditto for Ben McLachlan.
   One week after claiming her first WTA doubles title, Kenin did the same in singles.
   The 20-year-old American routed Anna Karolina Schmiedlova of Slovakia 6-3, 6-0 in 71 minutes today to win the Hobart (Australia) International.
    McLachlan, a 26-year-old former Cal star, and Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany beat third-seeded Raven Klaasen of South Africa and Michael Venus of New Zealand 6-3, 6-4 to capture the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand.
   McLachlan, a New Zealand native who plays for his mother's native Japan, and Struff reached the Australian Open semifinals last year in their first tournament together.
   In the Auckland singles final, unseeded Tennys Sandgren of Gallatin, Tenn., topped wild card Cameron Norrie, a New Zealand product who plays for Great Britain, 6-4, 6-2.
   Sandgren, a surprise quarterfinalist in last year's Australian Open, avenged a 6-2, 6-3 loss to Norrie in the final of the $100,000 Tiburon (Calif.) Challenger in 2017. The left-handed Norrie also won the $100,000 Stockton (Calif.) Challenger the following week, beating Darian King of Barbados.
   Kenin reeled off the last nine games against Schmiedlova in a matchup of unseeded players to become the first American champion in Tasmania since Amy Frazier in 2004. Kenin and Eugenie Bouchard of Canada won last week's women's ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand.
   "I feel in great form, and I'm really proud of myself," Kenin, who won the inaugural $60,000 Berkeley Tennis Club Challenge last July for her third title in Northern California in three years, told reporters. "I'm so happy with my start and will try to keep the momentum going."
   Kenin did not lose a set in the tournament, upsetting top-seeded Caroline Garcia of France 6-3, 6-2 in the first round, seventh-seeded Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium 7-5, 7-5 in the quarterfinals and sixth-seeded Alize Cornet of France 6-2, 6-4 in the semifinals.
   Kenin also dismissed Garcia 6-3, 6-3 on grass in Mallorca in June for her first victory over a top-10 player and her first berth in a WTA semifinal.
   Kenin will make her top-40 debut on Monday, jumping from No. 56 to No. 37. She is scheduled to play Veronika Kudermetova, a 21-year-old Russian qualifier, in the first round of the Australian Open on Monday (California time). Kenin was born in Moscow and moved to the United States as a young child.
   It will be Kenin's second main-draw appearance in Melbourne. She lost to 12th-seeded Julia Goerges of Germany 6-4, 6-4 in the opening round last year.
Please help defray travel expenses
$
Thanks for your donation!