Thursday, September 28, 2017

McDonald tops rival to gain Tiburon quarters

San Francisco Bay Area native Mackenzie McDonald,
shown at last year's Tiburon Challenger, evened his re-
cord against Denis Kudla at 2-2. All four matches have
occurred in Northern California. Photo by Paul Bauman
   After beating Mackenzie McDonald in three sets in the second round of a $100,000 indoor tournament in San Francisco in February, Denis Kudla guaranteed that his then-21-year-old opponent eventually would reach the top 100 in the world.
   Kudla might have been too prophetic for his own good.
   McDonald, playing in his native San Francisco Bay Area, defeated Kudla, from Arlington, Va., and Tampa, Fla., 7-6 (6), 6-2 today to reach the quarterfinals of the $100,000 Tiburon Challenger at the Tiburon Peninsula Club.
   McDonald, now 22, evened his record against Kudla, 25, at 2-2. All four matches between the undersized players -- Kudla is 5-foot-11 (1.80 meters), and McDonald is 5-foot-10 (1.78 meters) -- have occurred in Northern California.
   This was the first match between McDonald and Kudla decided in straight sets and a rematch of their 2015 Tiburon semifinal, which Kudla won 6-2, 1-6, 6-4 in their initial meeting. Kudla then lost to his good friend Tim Smyczek, who saved four match points.
   McDonald, from Piedmont on the other side of the bay from Tiburon, turned pro in June 2016 after sweeping the NCAA singles and doubles titles as a UCLA junior. He has risen from No. 266 in the world in singles during the San Francisco tournament to No. 196.
   Kudla moved from his native Ukraine to Fairfax, Va., on his first birthday with his parents and turned pro out of high school. He was the last remaining American man at Wimbledon in 2015, reaching the round of 16, and climbed to a career-high No. 53 in May 2016. Currently, however, he is No. 166.
   McDonald will seek his third consecutive berth in the Tiburon semifinals when he meets Alejandro Gonzalez of Colombia on Friday at 11 a.m. Gonzalez eliminated third-seeded Quentin Halys, a 20-year-old Frenchman, 6-4, 6-3.
   Also in the bottom half of the draw, second-seeded Tennys Sandgren will play fellow American Christian Harrison, a 23-year-old wild card. Harrison's brother, Ryan, was the Tiburon runner-up in 2010 at age 18. He is now ranked 51st.
   In the top half of the draw, fourth-seeded Michael Mmoh of Bradenton, Fla., will take on eighth-seeded Cameron Norrie of Great Britain, and Frank Dancevic of Canada will face Prajnesh Gunneswaran of India. Mmoh advanced to last year's final as an 18-year-old qualifier, losing to Darian King of Barbados.
   Both Gonzalez, 28, and Dancevic, 33, are former top-70 players.
   Here are the Tiburon Challenger singles and doubles draws and Friday's schedule. The tournament is being streamed live.

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