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.

1 comment:

  1. Hard to tell if Bryans decision to cede Davis Cup spots good for them. In theory, more practice time and focus. In practice, fewer high stakes matches.