Sunday, October 4, 2015

Kudla, Smyczek to meet in all-American Tiburon final

   They are undersized ATP World Tour veterans, train together in Tampa, Fla., have the same coach, made headlines in Grand Slam tournaments this year and played doubles together in the U.S. Open.
   No. 1 seed Denis Kudla and No. 3 Tim Smyczek will meet today in the final of the $100,000 Wells Fargo Tiburon Challenger. Smyczek, who's four years older at 27, leads the head-to-head series 5-1.
   It will be the first all-American final in Tiburon since former Stanford star K.J. Hippensteel defeated Kevin Kim in 2004. The tournament went on hiatus from 2005 through 2008 while the Tiburon Peninsula Club was renovated.
   Kudla outlasted 20-year-old wild card Mackenzie McDonald of Piedmont, across San Francisco Bay from Tiburon, 6-2, 1-6, 6-4 in a brisk one hour, 31 minutes.
  Smyczek whipped 18-year-old Frenchman Quentin Halys, last year's U.S. Open boys runner-up to Omar Jasika of Australia, 6-3, 6-1 in one hour.
   Kudla, 5-foot-11 (1.80 meters), is ranked a career-high No. 73. Smyczek, 5-foot-9 (1.75 meters), is No. 112 after climbing to a career-high No. 68 in April. They are coached by Billy Heiser.
   While Kudla has had an impressive summer in tennis' major leagues, Smyczek has struggled at that level.
   Kudla became the only American man to reach the second week at Wimbledon, losing to 2014 U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic in the round of 16. Kudla then reached the semifinals in Atlanta as a qualifier.
   Smyczek, meanwhile, lost in seven straight tournaments and 10 of 11.
   Smyczek, however, gained worldwide fame in January for his sportsmanship late in a 6-2, 3-6, 6-7 (2), 6-4, 7-5 loss to Rafael Nadal, who was suffering from nausea and dizziness, in the second round of the Australian Open.
   With Nadal serving at 6-5, 30-0 in the fifth set, a fan yelled as Nadal tossed the ball on his first delivery, distracting him. The serve sailed long, but Smyczek allowed Nadal to take another first serve.
   In the first round of doubles at the U.S. Open, Kudla and Smyczek lost to 14th-seeded Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah of Columbia 7-5, 6-2.
   McDonald, a junior All-American at UCLA, also lost in the Tiburon doubles semifinals with Deiton Baughman, 19, of Carson, Calif., to fourth-seeded Carsten Ball and Matt Reid of Australia 6-4, 6-4. 
At Tiburon Peninsula Club
Singles semifinals
   Denis Kudla (1), United States, def. Mackenzie McDonald, Piedmont, 6-2, 1-6, 6-4.
   Tim Smyczek (3), United States, def. Quentin Halys, France, 6-3, 6-1.    
Doubles semifinal
   Carsten Ball and Matt Reid (4), Australia, def. Deiton Baughman, United States, and Mackenzie McDonald, Piedmont, 6-4, 6-4. 
 Today's schedule
Center Court
(Starting at 11 a.m.)
   Denis Kudla (1), United States, vs. Tim Smyczek (3), United States.
   Johan Brunstrom, Sweden, and Frederik Nielsen (1), Denmark, vs. Carsten Ball and Matt Reid (4), Australia.

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