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.

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