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.

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