Tuesday, January 23, 2018

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.

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