Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Gibbs upsets Friedsam to qualify for Indian Wells

Former Stanford All-American Nicole Gibbs improved to 14-4 in singles this year.
2014 photo by Rob Vomund
   Former Stanford All-American Nicole Gibbs continued her strong play this year, qualifying for the prestigious BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.
   Gibbs, seeded No. 16, toppled No. 1 Anna-Lena Friedsam of Germany 6-4, 5-7, 7-5 in 2 hours, 30 minutes today in the unofficial "fifth Grand Slam." The 22-year-old Friedsam, ranked No. 61, reached the fourth round of the Australian Open in January.
   Gibbs, the 2012 and 2013 NCAA singles champion, led 6-4, 4-1 with two service breaks.
   "I was halfway to the locker room, mentally," Gibbs, playing a two-hour drive east of her home in the Los Angeles suburb of Marina del Rey, admitted on bnpparibasopen.com. "Unfortunately, I wasn't able to close out those pressure moments. But I found a way to do it in the third set, so I'm pleased."
   Gibbs, who turned 23 on Thursday, improved to 14-4 in singles this year. She has qualified in four of four tournaments, including last week in Monterrey, Mexico, en route to the quarterfinals.
   "I'm feeling really good," said Gibbs, ranked No. 95. "Obviously, I've played a lot of matches; it's just about recovering at this point."
   Gibbs doesn't have much time. She is scheduled to face No. 93 Alexandra Dulgheru of Romania in the first round on Wednesday not before 6 p.m. in 8,000-seat Stadium 2, which opened in 2014.
   In the players' only previous meeting, Dulgheru defeated Gibbs 6-3, 6-1 in the first round of the French Open last year. This match, however, will be on a hardcourt in Gibbs' home state.
   Gibbs is playing in Indian Wells for the second year. As a wild card in 2015, she lost to Monica Puig of Puerto Rico 6-3, 7-5 in the opening round.
   Wild card Maria Sanchez, who was born and raised in Modesto, lost to No. 19 Lourdes Dominguez Lino of Spain 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-2 in the first round of qualifying on Monday.
   In the first round of men's qualifying, No. 12 seed Dennis Novikov of Milpitas in the San Francisco Bay Area demolished Facundo Mena of Argentina 6-1, 6-0 in 37 minutes. Novikov won 24 of 27 points (88.8 percent) on his serve and faced no break points.
   Novikov, a 22-year-old former UCLA star, will play No. 23 Noah Rubin of Long Island in the final round of qualifying on Wednesday at about 5 p.m. in Stadium 4.
   Novikov qualified for Indian Wells last year and lost to former top-10 player Jurgen Melzer of Austria in the first round of the main draw.
   Rubin, 20, reached the second round of the Australian Open in January, stunning France's Benoit Paire, then ranked 18th.
   San Francisco native Sam Querrey, seeded 31st in the BNP main draw, has a first-round bye.
   Dmitry Tursunov, a 33-year-old Russian based in the Sacramento suburb of Granite Bay, will meet Illya Marchenko of Ukraine in the first round. The winner will play No. 3 seed Stan Wawrinka, a two-time Grand Slam singles champion who's coming off the title in Dubai two weeks ago.
   Wawrinka beat Tursunov 7-6 (2), 6-3, retired (hip) in the first round of the Australian Open in January.
   Wild card Mackenzie McDonald, a UCLA junior from Piedmont in the San Francisco Bay Area, will make his Indian Wells main-draw debut against a qualifier.
   College rankings -- The Cal women (12-0) returned to No. 1 in the nation after one week at No. 2 behind Ohio State (13-1).
   The Bears defeated the Buckeyes in the semifinals of the ITA National Women's Team Indoor Championship in Madison, Wis., on Feb. 7.

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