Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Updated: World's fastest server enters Sacramento

   The world's fastest server, the player who ended Andre Agassi's career and a Wimbledon champion head the field in next week's $100,000 RelyAid Natomas Challenger in Sacramento.
   Samuel Groth, 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, was credited with a 163.4-mph (263-kph) serve in May at a Challenger tournament in Busan, South Korea. Groth, a 24-year-old Australian ranked No. 237 in the world, broke the record of 156 mph by 6-foot-10 Ivo Karlovic, who won last year's Sacramento and Tiburon Challengers. 
   Benjamin Becker beat Agassi in the third round of the 2006 U.S. Open, the last tournament of the future International Tennis Hall of Famer's career. Becker, the 2004 NCAA singles champion from Baylor, is the only top-100 player entered in the RelyAid Challenger at the Natomas Racquet Club. The 31-year-old German, just 5-foot-10 and 158 pounds, is ranked No. 84. He reached a career-high No. 38 in 2007 and sat out for six months last year with an elbow injury.
   Also entered in Sacramento is Frederik Nielsen, 29, of Denmark. Nielsen, the grandson of two-time Wimbledon singles runner-up Kurt Nielsen, and Jonathan Marray of Great Britain teamed in July to become the first wild cards to win the Wimbledon men's doubles title.
   James Blake, last year's runner-up, accepted a wild card to return to Sacramento. The 32-year-old American is ranked No. 99 after reaching a career-high No. 4 in 2006.
   Neither Karlovic nor 2011 semifinalist Sam Querrey is on the direct entry list this year. Both are former top-20 players who were coming back from injuries at this time last year. The 24-year-old Querrey has rebounded to No. 26, but the 33-year-old Karlovic is mired at No. 80. 
   Three former Sacramento Challenger champions plan to return: 32-year-old Rik de Voest, a South African who won the inaugural tournament at the Sutter Lawn Tennis Club in 2005; Wayne Odesnik (2007) of Weston, Fla.; and John Millman (2010) of Australia. Odesnik, a 5-foot-11 left-hander, served a one-year suspension in 2010 for transporting human growth hormone into Australia.
   The Sacramento field also includes top U.S. prospects Denis Kudla (20 years old), Jack Sock (20), Rhyne Williams (21) and Steve Johnson (22). Sock won the U.S. Open mixed doubles title last year with Melanie Oudin. Johnson captured the last two NCAA singles titles, beating Williams of Tennessee in the 2011 final at Stanford, before completing his eligibility at USC in May.
   Based on current rankings, the Sacramento seeds will be Becker, 34-year-old Michael Russell (No. 104) of Houston, Ryan Sweeting (No. 135) of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Odesnik (No. 136), Matteo Viola (No. 148) of Italy, Peter Polansky (No. 149) of Canada, Tim Smyczek (No. 154) of Tampa, Fla., and Kudla (No. 158) of Arlington, Va.
   Qualifying for this year's Sacramento Challenger begins Saturday at 9 a.m. The main draw starts Monday at 10 a.m., and the singles and doubles finals will be played on Oct. 7 at times to be determined.
(All Times PDT)
   Wednesday -- Tokyo (women), quarterfinals, Tennis Channel, 10 p.m.-5 a.m. Thursday (live).
   Thursday -- Tokyo (women), semifinals, Tennis Channel, 9 p.m.-1 a.m. Friday (live). Bangkok (men), early rounds, Tennis Channel, 5-9 p.m. (delay).
   Friday -- Tokyo (women), final, Tennis Channel, 9-11 p.m. (live). Bangkok (men), quarterfinals, Tennis Channel, 5-9 p.m. (delay).
   Saturday -- Kuala Lumpur (men), semifinals, Tennis Channel, 1-5 p.m. (delay). Bangkok (men), semifinals, Tennis Channel, 5-9 p.m. (delay).
   Sunday -- Kuala Lumpur (men), final, Tennis Channel, 1-3 p.m. (delay). Bangkok (men), final, Tennis Channel, 5-7 p.m. (delay).
    Saturday-Oct. 7 -- $100,000 RelyAid Natomas Challenger, Natomas Racquet Club, 2450 Natomas Park Drive, Sacramento, Calif., 95833, www.natomaschallenger.com, (916) 649-0909. 2011 champions: Ivo Karlovic, Carsten Ball-Chris Guccione.
   Oct. 6-14 -- $100,000 First Republic Bank Men's Challenger, Tiburon Peninsula Club, 1600 Mar West St., Tiburon, Calif., 94920, www.tiburonchallenger.com, (415) 789-7900. 2011 champions: Ivo Karlovic, Carsten Ball-Chris Guccione.
   Oct. 23-28 -- WTA Championships (top eight singles players and top four doubles teams of 2012), Istanbul, www.wtatennis.com/page/Tournaments/Info/0,,12781~742,00.html. 2011 champions: Petra Kvitova, Liezel Huber-Lisa Raymond.
   Nov. 3-4 -- Fed Cup Final, Serbia at Czech Republic, www.fedcup.com. 2011 champion: Czech Republic.
   Nov. 5-12 -- ATP World Tour Finals (top eight singles players and top eight doubles teams of 2012), London, www.atpworldtour.com/Finals/2012.aspx. 2011 champions: Roger Federer, Max Mirnyi-Daniel Nestor.
   Nov. 16-18 -- Davis Cup Final, Spain at Czech Republic, www.daviscup.com. 2011 champion: Spain.
   Jan. 14-27, 2013 -- AUSTRALIAN OPEN, www.australianopen.org. 2012 champions: Novak Djokovic, Victoria Azarenka, Leander Paes-Radek Stepanek, Svetlana Kuznetsova-Vera Zvonareva.
   Feb. 1-3, 2013 -- Davis Cup, first round, Brazil at United States, www.daviscup.com.
   Feb. 9-10, 2013 -- Fed Cup, first round, United States at Italy, www.fedcup.com.
   Feb. 11-17, 2013 -- SAP Open, HP Pavilion in San Jose, www.sapopentennis.com. 2012 champions: Milos Raonic, Mark Knowles-Xavier Malisse.
   March 4-17, 2013 -- BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells, Calif., www.bnpparibasopen.com. 2012 champions: Roger Federer, Victoria Azarenka, Marc Lopez-Rafael Nadal, Liezel Huber-Lisa Raymond.
   Following are this week's world rankings of professional players with Northern California ties (change from last week in parentheses):
   Kevin Anderson, Sacramento Capitals (2012) of World TeamTennis -- No. 35 in singles (no change), No. 96 in doubles (-3).
   Nick Andrews, Cal All-American in 2012 -- No. 1,429 in singles (-4), career-high No. 1,221 in doubles (+294).  
   Bob Bryan, 1998 NCAA doubles champion from Stanford -- Career-high No. 1 in doubles (no change), unranked in singles.
   Mike Bryan, 1998 NCAA doubles champion from Stanford -- Career-high No. 1 in doubles (no change), unranked in singles.
   Mardy Fish, Capitals (2012) -- No. 22 in singles (no change), No. 728 in doubles (+2).
   John Paul Fruttero, Cal All-American in 2001 and 2002 -- No. 107 in doubles (-8), unranked in singles.
   Artem Ilyushin, Granite Bay resident -- No. 921 in singles (-1), No. 1,224 in doubles (+5).
   Bradley Klahn, 2010 NCAA singles champion and 2011 NCAA doubles runner-up from Stanford -- Career-high No. 347 in singles (+2), No. 1,024 in doubles (+7). 
   Mark Knowles, Capitals (2001-07, 2009-12), three-time World TeamTennis Male MVP (2001, 2005 and 2007) -- No. 124 in doubles (-1), unranked in singles.
   Alex Kuznetsov, Capitals (2012) -- No. 194 (+4) in singles, No. 427 in doubles (+1) in doubles.
   Scott Lipsky, 2002 NCAA doubles runner-up from Stanford -- No. 26 in doubles (+1), unranked in singles.
   Sam Querrey, San Francisco native, Capitals (2012) -- No. 26 in singles (no change), No. 46 in doubles (-2).
   Ryan Sweeting, Capitals (2012) -- No. 135 in singles (-1), No. 844 in doubles (-7).
   Ryan Thacher, 2011 NCAA doubles runner-up from Stanford -- No. 1,288 in singles (-7), No. 1,466 in doubles (-33).
   Dmitry Tursunov, Folsom resident -- No. 100 in singles (+25, won $83,000 tournament in Izmir for second Turkish Challenger singles title in two weeks), No. 179 in doubles (-2).
   Jimmy Wang, trains part-time in Granite Bay -- No. 151 in singles (+2), No. 339 in doubles (+5).
   Pedro Zerbini, All-Pacific-10 Conference first team at Cal (2009-11) -- No. 625 in singles (no change), No. 701 in doubles (+5).
   Mallory Burdette, NCAA singles runner-up in 2012 and NCAA doubles champion in 2011 and 2012 from Stanford -- Career-high No. 165 in singles (-5), No. 660 in doubles (+10). 
   Jana Juricova, NCAA singles (2011) and doubles (2009) champion from Cal -- No. 927 in singles (no change), unranked in doubles.
   Vania King, Capitals (2010-12) -- No. 13 in doubles (no change), No. 59 in singles (-2).
   Raquel Kops-Jones, 2003 NCAA doubles champion from Cal -- No. 20 in doubles (no change), No. 743 in singles (+19).
   Asia Muhammad, Capitals (2012) -- No. 168 in doubles (no change, won $75,000 Albuquerque Challenger), No. 474 in singles (+41, quarterfinalist in $75,000 Albuquerque Challenger).
   Maria Sanchez, Modesto resident -- Career-high No. 108 in doubles (+7, runner-up in $75,000 Albuquerque Challenger), career-high No. 149 in singles (+28, won $75,000 Albuquerque Challenger).
   Yasmin Schnack, Elk Grove resident, Capitals (2011-12) -- No. 141 in doubles (+12, won $75,000 Albuquerque Challenger), No. 505 in singles (-50).
   Romana Tedjakusuma, Tracy resident -- No. 492 in singles (-28), No. 1,123 in doubles (-1).
   CoCo Vandeweghe, Capitals (2009, 2012) -- No. 83 in singles (+4), No. 490 in doubles (+5).

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