Saturday, October 5, 2013

Potential star Kyrgios upsets Klahn despite sore arm

Nick Kyrgios will meet second-seeded Tim Smyczek
in the semifinals of the Sacramento Challenger.
Photos by Paul Bauman
   SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Imagine what Nick Kyrgios will do with a healthy right arm.
   Despite soreness that affected his serve, the 18-year-old potential star from Australia upset seventh-seeded Bradley Klahn 7-6 (5), 2-6, 7-6 (4) on Friday in the quarterfinals of the $100,000 Sacramento Pro Circuit Challenger.
   The unseeded Kyrgios (pronounced KEER-ee-ose), already ranked No. 191 in the world, said the problem began during his three-set victory over 17-year-old countryman Thanasi Kokkinakis on Thursday in the second round.
   "It's something that's probably not going to go away in the next couple of days or in a week's time, but I can play through it," said the 6-foot-4 (1.93-meter), 171-pound (78-kilogram) Kyrgios, the youngest player in the top 200 by 20 months. "Today, I had to just do what I could on serve. I could feel it on nearly every serve."
   Kyrgios faced a whopping 19 break points but, showing mental toughness in addition to his considerable physical skills, saved 14 of them during the 2-hour, 10-minute battle on a breezy day at the Natomas Racquet Club.
Bradley Klahn, a 23-year-old
Stanford graduate, said Kyr-
gios "has improved a lot."
   "Mentally, I've gone through a lot of ups and downs in the last three days," conceded Kyrgios, who also knocked off seventh-seeded Rajeev Ram in two tiebreakers in the first round. "I've played some really good tennis, and I've played some pretty average tennis. I'm trying to stay as positive as I can, but it's pretty hard knowing that one of your biggest strengths isn't there anymore -- your serve."       
   Kyrgios will meet second-seeded Tim Smyczek of Tampa, Fla., for the first time in today's first semifinal, which follows an 11 a.m. doubles semifinal involving Natomas director of tennis Brian Martinez.
    The 5-foot-9 (1.75-meter) Smyczek (pronounced SMEE-chek) outlasted unseeded Samuel Groth of Australia 7-6 (8), 4-6, 6-1. Smyczek, who cracked the top 100 for the first time on Monday at No. 100, saved five set points in the first set.   
   Groth, 6-foot-4 (1.93 meters) and 205 pounds (93 kilograms), holds the record for the fastest serve with a 163.4-mph (263-kph) rocket in the Busan (South Korea) Challenger last year.
   In the second semifinal, eighth-seeded Donald Young will face his doubles partner, wild card Jarmere Jenkins, in a rare matchup of African-Americans.
   Young, who won last week's $50,000 Napa Valley Challenger, dismissed unseeded Matt Reid of Australia 6-3, 6-4 for his eighth consecutive victory. Jenkins downed Australia's Matthew Ebden, the third seed and Napa runner-up, 6-7 (3), 6-2, 6-4 to continue his surprising run only four months after graduating from the University of Virginia in anthropology.
Wild card Jarmere Jenkins, a recent University of
Virginia graduate, surprised No. 3 seed Matthew
Ebden of Australia.
   At the NCAA championships in May, Jenkins led the Cavaliers to the team title, reached the singles final and won the doubles crown with then-freshman Mac Styslinger.
   Young, a nine-year veteran at only 24, dominated Jenkins 6-2, 6-2 in the second round of the $50,000 Winnetka (Ill.) Challenger in July in their only career meeting.
   The Atlanta-area residents will play in Sunday's doubles final in their first tournament together.
   Kyrgios, whose father is Greek-Australian and mother is Malaysian, resembles San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick facially, physically and athletically. The No. 1 junior in the world in January, Kyrgios already has made an impact at the top level of men's tennis this year.
   As a wild card playing in the singles main draw of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time, Kyrgios defeated then-No. 52 Radek Stepanek in three tiebreakers in the first round of the French Open. Stepanek reached a career-high No. 8 in 2006.
Eighth-seeded Donald Young will face Jenkins
in a rare matchup of African-Americans.
   Kyrgios also won three qualifying matches to advance to the main draw of the U.S. Open before losing to fourth-ranked David Ferrer of Spain in straight sets.
   Kyrgios made his Davis Cup debut last month, losing 6-4 in the fifth set with Chris Guccione to Poland's Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski, the seventh-ranked doubles team in the world, in Warsaw.
   Australian Davis Cup captain Patrick Rafter, an International Tennis Hall of Famer, said afterward of Kyrgios, "We've got one of the great Davis Cup players coming up right now."
   Kyrgios' sore arm didn't seem to affect his groundstrokes against Klahn. Kyrgois rifled forehand and backhand passing shots past the 23-year-old Stanford graduate.
   Krygios could have crumbled when, serving for the match at 5-3 in the third set, he double-faulted twice in a row and was broken. But he shook it off, forced a tiebreaker and prevailed on his second match point with a runaround forehand passing shot.         
   Klahn had beaten Kyrgios 6-3, 6-2 in the first round of Australian Open qualifying in January in their only previous encounter.
   "Everyone gets better with time if they're working, and he's improved a lot," observed the 133rd-ranked Klahn, a left-hander who's listed at 6 feet (1.83 meters) but appears two or three inches shorter. "In Australia, I played really solid, kept the ball deep and waited for him to make mistakes, which he did. He played better at the biggest moments today. He didn't give me as many errors at the key times, especially in the breakers."
   Kyrgios has played five tiebreakers in the tournament and won them all.
   Once his arm heals, watch out.
   Links to the singles and doubles draws and today's schedule were not available.
   Following are links to the qualifying draw for the $100,000 First Republic Bank Tiburon Challenger at the Tiburon Peninsula Club and today's schedule:
   http://assets.usta.com/assets/1/15/qualifying_draw291.PDF 
   http://assets.usta.com/assets/1/15/schedule294.PDF

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