Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Mmoh, 19, edges Sandgren in 100K San Francisco

Michael Mmoh rallied to beat Tennys Sandgren
in the San Francisco Bay Area for the second time
in five months. 2016 photo by Paul Bauman
   It wasn't quite as tense as last time, but Michael Mmoh still had to dig deep to beat Tennys Sandgren on Monday.
   In a battle of hard-hitting Americans, the 19-year-old Mmoh edged Sandgren 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (1) in the first round of the $100,000 KPSF Open indoors at the Bay Club SF Tennis Center in San Francisco.
   Sandgren, 25, led by a service break at 3-2 and 4-3 in the third set, only for Mmoh to break back immediately each time, and fell apart in the tiebreaker as two line calls went against him.
   Mmoh and Sandgren -- ranked Nos. 193 and 194, respectively -- met in the San Francisco Bay Area for the second time in five months. As a qualifier in the $100,000 Tiburon Challenger last September, Mmoh survived three match points in a 4-6, 7-6 (5), 2-0 victory in the first round of the outdoor tournament.
   Sandgren retired with a lower back injury, and Mmoh went on to reach the final. Tiburon is located across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco.
   Mmoh will play third-seeded Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan for the first time in the second round. Kukushkin, who defeated Nikola Milojevic of Serbia 7-6 (3), 6-2, is 10 years older and ranked 100 places higher than Mmoh.  
   Kukushkin reached the final of the 2014 Aptos Challenger, losing to Marcos Baghdatis. Aptos is a 90-minute drive south of San Francisco.
   Mmoh was not the only 19-year-old American to advance Monday. Reilly Opelka, 6-foot-11 (2.11 meters), defeated countryman Sekou Bangoura 6-3, 6-4.
   Mackenzie McDonald, a 21-year-old Bay Area product, dismissed Belgium's Kimmer Coppejans, the 2012 French Open boys champion, 6-2, 6-2. McDonald grew up in Piedmont, Brad Gilbert's hometown across the bay from San Francisco.
   Two more 19-year-old U.S. prospects, top-seeded Frances Tiafoe and second-seeded Taylor Fritz, are scheduled to play their first-round matches today.
   Tiafoe, ranked No. 94, will meet wild card Bradley Klahn, the 2010 NCAA singles champion from nearby Stanford, at about 5 p.m. Fritz, ranked No. 83, will face qualifier Ze Zhang of China not before 7:30 p.m. The seedings came out before this week's rankings.
   Tiafoe and Fritz have won three Northern California Challengers between them. Tiafoe took the inaugural Stockton title last July, and Fritz captured his first two Challenger titles back-to-back in Sacramento and Fairfield at 17 in 2015.
   Dennis Novikov, 23, of Milpitas in the Bay Area will take on fifth-seeded Peter Polansky of Canada at 1 p.m. Polansky won the 2013 Tiburon Challenger.
   Here are the complete singles qualifying draw, the singles and doubles main draws, and today's schedule in the KPSF Open.

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