Monday, January 29, 2018

WTA tour knows the way to San Jose

Madison Keys sits on CoCo Vandeweghe's
lap after winning the Bank of the West
Classic at Stanford last August. Photo
by Mal Taam
   The San Francisco Bay Area received more good news today.
   Five days after it was announced that Roger Federer will make his first Northern California appearance in an exhibition on March 5 at the SAP Center in San Jose, IMG revealed that the longest-running tournament on the WTA tour has a new site and sponsor.
   The Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic is scheduled for July 30-Aug. 5 at the new Spartan Tennis Complex at San Jose State University, 20 miles (32 kilometers) southeast of its former home at Stanford University.
    The Spartan Tennis Complex has six lighted outside courts, and there are plans to build six more indoors. San Jose State will build a stadium court adjacent to the complex with temporary seating for 4,000 fans.
   Mubadala, Abu Dhabi's leading strategic investment company, also sponsors an invitational tournament in its home city in late December and the Rio Open on the ATP World Tour in Rio de Janeiro in February.
   Ironically, the Rio Open replaced the San Jose stop on the men's tour in 2014 after the tournament had been held in Northern California for 125 years.
   The WTA tour's Bay Area stop, founded in 1971, had been sponsored by Bank of the West since 1992 and held at Stanford since 1997. Past champions include Serena Williams, Billie Jean King,  Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert, Monica Seles, Andrea Jaeger, Martina Hingis, Lindsay Davenport, Venus Williams and Kim Clijsters.
   Madison Keys defeated fellow American Coco Vandeweghe in last year's final. Afterward, with Vandweghe sitting in her chair awaiting the awards ceremony, Keys hopped on her close friend's lap and hugged her.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Federer, 36, outlasts Cilic for 20th major title

Switzerland's Roger Federer poses after winning his record-tying fifth Indian
Wells singles title last March. Photo by Mal Taam
   Let's see.
   The 21-year-old, not the 36-year-old, breaks down physically in the Australian Open men's semifinals.
   Then the 36-year-old, not the 29-year-old, dominates the fifth set of the final.
   What in the name of Harry Hopman is going on here?
   Continuing to defy logic and the laws of nature, second-seeded Roger Federer outlasted sixth-seeded Marin Cilic 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 today for his 20th Grand Slam singles title. Rafael Nadal, 31, is second on the all-time list with 16.
   With his second consecutive Australian Open title and record-tying sixth overall, Federer became the second-oldest man to win a Grand Slam singles title in the Open era. Ken Rosewall won the 1972 Australian Open at 37, when the tournament was played on grass and shunned by Americans because it was played in late December. The 32-man draw in 1972 consisted of 27 Australians, two Japanese, and one Briton, Frenchman and Russian each.
   Federer, after going nearly five years without winning a major title, has won three of the last five.
   “I’m so happy. It’s unbelievable,” said a teary Federer, who will play an exhibition against Jack Sock on March 5 at the SAP Center in San Jose. “Of course, winning is an absolute dream come true – the fairy tale continues for us, for me. After the great year I had last year, it’s incredible.”
    In a questionable move that may have helped Federer, organizers decided one hour before the final to close the roof at Rod Laver because of high heat (100 degrees or 38 Celsius) and humidity.
   “I was surprised to hear they had the heat rule in place for a night match,” Federer said. “I never heard that before. When I arrived to the courts, I was totally ready to play outdoors.”
   The New York Times reported that Federer then practiced indoors while Cilic hit outdoors and paid the price in the first set by spraying shots.
   “With the roof closed, it was way, way cooler than I expected,” Cilic said. “That was very, very difficult, especially for the final, to be in that kind of situation.”

Fritz beats Klahn for 150K Newport Beach title

   In an all-Southern California final, third-seeded Taylor Fritz beat unseeded Bradley Klahn (Stanford 2009-12) 3-6, 7-5, 6-0 today to win the $150,000 Oracle Challenger Series Newport Beach (Calif.).
   Both Klahn, a 27-year-old left-hander, and Fritz, 20, were born and raised in the San Diego area and now live in the Los Angeles region.
   Fritz won his fourth Challenger singles title, including back-to-back crowns in Sacramento and Fairfield, Calif., at age 17 in 2015.
   Klahn, a former top-70 player rebounding from his second back operation, sought his sixth Challenger singles title and first since 2014. His initial Challenger crown came in Aptos, an hour drive south of Stanford, in 2013
  In the Oracle women's singles final, U.S. wild card Danielle Collins defeated 18-year-old qualifier Sofya Zhuk of Russia 2-6, 6-4, 6-3.
   Klahn and Collins won three NCAA singles titles combined. Klahn took the 2010 crown, and Virginia's Collins held the 2014 and 2016 trophies. Zhuk won the Wimbledon girls singles title in 2015 at 15.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Sac State's Konikov resigns to coach Azarenka

  Victoria Azarenka is going back to her roots.
  Longtime Sacramento State men's coach Slava Konikov, Azarenka's childhood coach in Belarus, announced his resignation Friday to coach the former world No. 1. Hornets assistant coach Kevin Kurtz will replace Konikov.
   Konikov, who spent 12-plus years as Sac State's coach, guided the Hornets to six Big Sky Conference Tournament titles, each resulting in an automatic NCAA Tournament berth and first-round loss.
   Azarenka has been embroiled in a custody dispute involving her son, Leo, who was born in December 2016. The two-time Australian Open champion has not played in a tournament since reaching the fourth round at Wimbledon last July, dropping her ranking to No. 209.

Klahn, Fritz to meet in 150K Newport Beach final

   Unseeded Bradley Klahn, a former NCAA singles champion from Stanford, will meet third-seeded Taylor Fritz for the first time on Sunday in an all-Southern California final.
   Klahn, a 27-year-old left-hander, outlasted qualifier Christian Garin of Chile 6-3, 0-6, 6-4 today in the $150,000 Oracle Challenger Series Newport Beach (Calif.). Fritz, 20, defeated countryman and best friend Reilly Opelka, 6-foot-11 (2.11 meters), 6-3, 7-6 (6).
   Both Klahn and Fritz were born and raised in the San Diego area and now live in the Los Angeles region.
   Klahn, a former top-70 player fighting back from his second back operation, seeks his sixth Challenger singles title but first since 2014. His initial Challenger crown came in Aptos, an hour drive south of Stanford, in 2013.
   Fritz has won three Challenger titles, including back-to-back crowns in Sacramento and Fairfield at age 17 in 2015.
  In the Oracle women's final, U.S. wild card Danielle Collins will face 18-year-old qualifier Sofya Zhuk of Russia.
  Collins, a former two-time NCAA singles champ from Virginia, beat seventh-seeded Ajla Tomljanovic of Croatia 6-4, 6-3. Zhuk survived 2-6, 7-6 (7), 6-4 against qualifier Mayo Hibi of Japan. Hibi ousted second-seeded Alison Riske, a Pittsburgh native, in the opening round.

Wozniacki tops Halep in classic for first major title

Caroline Wozniacki, playing at Indian Wells last
March, regained the top ranking for the first time
since October 2010. Photo by Paul Bauman
   In her 12th year on the WTA tour and third Grand Slam final, Caroline Wozniacki finally won a major.   Playing tremendous defense against a valiant opponent, the second-seeded Wozniacki outdueled top-ranked Simona Halep 7-6 (2), 3-6, 6-4 today in the Australian Open in Melbourne.
   Halep ran Wozniacki from side to side throughout the match, but the 27-year-old Dane repeatedly chased down the 26-year-old Romanian's rockets.
   Both players had physical issues on a hot, humid night. Halep had her blood pressure taken in the middle of the second set and then hobbled on her left leg. After Halep broke for 4-3 in the third set, Wozniacki took a medical timeout to have tape applied under her left knee but broke back for 4-4.
   Wozniacki then held serve and broke Halep to end the match after a tense 2 hours, 49 minutes. After Halep double-faulted for 30-30, Wozniacki not only made a great backhand get, her cross-court reply swung Halep wide and set up a forehand putaway for break point. A wilting Halep then missed her first serve and netted a forehand.
   Wozniacki regained the top ranking for the first time since October 2010 and became the first Danish Grand Slam singles champion. Halep, like Wozniacki, was 0-2 in Grand Slam finals entering the match.
   It was the first major tournament in the Open era (since 1968) in which both players saved match points en route to the final.
   Halep survived three in her 4-6, 6-4, 15-13 victory over American Lauren Davis in the third round and two against 2016 Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber in the semifinals. Wozniacki escaped two match points in her 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 win over Jana Fett of Croatia in the second round.
   It also was the first time in the Open era that a player reached a Grand Slam final after saving one or more match points in multiple matches. Furthermore, Halep suffered a sprained ankle in the first round against 17-year-old Aussie Destanee Aiava.
   Serena Williams, who won her seventh Australian Open title in 2017, missed this year's tournament after delivering her first child in September.
   Both Wozniacki and Halep were 0-1 in the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford. Wozniacki lost as the top seed to Varvara Lepchenko, a U.S. citizen from Uzbekistan, in 2015 after receiving a first-round bye. Halep fell to Sabine Lisicki of Germany in the first round in 2011.
   Bank of the West and Stanford recently ended their association with the tournament after 26 and 21 years, respectively. The event reportedly will move to a new complex at nearby San Jose State or perhaps out of the region.

Klahn in 150K semis; wedding bells for Tomljanovic?

Stanford graduate Bradley Klahn reached the semifinals
of a $150,000 Challenger in Newport Beach, Calif.
File photo by Paul Bauman
   Two former NCAA singles champions from Stanford now based in the Los Angeles area, one man and one woman, played on Friday in the quarterfinals of the Oracle Challenger Series Newport Beach (Calif.).
   One advanced.
   Unseeded Bradley Klahn, a 27-year-old left-hander, defeated 18-year-old Serbian sensation Miomir Kecmanovic 7-6 (7), 6-1. Unseeded Nicole Gibbs lost to seventh-seeded Ajla Tomljanovic of Croatia 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 in a matchup of 24-year-olds.
   Both tournaments offer $150,000 in prize money.
   Mercurial Australian Nick Kyrgios reportedly will propose to Tomljanovic soon, perhaps on her May 7 birthday, after the couple broke up last July when Kyrgios was spotted leaving a London nightclub with two glamorous teenage female friends.
   Both Klahn (back) and Tomljanovic (right shoulder) are former top-70 players fighting back from surgery.
   Tomljanovic withdrew from the final of the $60,000 Sacramento Challenger against 15-year-old U.S. phenom Amanda Anisimova last July with a right shoulder injury.
Ajla Tomljanovic, playing in the quarterfinals of the $60,000 Sacramento Chal-
lenger last July, reportedly will receive a marriage proposal from mercurial
Australian Nick Kyrgios soon. Photo by Rob Vomund
   Klahn will play 21-year-old Chilean qualifier Christian Garin, who topped 2016 Tiburon Challenger champion Darian King of Barbados 5-7, 6-2, 6-3.
   Garin won the 2013 French Open boys title, beating current world No. 4 Alexander Zverev.
   Two of the United States' top prospects, third-seeded Taylor Fritz and 6-foot-11 (2.11-meter) wild card Reilly Opelka, will meet in the other semifinal.
   Klahn won the 2010 NCAA singles title as a sophomore before undergoing the first of his two operations for a herniated disc in his back and graduated in economics in 2012.
   Gibbs captured the NCAA singles and doubles titles in 2012, added the NCAA singles crown in 2013 as a junior and then turned pro.
   Tomljanovic will take on another two-time NCAA singles champion, American Danielle Collins (Virginia, 2014 and 2016). Two qualifiers, Mayo Hibi of Japan and Sofya Zhuk of Russia, will meet in the other semi.
   Hibi, who grew up in Irvine in the Los Angeles area, won the $50,000 Sacramento Challenger in 2013 at age 17. Zhuk won the Wimbledon girls title in 2015 at age 15.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Federer gains Aussie Open final as Chung retires

   As if facing Roger Federer for the first time wasn't tough enough, Hyeon Chung also struggled with blisters on his left foot.
   The unseeded Chung, the first Korean to reach a Grand Slam semifinal, retired with the second-seeded Federer leading 6-1, 5-2, 30-30 today in the Australian Open in Melbourne. The match lasted only 62 minutes.
   Federer, who will play an exhibition against Jack Sock at the SAP Center in San Jose on March 5, will face sixth-seeded Marin Cilic for the title on Sunday at 12:30 a.m. PST (ESPN) in a rematch of last year's Wimbledon final. Federer coasted 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 as Cilic also struggled with foot blisters.
   Federer is 8-1 against the 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Cilic, losing 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 in the semifinals of the 2014 U.S. Open. Cilic, from Croatia, went on to win his only Grand Slam title.
   Federer is 5-1 in Australian Open finals, falling to Rafael Nadal in 2009. Federer, 36, can tie the record of six Melbourne titles held by Novak Djokovic and Roy Emerson and win his record 20th Grand Slam singles crown. Nadal is second with 16.
   Saturday's women's final, also at 12:30 a.m. PST on ESPN, will produce a first-time Grand Slam champion as Serena Williams sat out the tournament after delivering her first child in September.
   Top-ranked Simona Halep will meet second-seeded Caroline Wozniacki in the first Grand Slam final in the Open era (since 1968) in which both players have saved match points in the tournament. Halep survived three in her 4-6, 6-4, 15-13 victory over American Lauren Davis in the third round and two against Angelique Kerber in the semifinals. Wozniacki escaped two in her 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 victory over Jana Fett of Croatia in the second round. Fett, 21, squandered a 5-1 lead in the third set with a barrage of errors.
   It's also the first time in the Open era that a player has reached a major final after saving a match point in multiple matches. Kerber, who won the 2015 Bank of the West Classic at Stanford, fended off one match point against Misaki Doi of Japan in the first round of the 2016 Australian Open en route to the first of her two Grand Slam titles.
   Wozniacki, 27, can regain the top ranking for the first time since 2010 with a victory over Halep, 26. Wozniacki, who announced her engagement to former NBA player David Lee last fall, leads the head-to-head series 4-2 with wins in the last three meetings. Halep, though, leads 2-1 on outdoor hard courts.
   Both finalists are 0-2 in Grand Slam finals. Wozniacki lost in the 2009 and 2014 U.S. Open. Halep fell in the 2014 and 2017 French Open.
   Also, both players are 0-1 in the Bank of the West Classic. Wozniacki lost as the top seed to Varvara Lepchenko, a U.S. citizen from Uzbekistan, in 2015 after receiving a first-round bye. Halep fell to Sabine Lisicki of Germany in the first round in 2011.
   Bank of the West and Stanford recently ended their association with the tournament after 26 and 21 years, respectively. The event reportedly will move to a new complex at nearby San Jose State or perhaps out of the region. 

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Novikov loses to 6-foot-11 Opelka in 150K Challenger

   Reilly Opelka, a 6-foot-11 (2.11-meter) wild card from Palm Coast, Fla., defeated qualifier Dennis Novikov, a San Jose product, 6-4, 6-4 today to reach the quarterfinals of the $150,000 Oracle Challenger Series in Newport Beach, Calif.
   Opelka, 20, blasted 19 aces in the match. Novikov had beaten top-seeded Kei Nishikori in the first round. Nishikori, the 2014 U.S. Open runner-up, was playing his first match since suffering a right wrist injury in August.
   Bradley Klahn, the 2010 NCAA singles champion from Stanford, beat fellow American Mitchell Krueger 6-3, 1-6, 6-4.
   Klahn, who's rebounding from his second back operation, will meet 18-year-ld Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia. Kecmanovic ousted second-seeded Frances Tiafoe in the opening round and another top U.S. prospect, Stefan Kozlov, in the second round.
   On the women's side, Nicole Gibbs of Venice in the Los Angeles area held off Anna Schmiedlova of Slovakia 7-6 (6), 6-4.
   Gibbs, the 2012 and 2013 NCAA singles champion from Stanford, will play seventh-seeded Ajla Tomljanovic of Croatia. Tomljanovic, a former top-50 player rebounding from right shoulder surgery, dispatched Canada's Carol Zhao, the 2016 NCAA singles runner-up from -- you guessed it -- Stanford, 6-1, 6-3.
   Tomljanovic withdrew from the final of the $60,000 Sacramento Challenger against 15-year-old U.S. phenom Amanda Anisimova last July with a right shoulder injury.

$3 million gift endows Cal men's coaching position

   Cal's week just got even better.
   One day after alumnus Ben McLachlan's stunning march in Australian Open doubles ended with a narrow loss in the semifinals, the university announced today that an anonymous gift of $3 million will endow the men's head-coaching position.
   The position will be named for Bears coach Peter Wright after his retirement. At age 54, however, Wright has no such plans.
   Wright, Cal's coach since 1993, is an ITA Regional Coach of the Year, a recipient of the 2017 ITA Meritorious Service Award and a three-time conference Coach of the Year. He has taken Cal to the NCAA Tournament 23 times and seen his athletes earn 20 All-America selections along with numerous academic awards.
   A Berkeley native, Wright earned a bachelor's degree in social science from Cal. He was a four-year letter winner in tennis before competing on the pro tour and the Irish Davis Cup team. Wright also served as the Ireland's Davis Cup captain and Olympic coach.
   No. 19 Cal (2-0) will host ITA Kick-Off Weekend on Sunday and Monday at the Hellman Tennis Complex. The Bears will face No. 22 Tulane (1-0) on Sunday at 10 a.m., followed by No. 13 Stanford (1-0) against Oregon (3-0) at 1 p.m. The losers will meet on Monday at 10 a.m., and the winners will square off at 1 p.m. for the right to advance to the ITA National Team Indoor Championship, Feb. 16-19 in Seattle. 
    Five of Cal's 11 players are from Northern California: seniors Billy Griffith of Fresno and J.T. Nishimura of San Jose, sophomore Dominic Barretto and freshman Paul Barretto (Dominic's brother) of Tiburon, and freshman Thomas Wright (Peter's son) of Berkeley.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Ex-Cal star, Bryans out; Halep wins thriller

   Ben McLachlan's stunning doubles run ended in heartbreaking fashion, and the Bryan brothers' Grand Slam title drought continued in the Australian Open.
   The unseeded team of McLachlan, a former Cal All-American, and Jan-Lennard Struff lost to seventh-seeded Oliver Marach of Austria and Mate Pavic of Croatia 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (4) today in the semifinals in Melbourne.
   Marach, 37, and Pavic, a 24-year-old left-hander, improved to 13-0 this year, including titles at Doha and Auckland.
   McLachlan, a 25-year-old New Zealand native who plays for his mother's native Japan, and Struff, a 27-year-old German, were playing in their first tournament together. McLachlan, in fact, made his Grand Slam debut in the tournament. Struff had never advanced past the second round of doubles in nine appearances in majors.
   Marach and Pavic will meet 11th-seeded Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah, a Colombian pair who beat sixth seeds and six-time Australian Open champions Bob and Mike Bryan 7-6 (1), 7-5.
   The 39-year-old Bryan twins (Stanford, 1997-98) have won a record 16 Grand Slam men's doubles titles but none since the 2014 U.S. Open.
   Meanwhile, the women's singles final (Saturday at 12:30 a.m. PST on ESPN) will produce a first-time Grand Slam champion.
   Top-ranked Simona Halep saved two match points in a scintillating 6-3, 4-6, 9-7 victory over No. 21 seed Angelique Kerber, who won the 2015 Bank of the West Classic at Stanford. Earlier, No. 21 seed Caroline Wozniacki beat unseeded Elise Mertens of Belgium 6-3, 7-6 (2).
   Wozniacki, 27, can regain the top ranking for the first time since 2010 with a victory over Halep, 26. Wozniacki leads the head-to-head series 4-2 with wins in the last three meetings.
   Both players are 0-2 in Grand Slam finals. Wozniacki lost in the 2009 and 2014 U.S. Open. Halep fell in the 2014 and 2017 French Open.
   In a late men's singles semifinal, sixth-seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia eliminated unseeded Kyle Edmund of Great Britain 6-2, 7-6 (4), 6-2. Cilic, the 2014 U.S. Open champion and runner-up to Roger Federer at Wimbledon last year, will play either Federer, the second seed and defending champion, or unseeded Hyeon Chung of South Korea on Sunday at 12:30 a.m. PST. Federer and Chung will meet on Friday at the same time. ESPN will televise both matches. 
   All McLachlan and Struff did in the tournament was oust ninth seeds and 2016 French Open champions Feliciano Lopez and Marc Lopez (no relation) in the second round, 2016 U.S. Open runners-up Pablo Carreno Busta and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in the third round, and top seeds and 2017 Wimbledon champions Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo in the quarterfinals. The latter victory went to 7-6 (5) in the third set.
   Marach and Pavic know all about losing heartbreakers. Playing in their only previous Grand Slam final last year at Wimbledon, they fell to Kubot and Melo 13-11 in the fifth set.
   Cabal, 31, seeks his second berth in a Grand Slam men's doubles final and Farah, a 31-year-old Montreal native and former USC All-American, his first.
   Cabal and Eduardo Schwank of Argentina lost to Max Mirnyi of Belarus and Daniel Nestor of Canada in the 2011 French Open final. Cabal won his only Grand Slam mixed doubles title in last year's Australian Open with American Abigail Spears.
   Farah has reached two major mixed doubles finals, losing at Wimbledon in 2016 and the French Open last year with Anna-Lena Groenefeld of Germany.

Federer to make Northern California debut in March

   It's only an exhibition, but it will have to do.
   Roger Federer, 36, will play in Northern California for the first time when he faces ninth-ranked Jack Sock of Kansas City, Kan., on March 5 at 7 p.m. at the SAP Center in San Jose.
   Federer also will play doubles with Bill Gates against Sock and "Today" hostess Savannah Guthrie.
   The exhibition will benefit Federer's foundation, which provides access to education for children in southern African countries. Federer's mother, Lynette, is South African. Last year's exhibition in Seattle between Federer and John Isner raised $2 million.
   After appearing in San Jose, Federer and Sock will play in the BNP Paribas Open, the highest-level tournament after the Grand Slams, at Indian Wells, Calif. Men's qualifying in the two-week event begins March 6, and first-round matches start March 8.
   As seeds at Indian Wells, Federer and Sock will receive first-round byes and open on March 10 or 11. Federer has won the singles title five times, tying Novak Djokovic for the record, and Sock won the doubles title with Vasek Pospisil of Canada in 2015.
   Federer never played in the SAP Open, the San Jose stop on the ATP World Tour that ended with Milos Raonic's third consecutive title in 2013. Federer has not been to San Francisco, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. His only trip to the Bay Area was a one-day visit to Google.
   Tickets to the exhibition, starting at $30, can be purchased beginning Friday at 9 a.m. at the SAP Center box office, ticketmaster.com or (800) 745-3000.
   Also, a limited number of VIP ticket packages, including a question-and-answer session with Federer and Sock before the matches, are available.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Kerber dominates Keys; Chung beats Sandgren

   The match shaped up as a battle between resurgent Angelique Kerber and rising Madison Keys.
   Instead, the 21st-seeded Kerber demolished the 17th-seeded Keys 6-1, 6-2 in 51 minutes today in the Australian Open quarterfinals in Melbourne.
   "It was more Kerber playing so well than Keys playing badly," Tennis Channel commentator Martina Navratilova said of the matchup between the Bank of the West Classic champions at Stanford in 2015 (Kerber) and last year (Keys).
   Kerber, a 5-foot-8 (1.73-meter) German left-hander who turned 30 last week, admittedly played spectacular defense, as usual. But the 5-foot-10 (1.78-meter) Keys, an American who will turn 23 on Feb. 17, had no aces and four double faults and made numerous errors, especially backhands down the line into the net.
   The match was reminiscent of last year's U.S. Open final, in which Fresno product Sloane Stephens whipped Keys 6-3, 6-0 in 61 minutes in the first major title match for both players.
   Kerber improved to 10-0 this year, including a run to the Sydney title. After winning her first two Grand Slam titles, the Australian Open and U.S. Open, and rising to No. 1 in 2016, she failed to reach the quarterfinals of a major in 2017 (losing in the first round in Melbourne and at Wimbledon) and ended the year at No. 21.
   Kerber will play top-seeded Simona Halep, a 6-3, 6-2 winner over sixth-seeded Karolina Pliskova, on Wednesday PST. Kerber is 4-4 against Halep with four wins in the last five meetings.
   In a men's quarterfinal between unseeded players, Hyeon Chung, 21, of South Korea defeated Tennys Sandgren, 26, of Gallatin, Tenn., in the Nashville area 6-4, 7-6 (5), 6-3 at Rod Laver Arena.
   Chung. who needed six match points, will face either second seed and defending champion Roger Federer or 10th-seeded Tomas Berdych (Wednesday at 12:30 a.m. PST on ESPN2). Chung is 0-0 against Federer and 0-2 against Berdych.
   Sandgren will add $352,398 (U.S.) to his career prize money of $488,735 and soar to about No. 52 in the rankings.
   Both Chung and Sandgren eliminated rusty former Australian Open champions in straight sets during the tournament.
   Chung toppled six-time champ Novak Djokovic, seeded 14th after taking six months off to rest his sore right elbow, to become the first Korean to reach a Grand Slam quarterfinal. Afterward, Djokovic said the 58th-ranked Chung has top-10 potential.
   Sandgren, ranked 97th, knocked off 2014 champ Stan Wawrinka, playing in his first tournament since undergoing knee surgery five months ago, in the second round.
   Sandgren, the runner-up in the $100,000 Tiburon Challenger in the San Francisco Bay Area last fall, was 0-2 in Grand Slam matches and was 2-8 in tour-level matches entering the Australian Open.
   Chung and Sandgren met for the first time two weeks ago in Auckland, with Chung prevailing 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 in the first round. Sandgren said the match gave him confidence that he can compete at the top level.
   Oracle Challenger Series in Newport Beach, Calif. -- Qualifier Dennis Novikov, a 24-year-old San Jose product, ousted top-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 in the first round.
   The 6-foot-4 (1.93-meter), 200-pound (91-kilogram) Novikov, ranked No. 238, slugged 15 aces past Nishikori, the 2014 U.S. Open runner-up who was playing in his first match since August because of a right wrist injury.

Ex-Cal star, German edge top seeds in doubles

   There's more work to do, but this is reminiscent of a magical run at Wimbledon six years ago.
   Unseeded Ben McLachlan, a former Cal All-American from New Zealand who plays for his mother's native Japan, and Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany continued their stunning march through the Australian Open doubles draw on Monday PST with a 6-4, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5) victory over top seeds Lukasz Kubot of Poland and Marcelo Melo of Brazil in the Australian Open quarterfinals in Melbourne.
   McLachlan and Struff had beaten accomplished Spanish teams, ninth-seeded Feliciano Lopez/Marc Lopez and then unseeded Pablo Carreno Busta/Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, in the previous two rounds.
    The Lopezes, who are not related, won the 2016 French Open and advanced to the final of last year's U.S. Open. Carreno Busta and Garcia-Lopez advanced to the semifinals of last year's Australian Open and the final of the 2016 U.S. Open.
    McLachlan and Struff, meanwhile, are upstarts. Not only are they playing in their first tournament together, McLachlan is making his Grand Slam debut, and Struff had never advanced past the second round of doubles in nine appearances in majors.
   McLachlan, 25, and Struff, 27, could become the most unheralded team to win a Grand Slam men's doubles title since Frederik Nielsen of Denmark and Jonathan Marray of Great Britain in 2012, when they were the first wild cards to win Wimbledon.
   McLachlan and Struff -- ranked No. 73 and No. 157, respectively, in doubles -- will play either seventh-seeded Oliver Marach of Austria and Mate Pavic of Croatia or unseeded Marcus Daniell of New Zealand and Dominic Inglot of Great Britain. Also, sixth seeds and six-time champions Bob and Mike Bryan remain alive in the other half of the draw.
   The 39-year-old Bryan twins (Stanford 1997-98) dispatched 15th-seeded Marcin Matkowski of Poland and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi of Pakistan 6-1, 6-4. It was the Bryans' first straight-set victory in the tournament.
   McLachlan reached the doubles final in the $100,000 Aptos (Calif.) Challenger in 2016 with Mackenzie McDonald from Piedmont, a 15-minute drive from Cal.
   Unseeded Kyle Edmund, an Aptos singles semifinalist in 2015, upset third-seeded Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 today to reach his first major semifinal.
   Edmund, a 23-year-old Briton, will play sixth-seeded Marin Cilic, the 2014 U.S. Open winner. Top-seeded Rafael Nadal, the 2009 champion, retired with a thigh injury with Cilic leading 3-6, 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-2, 2-0.
   Edmund, ranked 49th, ousted 11th-seeded Kevin Anderson, last year's U.S. Open runner-up to Nadal, 6-4 in the fifth set in the first round.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Sandgren stuns Thiem; ex-Cal star in doubles QFs

Unseeded Tennys Sandgren, who has played regularly in
Northern California Challengers, beat fifth-seeded Dom-
inic Thiem in five sets today to reach the Australian Open
quarterfinals. File photo by Paul Bauman
   Two weeks ago, Hyeon Chung defeated Tennys Sandgren in the first round of the ASB Classic in Auckland.
   Little did anyone know that the young South Korean and unheralded American would meet in the Australian Open quarterfinals.
   Chung, 21, ousted six-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic 7-6 (4), 7-5, 7-6 (3) today in the fourth round in Melbourne and became the first Korean to reach a Grand Slam quarterfinal. Djokovic later said the 58th-ranked Chung, who won the inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan last November, has top-10 potential.
   Djokovic, seeded 14th, was playing in his first official tournament in six months because of a sore right elbow. He also was treated for a hip injury during his 6-2, 6-3, 6-3 victory over 21st-seeded Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain in the previous round.
   Sandgren, the last remaining U.S. man, stunned fifth-seeded Dominic Thiem of Austria 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-7 (7), 6-3 in 3 hours, 54 minutes. 
   Thiem saved a match point while serving at 5-6 in the fourth-set tiebreaker with a spectacular one-handed backhand down-the-line passing shot. Sandgren applauded with one hand on his racket strings.
   "I'm starting to disbelieve what is happening now," Sandgren, a 26-year-old resident of Gallatin, Tenn., in the Nashville area, said in an on-court interview. "But maybe it's not a dream? He played some really, really great tennis, especially in the fourth-set tiebreak. Goodness gracious! I knew I had to take my chances and he, from behind the court, would outlast me. I had to stay aggressive and serve well."
   Meanwhile, ex-Cal star Ben McLachlan continued his surprising doubles run. McLachlan and Jan-Lennard Struff, playing in their first tournament together, defeated Pablo Carreno Busta and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-4, 7-6 (5) in a clash of unseeded teams to reach the quarterfinals.
   Carreno Busta and Garcia-Lopez, both from Spain, advanced to the semifinals of last year's Australian Open and the final of the 2016 U.S. Open.
   Sandgren, who lost to Chung 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 in Auckland, became the first man to reach the Australian quarterfinals in his main-draw debut since Alexandr Dolgopolov seven years ago and the first American man to advance to the quarters in Melbourne since Andy Roddick in 2010.
   In the second round, Sandgren dismissed ninth seed and 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka 6-2, 6-1, 6-4. Wawrinka was playing in his first official tournament since undergoing knee surgery five months ago.
   Sandgren's mother, Lia, suffered a broken rib in Gallatin while celebrating Tennys' success in the tournament. While jumping up and down, she fell on a pool table and was hospitalized. Tennys, who was named after his Swedish great grandfather, said Lia did not suffer a concussion, as reported by ESPN's Brad Gilbert.
   Sandgren will add at least $352,398 (U.S.) to his career prize money of $488,735 and jump from No. 97 in the world to about No. 52 or better.
   A former University of Tennessee All-American, Sandgren has played on the U.S. Challenger circuit for most of the past six years. A regular in Northern California, he won the Sacramento doubles title in 2012 with ex-Volunteers teammate Rhyne Williams, had hip surgery in 2014 and reached the singles final in Tiburon in the San Francisco Bay Area last fall.
   Sandgren had been 0-2 in Grand Slam singles matches entering the Australian Open and had won only two tour-level singles matches.
   After last season, Sandgren cut his long hair and shaved off his handlebar mustache.
   "I decided I couldn't go through life like this," Sandgren quipped to reporters. "I thought it was time to look more professional."
   McLachlan, a 25-year-old New Zealand native who plays for his mother's native Japan, and Struff, a 27-year-old German, were coming off a victory over ninth-seeded Feliciano Lopez and Marc Lopez of Spain. The Lopezes, who are not related, won the 2016 French Open and advanced to the final of last year's U.S. Open.
   McLachlan and Struff will take on top-seeded Lukasz Kubot of Poland and Marcelo Melo of Brazil. Kubot, the 2014 champion with Robert Lindstedt of Sweden, and Melo beat 16th-seeded Rajeev Ram of Carmel, Ind., and Divij Sharan of India 3-6, 7-6 (6), 6-4.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Bryans survive another three-setter in Aussie Open

Bob Bryan, left, and Mike Bryan remain alive in their
quest for a seventh Australian Open men's doubles title.
2016 photo by Paul Bauman
   Bob and Mike Bryan haven't exactly been overwhelming in the Australian Open.
   But the 39-year-old twins (Stanford, 1997-98) remain alive in their quest for a seventh men's doubles title in Melbourne.
   The sixth-seeded Bryans survived their closest call yet in the tournament, beating unseeded Frenchmen Jeremy Chardy and Fabrice Martin 6-7 (2), 7-6 (5), 6-3 today to reach the quarterfinals.
   The Bryans, who have lost the first set in all three of their matches, will face 15th-seeded Marcin Matkowski of Poland and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi of Pakistan.
   The Bryans are trying to end a Grand Slam title drought stretching to the 2014 U.S. Open. They have won a record 16 majors in men's doubles.
   In the third round of women's doubles, eighth-seeded Hsieh Su-Wei of Taiwan and Peng Shuai of China beat 12th-seeded Raquel Atawo of San Jose and Anna-Lena Groenefeld of Germany 6-4, 6-2.
   Hsieh and Peng have won two Grand Slam women's doubles titles: Wimbledon in 2013 and the French Open in 2014. Peng also reached last year's Australian Open final with Andrea Hlavackova of the Czech Republic.
   The 35-year-old Atawo (formerly Kops-Jones) has advanced to three Grand Slam semifinals in women's doubles (all with countrywoman Abigail Spears), including the 2014 Australian Open.
   Atawo won the 2003 NCAA doubles title with Cal teammate and Sacramento native Christina Fusano, who retired from professional tennis in 2011.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Sandgren reaches round of 16 in Australian Open

Tennys Sandgren defeated Maximilian Marterer in four sets
today in the third round of the Australian Open. File photo
by Paul Bauman
   Even though he's only 26, Tennys Sandgren has taken a long, hard road to success.
   A resident of Gallatin, Tenn., in the Nashville area, Sandgren has toiled for years in front of few fans for little prize money on the Challenger circuit in places like Stockton, Calif., Charlottesville, Va., and Champaign, Ill.
   In addition, Sandgren underwent left hip surgery in 2014, missing more than six months and plunging to No. 714 in the world rankings.
   Sandgren's persistence has paid off. He defeated German left-hander Maximilian Marterer 5-7, 6-3, 7-5, 7-6 (5) today to reach the round of 16 in the Australian Open in Melbourne.
   Sandgren had ousted ninth-seeded Stan Wawrinka, the 2014 champion, in straight sets in the second round. Wawrinka was playing in his first official tournament since having knee surgery five months ago.
   The last American man in singles, Sandgren will play fifth-seeded Dominic Thiem of Austria on Sunday PST for a quarterfinal berth.
   "He's a beast," Sandgren said in his on-court interview. "I'm looking forward to it."
   Even if Sandgren loses, he will take home $192,218 (U.S.) and jump from No. 97 in the world to about No. 67.
   As usual, Sandgren played all three stops on the Northern California Challenger circuit last fall, reaching the final in Tiburon and the quarterfinals in Stockton and Fairfield. Marterer played Fairfield, advancing to the semifinals.
   Sandgren, by the way, was not named after tennis. He was given his great grandfather's Swedish name.
   In the second round of men's doubles, Spaniards Pablo Carreno Busta and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez defeated former Stanford All-American Scott Lipsky, 36, of Irvine in the Los Angeles area and David Marrero, 37, of Spain 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-3.
   Lipsky led Stanford to the NCAA team title in 2000 and reached the 2002 NCAA doubles final with David Martin. Two of Lipsky's 16 ATP doubles titles came in San Jose (2008 with Martin and 2011 with Rajeev Ram).
   Also today, 13th-seeded Daniela Vismane of Latvia beat Stanford-bound Niluka Madurawe of Sunnyvale in the San Francisco Bay Area 6-3, 6-4 in the first round of girls singles.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Ex-Cal star McLachlan, German pull off big upset

   Former Cal standout Ben McLachlan and Jan-Lennard Struff, playing in their first tournament together, stunned ninth-seeded Feliciano Lopez and Marc Lopez of Spain 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 today in the second round of the Australian Open in Melbourne.
   The Lopezes, who are not related, won the 2016 French Open and reached the final of last year's U.S. Open.
   McLachlan, a 25-year-old New Zealand native who plays for his mother's native Japan, and Struff, a 27-year-old German, will play the winner of the match between Pablo Carreno Busta and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain and ex-Stanford star Scott Lipsky of Irvine in the Los Angeles region and David Marrero of Spain for a quarterfinal berth.
   Lipsky, 36, and Marrero, 37, ousted eighth-seeded Raven Klaasen of South Africa and Michael Venus of New Zealand in the opening round.
   Two other former Stanford stars, sixth-seeded Bob and Mike Bryan, beat 40-year-old Max Mirnyi of Belarus and Philipp Oswald of Austria 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-4.
   The 39-year-old Bryan twins seek their first Grand Slam title since the 2014 U.S. Open. They have won a record 16 major men's doubles crowns, including six in the Australian Open.
   Spaniards Pablo Andujar and Albert Ramos-Vinolas defeated Los Angeles-area residents Steve Johnson and Sam Querrey, a 30-year-old San Francisco native, 6-4, 6-4. Johnson and Querrey reached the semifinals of the 2015 U.S. Open.
   In the second round of women's doubles, 12th-seeded Raquel Atawo of San Jose and Anna-Lena Groenefeld of Germany overwhelmed Japan's Eri Hozumi and Miyu Kato 6-1,
6-1.
   The 35-year-old Atawo has advanced to three Grand Slam semifinals in women's doubles (all with countrywoman Abigail Spears), including the 2014 Australian Open. She won the 2003 NCAA doubles title with Cal teammate and Sacramento native Christina Fusano, who retired from professional tennis in 2011.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Querrey upset by Hungarian in Australian Open

   San Francisco native Sam Querrey won't have to worry about possibly facing Roger Federer in the fourth round of the Australian Open.
   Adding to the United States' woes in the tournament, the 13th-seeded Querrey lost to 80th-ranked Marton Fucsovics of Hungary 6-4, 7-6 (6), 4-6, 6-2 today in the second round in Melbourne. They met for the first time.
   Querrey, a Wimbledon semifinalist and U.S. Open quarterfinalist last year, has never advanced past the third round of the Australian Open in 12 career appearances.
   Fucsovics reached the final of last week's $75,000 Canberra (Australia) Challenger and won the 2010 Wimbledon boys singles title.
   Only two American men, Tennys Sandgren and Ryan Harrison, remain after two rounds. Sandgren took out ninth-seeded Stan Wawrinka, the 2014 champion, 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 in a late match. Wawrinka was playing in his first official tournament since undergoing knee surgery five months ago.
   Only three American women are left: 17th-seeded Madison Keys, Lauren Davis and lucky loser Bernarda Pera. In the previous major, the United States swept the women's semifinal berths in the U.S. Open.
   In the first round of men's doubles in Melbourne, 36-year-old former Stanford star Scott Lipsky of Irvine in the Los Angeles area and David Marrero of Spain ousted eighth-seeded Raven Klaasen of South Africa and Michael Venus of New Zealand 7-6 (14), 7-6 (4).

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

McDonald falls to Dimitrov in Aussie Open thriller

   Three months ago, Mackenzie McDonald won his first Challenger singles title in front of a few hundred fans at Solano Community College in the Northern California town of Fairfield.
   The 22-year-old product of Piedmont, a 45-minute drive south of Solano, played on a slightly bigger stage early today (PST).
   McDonald, a qualifier, fell to third seed and 2017 semifinalist Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 0-6, 8-6 in the featured night match at 14,820-seat Rod Laver Arena in the Australian Open. The second-round battle in Melbourne lasted 3 hours, 25 minutes.
   "I have to give him credit," Dimitrov, who won the ATP Finals last November, told reporters. "He came out there and started swinging. Played an unbelievable first set. There was honestly not much I could have done. He was serving well, close to the lines, swinging freely, coming to the net, trying to play a different game. In a way, he knew that was the only way he could actually give me trouble."
   The 5-foot-10 (1.78-meter), 145-pound (66-kilogram) McDonald, ranked No. 186, was playing in only his second Grand Slam tournament. He lost to Jan Satral of the Czech Republic in five sets in the first round of the 2016 U.S. Open after receiving an automatic wild card for winning the NCAA singles title (he also won the doubles crown) as a UCLA junior and turning pro.
   In a late women's second-round match, former Stanford star Nicole Gibbs of Santa Monica lost to 30th-seeded Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands 7-6 (3), 6-0.
   Meanwhile, Los Angeles-area residents Steve Johnson and Sam Querrey, doubles semifinalists in the 2015 U.S. Open, ousted 14th-seeded Ivan Dodig of Croatia and Fernando Verdasco of Spain 6-4, 6-3 in the first round. Querrey, 30, was born in San Francisco.
   In other doubles matches:
   --Sixth seeds and ex-Stanford stars Bob and Mike Bryan topped Marton Fucsovics of Hungary and Yoshihito Nishioka 5-7, 7-5, 6-1. The 39-year-old Bryan twins won the last of their record 16 majors in men's doubles, including six in the Australian Open, in the 2014 U.S. Open.
   --Former Cal standout Ben McLachlan, a New Zealand native who plays for his mother's native Japan, and Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany defeated Australian wild cards Thanasi Kokkinakis and Jordan Thompson 6-4, 6-3.
   --No. 12 seeds Raquel Atawo of San Jose and Anna-Lena Groenefeld of Germany eliminated Aussie wild cards Astra Sharma and Belinda Woolcock 7-6 (2), 6-3.
   --Second-seeded Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina of Russia beat Eugenie Bouchard of Canada and Sloane Stephens, who grew up in Fresno, 6-4, 6-4.
   --Ekaterina Alexandrova of Russia and Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia dismissed 18-year-olds CiCi Bellis, a San Francisco Bay Area product, and Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-2.

Monday, January 15, 2018

S.F. native Querrey dominates Lopez in Aussie Open

Sam Querrey, a 30-year-old San Francisco native, beat
Feliciano Lopez 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 today in the first round
of the Australian Open. File photo by Paul Bauman
   Sam Querrey, coming off the best year of his career, got off to a strong start in the Australian Open today.
   The 30-year-old San Francisco native, ranked and seeded 13th, dismissed Spanish left-hander Feliciano Lopez 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in Melbourne. Lopez, ranked No. 38 at age 36, had been 6-3 against Querrey.
   Querrey, 6-foot-6 (1.98 meters), blasted 28 aces against four double faults. He won 84 percent of the points on his first serve (39 of 46) and 65 percent on his second delivery (21 of 32).
   A semifinalist at Wimbledon and quarterfinalist at the U.S. Open last year, Querrey is scheduled to play 80th-ranked Marton Fucsovics of Hungary on Wednesday (PST). Fucsovics, the 2010 Wimbledon boys champion, defeated Radu Albot of Moldova 6-2, 6-3, 4-6, 7-5.
   Querrey, who now lives in Santa Monica in the Los Angeles area, has a good chance to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open for the first time in his 12th attempt. If he does, he could meet second seed and defending champion Roger Federer.
   No. 22 seed Milos Raonic loomed in the third round, but the 2016 Wimbledon runner-up lost to Lukas Lacko of Slovakia 6-7 (7), 7-5, 6-4, 7-6 (7). Raonic, who was hampered by injuries last year, fell to 0-2 in 2018.
   On the women's side, 20th-seeded Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic beat wild card and former Stanford star Kristie Ahn 6-1, 7-5.
   It was the second Grand Slam main-draw match for Ahn, who has a long history of injuries, and first in almost 10 years. She qualified for the 2008 U.S. Open at 16 and lost to Dinara Safina of Russia in the first round. Safina was ranked seventh at the time and climbed to No. 1 the following year.
   Strycova reached the fourth round at Melbourne last year, losing to eventual champion Serena Williams 7-5, 6-4.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Stephens, Bellis lose in Australian Open

   Sloane Stephens remained winless since her stunning U.S. Open title on a terrible day for Americans in the Australian Open.
   The 13th-seeded Stephens, who grew up in Fresno, lost to Zhang Shuai of China 6-2, 6-7 (2), 6-2 today in the first round in Melbourne.
   Stephens, who served for the match, fell to 0-8 since beating friend and countrywoman Madison Keys for her first Grand Slam title.
   Other U.S. seeds who lost today were No. 5 and 2017 runner-up Venus Williams, No. 10 CoCo Vandeweghe, No. 8 Jack Sock and No. 16 John Isner.
   No. 30 Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands avenged a second-round loss to CiCi Bellis in last year's French Open, eliminating the 18-year-old San Francisco Bay Area product 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-2.
   Bellis, last year's WTA Newcomer of the Year, made her Australian Open debut after missing last year's tournament with a leg injury.
   Bertens will play former Stanford star Nicole Gibbs, who thrashed lucky loser Viktoriya Tomova of Bulgaria 6-1, 6-1 in 48 minutes. Gibbs was the only winner of 10 American women in action.
   In a late men's match, Bay Area product Mackenzie McDonald beat fellow qualifier Elias Ymer of Sweden 6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 6-1 for his first Grand Slam main-draw victory.
   Next for McDonald, 22, is third-seeded Grigor Dimitrov. Gulp.

Altamirano captures first Futures singles title

Collin Altamirano beat qualifier Emilio Gomez 6-1, 7-5 to win the $25,000
Long Beach (Calif.) Pro Futures Tournament. Photo courtesy of Steve Pratt
   Collin Altamirano of Sacramento won his first ITF Futures singles title today, defeating qualifier Emilio Gomez of Ecuador 6-1, 7-5 in a $25,000 tournament in Long Beach, Calif.
   The unseeded Altamirano, who turned pro last June after winning NCAA team titles in all three of his years at Virginia, triumphed despite converting only 46.3 percent of his first serves (37 of 80). He had eight aces and two double faults.
   The first-set score was deceptive, Altamirano told publicist Steve Pratt.
   "I wasn't feeling that good at all," said Altamirano, the runner-up to Marcos Giron last year. "I was nervous and tight. I was just so fortunate to pull it out so easily, and the score doesn't indicate how tough it was."
   Altamirano trailed 2-4 in the second set.
   "I was just getting so frustrated and finally let my anger out a little bit," said Altamirano, who became the first unseeded player to win the USTA boys 18 title in 2013. "That loosened me up a little bit, and I started playing better."
   Altamirano will soar from No. 791 in the world to a career high of about No. 675.
   Gomez, the 26-year-old son of 1990 French Open champion Andres Gomez, will improve from No. 514 to about No. 458. He attained a career high of No. 215 in 2014.
   Altamirano also played in the doubles final as an alternate with Alexander Lebedev, a Notre Dame junior from Island Park, N.Y. They fell to top-seeded Luke Bambridge of Great Britain and Hans Hach of Mexico 6-3, 6-2.
   Altamirano was seeking his second Futures doubles title. He won a $10,000 clay-court tournament in Boynton Beach, Fla., with Deiton Baughman of Carson in the Los Angeles area in 2014.

Good as Gould: Stanford legend set to retire at 80

Dick Gould will retire Monday after 57 years at Stanford as a student, the men's
tennis coach and the director of tennis. Photo courtesy of Stanford Sports Information
   I hadn't seen Dick Gould in more than a quarter century.
   Twenty-seven years, to be exact.
   After covering his team in 1976 for the Stanford Daily and graduating the following year, I worked at various newspapers around the country and in Japan before joining my hometown Sacramento Bee in 2000. 
   Four years later, I called him to request an interview for a Bee story on his upcoming retirement after 38 years as the Stanford men's coach and a record 17 NCAA team titles. 
   Surely he had forgotten me. 
   Not Dick Gould.
   Once you play for Gould or cover his team, you are forever part of the Stanford family, as far as he is concerned.
   In the Bee story, UC Davis women's coach and former Stanford All-American Bill Maze recalled a dinner celebrating Gould's retirement from coaching. Many of Gould's former players addressed the 800 guests.
   "To the guy, they said, 'Anytime something important happens in my life, the first note I get is from coach Gould,' " Maze said.
   Gould, still robust at 80, will retire a final time Monday after 57 years at Stanford as a student, the men's coach and the director of tennis.
   Beginning in 2009, I saw Gould every summer during the Bank of the West Classic on the WTA tour at Stanford. His office was next to the media work room. And every year, he would make me feel as if I was the greatest journalist since Woodward and Bernstein.
   "He's incredibly optimistic and positive," Maze, John McEnroe's doubles partner in the legend's one year at Stanford (1978), told the Bee. "He's always looking on the bright side. I was a somewhat tortured, morose person (at Stanford) ... life was tough. One day, Dick pulled me aside and said, 'Hey, Billy, people are going to treat you the way you come off. Give 'em a smile.' I didn't listen to much back then, but I listened to that."
   In 2012, I had the pleasure of traveling to the Australian Open with Gould and his charming wife, former Stanford women's coach Anne (Hill), on a group tour organized by Tennis Ventures.
   One day, television commentators and former touring pros Patrick McEnroe and Justin Gimelstob visited our suite at Rod Laver Arena. McEnroe played for Gould and Gimelstob for rival UCLA.
   McEnroe popped in for only a few minutes to shake some hands before returning to his ESPN duties. But Gimelstob had time to field questions from Gould and talk some tennis.
   Recalling UCLA's matches against Stanford, Gimelstob quipped about Gould: "He'd say, 'It's such an honor to compete against you.' Meanwhile, he's got 42 All-Americans, and our guys are throwing up in the bathroom." 
John McEnroe, shown with Dick Gould, won the 1978 NCAA singles title
in his only season at Stanford. McEnroe had arrived on campus as a Wim-
bledon semifinalist. Photo courtesy of Stanford Sports Information 
   The 17 NCAA team titles are just the beginning of Gould's accomplishments.
   For 35 years, every four-year player coached by Gould earned at least one NCAA championship ring.
   Gould has coached:
   --Ten NCAA champions in singles and seven in doubles.
   --Fifty All-Americans.
   --Thirteen different Grand Slam champions in singles, doubles and mixed doubles.
   --Nine players who reached the top 15 in the world in singles, including No. 1 John McEnroe.
   --Fourteen players who cracked the top 10 in doubles.
   --Seven players who climbed to No. 1 in doubles, including twins Bob and Mike Bryan.
   --Sixteen Davis Cup players.
   --Eight Olympians.
   --Eight players who reached at least the round of 32 at Wimbledon in 1982.
   --Four players who advanced to at least the quarterfinals at Wimbledon in 1983.
   Wait, there's more. Gould:
   --Raised $18 million to build the Taube Family Tennis Center.
   --Initiated major college indoor matches in 1974 that later drew the biggest college crowds in history (15,000 fans for two-day events).
   --Acquired one of the nation's first electronic scoreboards in 1983.
   --Established the first personal seat licensing program in 1986.
   --Wrote a best-selling tennis instructional book ("Tennis, Anyone?").
   --Has been heavily involved in charity and the East Palo Alto Tennis and Tutoring Program, which provides one-on-one academic tutoring and group tennis instruction to underprivileged children.
   Gould was inducted into the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Hall of Fame in 2006, and a strong case can be made for his enshrinement in the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
   For all of Gould's success, though, winning wasn't paramount.
   "Dick was always talking about (playing with) class," Maze told The Bee. " 'We have a big match today. Win or lose, let's play with class.' I coach the same way. It's about the process, not the results. No one is more competitive than Dick, but he made it clear we were not going to be jerks out there. He would go up to (opposing players) and shake their hand."
   Now it's time to shake Gould's hand.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Mackie in Aussie main draw; Altamirano in 25K finals

Mackenzie McDonald, a 22-year-old San Francisco Bay
Area product, will make his Australian Open main-draw
debut on Sunday. File photo by Paul Bauman 
   It was a good day for a pair of Northern California 22-year-olds.   Mackenzie McDonald, who was born and raised in Piedmont in the San Francisco Bay Area, earned his first berth in the main draw of the Australian Open.
   And Collin Altamirano of Sacramento reached the singles final of the $25,000 Long Beach (Calif.) Pro Futures Tournament for the second consecutive year.
   McDonald outlasted 37-year-old Frenchman Stephane Robert 7-6 (5), 6-7 (7), 6-4 today in the final round of qualifying in Melbourne. McDonald, only 5-foot-10 (1.78 meters) and 145 pounds (66 kilograms), had nine aces and only one double fault.
   McDonald will play qualifier Elias Ymer of Sweden on Sunday. It will be McDonald's second appearance in the singles main draw of a Grand Slam tournament. After winning the NCAA singles (and doubles) title as a UCLA junior, he received an automatic wild card in the 2016 U.S. Open and lost in the opening round to Jan Satral of the Czech Republic in five sets.
   Altamirano, who upset second-seeded Marcos Giron in the first round in Long Beach, dispatched third-seeded Kaichi Uchida of Japan 6-3, 6-2 in 59 minutes. In last year's tournament, Altamirano dominated McDonald 6-3, 6-1 in the quarterfinals and lost to Giron in the final.
   Altamirano will face qualifier Emilio Gomez of Ecuador. Gomez, a 26-year-old former USC standout and the son of 1990 French Open champion Andres Gomez, eliminated sixth-seeded J.C. Aragone of Yorba Linda in the Los Angeles area 6-4, 6-3.
   Aragone, who played on three NCAA championship teams with Altamirano at Virginia, qualified for last year's U.S. Open and lost in the first round to eventual runner-up Kevin Anderson 6-3, 6-3, 6-1.
   Gomez, ranked No. 508, missed time last year with a shoulder injury. He originally entered the Chandler (Ariz.) Challenger this week, but it was canceled. Gomez had to "beg" the USTA for a wild card into Long Beach qualifying, he told publicist Steve Pratt.
   "And I almost lost in the second round of qualifying, and now I'm in the final," marveled Gomez, referring to his 6-7 (6), 6-4, 6-4 victory over No. 1,429 Laurens Verboven, 20, of Belgium. "This is a crazy sport, for sure."
   Altamirano also advanced to the doubles final as an alternate with Alexander Lebedev, a Notre Dame junior from Island Park, N.Y. They registered a 7-6 (5), 6-3 victory over second-seeded Ante Pavic of Croatia and Satral.
   Altamirano and Lebedev will face top-seeded Luke Bambridge of Great Britain and Hans Hach of Mexico. They topped third-seeded Deiton Baughman of Carson in the L.A. region and Uchida 7-6 (5), 6-2.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Altamirano reaches 25K singles, doubles semis

Sacramento's Collin Altamirano had a chance
to go down in collegiate tennis history but chose
to turn pro. 2016 photo by Paul Bauman
   Collin Altamirano turned down a chance to become the fourth man to win four NCAA team titles.
   Instead, the Sacramentan turned pro last summer out of Virginia.
   Altamirano conceivably could have joined Stanford's Paul Goldstein and USC's Steve Johnson and Daniel Nguyen as the only men to accomplish the feat. Henrik Wiersholm was in the same position as Altamirano but chose to redshirt after three seasons at Virginia.
   "I didn't go to college to win titles," Altamirano, 22, admitted to press aide Steve Pratt today after reaching the singles and doubles semifinals at the $25,000 Long Beach (Calif.) Pro Futures Tournament. "Luckily I got to experience that, and I'll always be thankful for that. But to win four titles wasn't always on the goal list, to be honest."
   Altamirano, in fact, told coach Brian Boland last January that he would forgo his senior year.
  "Tennis has been my focus for my entire life, and I was just so eager to get out here and start doing this for a living," said Altamirano, the USTA boys 18 champion in 2013. "I just wanted to. At the end of the day, I wanted to just do what I loved.
   "I loved it at Virginia; I love that program. But this is what I really want to do. I want to take school seriously when I'm ready."
   As it turned out, the 2017 season also was Boland's last at Virginia. After four NCAA team titles, all in the last five years, in 16 seasons as the Cavaliers' coach, Boland announced last March that he was leaving to become the USTA's head of men's player development.
   Altamirano, the singles runner-up in Long Beach last year, defeated Alex Rybakov, a junior All-American at Texas Christian, 6-2, 1-6, 6-2.
   The unseeded Altamirano will meet third-seeded Kaichi Uchida of Japan. Uchida, who has trained at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., for the past five years, dismissed Israeli qualifier Daniel Cukierman, a USC freshman, 6-0, 6-2.
   In the other semifinal, sixth-seeded J.C. Aragone, Altamirano's former teammate at Virginia from  Yorba Linda in the Los Angeles area, will play qualifier Emilio Gomez, a former USC star from Ecuador.
   Gomez ousted top-seeded Austin Krajicek of Bryan, Texas, 6-3, 7-6 (8). Krajicek reached the final of the $100,000 Aptos (Calif.) Challenger in 2015, losing to Australian John Millman.
   Alternates Altamirano and Alexander Lebedev, a Notre Dame junior from Island Park, N.Y., held off unseeded Krajicek and Jack Pulliam, a high school senior from Manhattan Beach in the Los Angeles region, 6-1, 3-6 [10-7).
   Pulliam will play at Texas A&M, Krajicek's alma mater. Krajicek won the 2011 NCAA doubles title at Stanford with Jeff Dadamo.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Querrey has brutal draw; Altamirano continues run

   Sam Querrey's No. 13 seeding, his best in a Grand Slam tournament, didn't help him much in the Australian Open draw.
   The 30-year-old San Francisco native, now based in Santa Monica in the Los Angeles area, will play Spanish left-hander Feliciano Lopez, whose No. 36 ranking equals his age, in the first round.
   The draw for the year's first Grand Slam tournament was held early today. Play begins Sunday at 4 p.m. PST (ESPN2).
   Lopez, who reached a career-high No. 12 in 2015, is 6-3 against Querrey. Neither player has reached the quarterfinals in Melbourne. Lopez's best result is the fourth round and Querrey's the third round.
   Querrey, a Wimbledon semifinalist last year, could play 22nd-seeded Milos Raonic in the third round and second-seeded Roger Federer, the defending champion, in the fourth round. Querrey is 2-2 against Raonic and 0-3 (0-8 in sets) against Federer.
   Raonic, the Wimbledon runner-up to Andy Murray in 2016, played only three tournaments after Wimbledon last year. A right-hander with a two-handed backhand, Raonic missed seven weeks after undergoing surgery on his left wrist and withdrew from his second-round match in Tokyo in October with a calf injury.
   In his first match of 2018, Raonic lost to 18-year-old Australian phenom Alex De Minaur in the second round at Brisbane last week.
   Raonic went undefeated in the now-defunct SAP Open in San Jose, winning the title from 2011 through 2013.
  On the women's side in the Australian Open, San Francisco Bay Area product CiCi Bellis and former Stanford star Kristie Ahn drew seeds in the opening round.
   Bellis, 18, will make her Australian Open debut against 30th-seeded Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands. CiCi upset Kiki in the second round of the French Open last year.
   The winner of the Bertens-Bellis match will play either Nicole Gibbs or a qualifier to be determined. Gibbs and Ahn led Stanford to the 2013 NCAA title.
   Ahn, a 25-year-old wild card from Upper Saddle River, N.J., will meet 20th-seeded Barbora Strycova, a 31-year-old Czech, for the first time.
   It will be the first Grand Slam main-draw match for Ahn, finally healthy after years of injuries, since she qualified for the 2008 U.S. Open at 16 and lost to Dinara Safina of Russia in the first round. Safina was ranked seventh at the time and climbed to No. 1 the following year.
   Strycova reached the fourth round at Melbourne last year, losing to eventual champion Serena Williams 7-5, 6-4.
   Australian Open qualifying -- Mackenzie McDonald, a 22-year-old product of Piedmont in the Bay Area, is scheduled to play 37-year-old Stephane Robert of France in the final round on Friday (PST).
   McDonald, who has lost only five games in his two qualifying matches, seeks his second main-draw berth in a Grand Slam tournament. After winning the NCAA singles (and doubles) title as a UCLA junior, he received an automatic wild card in the 2016 U.S. Open and lost in the opening round to Jan Satral of the Czech Republic in five sets.
   Futures tour -- Collin Altamirano, a 22-year-old Sacramentan, defeated former North Carolina All-American Ronnie Schneider 6-3, 4-6, 6-1 to reach the quarterfinals of a $25,000 tournament in Long Beach, Calif.
   Altamirano, who ousted second-seeded Marcos Giron in the first round to avenge a loss in last year's final, will play Alex Rybakov of Coral Springs, Fla. Rybakov, a junior All-American at Texas Christian, beat Evan Zhu, a sophomore doubles All-American at UCLA from nearby Irvine, 6-1, 6-4.
   Altamirano, the USTA boys 18 champion in 2013, turned pro in June after helping Virginia win the NCAA title in all three of his years there.
   Sam Riffice, an 18-year-old Sacramento native headed to the University of Florida next fall, lost to third-seeded Kaichi Uchida of Japan 2-6, 6-3, 6-1.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Zhao routed in Open qualies; Altamirano pulls upset

   According to the rankings, the first-round qualifying match between Denisa Allertova and Carol Zhao in the Australian Open looked highly competitive.
   It didn't work out that way.
   The 18th-seeded Allertova, a 24-year-old Czech, dominated Zhao, a 22-year-old former Stanford star from Canada, 6-3, 6-0 in 58 minutes in Melbourne. The 5-foot-11 (1.80-meter) Allertova is ranked No. 131, 14 spots ahead of the 5-foot-5 (1.65-meter) Zhao.
   In 2016, Allertova reached the third round of the main draw in the Australian Open for her best Grand Slam result and shocked then-No. 2 Angelique Kerber in the second round at Indian Wells.
   Zhao, the 2015 NCAA runner-up to Jamie Loeb, won a $100,000 tournament in Shenzhen (China) last November for the biggest title of her career.
   On the men's side, San Francisco Bay Area products Mackenzie McDonald and Dennis Novikov played late second-round qualifying matches. McDonald outclassed Jozef Kovalik of Slovakia 6-2, 6-2 after dropping only one game in the first round against American Noah Rubin. Novikov fell to 27th-seeded Elias Ymer of Sweden 6-7 (3), 6-3, 6-3.
   McDonald, 22, is playing in the men's Australian Open for the first time, although he reached the boys semifinals in 2012. The 2016 NCAA singles and doubles champion from UCLA won his first Challenger singles title in the $100,000 Northbay Healthcare Pro Championships in Fairfield, near San Francisco, last October.
   Ymer, who will turn 22 in April, ousted top-seeded Ruben Bemelmans in the first round of the $100,000 Stockton (Calif.) Challenger in October en route to the quarterfinals.
   Men's Futures -- Avenging a loss in last year's final, Collin Altamirano of Sacramento knocked off second-seeded Marcos Giron, the 2014 NCAA champion from UCLA, 7-6 (0), 6-3 in the first round of the rain-delayed $25,000 Long Beach (Calif.) Futures.
   Altamirano, 22, turned pro in June after helping Virginia win the NCAA team title in all three of his years with the Cavaliers.
   Sam Riffice, an 18-year-old product of Roseville in the Sacramento area, defeated Trevor Allen Johnson, a Texas Christian senior from Las Vegas, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.
   Jenson Brooksby, a 17-year-old Sacramentan, lost to fellow qualifier Logan Smith, a USC junior from Carlsbad in the San Diego region, 6-2, 6-7 (3), 6-0.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Radwanska tops Bellis; Mackie wins in Open qualies

Agnieszka Radwanska evened her record against CiCi Bellis at 1-1 with
a 7-6 (4), 6-0 victory today in the second round of the Sydney International.
File photo by Mal Taam
   Agnieszka Radwanska got even with CiCi Bellis.
   The fourth-seeded Radwanska beat the 18-year-old qualifier, who was born and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, 7-6 (4), 6-0 today in the second round of the Sydney International.
   In the players' only previous meeting, Bellis defeated Radwanska 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 in the third round at Dubai last February for the first top-10 victory of her career. Bellis now has two of them, having beaten Svetlana Kuznetsova in the second round at Toronto last August en route to being named the WTA Newcomer of the Year.
   Radwanska's ranking equals her age -- 28. She reached a career-high No. 2 in 2012 after advancing to the Wimbledon final, in which she lost to -- surprise! -- Serena Williams. Bellis' ranking is double Radwanska's at 56.
   Radwanska, the 2013 Sydney champion and last year's runner-up to Johanna Konta, will play either two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova or qualifier Camila Giorgi of Italy in the quarterfinals.
   Australian Open qualifying -- In a matchup of young, diminutive Americans, Bay Area native Mackenzie McDonald crushed Noah Rubin 6-1, 6-0 in 49 minutes in the first round in Melbourne.
   The 5-foot-9 (1.75-meter) Rubin, 21, apparently suffered a major letdown after defeating 20-year-old American Taylor Fritz to win last week's $75,000 Noumea (New Caledonia) Challenger.
   Rubin, the 2014 Wimbledon junior champion, reached the second round of the main draw in the Australian Open in each of the past two years. He stunned 17th-seeded Benoit Paire of France in 2016 and, as a qualifier last year, lost to Roger Federer 7-5, 6-3, 7-6 (3). Federer, then 35, went on to end his Grand Slam singles title drought at almost five years.
   The 22-year-old McDonald, 5-foot-10 (1.78 meters), made his Australian Open men's debut, although he reached the junior semifinals in Melbourne in 2012.
   Dennis Novikov of Milpitas in the Bay Area beat 32-year-old Australian Marinko Matosevic, a former top-40 player, 6-3, 7-6 (3). Novikov, 6-foot-4 (1.93 meters) and 200 pounds (91 kilograms), pounded 12 aces and committed four double faults.
   Former Stanford star Bradley Klahn, rebounding from his second back operation, lost to 28th-seeded Ramkumar Ramanathan of India 6-7 (8), 7-6 (3), 6-2. Ramanathan, ranked No. 139 at age 23, had 10 aces and no double faults.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Bellis earns sixth victory over a top-20 player

Cici Bellis, rejoicing after upsetting Petra Kvitova at Stanford in August, beat
20th-ranked Magdalena Rybarikova today in the Sydney International.
Photo by Mal Taam 
   Qualifier CiCi Bellis recorded her sixth victory over a top-20 player today, defeating Magdalena Rybarikova 7-6 (2), 6-0 in the first round of the Sydney International.
   Rybarikova, 29, is ranked No. 20. The 5-foot-11 (1.80-meter) Slovak reached the Wimbledon semifinals last year.
   Four of Bellis' top-20 wins came last year, when the 18-year-old San Francisco Bay Area product was named the WTA Newcomer of the Year. Bellis knocked off No. 6 Agnieszka Radwanska in the third round at Dubai, No. 8 Svetlana Kuznetsova in the second round at Toronto, No. 15 Petra Kvitova in the quarterfinals at Stanford and No. 18 Kiki Bertens in the second round of the French Open. Bellis also stunned No. 13 Dominika Cibulkova in the first round of the U.S. Open in 2014 at age 15.
   Bellis, ranked No. 56 after reaching a career-high No. 35 in August, will play Radwanska for the second time. Radwanska, who has plunged from a career-high No. 2 in 2012 to No. 28, ousted fourth-seeded and ninth-ranked Johanna Konta of Great Britain 6-3, 7-5. Konta won the first of her three WTA singles titles in the 2016 Bank of the West Classic at Stanford.
   Another Sydney qualifier, former Stanford star Kristie Ahn, lost to Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands 6-2, 6-4.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Stanford women ranked No. 1; Pliskova routs Bellis

Michaela Gordon, now a Stanford freshman, eyes a forehand in singles quali-
ing for the $60,000 Sacramento Challenger in July. Photo by Rob Vomund
   The Stanford women earned the top spot in the first college rankings of the dual-match season, which were released today.
   Returnees from the Cardinal's NCAA runner-up team last year include junior All-American Melissa Lord, junior Caroline Lampl and sophomores Emma Higuchi and Emily Arbuthnott.
   Joining Stanford, which has won a record 19 national titles, is Michaela Gordon of nearby Saratoga. Gordon ranks second nationally among freshmen and newcomers and 13th overall.
   Artbuthnott and Gordon won the doubles title in the inaugural ITA National Fall Championships at Indian Wells in November. Stanford has only one senior, and she is not a regular.
   Stanford opens the spring season on Jan. 12 in the NCTC Classic at Indian Wells and the Freeman Memorial Championships in Las Vegas.
   The Cal women, led by freshman Anna Bright, are ranked No. 11. On the men's side, Stanford is No. 13, and Cal is No. 19. The Cardinal's Tom Fawcett, a 6-foot-5 (1.96-meter) senior from Winnetka, Ill., reached the NCAA singles semifinals last May.
   The first singles and doubles rankings of the year will be released on Feb. 7.
   WTA tour -- CiCi Bellis, the WTA Newcomer of the Year in 2017, lost to defending champion and former world No. 1 Karolina Pliskova 6-1, 6-1 in 53 minutes in the second round of the Brisbane (Australia) International.
   The 6-foot-1 (1.86-meter) Pliskova, seeded second, won 90 percent of the points on her first serve (19 of 21) and 64 percent (9 of 14) on her second delivery against the 5-foot-7 (1.70-meter) Bellis, an 18-year-old product of Atherton in the San Francisco Bay Area. Pliskova faced no break points in the match. 
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