Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Novikov advances in Australian Open qualifying

Dennis Novikov serves in the $100,000 Tiburon
(Calif.) Challenger last September. Photo by
Paul Bauman
   No. 32 seed Dennis Novikov of Milpitas in the San Francisco Bay Area defeated Marc Polmans of Australia 6-4 7-6 (4) today in the first round of qualifying for the Australian Open in Melbourne.
   Novikov, a 22-year-old former UCLA star, faces a tough assignment in the second round against James Ward, 28, of Great Britain.
   Ward, who beat Peter Polansky of Canada 7-6 (6), 6-4, reached the third round at Wimbledon last summer and helped Great Britain win its first Davis Cup championship in 79 years in 2015.
   Ward has been a United States killer in the Davis Cup, stunning Sam Querrey and John Isner in the first round in the past two years.
   The 156th-ranked Ward is 1-0 lifetime against No. 153 Novikov, winning 7-6 (6), 6-4 in the second round in Manchester on grass last June.
   Novikov is trying to reach the singles main draw in the Australian Open for the first time and in a Grand Slam tournament for the second time.
   Novikov received an automatic wild card in the 2012 U.S. Open as the USTA boys 18 champion and shocked then-No. 86 Jerzy Janowicz of Poland in the first round before losing to Julien Benneteau of France in the second round. Janowicz, 6-foot-8 (2.03 meters), advanced to the Wimbledon semifinals the following year.
   In a late match, Tennys Sandgren, 24, of Wesley Chapel, Fla., dismissed Yasutaka Uchiyama of Japan 6-1, 6-3 in the opening round of Australian Open qualifying. Sandgren will meet another Japanese player, 13th-seeded Tatsuma Ito, in the second round.
   Sandgren, a former University of Tennessee All-American, helped the Sacramento-based California Dream of World TeamTennis reach the Western Conference final in July in the team's inaugural season.

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