Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Three seeds, local favorite lose in Bank of the West

Qualifier Nicole Gibbs, a 22-year-old ex-Stanford
star, lost to eighth-seeded Elina Svitolina of
Ukraine in the second round. Photo by Mal Taam
   STANFORD, Calif. -- Area fans and Bank of the West Classic organizers got every upset but the one they really wanted today.
   No. 3 Carla Suarez Navarro, No. 6 Andrea Petkovic and No. 7 Madison Keys fell in the second round at the Taube Family Tennis Stadium on the campus of Stanford University.
   But eighth-seeded Elina Svitolina of Ukraine beat local favorite Nicole Gibbs 6-3, 7-6 (5) in the last match of the night in front of most of an announced crowd of 2,415.
   Gibbs, a 22-year-old qualifier, won three NCAA titles (two in singles and one in doubles) before giving up her senior year at Stanford and turning pro in 2013. Svitolina, 20, reached the French Open quarterfinals in June.
   "It's disappointing to take a loss anywhere," Gibbs said, "but especially in front of a home crowd like that. You hate to disappoint them.
   "I had moments throughout the week when I was playing some pretty good tennis. I have a lot of takeaways that hopefully will help start a good hardcourt season for me."  
   At least American Alison Riske pulled off an upset. A Pittsburgh native living in Atlanta, she defeated Suarez Navarro of Spain 6-4, 6-4 to reach the quarterfinals.
   Suarez Navarro, who won her first WTA doubles title in last year's Bank of the West Classic with countrywoman Garbine Muguruza, took a medical timeout before serving at 1-2 in the second set.
Svitolina, 20, follows through on a forehand against Gibbs. Svitolina
reached the French Open quarterfinals in June. Photo by Mal Taam
   Suarez Navarro -- distinctive for her sensational one-handed backhand; small size (5-foot-4 or 1.62 meters); and short, dark hair -- didn't move well or chase balls in the corners late in the match.
   Earlier, 6-foot-1 (1.85-meter) Mona Barthel edged Petkovic, a Bank of the West semifinalist last year, 5-7, 6-2, 7-6 (4) in a 2-hour, 33-minute battle of Germans.
   In tonight's first match, Ajla Tomljanovic of Croatia overcame a horrendous start and a pro-American crowd to beat her close friend Keys of Boca Raton, Fla., 1-6, 6-4, 6-1. The first set lasted 22 minutes and the last one 25 minutes.
   Keys, 20, was the only U.S. seed in the Bank of the West Classic. She has had a breakthrough year, advancing to the Australian Open semifinals and Wimbledon quarterfinals.   
   Riske and Barthel, both 25, are playing in the main draw at Stanford for the first time this year. Tomljanovic (pronounced Tom-lee-ann-o-vich), 22, on Tuesday won her first main-draw match in five Bank of the West appearances.
   Barthel, ranked 63rd after reaching a career-high No. 23 in early 2013, made her Bank of the West Classic debut on Monday.
   Riske, No. 59 after climbing as high as 40th last year in June, is playing at Stanford for the second time after losing in the second round of qualifying in 2010.
   Riske cracked a smile when asked why she decided to return to the Bank of the West, which runs concurrently with the Citi Open in Washington, D.C.
   "I haven't won a match in D.C.," Riske said, exaggerating slightly. "No, but I always liked playing Indian Wells out here. I wish they would bring more events to California.
American Alison Riske defeated ailing Carla Suarez Navarro,
seeded third, to reach the quarterfinals. Photo by Mal Taam
   "I played (the Bank of the West) my first year on tour, and I remember enjoying it. The weather is perfect, the people are so nice, and the tournament is run so well. I decided, all right, we're changing it up this year. It can't get worse."
   The Tomljanovic-Keys match was what tennis commentator Mary Carillo calls "big-babe tennis." The  5-foot-11 (1.80-meter) Tomljanovic and the 5-foot-10 (1.78-meter) Keys both crush the ball, although Keys has a bigger serve.
   "That was tough," Tomljanovic, who moved to Australia in November and speaks English like a native, said of the first set. "I really thought I'd be off that court in like 35 minutes. I'm not even joking.
   "I just tried to hold serve. That was my biggest thing. It felt really tough on her serve. When I was getting into the points, I was kind of getting just overpowered. I just had to go one point at a time. I knew there would be times when she would give me some free points, and she did, so I just tried to go along with that, and that's when my game started coming together."
   When Tomljanovic wasn't making errors in the first set, Keys was ripping passing shots or winners. But Tomljanovic countered Keys' power in the second set, and Keys unraveled in the third.
Mona Barthel edged fellow German Andrea Petkovic, seeded sixth,
5-7, 6-2, 7-6 (4) in 2 hours, 33 minutes. Photo by Mal Taam
   "I think mostly it was just getting myself going more in between points and once the point started staying lower and just trying to get the ball back for a change," said the 69th-ranked Tomljanovic, who staged a similar turnaround in the first round as she defeated Vitalia Diatchenko of Russia 3-6, 6-0, 6-0. "She played well in the first set. I felt like I wasn't even in it. She was too good at times."
   But Keys eventually grew frustrated.
   "It's never easy feeling like you were playing so well the round before and even playing so well in the first set, and then things kind of get away from you," said Keys, who dismantled Aleksandra Krunic of Serbia 6-3, 6-0 in the first round. "It's definitely tough to always keep yourself in the moment and get yourself to be able to come back and calm down, and tonight I wasn't able to. That's something that I'm working on, so I just have to learn from it and move on."  
   Tomljanovic awaits the winner of Thursday's match between fourth-seeded Karolina Pliskova and 44-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm of Japan. Win or lose, the 6-foot-1 (1.86-meter) Pliskova will become the eighth Czech to crack the top 10 in the world on Monday.
   Riske will meet Svitolina, and Barthel will play the survivor of Thursday night's match between top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki and Varvara Lepchenko, a U.S. citizen from Uzbekistan. Both Wozniacki, a former world No. 1 who will make her Bank of the West debut after receiving a first-round bye, and Barthel were born on July 11, 1990.
Ajla Tomljanovic overcame a horrendous start to beat her close
friend Madison Keys, seeded seventh. Photo by Mal Taam
   Second-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska, the runner-up at Wimbledon in 2012 and Stanford in 2013, was scheduled to play tonight against qualifier Misaki Doi of Japan. However, the match was moved to Thursday's day session at the request of medical staff, according to tournament officials, to give Poland's Radwanska more time to recover from a lower back injury.
   Pliskova, currently ranked 11th, will give the Czech Republic three players in the top 10 for the first time. Left-handers Petra Kvitova and Lucie Safarova are No. 4 and No. 8, respectively.
   Other Czechs who have accomplished the feat are Martina Navratilova, Hana Mandlikova, Helena Sukova, Jana Novotna and Nicole Vaidisova. The latter was named the 2004 World TeamTennis Female MVP and Rookie of the Year for the now-defunct Sacramento Capitals at age 15.
   Also losing today was the fourth-seeded doubles team of Raquel Kops-Jones and Maria Sanchez. The Northern California pair fell to Barthel and countrywoman Sabine Lisicki 6-3, 7-6 (2) in the first round.
   Kops-Jones, 32, grew up in Fresno, starred at Cal and lives in San Jose. She won the 2013 Bank of the West doubles title with her regular partner, Abigail Spears, who is recovering from a torn calf muscle. 
   Sanchez, 25, was born and raised in Modesto.
At Stanford
Second-round singles
   Mona Barthel, Germany, def. Andrea Petkovic (6), Germany, 5-7, 6-2, 7-6 (4).
   Alison Riske, United States, def. Carla Suarez Navarro (3), Spain, 6-4, 7-5.
   Ajla Tomljanovic, Croatia, def. Madison Keys (7), United States, 1-6, 6-4, 6-1.
   Elina Svitolina (8), Ukraine, def. Nicole Gibbs, United States, 6-3, 7-6 (5).
 First-round doubles
   Chin-Wei Chan, Taiwan, and Darija Jurak, Croatia, def. Vitalia Diatchenko, Russia, and Anna Tatishvili, United States, 6-4, 7-5.
   Mona Barthel and Sabine Lisicki, Germany, def. Raquel Kops-Jones and Maria Sanchez (4), United States, 6-3, 7-6 (2).
Thursday's schedule
Stadium Court
(Starting at 11 a.m.)
   Angelique Kerber (5), Germany, vs. Ana Konjuh, Croatia.
(Not before 1 p.m.)
   Agnieszka Radwanska (2), Poland, vs. Misaki Doi, Japan.
   Karolina Pliskova (4), Czech Republic, vs. Kimiko Date-Krumm, Japan.
(Not before 7 p.m.)
   Caroline Wozniacki (1), Denmark, vs. Varvara Lepchenko, United States.
   Hao-Ching Chan and Yung-Jan Chan (1), Taiwan, vs. Kateryna Bondarenko, Ukraine, and Tatjana Maria, Germany.
Court 6
(Starting at 12:30 p.m.)
   Mona Barthel and Sabine Lisicki, Germany, vs. Yi-Fan Xu and Saisai Zheng, China.
   Gabriela Dabrowski, Canada, and Alicja Rosolska (3), Poland, vs. Asia Muhammad, United States, and Ajla Tomljanovic, Croatia.

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