Sunday, June 9, 2019

Nadal tops Thiem for 12th French Open title

Rafael Nadal practices at Indian Wells in March. Photo by Harjanto Sumali
   At least Dominic Thiem won a set.
   That in itself is an accomplishment against the King of Clay.
   Unfortunately for Thiem, he had almost nothing left after tying today's French Open final at one set apiece.
   In a rematch of last year's title match at Roland Garros, Rafael Nadal defeated Thiem 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 in Paris for his 12th French Open singles crown.
   "It's truly incredible," Nadal, who dominated Dominic 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 in last year's French Open final, said of his success at Roland Garros in an on-court interview. "I cannot explain it."
   Thiem, seeded fourth, was playing for the fourth consecutive day because of rain that shuffled the schedule. Meanwhile, the second-seeded Nadal had played only once in the previous four days.
   "He stepped on me," said Thiem, a 25-year-old Austrian who was seeking his first major title. "The numbers are crazy. He's won it 12 times."
   Nadal broke Margaret Court's record of 11 Australian Open singles titles, seven of which came when only amateurs were allowed to play, and pulled within two of Roger Federer's mark of 20 Grand Slam men's singles titles.
   Nadal, who turned 33 on Monday, also became the third-oldest French Open champion after 34-year-old Andres Gimeno (1972) and 33-year-old Ken Rosewall (1968).
   Against Thiem, Nadal improved to 9-4 overall, 8-4 on clay and 4-0 in the French Open.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Barty beats Vondrousova for first major singles title

Ashleigh Barty, playing at Indian Wells in March, became the first Australian
to win the French Open since Margaret Court in 1973. Photo by Harjanto Sumali 
   Greatness has long been predicted for Ashleigh Barty.
   And that was the problem.
   Unable to cope with the pressure of expectations after winning the Wimbledon girls singles title at 15 in 2011, Barty walked away from tennis in 2014 for almost two years to play professional cricket.
   Barty capped her comeback today with her first Grand Slam singles title. Seeded eighth, the 23-year-old Australian dominated unseeded Marketa Vondrousova, a Czech left-hander who will turn 20 in 20 days, 6-1, 6-3 in 70 minutes in the French Open in Paris.
   "It's unbelievable," Barty, who will rise to a career-high No. 2 on Monday, said in an on-court interview. "I'm a little bit speechless. It's incredible. I played the perfect match today. I'm so proud of myself and my team. It's just been a crazy two weeks."
   Barty became the first Australian to win the French Open since Margaret Court in 1973 and the first Aussie to capture a Grand Slam singles title since Samantha Stosur in the 2011 U.S. Open.
   Both Barty and Vondrousova were playing in their first major singles final. However, Barty has reached the doubles final in all four majors, winning last year's U.S. Open with CoCo Vandeweghe.
   Neither Barty nor Vondrousova has played in a WTA tournament in Northern California. Vondrousova, though, does have a NorCal connection. She advanced to the girls doubles final in the 2014 French Open with CiCi Bellis, who grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area suburb of Atherton.
   Bellis, the WTA Newcomer of the Year in 2017, is hitting after undergoing four operations on her right wrist, arm and elbow in the past year.
   Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal is heavily favored to win his 12th French Open singles crown. Seeded second, the 33-year-old Spaniard will face fourth-seeded Dominic Thiem in the final for the second consecutive year on Sunday at 6 a.m. PDT (NBC).
   Thiem, a 25-year-old Austrian, outlasted top-seeded Novak Djokovic 6-2, 3-6, 7-5, 5-7, 7-5 in a match that had been suspended in the third set by rain Friday. Djokovic's Grand Slam title streak ended at three.
   Nadal, who had today off, leads the head-to-head series against Thiem 8-4 overall and 7-4 on clay. Nadal won 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 in last year's French Open final, but Thiem won their latest meeting 6-4, 6-4 in the Barcelona semifinals on clay en route to the title in April.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Barty, Vondrousova to meet for French Open crown

Amanda Anisimov, who won her first professional title at 15 in the 2017 Sacra-
mento Challenger, lost to Ashleigh Barty 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-3 today in the French
Open semifinals. 2018 photo courtesy of JFS Communications
   Amanda Anisimova led Ashleigh Barty by a set and 3-0 today in the French Open semifinals.
   But Anisimova's first Grand Slam final must wait.
   Barty, an Australian seeded eighth, rallied in the second and third sets to defeat the unseeded Anisimova, a 17-year-old American who ousted third seed and defending champion Simona Halep in the quarterfinals, 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-3 on a windy, rainy day in Paris.
   "She just outplayed me, basically," Anisimova, who won her first professional title at 15 in the 2017 Sacramento Challenger, told reporters.
   In a matchup of first-time Grand Slam singles finalists, the 23-year-old Barty is scheduled to play unseeded Marketa Vondrousova, a Czech left-hander who will turn 20 on June 28, on Saturday at 6 a.m. PDT (NBC).
   Vondrousova, has not lost a set in the tournament, beat 26th-seeded Johanna Konta, the champion of the 2016 Bank of the West Classic at Stanford, 7-5, 7-6 (2). Vondrousova can become the first teenager to win the French Open since Iva Majoli of Croatia in 1997.
   Vondrousova reached the girls doubles final in the 2014 French Open with CiCi Bellis, who grew up in Atherton in the San Francisco Bay Area. Bellis, the WTA Newcomer of the Year in 2017, is hitting after undergoing four operations on her right wrist, arm and elbow in the past year.
   Barty, ranked eighth, has not dropped a set in two career matches against Vondrousova, ranked 38th. This will be their first meeting of the year and first on clay.
   Second-seeded Rafael Nadal will play either top-seeded Novak Djokovic or fourth-seeded Dominic Thiem for the men's title on Sunday at 6 a.m. (NBC).
   Nadal, seeking his 12th French Open singles crown, dispatched third-seeded Roger Federer 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 to improve to 24-15 overall and 6-0 in the French Open in their storied rivalry.
   Federer, 37, has won a record 20 Grand Slam men's singles titles, and Nadal, 32, ranks second with 17.
   Thiem leads Djokovic 6-2, 3-6, 3-1 in a match suspended by rain. Play will resume on Saturday at 3 a.m. PDT (Tennis Channel). The forecast calls for partly cloudy weather on Saturday and rain on Sunday.
   Barty won the Wimbledon girls singles title at 15 in 2011 and reached three Grand Slam women's doubles finals in 2013. But it was too much success too soon, and Barty left tennis in 2014 for nearly two years to play professional cricket.
   Barty won 17 of the first 18 points against the 51st-ranked Anisimova, who was born in New Jersey to Russian parents and moved to Florida at 3, to lead 5-0. After losing the set, Barty dropped the first 12 points of the second set to trail 3-0 but managed to pull it out. She then overcame an early break in the third set and converted her sixth match point.
   "I played some really good tennis. I played some pretty awful tennis," Barty said. "I'm just proud of myself for the way I was able to fight ands scrap and hang in there and find a way when I kind of threw away that first set."

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Anisimova, 17, stuns Halep to reach French Open semis

Amanda Anisimova, shown en route to the title in the $60,000 Sacramento
Challenger at 15 in 2017, shocked defending champion Simona Halep 6-2,
6-4 today to reach her first Grand Slam semifinal. Photo by Rob Vomund
   It might be Saturday, later this year or beyond.
   But Amanda Anisimova appears destined to win a Grand Slam singles title, probably sooner rather than later.
   Only 17, the unseeded Anisimova toppled third seed and defending champion Simona Halep 6-2, 6-4 today in the French Open in Paris to reach her first major semifinal.
   Anisimova, who hasn't lost a set in the tournament, became the youngest French Open semifinalist since 17-year-old Nicole Vaidisova in 2006 and the youngest American in the semis at Roland Garros since 14-year-old Jennifer Capriati in 1990.
   "I just played the best tennis of my life," Anisimova, who was born in New Jersey to Russian parents and moved to Florida when she was 3, said after facing Halep for the first time. "I don't know how; it just happened."
   The 5-foot-11 (1.80-meter) Anisimova, with nothing to lose, was more relaxed than Halep.
   "She was pretty calm," said Halep, who admitted she felt pressure defending her title. "She showed that she's able to do good things and big things."
   Anisimova won her first professional title at 15 in the 2017 Sacramento Challenger and her maiden WTA crown on clay in Bogota in April. She plans to play in the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic, July 29-Aug. 4 at San Jose State, for the second consecutive year.
   Anisimova qualified for last year's inaugural Silicon Valley Classic and extended eventual champion Mihaela Buzarnescu, a Romanian like Halep, to three sets in the second round before falling.
   Anisimova or Marketa Vondrousova, a Czech left-hander who will turn 20 on June 28, could become the first teenager to win the French Open since Iva Majoli of Croatia in 1997.
   None of the four women's semifinalists have reached a Grand Slam singles final, although Ashleigh Barty of Australia won last year's U.S. Open doubles title with CoCo Vandeweghe after losing in the doubles final once in all four majors.
   Both Vaidisova (2004-06) and Vandeweghe (2009, 2012) played for the now-defunct Sacramento Capitals of World TeamTennis.
   On Friday at 2 a.m. PDT (Tennis Channel), Anisimova is scheduled to face the eighth-seeded Barty for the first time, and 26th-seeded Johanna Konta of Great Britain will meet Vondrousova. However, the Paris weather forecast calls for rain in the morning and perhaps afternoon, then wind.
   Barty, only 5-foot-5 (1.66 meters), eliminated 14th-seeded Madison Keys 6-3, 7-5.
   Konta won the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford in 2016, and Keys won the final edition of the tournament in 2017.
   Konta is 1-1 against Vondrousova. Their last meeting occurred only three weeks ago, with Konta winning 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 in the Italian Open quarterfinals.
   The men's semifinals are scheduled to begin Friday at 3:50 a.m. (Tennis Channel). Second-seeded Rafael Nadal and third-seeded Roger Federer will renew their storied rivalry, followed by top-seeded Novak Djokovic against fourth-seeded Dominic Thiem.
   Nadal leads Federer 23-15 overall and 13-2 on clay. Djokovic is 6-2 (3-2 on clay) against Thiem. However, Thiem won 7-6 (5), 6-3, 6-0 in the French Open quarterfinals during Djokovic's 2017 slump.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Rain postpones remaining French Open quarterfinals

   The French Open suffered its first rainout in three years today, potentially helping Rafael Nadal and Johanna Konta and possibly hurting Novak Djokovic and Simona Halep.
   The quarterfinals in the top half of the men's and women's singles draws were rescheduled for Thursday, when partly cloudy weather is forecast.
   At 3 a.m. (Tennis Channel), third seed and defending champion Halep will face unseeded Amanda Anisimova, 17, and eighth-seeded Ashleigh Barty will play 14th-seeded Madison Keys.
   Not before 5:30 a.m. PDT (Tennis Channel), the top-seeded Djokovic, seeking his fourth consecutive Grand Slam title, will play fifth-seeded Alexander Zverev, and fourth seed and 2018 runner-up Dominic Thiem will meet 10th-seeded Karen Khachanov. 
   The women's semifinals, originally scheduled for Thursday, will be played Friday with the men's semis, although more rain is forecast then.
   The second-seeded Nadal, seeking his 12th French Open singles crown, and third-seeded Roger Federer, who won his only Roland Garros title 10 years ago, have at least two days to rest between their quarterfinal victories on Tuesday and the resumption of their rivalry on Friday.
   But whoever wins Thursday's men's quarterfinals must play another best-of-five-set match on Friday, weather permitting.
   Whoever reaches the women's final in the top half of the draw will have played on three consecutive days, if the weather allows. In the bottom half, the 26th-seeded Konta and unseeded Marketa Vondrousova, a Czech left-hander who will turn 20 on June 28, advanced to the semifinals on Tuesday.
   As The New York Times reported today, this likely will be one of the last complete rainouts in Grand Slam history. A retractable roof over Court Philippe Chatrier is scheduled to be finished in time for next year's French Open, and all other major tournaments have at least one stadium with that feature.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Konta stays unbeaten vs. Stephens, gains French semis

Johanna Konta, who won the 2016 Bank of the West Classic at Stanford, beat
Fresno product Sloane Stephens 6-1, 6-4 today in the French Open quarterfinals.
Konta improved to 3-0 against Stephens, with all matches occurring this year.
2018 photo by Mal Taam 
   There will be no rematch of last year's French Open women's final.
   This year, at least.
   Simona Halep has a good chance to retain her title, but Sloane Stephens lost to a nemesis today.
   No. 26 seed Johanna Konta, who won the 2016 Bank of the West Classic at Stanford, beat No. 7 seed Stephens, a 26-year-old Fresno product, 6-1, 6-4 in the quarterfinals in Paris.
   Konta, 28, improved to 3-0 in the head-to-head series. Each match has occurred this year.
   "It's definitely one of my best performances," Konta, the first British woman to reach the French Open semifinals since Jo Durie 36 years ago, crowed to reporters. "I feel really pleased with how I dealt with the conditions out there ... "
   Konta was 0-4 in the French Open entering this year but reached the final of clay-court tournaments in Rabat (Morocco) early last month and Rome three weeks ago.
   Wind blew clay dust off the surface in today's first match on Court Philippe Chatrier. That made Stephens' job more difficult against the more powerful Konta, who won 86 percent of the points (33 of 38) on her first serve to her opponent's 67 percent (24 of 36).
   "Clay is a neutralizer, but there wasn't very much clay on the court today," complained Stephens, who at 5-foot-7 (1.70 meters) is four inches (10.2 centimeters) shorter than Konta. "So that was a little bit tough. She likes to play on hard court and grass, and the court was very fast today, and I think that kind of worked in her favor, obviously. Her serving on a court that was playing a lot different than we had been playing on, that was a little bit tricky."
   A first-time Grand Slam finalist is guaranteed as Konta is scheduled to face unseeded Marketa Vondrousova, a Czech left-hander who will turn 20 on June 28, on Thursday.
   Vondrousova, ranked No. 38, topped 31st-seeded Petra Martic of Croatia 7-6 (1), 7-5. Martic ousted second-seeded Karolina Pliskova, the runner-up in the 2015 Bank of the West Classic, in the third round.
   In the men's semifinals, second-seeded Rafael Nadal will renew his rivalry with third-seeded Roger Federer.
   Nadal, seeking his12th French Open crown, dismissed seventh-seeded Kei Nishikori 6-1, 6-1, 6-3 in 1 hour, 51 minutes.
   Federer, who claimed his only French Open title 10 years ago, subdued friend and countryman Stan Wawrinka, 7-6 (4), 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4 in 3 hours, 35 minutes.
   Federer made his Northern California debut last year in a San Jose exhibition. Wawrinka, the 2015 champion at Roland Garros, is rebounding from two knee operations.
   Federer, 37, has won a record 20 Grand Slam men's singles titles, and Nadal, 33, ranks second with 17.
   Nadal leads Federer 23-15 overall and 13-2 on clay. They will meet on clay for the first time since Nadal's 6-1, 6-3 victory in the 2013 Italian Open.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Anisimova, 17, reaches first Grand Slam quarterfinal

Amanda Anisimova slugs a forehand en route to her first
professional title at 15 in the 2017 Sacramento Challenger.
Photo by Rob Vomund
   Amanda Anisimova today became the youngest player to reach the French Open quarterfinals since Nicole Vaidisova 13 years ago.
   Both players have a Sacramento connection.
   Anisimova, 17, of Aventura, Fla., dispatched 21-year-old qualifier Aliona Bolsova, a Spanish citizen from Moldova, 6-3, 6-0 in 69 minutes in Paris to set up a first-time meeting with Simona Halep.
   Halep, the third seed and defending champion, crushed 18-year-old Iga Swiatek, last year's Wimbledon girls singles titlist from Poland, 6-1, 6-0 in 45 minutes.
   Anisimova, who was born to Russian parents in Freehold, N.J., won her first professional title at 15 in the 2017 Sacramento Challenger. She has not lost a set en route to her first Grand Slam quarterfinal.
   Anisimova also became the youngest American to reach the last eight at Roland Garros since Jennifer Capriati in 1993.
   Vaidisova, a Czech, played for the now-defunct Sacramento Capitals of World TeamTennis from age 15 to 17 (2004-06). She climbed to a career-high No. 7 in 2007 but retired at 20 in 2010 because of burnout. Vaidisova returned in 2014 but retired again at 27 in 2016 because of injuries.
   Also in the top half of the French Open draw today, two women coming off big upsets lost.
   Sofia Kenin, a 20-year-old American who ousted 10th seed and three-time French Open champion Serena Williams, fell to eighth-seeded Ashleigh Barty of Australia 6-3, 3-6, 6-0. Kenin won Northern California Challenger singles titles in 2016, 2017 and 2018.
   Katerina Siniakova, who knocked out top-ranked Naomi Osaka, succumbed to 14th-seeded Madison Keys, the champion in the final edition of the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford in 2017, 6-2, 6-4.
   In the quarterfinals in the top half of the French Open men's draw, top-seeded Novak Djokovic will face fifth-seeded Alexander Zverev of Germany, and fourth-seeded Dominic Thiem of Austria will meet 10th-seeded Karen Khachanov of Russia.
   Djokovic, who won the 2016 French Open title to complete a career Grand Slam, has not lost more than four games in a set in this year's tournament. Thiem reached last year's final, losing to Rafael Nadal 6-4, 6-3, 6-2.
Please help defray travel expenses
$
Thanks for your donation!