Friday, February 22, 2019

McDonald tops del Potro; Cal women fall to No. 7 Vandy

Mackenzie McDonald, playing in the San Francisco Challenger
last February, beat ailing Juan Martin del Potro, ranked fourth,
tonight in the Delray Beach Open to reach his first ATP Tour
semifinal. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Mackenzie McDonald reached two milestones in his blossoming career tonight.
   The 23-year-old product of Piedmont in the San Francisco Bay Area recorded his first victory over a top-10 player to reach his first ATP Tour semifinal.
   However, there was a catch. McDonald's opponent, Juan Martin del Potro, was playing in his first tournament since breaking his right kneecap in Shanghai in October.
   The unseeded McDonald, ranked 84th, edged the top-seeded del Potro, ranked fourth, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (5) in the Delray Beach Open. Del Potro played with his knee heavily taped, and his mobility was limited during the 2-hour, 18-minute battle.
   McDonald, now based in Orlando, Fla., will surpass his career high of No. 76 in Monday's updated rankings.
   The Delray Beach Open is guaranteed to have a first-time ATP finalist, as the 5-foot-10 (1.78-meter) and 160-pound (73-kilogram) McDonald is scheduled to meet Radu Albot, 29, of Moldova at 5 p.m. California time (Tennis Channel).
   Albot, even smaller than McDonald at 5-foot-9 (1.75 meters) and 152 pounds (69 kilograms), surprised fourth-seeded Steve Johnson of Redondo Beach in the Los Angeles area 1-6, 6-3, 7-6 (5).
   In the other semifinal, second-seeded John Isner of Dallas is set to play qualifier Daniel Evans of Great Britain at noon (Tennis Channel).
   The 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) del Potro, who won the 2011 Delray Beach title, blasted 16 aces and won 81 percent of the points on his first serve (48 of 59) against McDonald. Del Potro, though, converted only one of six first serves in the tiebreaker.
   McDonald pounded nine aces and won 82 percent of the points on his first delivery (40 of 49).
   It was the first meeting between del Potro, who defeated Roger Federer to win the 2009 U.S. Open before undergoing four wrist operations, and McDonald, who reached the fourth round at Wimbledon last July.
   College women -- Cal's Julia Rosenqvist shocked the nation's third-ranked player, but the No. 24 Bears lost to No. 7 Vanderbilt 4-3 in Berkeley.
   In the deciding match, ninth-ranked Christina Rosca defeated 20th-ranked Olivia Hauger 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 on Court 2. Rosenqvist, ranked 45th, beat Fernanda Contereras 2-6, 6-4, 6-0 on Court 1.
   Stanford (5-1) will host Vanderbilt (5-2) on Saturday at noon in a rematch of the NCAA final last May. The Cardinal won 4-3 for its 19th NCAA team title.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Serena returns to top 10; Stanford men rise to No. 6

   Serena Williams returned to the top 10 this week for the first time since July 2017.
   Williams, a 37-year-old part-time resident of Silicon Valley, rose one spot to No. 10. She has not played since reaching the quarterfinals of last month's Australian Open, but other players have failed to defend their ranking points.
   Williams went on maternity leave after winning the 2017 Australian Open and returned in March 2018. She fell as low as No. 491 last March before advancing to the Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals.
   Sloane Stephens, a 25-year-old Fresno product, improved one spot to a career-high No. 3. Naomi Osaka remained No. 1, and Simona Halep rose one notch to No. 2.
   College rankings -- The Stanford men (7-2) jumped from No. 10 to No. 6 after beating then-No. 4 Florida 4-1 on Sunday in the consolation bracket of the ITA National Men's Team Indoor Championship in Chicago.
   Cal (2-3), which stunned then-No. 5 USC 4-3 in Los Angeles on Feb. 9, went from unranked to No. 40.
   Stanford's Axel Geller fell three places to No. 13 in singles, and Cal's Yuta Kikuchi and Jacob Brumm dropped five spots to No. 13 in doubles.
   In the women's team rankings, defending NCAA champion Stanford (5-1) slipped one place to No. 4, and Cal (4-1), which shocked then-No. 7 Pepperdine 4-3 in Malibu on Saturday, rose one notch to No. 24.
   Stanford's Michaela Gordon, a sophomore from Saratoga in the San Francisco Bay Area, improved seven spots to No. 16 in singles. She defeated then-No. 19 Eden Richardson, who won the NCAA doubles title last year with LSU teammate Jessica Golovin, on Feb. 8.
   The Cardinal's Emily Arbuthnott fell five places to No. 19, and Cal's Olivia Hauger jumped eight spots to No. 20. Hauger topped Pepperdine's Evgeniya Levashova, who was ranked No. 13 at the time.
   Cal's Anna Bright and Jasie Dunk slipped one notch to No. 23 in doubles.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Donation button temporarily out of order

   Because of a technical problem, the donation button on my website has not been working. I apologize for the inconvenience.
   The problem, probably caused by an application update, might take a week or two to resolve because my computer tech is traveling in Asia until March 6. I'll let you know when the button works again.
   Thank you for your patience.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Stanford men fall to Virginia in ITA National Indoors

   The No. 10 Stanford men lost to No. 13 Virginia 4-2 today in the first round of the ITA National Men's Team Indoor Championship in Chicago.
   Carl Soderlund, a junior from Sweden, beat Axel Geller, a sophomore from Argentina, 6-4, 7-5 on Court 1 to clinch the victory for the Cavaliers (8-1).
   Stanford (6-2) will play No. 19 Tulane (4-4) on Saturday in the consolation bracket. The Green Wave lost to No. 2 Ohio State 4-0.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Georgia snaps Stanford women's win streak at 25

Michaela Gordon, shown in 2017, lost the deciding match as No. 1 Stanford fell
to No. 5 Georgia 4-3 on Monday in the semifinals of the ITA National Women's
Team Indoor Championships in Seattle. Photo by Rob Vomund
   No. 5 Georgia ended No. 1 Stanford's winning streak at 25 matches on Monday, edging the Cardinal 4-3 in the semifinals of the ITA National Women's Team Indoor Championships in Seattle.
   The Cardinal's run included its 19th NCAA title, an ongoing record, last May in Winston-Salem, N.C.
   In Monday's deciding match, No. 2 Katarina Jokic defeated No. 23 Michaela Gordon, a sophomore from Saratoga in the San Francisco Bay Area, 4-6, 6-1, 6-3 on Court 1.
   No. 13 Emily Arbuthnott and Gordon won on Court 2 to give Stanford (5-1) the doubles point. No. 31 Melissa Lord and Niluka Madurawe, a freshman from Sunnyvale in the Bay Area, lost on Court 3.
   Georgia (6-0) will play No. 3 and defending champion North Carolina (9-0), which routed rival Duke 4-0.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Fed Cup woes, Novikov doubles title, Stanford thriller

Danielle Collins, shown in the 2017 Sacramento Challenger, and Nicole Melichar
of the United States lost to Ashleigh Barty and Priscilla Hon of Australia 6-4, 7-5
today in the deciding match in the first round of the Fed Cup in Asheville, N.C.
Australia won 3-2. Photo by Rob Vomund
   Wondering why the International Tennis Federation changed the Davis Cup format, beginning this year, from four weekends throughout the year to one week in November?
   Look no further than the first round of the Fed Cup. Only three of the top-10 singles players in the world competed this weekend.
   Romania had No. 3 Simona Halep, while the Czech Republic, the defending champion, was missing No. 2 Petra Kvitova. Guess which team won 3-2 on the road. Correct, Romania.
   Belarus had No. 9 Aryna Sabalenka, while Germany was missing No. 6 Angelique Kerber. Guess which team won 4-0 on the road. Right, Belarus.
   Australia does not have a top-10 singles player. But Ashleigh Barty -- the nation's top singles and doubles player at No. 13 and No. 6, respectively -- played against the United States, last year's runner-up. The U.S., meanwhile, was missing its top two singles players, No. 4 Sloane Stephens and No. 11 Serena Williams. Guess which team won 3-2 on the road. Yes, Australia.
   By the way, Halep, Sabalenka and Barty went a combined 7-0 in their matches.
   Halep dominated Katerina Siniakova 6-4, 6-0 and pulled out a 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 victory over No. 5 Karolina Pliskova in 2 hours, 37 minutes.
   Sabalenka, coached by former Northern California resident Dmitry Tursunov of Russia, lost five games total in her two singles matches.
   Barty did not lose a set in her three matches (two singles and one doubles).
   In the April 20-21 semifinals, France will host Romania, and Australia will host Belarus. The United States will face an opponent to be determined on the same weekend for the right to play in the World Group next year.
   The ITF has no plans to change the Fed Cup format -- yet.
   ATP Challenger Tour -- One former UCLA star from NorCal won a title in the $135,400 RBC Tennis Championships of Dallas, at least.
   Wild cards and ex-Bruins teammates Marcos Giron and Dennis Novikov, a 25-year-old San Jose product, defeated unseeded Ante Pavic of Croatia and Ruan Roelofse of South Africa 6-4, 7-6 (3).
   It was Novikov's fifth Challenger doubles title and first since 2016.
   In the singles final, 14th-seeded Mitchell Krueger, playing in his hometown, beat top-seeded Mackenzie McDonald, a 23-year-old product of Piedmont in the San Francisco Bay Area, 4-6, 7-6 (3), 6-1.
    McDonald, who swept the NCAA singles and doubles titles as a UCLA junior in 2016, had been 4-1 against Krueger, 25. But Krueger, in addition to having the home-court advantage, was more rested physically and mentally than McDonald.
   Krueger advanced by walkover in Saturday's semifinals, while the 5-foot-10 (1.78-meter) McDonald beat 6-foot-11 (2.11-meter) Reilly Opelka, seeded third, 6-4, 7-6 (13) in a night match. McDonald converted his fourth match point and saved four set points in the tiebreaker.
   ITA National Women's Team Indoors -- No. 14 Emily Arbuthnott defeated Fernanda Labrana 6-4, 4-6, 6-1 on Court 4 to give top-ranked Stanford, the defending NCAA champion, a 4-3 victory over No. 6 Texas in the quarterfinals of the ITA National Team Indoor Championships in Seattle.
   No. 23 Michaela Gordon, a Stanford sophomore from Saratoga in the Bay Area, defeated Bianca Turati 6-4, 6-3 on Court 1. No. 13 Arbuthnott and Gordon were tied 5-5 with twins Anna and Bianca Turati when their match was abandoned.
   No. 13 Melissa Lord and Niluka Madurawe, a Cardinal freshman from Sunnyvale in the Bay Area, topped Katie Poluta and Tijana Spasojevic 7-5 on Court 3 to clinch the doubles point for Stanford.
   The Cardinal (5-0) will face No. 5 Georgia (5-0), which edged No. 2 Vanderbilt 4-3.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Fed Cup, Dallas Challenger, college women's tourney

Madison Keys, shown in 2017, beat Kimberly Birrell
6-2, 6-2 today in Asheville, N.C., to even the United
States' series against Australia at 1-1 in the first round
of the Fed Cup. Photo by Mal Taam
   The first day of the Fed Cup tie between the United States and Australia went according to form.
   Ashleigh Barty, ranked 13th, held off 37th-ranked Sofia Kenin, 6-1, 7-6 (2) in 79 minutes today to give Australia a 1-0 lead in the first round of the best-of-five-match competition on an indoor hard court in Asheville, N.C.
   Madison Keys, ranked 17th, pulled the United States even with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Kimberly Birrell, ranked 157th, in 63 minutes.
   Absent from the tie are the United States' top two singles players, No. 4 Sloane Stephens and No. 11 Serena Williams, and Australia's second-highest-ranked singles competitor, No. 41 Ajla Tomljanovic.
   The United States leads all nations with 18 Fed Cup titles. The Czech Republic is second with 11, followed by Australia with seven.
   The U.S. has reached the last two Fed Cup finals, beating host Belarus in 2017 and losing at the Czech Republic last November. Australia seeks its first title since 1974 and first berth in the finals since 1993.
   The 5-foot-5 (1.66-meter) Barty, a quarterfinalist in last month's Australian Open, pounded 10 aces to Kenin's one and won 91 percent of the points on her first serve (29 of 32).
   With Barty serving for the match at 5-4 in the second set, Kenin saved two match points and broke on a double fault.
   Kenin, a Moscow native who moved to Florida as a young child, has excelled in Northern California Challengers, winning titles in 2016 (Sacramento), 2017 (Stockton) and last year (Berkeley).
   Kenin won her first WTA title in Hobart in early January and lost to then-No. 1 Simona Halep in the second round of the Australian Open after leading 4-2 in the third set.
   Keys, who won the last Bank of the West Classic at Stanford in 2017, never faced a break point against Burrell, who underwent elbow surgery in 2016 and lost in the first round of the Berkeley Challenger last July to Modesto product Maria Sanchez.
   Kenin and Birrell, both 20, were chosen over higher-ranked, older players.
   Danielle Collins, an Australian Open singles semifinalist ranked 23rd at age 25, is scheduled to play doubles only for the United States on Sunday in her Fed Cup debut. Kenin fell to 0-3 in the Fed Cup, including two close singles losses in last year's final.
   Birrell stunned then-No. 10 Daria Kasatkina in the first round in Brisbane in the first week of January and reached the third round of the Australian Open. Meanwhile, 47th-ranked Daria Gavrilova is 0-4 this year.
   Gavrilova, a 24-year-old Moscow native, won the doubles title in the 2014 Sacramento Challenger with compatriot Storm Sanders. It was Gavrilova's first tournament since undergoing surgery for a torn ACL only eight months beforehand.
   In Sunday's reverse singles, Keys is scheduled to face Barty at 10 a.m. PST (Tennis Channel), followed by Kenin against Birrell.
   Keys defeated Barty 6-3, 6-2 in the first round of the 2017 French Open in their only career meeting. Kenin and Birrell have not played each other.
   In the fifth rubber, Collins and Nicole Melichar are set to take on Barty and Gavrilova.
   ATP Challenger Tour -- No. 14 seed Mitchell Krueger, playing in his hometown, reached the final of the $135,400 RBC Tennis Championships of Dallas when No. 6 seed Bjorn Fratangelo of Orlando, Fla., withdrew because of a quadriceps injury.
   Fratangelo won the $100,000 Fairfield (Calif.) Challenger last October.
   Krueger, 25, will face top-seeded Mackenzie McDonald, a 23-year-old product of Piedmont in the San Francisco Bay Area.
   McDonald, who's featured in Tennis Channel's "My Tennis Life" this year, beat third-seeded Reilly Opelka, 21, of Palm Coast, Fla., 6-4, 7-6 (13) in a late match. McDonald converted his fourth match point and saved four set points in the tiebreaker.
   At 6-foot-11 (2.11 meters), Opelka towers over the 5-foot-10 (1.78-meter) McDonald, a former UCLA star who won the 2017 Fairfield Challenger.
   McDonald, ranked No. 91, is 4-1 against Krueger, ranked No. 209. They met two weeks ago in the second round of the $162,480 Newport Beach Challenger, with McDonald winning 6-3, 6-4.
   In the doubles semifinals, U.S. wild cards and former UCLA teammates Marcos Giron and Dennis Novikov nipped second-seeded Romain Arneodo of Monaco and Andrei Vasilevski of Belarus 6-7 (4), 6-4 [11-9].
   Giron and Novikov, a 25-year-old San Jose product, will meet unseeded Ante Pavic of Croatia and Ruan Roelofse of South Africa. They edged unseeded Ruben Gonzales of the Philippines and Alex Lawson of Tempe, Ariz., 6-4, 5-7 [10-8].
   McDonald and Giron won three NCAA individual championships combined. McDonald swept the singles and doubles titles in 2016, and Giron took the singles crown in 2014.
   ITA National Women's Team Indoors -- Today's quarterfinals in the ITA National Team Indoor Championships in Seattle were postponed because of dangerous road conditions. The Seattle area received more than six inches of snow on Friday.
   Top-ranked Stanford (4-0), the defending NCAA champion, is scheduled to play No. 6 Texas (4-1) on Sunday at 10 a.m. The Cardinal routed No. 18 LSU 4-0 on Friday in the opening round.
Please help defray travel expenses
$
Thanks for your donation!