Thursday, August 10, 2017

Sandgren routs NorCal's McDonald in 100K Aptos

   APTOS, Calif. -- Mackenzie McDonald met a nemesis on Wednesday, and it wasn't pretty.
   Sixth-seeded Tennys Sandgren of Gallatin, Tenn., routed McDonald, a wild card playing near his childhood home of Piedmont in the San Francisco Bay Area, 6-1, 6-2 in 1 hour to reach the quarterfinals of the $100,000 Nordic Naturals Challenger at the Seascape Sports Club.
   Sandgren, who's big at 6-foot-2 (1.88 meters) and 192 pounds (87 kilograms) yet very athletic, improved to 4-0 against McDonald, only 5-foot-10 (1.78 meters) and 145 pounds (66 kilograms). Three of the victories have come this year, but McDonald extended Sandgren to three sets in the other two.
   McDonald, 22, was coming off a grueling three-set win over 2015 champion John Millman on Tuesday that lasted 2 hours, 24 minutes. But that wasn't the main problem.
   "Sandgren didn't make many errors today," observed McDonald, who turned pro last year after sweeping the NCAA singles and doubles titles as a UCLA junior. "He played really tough, and it was tough to match that. He's playing really good right now, so it's difficult."
   Sandgren, 26, played spectacular offense and defense and hustled relentlessly. It looked as if he were on clay, his favorite surface, as he slid into shots and his shoes screeched on the hardcourt a la Novak Djokovic and Gael Monfils. At times, Sandgren did the splits.
   On one point early in the second set, Sandgren raced to reach a well-executed drop shot, somehow hit a sharply angled forehand cross-court passing shot and wound up sitting on the court.
   Sandgren has had a breakthrough year, winning three Challenger titles, playing in his first Grand Slam tournament (losing in the first round of the French Open) and reaching the third round in Washington, D.C., on the ATP World Tour last week. He is ranked No. 102 after climbing to a career-high No. 100 in June.
   Sandgren -- who's named after his great grandfather, not tennis -- will face 19-year-old wild card Taylor Fritz of Palos Verdes in the Los Angeles area for the first time on Friday in a blockbuster quarterfinal.
   Fritz, one of the United States' top prospects, beat 27-year-old qualifier Austin Krajicek of Bradenton, Fla., 2-6, 6-1, 6-2.
   Fritz recorded the first top-10 win of his career at Indian Wells in March, stunning then-No. 7 and 2014 U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic in the second round before losing to Malek Jaziri of Tunisia in the third round.
   Krajicek, the Aptos runner-up in 2015, dominated the top-seeded Jaziri 6-2, 6-1 in the first round of the Nordic Naturals Challenger.
   Also in Friday's quarterfinals, Sam Groth will meet fellow Australian Akira Santillan for the first time.
   Groth, who set an unofficial record with a 163.7-mph (263.4-kph) serve in the 2012 Busan (South Korea) Challenger, defeated Jason Jung, a native of Torrance in the Los Angeles region who plays for Taiwan, 4-6, 6-3, 6-0.
   Santillan, a 20-year-old Tokyo native who won his first Challenger title last month in Winnetka, Ill., beat Darian King of Barbados 6-3, 6-4 after ousting second-seeded Jordan Thompson of Australia in the first round.
   The other two quarterfinal matchups will be determined today.
   Here are the Nordic Naturals singles and doubles draws and today's schedule.

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