Sunday, January 22, 2017

Giant-killers Zverev, Vandeweghe starred in NorCal

Mischa Zverev, left, poses with fellow Moscow natives Dmitry Tursunov,
middle, and Igor Andreev during the 2012 Aptos (Calif.) Challenger.
Tursunov, who's still active at 34, and Andreev, who's retired, are former
top-20 players. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Five years ago, a German left-hander with a dynamic serve-and-volley game and a history of injuries reached back-to-back Challenger finals in Northern California.
   On Saturday (California time), Mischa Zverev used his old-school game to stun top-ranked Andy Murray 7-5, 5-7, 6-2, 6-4 in the Australian Open in Melbourne and reach his first Grand Slam quarterfinal.
   Later, CoCo Vandeweghe of Rancho Santa Fe in the San Diego area eliminated top-ranked and defending champion Angelique Kerber 6-2, 6-3 to gain her second major quarterfinal.
Zverev serves to Daniel Kosakowski in the semifinals of the
2012 Sacramento Challenger. Zverev advanced to the final,
in which he lost to James Blake. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Zverev's victory followed Denis Istomin's upset of six-time and defending champion Novak Djokovic, seeded No. 2, in the second round.
   For the first time in the Open Era, the Australian Open lost both top seeds and both defending champions before the quarterfinals.    
    It's also the first time the top two men's seeds have lost in a major since Roger Federer and Andy Roddick in the 2004 French Open, won by Gaston Gaudio over fellow Argentine Guillermo Coria in the only Grand Slam final of their careers.
   Murray won his first ATP World Tour title in the SAP Open in San Jose at 18 in 2006, repeated the following year and never returned. The tournament folded after the 125th edition in 2013.
   Vandeweghe played World TeamTennis for the now-defunct Sacramento Capitals in 2009 at 17 and in 2012. She also reached the final of the 2012 Bank of the West Classic at Stanford as a lucky loser, falling to Serena Williams. Kerber won the 2015 Bank of the West Classic.
   Williams can regain the No. 1 ranking by winning her 23rd Grand Slam singles title, which would break a tie with Steffi Graf for the record in the Open Era (since 1968). Only Margaret Court (24) has won more.
   The 25-year-old Vandeweghe, ranked 35th, will face seventh-seeded Garbine Muguruza, the reigning French Open champion.
   Zverev, who saved two match points in his second-round victory over No. 19 seed John Isner, will take on No. 17 Federer.
Runner-up CoCo Vandeweghe and champion
Serena Williams pose with their trophies in
the 2012 Bank of the West Classic at Stanford.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   The favorites for the men's title now are:
   --No. 3 seed Milos Raonic, last year's Wimbledon runner-up.
   --No. 4 Stan Wawrinka, who won the first of his three Grand Slam singles crowns in the 2014 Australian Open.
   --No. 9 Rafael Nadal, a 14-time Grand Slam singles champion seeking his first one since the 2014 French Open.
   --The 35-year-old Federer, who has won a record 17 Slams but none since Wimbledon in 2012.
   Zverev, a 29-year-old Moscow native who's ranked 50th, has been overshadowed by his 19-year-old brother. Alexander Zverev, ranked and seeded 24th, lost to Nadal in five sets in the third round. Nadal has touted 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Alexander as a future world No. 1.
   Mischa Zverev, 6-foot-3 (1.90 meters), lost to Americans James Blake and Jack Sock in the 2012 Sacramento and Tiburon finals, respectively.
   Murray, a three-time Grand Slam singles champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist, was trying to win his first Australian Open title. He has five runner-up finishes, falling just short the last two years and in three of the last four. All five losses have come against the top-ranked player, Federer in 2010 and Djokovic the subsequent four times.
   Also Saturday, Australian wild cards Alex Bolt and Bradley Mousley outlasted Sam Querrey, a San Francisco native, and Donald Young of Atlanta 7-5, 3-6, 7-5 to reach the quarterfinals.
   In the first round of mixed doubles, Raquel Atawo (formerly Kops-Jones) of San Jose and Robert Lindstedt of Sweden edged No. 3 seeds Andrea Hlavackova of the Czech Republic and Edouard Roger-Vasselin of France 0-6, 7-6 (6) [10-8].
   Atawo won the 2003 NCAA doubles title with Cal teammate Christina Fusano, a Sacramento native. Lindstedt played at Fresno State before transferring to Pepperdine.

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