Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Top seed, defending champ ousted in 100K Tiburon

   Tom Fawcett's first Challenger main-draw victory was a big one.
   The 6-foot-5 (1.96-meter) wild card, a Stanford senior, shocked top-seeded Ruben Bemelmans of Belgium 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 today in the first round of the $100,000 Tiburon (Calif.) Challenger.
   It was Fawcett's first win over a top-100 player. Bemelmans, a 29-year-old left-hander, is ranked No. 92. He won a $25,000 tournament in Burlingame, a one-hour drive south of Tiburon in the San Francisco Bay Area, last October and reached the third round at Wimbledon in July as a qualifier.
   However, Bemelmans was playing in his first tournament since losing in the first round of the U.S. Open to 16th-seeded Lucas Pouille of France in late August. Bemelmans' rustiness showed, as he made numerous forehand errors.
   Three other seeds, including defending champion Darian King of Barbados, lost today at the Tiburon Peninsula Club.
   Bay Area native Mackenzie McDonald knocked out the sixth-seeded King 7-5, 6-3. McDonald, a 22-year-old former UCLA star, has reached the Tiburon semifinals in each of the past two years. He fell to King 4-6, 7-5, 7-5 in last year's semis.
   Lucky loser Jan Choinski of Germany ousted fifth-seeded Ramkumar Ramanathan of India 6-1, 6-2, and qualifier Deiton Baughman, a 21-year-old American, surprised seventh-seeded Felix Auger-Aliassime, a 17-year-old Canadian phenom, 6-2, 6-2.
   McDonald will face Denis Kudla, who avenged a loss to Tim Smyczek in the scintillating 2015 Tiburon final. Kudla, 25, beat his friend and fellow American 6-7 (5), 7-5, 6-3. Like Choinski, Smyczek was a lucky loser.
   In the last match of the day, second-seeded Tennys Sandgren downed qualifier Sekou Bangoura 6-4, 6-4 in an all-American encounter.
   Bangoura also qualified for Tiburon two years ago and ousted fourth-seeded Dustin Brown of Germany in the opening round. Bangoura then lost to McDonald 7-6 in the third set in the second round.
   Brown is 2-0 against current world No. 1 Rafael Nadal. Both wins have come on grass, including a second-round meeting at Wimbledon in 2015.
   Fawcett, from Winnetka, Ill., pounded eight aces and committed four double faults. Bemelmans had one ace and six double faults.
   Fawcett broke serve to lead 5-3 in the third set on a Bemelmans forehand error. Fawcett, rather than fold under pressure, held serve at 30 with a service winner for the match.
   Fawcett will play Frank Dancevic, a 33-year-old Canadian, in the second round. Dancevic, ranked No. 356 after climbing to a career-high No. 65 in 2007, beat U.S. wild card Alexander Sarkissian 7-6 (5), 6-4.
   Here are the singles and doubles draws and Wednesday's schedule.

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