Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Nishikori thriving under San Rafael's Gilbert

   Brad Gilbert is working his magic again.
   The San Rafael resident's latest pupil, Kei Nishikori of Japan, knocked off a top-10 player for the second straight tournament Tuesday.
   Nishikori, who recently became the highest-ranked Japanese player in history, defeated fourth-seeded Tomas Berdych, last year's Wimbledon runner-up from the Czech Republic, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the first round of the $2.6 million Swiss Indoors Basel.
   Three weeks ago, Nishikori beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Shanghai en route to his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semifinal.
   "I’m really happy the way I played today," the 32nd-ranked Nishikori, who's listed at 5-foot-10 and 150 pounds, said on the ATP's Web site. "It was a slow start for me, but (I was) getting rhythm in the second set and playing really well in the third, so I’m really happy."
   Gilbert, who began coaching Nishikori last December, also has worked with Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick and Andy Murray. Under Gilbert, Agassi won six of his eight majors, Roddick won the 2003 U.S. Open and climbed to No. 1, and Murray reached a then-career-high No. 8.
   The right-handed Nishikori underwent surgery on his right elbow in August 2009 and plunged to No. 898 early last year.
   Meanwhile, qualifier James Blake, the runner-up in last month's Sacramento Challenger, reached the second round in Basel after his good friend, Mardy Fish, retired with a left hamstring injury while leading 1-0. They won the San Jose doubles title in 2004.
   Live television coverage of the Swiss Indoors continues Wednesday at 8 a.m. PDT on Tennis Channel. 
   Querrey advances -- San Francisco native Sam Querrey dispatched Ernests Gulbis of Latvia 6-3, 6-4 in the opening round of the $2.85 million Valencia (Spain) Open.
   Querrey, who reached the Sacramento semifinals, will face second-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France in the second round. Tsonga beat Querrey 7-6 (7), 6-1 in the second round at Shanghai last year in their only career meeting.
   Tsonga has won 12 of his past 14 matches, including titles in Metz and last week in Vienna, as he tries to become one of the eight singles qualifiers for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals this month in London. Tsonga is seventh in the point standings.
   TV coverage of the Valencia Open begins with the quarterfinals Friday at 2 p.m. (taped) on Tennis Channel.
   Schnack edged in doubles -- Yasmin Schnack of Elk Grove (near Sacramento) and Alyona Sotnikova of Ukraine lost to Tammy Hendler, a former Sacramento Capital who plays for Belgium, and Chi Chi Scholl of Pompano Beach, Fla., 1-6, 6-4, 12-10 tiebreak in the first round of the Grapevine (Texas) Women's $50,000 Tennis Classic.
   Hendler and Scholl won the doubles title of a $50,000 tournament in Lexington, Ky., in July. Schnack and Hendler are scheduled to meet Wednesday in the opening round of singles.
   Harbatsiuk falls -- Kiryl Harbatsiuk, who graduated from Sacramento State in the spring, lost in singles but won in doubles in the $10,000 Bluewater Bay Professional Tournament in Niceville, Fla.
   Harbatsiuk, a native of Minsk, Belarus, fell to Herbert Wiltschnig of Austria 2-6, 7-6 (2), 6-3 in the first round of singles but teamed with Boris Nicola Bakalov of Bulgaria to beat Alexios Halebian of Glendale and Matthew Short of Great Britain 1-6, 6-3, 10-8 tiebreak in the opening round of doubles.   
   Artem Ilyushin, a Mississippi State senior from Granite Bay (near Sacramento), and Gilad Ben Zvi of Israel stunned top-seeded Chris Letcher and Brendan Moore of Australia 6-3, 6-2. Ilyushin is scheduled to play qualifier Maverick Banes of Australia on Wednesday in the first round of singles.
   Indian Wells tickets --  Daily tickets and "daily double" packages for the BNP Paribas Open, March 5-18 in Indian Wells, will go on sale Wednesday, tournament director Steve Simon announced.
   Daily tickets range from $12 for the first Thursday evening session to $90 for loge seats for championship weekend. The daily double package provides the same seat (suite, box or loge) for both day and evening sessions.
   Fans attending the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 and WTA Premier tournament will see a number of improvements at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, highlighted by a 19,140-square-foot shade structure in the East Village. The permanent facility will feature information towers, four video walls listing scores and schedules, a new bar and music stage, and numerous dining options. 
   For more information and to order tickets, visit https://owa.mcclatchy.com/owa/redir.aspx?C=479724af04384fc7aa0a11fc2632dbb1&URL=http%3a%2f%2fwww.bnpparibasopen.com, or call the Indian Wells Tennis Garden box office at (800) 999-1585 or (760) 200-8000.

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