Monday, November 14, 2016

Big week for ex-Stanford stars; BNP tickets on sale

Bob, left, and Mike Bryan, shown after their first-round
victory in the U.S. Open on Aug. 31, won their opener
in the ATP World Tour Finals. Photo by Paul Bauman
   The Bryan brothers and Bradley Klahn grew up in Southern California and won NCAA titles at Stanford.
   Other than that, they have little in common.
   The Bryan twins stayed at Stanford for two years, helping the Cardinal win the NCAA team title in 1997 and 1998. Bob Bryan achieved a rare "Triple Crown" -- the NCAA singles, doubles (with Mike) and team titles -- in 1998. Then the pair embarked on a career as arguably the greatest men's doubles team ever.
   Klahn won the 2010 NCAA singles title as a sophomore, underwent the first of his two back operations in 2011 and graduated in economics in 2012. He rose to a career-high No. 63 in singles in 2014 and his second surgery in February 2015.
   This is a big week for all three players. The Bryans, 38, are trying to salvage a disappointing year with a fifth doubles title in the ATP World Tour Finals in London. The 26-year-old Klahn, playing in his first tournament since his second operation for a herniated disc, qualified today for the $50,000 Champaign (Ill.) Challenger.
   The third-seeded Bryans, from Camarillo in the Los Angeles area, beat sixth-seeded Ivan Dodig of Croatia and Marcelo Melo of Brazil 7-6 (3), 6-0 in a round-robin opener on Sunday. The Bryans -- who won the title in 2003 and 2004 in Houston, 2009 in Shanghai and 2014 in London -- will play second-seeded Jamie Murray of Great Britain and Bruno Soares of Brazil on Tuesday.
   While Murray and Soares won the Australian Open and U.S. Open this year for their first Grand Slam men's doubles titles individually or together, the Bryans failed to capture a major for the second consecutive year. They won the last of their record 16 Slams in the 2014 U.S. Open.
   With three titles (all on clay) this year, the Bryans are in danger of finishing with their fewest since 2000. Not only have they been unable to win a title since the Italian Open in May, they have not reached a final since losing to Feliciano Lopez and Marc Lopez (no relation) of Spain in the French Open in early June.
   Still, the last half of the year has been eventful for the Bryans.
   They split with coach David MacPherson in August and hired 40-year-old Serbian Dusan Vemic, who coached his country's Olympic team in Rio de Janeiro that month. Vemic, a two-time Grand Slam semifinalist in doubles, played under the Bryans' father, Wayne, with the now-defunct Sacramento Capitals of World TeamTennis in 2010 and 2011.
Bradley Klahn, practicing in Sacramento last fall, is play-
ing in his first tournament in almost two years following
his second back operation. Photo by Paul Bauman
   The Bryan brothers became the first team to record 1,000 career victories in Vienna in October and received their 12th straight ATP Fan Favorite award in doubles last week.
   "We've been on the verge of having a breakthrough but haven't been able to get over that hump," Bob Bryan told reporters in London on Saturday. "We've had a coaching change this year and are very happy with Dusan Vemic as our new coach. We've been working hard on a lot of new things and are waiting for it to pay off. We have been putting in the time and the work.
   "It's tougher to be here competing for the No. 1 spot, but at the same time it's nice to be the underdog and take the guys by surprise. I feel like we're moving in the right direction and good things are coming. Hopefully sooner than later."  
   Klahn, a 6-foot (1.83-meter) left-hander from the San Diego suburb of Poway, dispatched Ruan Roelofse of South Africa 6-3, 6-2 today after edging second-seeded Peter Kobelt, a 6-foot-7 (2.01-meter) American, 4-6, 6-0, 7-6 (3) on Sunday.
   Klahn is scheduled to meet fifth-seeded Sam Groth of Australia on Tuesday in the first round of the indoor tournament. Groth, 6-foot-4 (1.93 meters) and 218 pounds (99 kilograms), holds the unofficial record for the world's fastest serve. He blasted a 163.7-mph (263.4-kph) delivery in the 2012 Busan (South Korea) Challenger.
   BNP Paribas Open -- Daily tickets and daily double packages for the 2017 BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells recently went on sale.
   The tournament, scheduled for March 6-19, is offering a new grounds pass with access to all non-reserved seating in Stadiums 2-9. Prices range from $20 to $50.
   The daily double package guarantees the same seat for day and evening sessions. Series, mini, group and hotel packages also are available.
   Novak Djokovic captured the BNP men's singles title for the third consecutive year and fifth overall in 2016. Victoria Azarenka won the women's singles crown for the second time, but she is expecting her first child at the end of this year and hopes to return to the tour by the 2017 U.S. Open.

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