Thursday, August 31, 2017

No. 1 Pliskova survives scare from Gibbs

Nicole Gibbs, shown last year at Indian Wells, lost to top-ranked Karolina Pliskova
2-6, 6-3, 6-4 today in the second round of the U.S. Open. Photo by Mal Taam
   For one set, Nicole Gibbs was brilliant.
   The former Stanford star was scurrying around the court, even though her left thigh was wrapped, and lacing passing shots against the top-ranked player in the world.
   It didn't last, as Karolina Pliskova rallied for a 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory over the American qualifier today in the second round of the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
   The turning point in the daytime match at Arthur Ashe Stadium came when Pliskova broke serve at love to lead 4-3 in the second set. Pliskova, a 6-foot-1 (1.86-meter) Czech, won all 17 points on her first serve in the third set.
   Gibbs, a 5-foot-6 (1.68-meter) resident of Santa Monica in the Los Angeles area, had 14 winners and only four errors in the first set but finished with 32 and 28, respectively. She had lost to Pliskova 6-0, 6-0 in their previous meeting in the second round at Sydney in 2015.
   Pliskova avoided joining the list of upset victims in the U.S. Open. Through two rounds, five of the top eight seeds have been eliminated: No. 2 Simona Halep, No. 5 and two-time runner-up Caroline Wozniacki, No. 6 and defending champion Angelique Kerber, No. 7 Johanna Konta, and No. 8 and 2004 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova.
   Gibbs won three NCAA individual titles in her three years at Stanford. She had two in singles (2012 and 2013) and one in doubles (2012), and added one NCAA team championship (2013).
   Two other ex-Stanford standouts, Bob and Mike Bryan, got off to a good start as they try to end their three-year Grand Slam title drought in men's doubles. The fifth-seeded Bryan twins, 39, defeated Czechs Roman Jebavy and Jiri Vesely 6-2, 4-6, 6-3.
   The Bryans have won a record 16 Grand Slam men's doubles titles, including five in the U.S. Open. Their last major crown came in 2014 in Flushing Meadows.
(Matches involving players with Northern California connections)
Men's doubles
First round
   Rohan Bopanna, India, and Pablo Cuevas (10), Uruguay, def. Bradley Klahn (Stanford 2009-12) and Scott Lipsky (Stanford, 2000-03), United States, 1-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Women's doubles
First round
    Raquel Atawo (born in Fresno; Cal, 2001-04; San Jose resident), United States, and Sabine Lisicki, Germany, def. Nicole Melichar, United States, and Anna Smith, Great Britain, 3-6, 7-5, 6-3.
  Nadiia Kichenok, Ukraine, and Anastasia Rodionova, Australia, def. CiCi Bellis (born and raised in San Francisco Bay Area), United States, and Marketa Vondrousova, Czech Republic, 6-3, 6-4.
Mixed doubles
First round
   Raquel Atawo (born in Fresno; Cal, 2001-04; San Jose resident), United States, and Aisam-Ul-Haq Quereshi, Pakistan, def. Louisa Chirico and Bradley Klahn (Stanford 2009-12), United States, 6-4, 6-4.
   Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, Spain, and Nicholas Monroe, United States, def. Kristie Ahn (Stanford, 2011-14), and Tennys Sandgren, United States, 6-4, 6-2.

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