Saturday, January 21, 2017

Gibbs falls to childhood idol in Australian Open

Nicole Gibbs, playing in the Stockton Challenger last July,
lost to Serena Williams 6-1, 6-3 in the third round of the
Australian Open. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Despite getting drubbed by Serena Williams, Nicole Gibbs can't complain too much.
   Williams, seeded second, dismissed the former Stanford star 6-1, 6-3 in an all-American matchup on Friday night (California time) in the third round of the Australian Open in Melbourne.
   Gibbs, 23, grew up idolizing Williams, 35.
   "Any tournament that ends like this is a good tournament," Gibbs tweeted with a photo of her shaking hands at the net with Williams. "Thanks @AustralianOpen and #gibbsygunit for an incredible week!! (heart)#backstronger."
   Gibbs equaled her best result in a Grand Slam tournament with her third-round appearance, which is worth $130,000.
   In the first round, Gibbs ousted No. 25 seed Timea Babos of Hungary. Babos, at No. 28, is the third-highest-ranked player Gibbs has beaten. She knocked off No. 24 Madison Keys in the second round at Indian Wells last year and No. 25 Anastasia Pavluychenkova in the second round of the 2014 U.S. Open. Gibbs also upset No. 29 Kristina Mladenovic in the second round at Miami last year.
   Gibbs won one more game against Williams than in their only other meeting, a 6-2, 6-1 loss in the second round of the 2012 Bank of the West Classic at Stanford. Gibbs was between her sophomore and junior year there at the time. She turned pro in 2013 after winning her second straight NCAA singles title.
   Williams seeks her 23rd Grand Slam singles title, which would break a tie with Steffi Graf for second place all-time behind Margaret Court with 24.
   Williams next will face 16th-seeded Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic. They have met twice, both times in Grand Slam tournaments in 2012. Williams won 6-0, 6-4 in the Australian Open and 6-2, 6-4 at Wimbledon.
   Like Williams, Bob and Mike Bryan are pursuing their seventh Australian Open title. Seeded third, the 38-year-old ex-Stanford stars beat Nenad Zimonjic, 40, of Serbia and Mischa Zverev of Germany 6-3, 6-2 in the second round.
   Also advancing in men's doubles were Sam Querrey, a 29-year-old San Francisco native, and Donald Young of Atlanta. They held off Russians Karen Khachanov and Andrey Kuznetsov 7-6 (5), 6-4.
   In the second round of women's doubles, 11th-seeded Raquel Atawo (formerly Kops-Jones) of San Jose and Xu Yifan of China topped Raluca Olaru of Romania and Olga Savchuk of Ukraine 7-6 (5), 6-7 (4), 6-4.

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