Friday, October 14, 2016

International players dominate 100K Fairfield

No. 2 seed Santiago Giraldo of Colombia slugs a forehand during
his 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 win over Brian Baker of Nashville, Tenn., in the
second round of the Fairfield Challenger. Photo by Paul Bauman
   FAIRFIELD, Calif. -- Americans dominated the first two weeks of the three-week men's Challenger swing through Northern California.
   This week, it's the international players' turn.
   Seven of the eight quarterfinalists in the $100,000 Fairfield Challenger are from outside the United States.
   A sweep appeared imminent when 19-year-old Tommy Paul of Boca Raton, Fla., dropped the first set to qualifier Cameron Norrie of Great Britain 6-1 in Thursday's last singles match at Solano Community College. Paul, however, won the last two sets 6-3, 6-4.
   Six quarterfinalists are European. The other international player is second-seeded Santiago Giraldo of Colombia.
   "We're coming, moving up the ladder," Belgium's Joris De Loore crowed after upsetting third-seeded Tim Smyczek of Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday. "I have nothing against Americans, but that's the game. You win some, you lose some."
   Americans took seven quarterfinal spots in the $100,000 Tiburon Challenger two weeks ago and swept the semifinal berths in last week's $100,000 Stockton Challenger.
Baker, lunging for a backhand volley against Giraldo,
has overcome 11 operations. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Giraldo, 28, outlasted Brian Baker, 31, of Nashville, Tenn., 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 in a battle of ATP World Tour veterans. Also, seventh-seeded Grega Zemlja of Slovenia dismissed U.S. qualifier Dennis Nevolo 6-2, 6-3.
   Giraldo has ended the past six years in the top 70, but he has tumbled from a career-high No. 28 in September 2014 to No. 124.
   Baker has undergone 11 operations (both hips, right elbow, back, sports hernia and four repairs of his right knee). He lost in the first round of the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in August to Yuichi Sugita of Japan.
   Giraldo is scheduled to meet the 30-year-old Zemlja, a former top-50 player, today for the second time. Zemlja won 6-1, 6-4, 6-1 in the first round of the 2013 French Open.
   The other quarterfinal matchups are No. 5 seed Alessandro Giannessi of Italy against De Loore, No. 8 Maximilian Marterer of Germany versus Quentin Halys of France and Paul against qualifier Brydan Klein of Great Britain. All are first-time meetings.
   Rain is forecast for today, Saturday and Sunday in Fairfield, 41 miles (66 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco.
   Here are the updated singles and doubles draws and today's schedule. The tournament is being streamed live.

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