Thursday, March 12, 2015

Novikov upsets top-100 player to reach BNP main draw

Dennis Novikov recorded his second career victory
over a top-100 player. 2014 photo by Paul Bauman
   Dennis Novikov of San Jose recorded his second career victory over a top-100 player to earn his first berth in the main draw of the BNP Paribas Open.
   Novikov, 21, upset Spanish veteran Daniel Gimeno-Traver, seeded fifth in qualifying and ranked 94th, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (4) on Wednesday at Indian Wells.
   It was the second straight win over a qualifying seed for the 6-foot-4 (1.93-meter) Novikov, who has used his booming serve to soar from No. 612 to No. 256 in the past year.
   He surprised Slovenia's Aljaz Bedene, seeded 13th and ranked 115th, in the first round. The qualifying event at Indian Wells consists of two rounds instead of the usual three.
   Mackenzie McDonald, a 19-year-old UCLA sophomore from Piedmont in the San Francisco Bay Area, lost to 23rd-seeded Michael Berrer of Germany 6-4, 6-4 in the final round of qualifying.
   McDonald had beaten Uzbekistan's Farrukh Dustov, seeded seventh and ranked 99th, in the first round for his second career victory over a top-100 player.
   McDonald stunned then-No. 79 Nicolas Mahut of France in the opening round of qualifying at Cincinnati in 2013. McDonald then ousted Steve Johnson, now ranked 44th, to become the only unranked teenager to qualify for an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament, the highest level for men besides the Grand Slams.
   Wild card Nicole Gibbs, the 2012 and 2013 NCAA champion from Stanford making her Indian Wells debut, lost to Monica Puig of Puerto Rico 6-3, 7-5 in the first round of the main draw.
   Modesto product Maria Sanchez, the 2011 Pacific-12 Conference Women's Player of the Year at USC, fell to top-seeded Polona Hercog of Slovenia 6-3, 7-5 on Monday in the opening round of qualifying.  
   Novikov is scheduled to play fellow qualifier Jurgen Melzer, a 33-year-old left-hander from Austria, today in the first round of the main draw.
   Melzer is ranked No. 86 after climbing to a career-high No. 8 in 2011. He won the Wimbledon men's doubles title with Philipp Petzschner of Germany in 2010 and ascended to a career-high No. 6 in doubles later that year. 
   At 18, Novikov stunned then-No. 86 Jerzy Janowicz of Poland in the first round of the 2012 U.S. Open. Janowicz, 6-foot-8 (2.03 meters), reached the Wimbledon semifinals the following year.
   Novikov captured the singles and doubles titles in the USTA Boys 18 National Championships in Kalamazoo, Mich., in 2012 to earn wild cards for both main draws in the U.S. Open.
   He also advanced to the second round in doubles at Flushing Meadows, pairing with Michael Redlicki to knock off U.S. veterans Bobby Reynolds and Michael Russell.
   Novikov turned pro in 2013 after leading UCLA to the NCAA final as a sophomore.   
   College result -- Led by Deimante Bulatovaite, the No. 75 Sacramento State women coasted to a 6-1 victory over Southern Utah in Gold River, Calif.
   Playing on Court 1 for the first time, Bulatovaite edged Veronika Rogova 7-6, 3-6 [10-5]. Bulatoviate, a sophomore from Lithuania, replaced Alina Soltanici, who did not play for an undisclosed reason.
   Sac State, which has won the last 13 Big Sky Conference tournament titles, improved to 7-7 overall and 4-0 in league play. Southern Utah fell to 1-3 and 0-1.

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