Saturday, August 15, 2015

Americans have extra incentive in Aptos semifinal

Seventh-seeded Austin Krajicek, shown Thursday, beat No. 2
Malek Jaziri on Friday in the only upset involving a seed this
week in the Comerica Bank Challenger. Photo by Paul Bauman
  Bjorn Fratangelo and Austin Krajicek will meet today for more than a berth in the final of the $100,000 Comerica Bank Challenger.
   A coveted wild card into the upcoming U.S. Open also will be on the line when the Americans, who are good friends, square off at the Seascape Sports Club in Aptos, Calif.
  Krajicek, seeded seventh, beat No. 2 Malek Jaziri of Tunisia 6-3, 6-4 on Friday in the only upset involving a seed this week.
   Fratangelo, seeded fourth, topped No. 6 Matthew Ebden of Australia 6-4, 6-2. Ebden was coming off a 2-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4 victory over former world No. 2 Tommy Haas, 37, on Thursday night.
   The other semifinal features the winners of the last two Challengers, top-seeded John Millman of Australia and third-seeded Kyle Edmund of Great Britain. Millman won Lexington, Ky., two weeks ago, and Edmund captured Binghamton, N.Y., the previous week. Both were $50,000 tournaments.
   Millman routed fifth-seeded Taro Daniel, a local favorite even though he plays for Japan, 6-1, 6-3. Daniel's American father and Japanese mother recently moved from Spain, where Taro still lives, to Soquel in the Aptos area. 
   Edmund subdued eighth-seeded Yoshihito Nishioka, 19, of Japan 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.
   Millman, ranked 85th, has surrendered no more than three games in a set in his three Comerica matches. He is trying to become the first top seed in the 28-year history of the tournament to win the title.
   Millman is 2-0 against Edmund, winning in straight sets both times last year on hardcourts similar to those in Aptos. Edmund, 20, is ranked No. 109.
Bjorn Fratangelo, shown in the Napa (Calif.) Challenger last
September, would clinch a wild card in the U.S. Open with a
victory over Krajicek today in Aptos. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Binghamton, Lexington and Aptos comprise the U.S. Open Wild Card Challenge. The American who fares the best in two of the three tournaments will receive a wild card into the singles main draw of the U.S. Open, Aug. 31-Sept. 13 in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
   Fratangelo would clinch the wild card with a victory over Krajicek, who must win the title to earn the bid.
   Losers in the first round of singles in the U.S. Open pocket $39,500. Reaching the second round is worth $68,600 and the third round $120,200. The champion will collect $3.3 million.
   Neither the 22-year-old Fratangelo, who's named after Swedish legend Bjorn Borg, nor Krajicek, a 25-year-old left-hander, has played in the singles main draw of the U.S. Open. Krajicek has competed in the doubles main draw at Flushing Meadows three times, reaching the second round in 2013 with countryman Denis Kudla.
   Fratangelo is 1-0 against Krajicek, winning 7-6 (7), 6-3 on clay in a 2011 Futures tournament in Fratangelo's hometown of Pittsburgh. Fratangelo is ranked No. 116, and Krajicek is No. 132.
   A few weeks before the Pittsburgh tournament, Fratangelo won the French Open boys singles title, and Krajicek captured the NCAA doubles championship at Stanford with Texas A&M teammate Jeff Dadamo. Stanford is an hour up the road from Aptos. 
$100,000 COMERICA BANK CHALLENGER
At Seascape Sports Club in Aptos, Calif.
Singles quarterfinals
   Austin Krajicek (7), United States, def. Malek Jaziri (2), Tunisia, 6-3, 6-4.
   Bjorn Fratangelo (4), United States, def. Matthew Ebden (6), Australia, 6-4, 6-2.
   Kyle Edmund (3), Great Britain, def. Yoshihito Nishioka (8), Japan, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.
   John Millman (1), Australia, def. Taro Daniel (5), Japan, 6-1, 6-3. 
Doubles quarterfinal
   Yuki Bhambri, India, and Matthew Ebden, Australia, def. Malek Jaziri, Tunisia, and Ze Zhang, China, 7-5, 6-2.
Today's schedule
Center Court
(Starting at 11 a.m.)
   Chris Guccione, Australia, and Artem Sitak (1), New Zealand, vs. Karen Khachanov, Russia, and Elias Ymer, Sweden.
   Bjorn Fratangelo (4), United States, vs. Austin Krajicek (7), United States.
   John Millman (1), Australia, vs. Kyle Edmund (3), Great Britain.
   Austin Krajicek and Nicholas Monroe (2), United States, vs. Yuki Bhambri, India, and Matthew Ebden, Australia.

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