Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Top seed Sweeting ends skid, advances in Tiburon

   TIBURON -- The best year of Ryan Sweeting's career has taken a toll on him.
   After losing three straight matches and five of six in tennis' major leagues, the top-seeded Sweeting defeated wild card and fellow American Steve Johnson 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 Wednesday in the first round of the $100,000 First Republic Bank Tiburon Challenger at the Tiburon Peninsula Club.
   "I'm trying to find energy for the last run of the year," said Sweeting, the 2005 U.S. Open boys champion. "I'm trying to give it one last push. It's been a long year. I had good results early in the year, but the 10-month season is always tough for me. It's been a tough few months."
   Sweeting, who combines power and quickness at 6-foot-5, steadily rose in the world rankings from No. 249 at the end of 2007 to a career-high No. 64 one month ago. He's now No. 70.
   Sweeting achieved a significant result in each of the first four months of this year in tennis' big leagues. As a qualifier, he reached the second round of the Australian Open in January, the quarterfinals at Delray Beach (Fla.) in February and the third round at Indian Wells in March. Then Sweeting won his first career ATP World Tour title in April on clay in Houston.
   "I got physically a lot fitter and stronger," explained Sweeting, a 24-year-old native of the Bahamas who moved to Fort Lauderdale, Fla, at 12 and still lives there. "I really focused on that in the offseason. I had a lot of confidence after the Australian Open, which is the name of the game."
   Rafael Nadal has been a nemesis, beating Sweeting in straight sets in the Australian Open and Indian Wells and in the first round of Wimbledon.
   Tiburon is only Sweeting's second Challenger, equivalent to Triple-A baseball, since he reached the semifinals in Sarasota, Fla., in late April. He has not advanced past the second round since Sarasota.
   But Sweeting wore down Johnson, the reigning NCAA singles champion from USC. Sweeting lost his serve twice late in the first set, double-faulting three times at 4-5, but recovered.
   "I was up a break in the first set and playing well, but then my serve went away, and I threw in a few double faults," Sweeting said. "He served well in the first set, but then I think his legs went away. He started missing first serves, and I was more aggressive on his second serve. I tried to stay more aggressive in the last two sets."
   Johnson, a senior, is taking this semester off to play professional tournaments as an amateur. He plans to return to USC in the spring in an attempt to join Stanford's Paul Goldstein (1995-98) as the only men to play on four national championship teams and earn All-America honors all four years.
   Martin Fischer of Austria, meanwhile, defeated seventh-seeded Wayne Odesnik of Weston, Fla., 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-1 in the second round to earn another crack at Ivo Karlovic of Croatia.
   Odesnik, the 2007 Sacramento Challenger champion who served a one-year suspension last year for bringing human growth hormone into Australia, was treated for a right thigh injury at 2-5 in the second set.
   The second-seeded Karlovic, 6-10, advanced with a 7-6 (2), 6-2 victory over Robert Farah of Colombia. Farah, a former teammate of Johnson's at USC, hurt his back reaching for a two-handed backhand early in the tiebreaker and took a medical timeout between sets.
   Karlovic saved two match points against Fischer in the first round of last week's Sacramento Challenger and went on to win the title.
   Also Wednesday, sixth-seeded Izak Van der Merwe of South Africa fell to Alex Kuznetsov of Tampa, Fla., 6-4, 4-6, 7-5. Kuznetsov reached the semifinals in Sacramento for the second time.
   ATP World Tour in Shanghai -- Folsom resident Dmitry Tursunov defaulted his second-round singles match against second-seeded Andy Murray in the $3.24 million Shanghai Rolex Masters with a thigh injury.
   Tursunov is scheduled to play in the second round of doubles with Tommy Robredo of Spain against sixth-seeded Poles Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Markowski, the runners-up in the U.S. Open last month.
   Top-seeded Bob and Mike Bryan reached the quarterfinals with a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Marcel Granollers of Spain and Viktor Troicki of Serbia.
   WTA tour in Osaka, Japan --Vania King of the Sacramento Capitals in World TeamTennis defeated fellow American Jill Craybas 6-1, 3-6, 6-1 in the first round of the HP Japan Women's Open.
   King is scheduled to meet second-seeded Marion Bartoli of France in the second round. King recorded her first victory over a top-10 player three weeks ago when she stunned Bartoli in the second round at Seoul, South Korea.
   In doubles, top-seeded King and Yaroslava Shvedova beat Americans Lindsay Lee-Waters and Megan Moulton-Levy 7-5, 6-4 in the first round.
   If King and Shvedova defeat Eleni Daniilidou of Greece and Mandy Minella of Luxembourg, they'll play third-seeded Raquel Kops-Jones, a former Cal All-American from Fresno, and Abigail Spears in the semifinals.
   ITF Men's Circuit in Austin, Texas -- Granite Bay resident Artem Ilyushin, a senior at Mississippi State, and Daniel Chu of Canada lost to fourth-seeded Jesse Levine of Boca Raton, Fla., and Peter Polansky of Canada 6-7 (7), 6-2, 10-8 tiebreak in the first round of doubles at the $15,000 Austin Hill Country Classic.
$100,000 FIRST REPUBLIC BANK TIBURON CHALLENGER
At Tiburon Peninsula Club
First-round singles
   Alejandro Gonzalez, Colombia, def. Jack Sock, Overland Park, Kan., 4-6, 6-0, 6-3. Bjorn Phau (8), Germany, def. Greg Jones, Australia, 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-1. Alex Bogdanovic, Great Britain, def. Chris Guccione, Australia, 7-6 (1), 6-3. Alex Kuznetsov, Tampa, Fla., def. Izak Van der Merwe (6), South Africa, 6-4, 4-6, 7-5. Amer Delic, Bosnia and Herzegovina, def. Artem Sitak, New Zealand, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2. Uladzimir Ignatik, Belarus, def. Pierre-Ludovic Duclos, Canada, 5-7, 6-1, 6-3. Ryan Sweeting (1), Fort Lauderdale, Fla., def. Steve Johnson, Orange, 4-6, 6-2, 6-2. Sam Querrey (3), Las Vegas, def. Fritz Wolmarans, South Africa, 6-4, 6-4.
Second-round singles
   Ivo Karlovic (2), Croatia, def. Robert Farah, Colombia, 7-6 (2), 6-2. Martin Fischer, Austria, def. Wayne Odesnik (7), Weston, Fla., 6-7 (6), 6-3, 6-1.
Thursday's schedule
Stadium Court 
(Beginning at 11 a.m.)  
   Sweeting (1) vs. Bogdanovic, Querrey (3) vs. Delic not before 1 p.m., Cabal and Farah (1) vs. Kuznetsov and Sweeting, Johnson  and Querrey vs. Battistone and Wettengel not before 4:30 p.m.
Court 1
(Beginning at 11 a.m.)
   Ignatik vs. Kuznetsov, Grigelis vs. Reynolds (4), Pospisil and Reynolds vs. Huey and Van Der Merwe (2) not before 4 p.m.
Court 4
(Beginning at noon)
   Borvanov vs. Pospisil (5), Phau (8) vs. Gonzalez, Ball and Guccione vs. Grigelis and Ignatik not before 4 p.m.

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