Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Defending champion Querrey ousted in Acapulco

   Sam Querrey suffered another heartbreaking loss today, this time as the defending champion.
   In a battle of 30-year-olds, Matthew Ebden of Australia ousted the seventh-seeded Querrey 6-3, 1-6, 7-6 (5) in the first round of the Abierto Mexicano Telcel in Acapulco.
   Querrey lost in a third-set tiebreaker for the third consecutive match. The 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) San Francisco native fell to 6-foot-8 (2.03-meter) Kevin Anderson of South Africa in the final of the inaugural New York Open in Uniondale, N.Y., two weeks ago and to 20-year-old American Taylor Fritz in the opening round at Delray Beach last week.
   Meanwhile, Ebden upset a tall American for the second time this year. He eliminated 6-foot-10 (2.08-meter) John Isner, seeded 16th, in the first round of the Australian Open last month before losing to Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine.
   Ebden, ranked 87th, improved to 1-2 against Querrey, ranked a career-high 11th. They met for the first time since Querrey prevailed 7-6 (3), 7-6 (1) on grass in the first round at Newport, R.I., in 2015.
   Ebden, the runner-up in the 2013 Napa and Tiburon Challengers, will face 21-year-old American Jared Donaldson, the runner-up to Fritz in the 2015 Sacramento Challenger, on Wednesday. Donaldson defeated Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia 6-2, 3-2, retired.
   Rafael Nadal, a two-time Acapulco champion (2005 and 2013) and last year's runner-up, withdrew with a right hip injury. The 31-year-old Spaniard retired from his Australian Open quarterfinal against Marin Cilic with a similar problem.
   In the opening round of the Acapulco women's draw, top-seeded Sloane Stephens beat Pauline Parmentier of France 6-0, 6-4. Stephens, a 24-year-old Fresno product, had lost eight straight matches since winning the U.S. Open last September for her first Grand Slam title.
   Stephens will play Dutch qualifier Arantxa Rus, a 4-6, 6-1, 6-0 winner over 18-year-old U.S. wild card Kayla Day, on Wednesday.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

San Jose product Novikov wins 50K Morelos title

   Third-seeded Dennis Novikov, a 24-year-old San Jose product, defeated Christian Garin of Chile 6-4, 6-3 today to win the $50,000 Morelos (Mexico) Open.
   The 6-foot-4 (1.93-meter), 200-pound (91-kilogram) Novikov, now based in Los Angeles, pounded 11 aces and saved nine of 10 break points against him.
   Novikov jumped 45 places to No. 165 with his third career Challenger singles title and first since he won Cary (N.C.) and Columbus (Ohio) back-to-back in 2015. He reached a career-high No. 119 in August 2016.
   Garin, 21, won the French Open boys singles title five years ago, beating Alexander Zverev in the final. Zverev is now ranked fifth and Garin 242nd.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Cal's Griffith pulls upset, but No. 2 Stanford coasts

   Cal's Billy Griffith scored a big upset, but No. 2 Stanford defeated the No. 36 Bears 4-1 today in Berkeley.
   Griffith, a senior from Fresno ranked 79th, beat Tom Fawcett, ranked 14th, 6-4, 7-6 (4) on Court 1.
   No. 32 Axel Geller, a freshman from Argentina, clinched the match for the Cardinal (10-1) with a 7-6 (9), 2-6, 6-3 victory over J.T. Nishimura, a senior from San Jose, on Court 2.
   Geller, who ended 2017 as the world's top junior, is featured in "Faces in the Crowd" in this week's Sports Illustrated.
   Several Stanford players will compete in the Pacific Coast Doubles Championships in La Jolla next weekend before dual-match play resumes against Arizona State in Tempe, Ariz., on March 8.
   Cal (3-4) will play at San Diego State on Thursday and then in the Pacific Coast Doubles tournament.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

New West Coast Tour will feature two Bay Area stops

   The West Coast Tennis Tour will debut this spring and summer with 13 open prize money tournaments from San Diego to Seattle.
   The coed circuit will begin May 20-21 and May 27-29 in San Diego and end Aug. 8-13 in the San Francisco Bay Area suburb of Moraga at the Moraga Country Club. The only other Northern California tournament on the tour is scheduled for June 8-11 in Danville, also in the Bay Area, at the Crow Canyon Country Club.
   "We want to get young players to compete more," tour organizer West Nott,  a former USC women's assistant coach, said in a news release. "The tour is geared toward high school and college players who are seeking more pressure-filled match play. All levels are welcome. This is one giant road trip, and we are connecting all the dots A to Z for a memorable life experience and seeing sights along the way."
   All results will go toward a player's Universal Tennis Rating.
   For more information on the West Coast Tennis Tour, visit westcoasttennistour.com.
   Nott also will host a trip to the NCAA Men's and Women's Team Championships, May 17-22 at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., for juniors 13-18. For more information, go to info@collegetennistours.com.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Bellis, 18, loses to Muguruza in late Dubai match

   In a match that began at about midnight (noon PST), second-seeded Garbine Muguruza beat 18-year-old wild card CiCi Bellis 6-3, 7-5 today in the second round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships in the United Arab Emirates.
   Muguruza, a 6-foot (1.82-meter) Spaniard, pounded six aces and won 64 percent of the points on her first serve (29 of 45). Bellis, a 5-foot-7 (1.68-meter) native of San Francisco who grew up in nearby Atherton, had no aces and took 49 percent of the points on her first delivery (26 of 53).
   It was the first meeting between the third-ranked Muguruza, who won the French Open in 2016 and Wimbledon last year, and the 41st-ranked Bellis, the youngest player in the top 50 by almost two years.
   Bellis will fall about seven spots in the rankings on Monday after reaching the Dubai quarterfinals last year. The tournament dropped from the Premier 5 level with a 64 draw to the Premier classification with a field of 32 this year.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Bellis beats Mertens in Dubai, will face Muguruza

   Elise Mertens became CiCi Bellis' latest high-profile victim today.
   And it wasn't close.
   Bellis, an 18-year-old wild card who was born in San Francisco and raised in nearby Atherton, dispatched Mertens, an Australian Open semifinalist last month, 6-3, 6-3 in the opening round of the Dubai (United Arab Emirates) Duty Free Tennis Championships.
   Mertens, a Belgian ranked 21st, won only 29 percent of the points on her second serve (8 of 28) versus 50 percent (13 of 26) for Bellis, ranked 41st, in their first career meeting.
   Bellis will face Garbine Muguruza, ranked third and seeded second, for the first time in Wednesday's late match at about 9 a.m. PST. Muguruza, who won the French Open in 2016 and Wimbledon last year, received a first-round bye.
   A victory over Muguruza would be the biggest of Bellis' career, topping her win over No. 5 Karolina Pliskova in the third round at Doha last week. It also would be Bellis' fourth triumph over a Grand Slam singles champion after her victories over Jelena Ostapenko (who later won the French Open), Petra Kvitova and Svetlana Kuznetsova.
   ATP World Tour -- In a battle of California natives, 20-year-old Taylor Fritz edged fourth seed and 2016 champion Sam Querrey 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4) in the first round of the Delray Beach (Fla.) Open. 
   The 30-year-old Querrey, originally from San Francisco, played two days after he lost to Kevin Anderson, also in a third-set tiebreaker, in the final of the inaugural New York Open in Uniondale, N.Y.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Staggs, UCLA lose in Men's Team Indoors final

   Top-ranked Wake Forest won its first national championship today, defeating No. 7 UCLA 4-2 in the ITA National Men's Team Indoor Championships in Seattle.
   Skander Mansouri, ranked 22nd, clinched the match for the Demon Deacons (9-0) with a 6-4, 7-6 (7) victory over No. 107 Keegan Smith on Court 3.
   Wake Forest's Bar Botzer, ranked 112th, topped Logan Staggs, a senior from Tracy ranked 58th, 6-4, 6-4 on Court 4.
   The Demon Deacons overcame deficits of 1-0 and 2-1.
   The match between top-ranked Martin Redlicki of UCLA (11-2) and 100th-ranked Borna Gojo on Court 1 was abandoned at one set apiece and 40-40 in the first game of the third set.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Querrey falls in final; Stanford loses heartbreaker

Kevin Anderson of the Sacramento Capitals serves in a
2012 World TeamTennis match in the Sacramento area.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   Talk about anticlimactic ...
   Today's final between top-seeded Kevin Anderson and second-seeded Sam Querrey, a 30-year-old San Francisco native, in the inaugural New York Open came down to a tiebreaker.
   But Anderson reeled off the first six points, leading the normally mild-mannered Querrey to slam his racket on the court, and then won 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (1) in Uniondale, N.Y.
   The 6-foot-8 (2.03-meter) Anderson slammed 16 aces in the match, and the 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Querrey had nine. Each player double-faulted once.
   Anderson won all four of his matches in three sets, three of them in third-set tiebreakers, after receiving a first-round bye. The 31-year-old South African, who lives in Florida with his American wife, won his fourth career title and first since 2015.
   Anderson had been 3-11 in ATP finals, including a loss to Gilles Simon of France in Pune, India, during the first week of this year.
   "I have been runner-up quite a few times in my career," Anderson, a former University of Illinois star (2005-07), lamented to reporters. "One of the big goals I had for this year was to try to be a bit more successful in that final stage. I fell a little short earlier this year in India, and it feels great to come through and get today's win. It gives me a lot of confidence for the year."
   Anderson, the runner-up to Rafael Nadal in the U.S. Open in nearby Flushing Meadows, N.Y., last September, will rise two places to a career-high No. 9 in Monday's rankings. He was ranked 10th for one week in 2015.
   Querrey, who was seeking his 11th ATP title, would have moved up one spot to a career-high No. 11 with a victory.
   Anderson improved to 8-9 against Querrey with four victories in their last five matches. They first met in the first round of the 2007 Sacramento Challenger, with Querrey winning 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.
   Both Querrey and Anderson played part-time for the now-defunct Sacramento Capitals in World TeamTennis in 2012, but not together.
   College men -- In a match that came down to a third-set tiebreaker, top-ranked Wake Forest beat No. 5 Stanford 4-3 in the semifinals of the ITA National Team Indoor Championship in Seattle.
   In the deciding match on Court 1, 100th-ranked Borna Gojo edged No. 33 Tom Fawcett 3-6, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5). The Cardinal (8-1) twice fought back to even the dual match.
   Wake Forest (8-0) will play No. 7 UCLA (11-1) for the title on Monday. The Bruins, with senior Logan Staggs of Tracy, defeated No. 6 Texas A&M 4-2. Staggs, ranked 58th, beat Valentin Vacherot, ranked 35th, 7-5, 7-5 on Court 4.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Querrey reaches N.Y. final; Stanford advances

   Even the pros forget the score occasionally.
   Second-seeded Sam Querrey, a 30-year-old San Francisco native, didn't realize the match had ended when he beat fourth-seeded Adrian Mannarino of France 6-7 (5), 7-5, 6-3 today in the semifinals of the inaugural New York Open in Uniondale, N.Y.
   Querrey thought he had one more game left after recording his second straight service break.
   "I broke, I kind of gave a fist pump, and I was walking to the bench, then the crowd was a little too loud for just a break of serve," Querrey told reporters. "I looked up and, Oh my gosh, I won."
   Querrey said he couldn't remember losing track of the score before on the ATP World Tour.
   "I think I was just so dialed in because I wanted to beat him so badly because I've never beaten him before," said Querrey, who was 0-3 against the 29-year-old left-hander.
   Querrey, ranked a career-high 12th, will face top-seeded Kevin Anderson, last year's U.S. Open runner-up from South Africa, on Sunday (12:30 p.m. PST on Tennis Channel). Anderson edged fifth-seeded Kei Nishikori, who won the title from 2013 to 2016 when the tournament was played in Memphis, Tenn., 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (4).
   Nishikori was playing in his first ATP tournament since hurting his right wrist in August.
   Anderson, ranked 11th, is guaranteed to return to the top 10 for the first time since October 2015. With his fourth career title, he would climb to a career-high No. 9. Querrey seeks his 11th crown.
   The 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Querrey is 9-7 against the 6-foot-8 (2.03-meter) Anderson, but the 31-year-old Anderson has won three of their last four matches. Most recently, Anderson won 7-6 (5), 6-7 (9), 6-3, 7-6 (7) in the U.S. Open quarterfinals last year.
   Querrey and Anderson first met in the 2007 Sacramento Challenger, with Querrey prevailing 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 in the first round.  
   College men -- No. 5 Stanford defeated No. 4 Georgia 4-2 in the quarterfinals of the ITA National Men's Indoor Championship in Seattle.
   Tom Fawcett, ranked 33rd, clinched the victory by beating Wayne Montgomery, ranked 17th, 7-6 (4), 3-6, 6-3 on Court 1.
   Stanford, off to its best start in 18 years at 8-0, will face No. 1 Wake Forest (7-0) on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. The Demon Deacons (7-0) beat No. 8 USC 4-1.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Stanford men reach quarters in National Indoors

   No. 5 seed Stanford defeated No. 12 Baylor 4-2 today in the first round of the ITA National Men's Team Indoor Championship in Seattle.
   Eric Fomba clinched the victory for the Cardinal (7-0) by topping 104th-ranked Will Little 2-6, 6-2, 6-2 on Court 4.
   Stanford's Tom Fawcett, ranked 33rd, routed Bjoern Petersen, ranked 64th, 6-2, 6-1 on Court 1.
   Stanford will face No. 4 Georgia in the quarterfinals on Saturday. The Bulldogs beat No. 13 Columbia 4-1.

Qualifier Bellis, 18, pushes Halep in Doha loss

   After a slow start, CiCi Bellis gave second-ranked Simona Halep a battle today before losing.
   Halep reeled off the first seven games and held on to defeat Bellis, an 18-year-old qualifier who was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, 6-0, 6-4 in the quarterfinals of the Qatar Total Open in Doha.
   Halep faced no break points in the first set but 10 in the second set, saving eight, in her first match against Bellis.  
   "She's fast," Halep said of the 2017 WTA Newcomer of the Year. "She's hitting the ball fast, and she stays close to the baseline, which makes her game fast, and it's not easy to stay there. You have to be aggressive to make points. In the second set, I couldn't finish the points because she was everywhere, and she has great movement."
   Halep later withdrew from her semifinal against fourth-seeded Garbine Muguruza with a right foot injury suffered during the Australian Open last month. Halep fell to 0-3 in Grand Slam finals with her 7-6 (2), 3-6, 6-4 loss to Caroline Wozniacki in Melbourne.
   Bellis, the youngest player in the top 50 by almost two years, will rise about eight places to No. 40 on Monday. She reached a career-high No. 35 last August.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Qualifier Bellis, 18, stuns Pliskova in Qatar

   CiCi Bellis achieved two more milestones today in her meteoric rise on the WTA tour.
   The 18-year-old qualifier, who was born in San Francisco and raised in nearby Atherton, stunned defending champion Karolina Pliskova, ranked and seeded fifth, 7-6 (4), 6-3 to reach the quarterfinals of the Qatar Total Open in Doha.
   It was Bellis' first victory over a top-five player and former world No. 1.
   "This was huge for me," Bellis, the youngest player in the top 50 by almost two years at No. 48, crowed in her on-court interview. "I think I played a really good match and just tried to track down as many balls as I could. Obviously, I've watched her play for many years, and she's one of my idols, for sure. I'm just really happy I was able to get through it."
   Bellis, the WTA Newcomer of the Year in 2017, recorded her third victory over a top-10 player. She defeated Agnieszka Radwanska and Svetlana Kuznetsova last year when they were ranked No. 6 and No. 8, respectively.
   Add Bellis' win over Petra Kvitova in the Bank of the West Classic quarterfinals at Stanford last August, and she has beaten three former world No. 2s, along with Radwanska and Kuznetsova.
   Also, Bellis has knocked off the last two U.S. Open runners-up in the past two days. Pliskova lost to Angelique Kerber at Flushing Meadows in 2016 in a virtual replay of the 2015 Stanford final. On Wednesday, Bellis ousted 12th-seeded Madison Keys, who fell to Sloane Stephens in last year's U.S. Open after winning the Stanford title earlier in the summer.
   Pliskova missed the Czech Republic's 3-1 victory over Switzerland in Prague in the first round of the Fed Cup last weekend with stomach flu and complained of fatigue against Bellis.
   Bellis avenged a 6-1, 6-1 loss to Pliskova in the second round at Brisbane in the first week of the year.
   "When I played her in Brisbane, she killed me, and I was super nervous before that match," Bellis said of their only previous meeting. "It was the start of the year. It was my second match of the year, and she was playing really well there.
   "I knew I had to be super on top of it from the first point today, and that's what my team and I discussed. From the first point, I had to be 100 percent rather than kind of get into the match and take a few games. So I think that was a big part of it."
   Bellis is scheduled to meet Simona Halep, ranked and seeded second, for the first time on Friday after the 4:30 a.m. (PST) match between fourth-seeded Garbine Muguruza and seventh-seeded Caroline Garcia.
   Halep remains bothered by a sprained ankle suffered during her march to last month's Australian Open final, in which she lost to Caroline Wozniacki 7-6 (2), 3-6, 6-4.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Qualifier Bellis, 18, upsets Keys in Qatar

   Chalk up another big win for CiCi Bellis.
   The 18-year-old qualifier, who was born in San Francisco and grew up in nearby Atherton, knocked off compatriot Madison Keys, seeded 12th and ranked 14th, 2-6, 6-3, 6-0 today in the second round of the Qatar Total Open in Doha.
   Bellis won 10 of the last 11 games in her first meeting with Keys.
   The 5-foot-7 (1.68-meter) Bellis recorded her seventh victory over a top-20 player and second this year. She defeated then-No. 20 Magdalena Rybarikova, a Wimbledon semifinalist last year, in the first round at Sydney last month.
   Bellis, now based in Orlando, Fla., also earned her sixth win over a Grand Slam champion or runner-up (although she beat Jelena Ostapenko the year before the Latvian won the French Open). The 5-foot-10 (1.78-meter) Keys reached last year's U.S. Open final, losing to Fresno product Sloane Stephens, after winning the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford earlier in the summer.
   Keys, who climbed to a career-high No. 7 in October 2016, also advanced to the Australian Open quarterfinals last month.
   Bellis, the youngest player in the top 50 by almost two years at No. 48, will meet defending champion Karolina Pliskova, seeded and ranked fifth, for the second time on Thursday. The 6-foot-1 (1.86-meter) Pliskova, the 2015 Bank of the West runner-up who ascended to No. 1 last July, won 6-1, 6-1 in the second round at Brisbane in the first week of the year.
   "I'll have to play aggressive because she runs very well at the baseline," Pliskova, a 6-2, 6-3 winner over Alize Cornet of France, said on wtatennis.com. "I still have to play my game, serve better than I did today, and hopefully I can win that match."
   In the second and last round of qualifying in Doha, Bellis defeated Russia's Sofya Zhuk, the Wimbledon girls singles champion in 2015 at 15 years old, 6-1, 6-3.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Jung edges Koepfer in thriller for 100K S.F. title

   Jason Jung could have folded after he was broken while serving for the title in the $100,000 San Francisco Open.
   He could have folded when he lost three consecutive points, the last two on his serve, to trail 3-4 in the third-set tiebreaker.
   But the Los Angeles-area native, who plays for Taiwan, recovered to beat Dominik Koepfer of Germany 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (5) today in an indoor battle of unseeded players at the Bay Club SF Tennis Center. It was the first meeting between Jung, 28, and Koepfer, a 23-year-old left-hander.
   Jung jumped from No. 205 in the world to No. 155, near his career high of No. 143, with his third Challenger singles final, the second-biggest of his career and his first outside of China.
   Koepfer, a former All-American at Tulane in New Orleans, rose from No. 285 to a career-high No. 229 after his first Challenger singles final.
  Jung graduated from the University of Michigan in political science in 2011 and worked for an oil company in his native Torrance for one month before being laid off. He planned to go to law school but didn't do as well on the admission test as he had hoped, so he launched his professional tennis career.
   Jung broke serve to lead 5-4 in the third set, but Koepfer broke back at love as Jung got tight and made several errors. Koepfer saved a break point to hold for 6-5, and Jung sent the match to a tiebreaker.
   Jung bolted to a 3-1 lead, but Koepfer rallied for a 4-3 advantage. Koepfer, probably feeling nerves of his own, then double-faulted for 4-4. With Koepfer serving at 5-6, he netted a forehand to end the match after 2 hours, 5 minutes.
   Jung pocketed $14,400, and Koepfer collected $8,480.
   Here are the completed singles and doubles draws.
   Fed Cup -- Canadian captain Sylvain Bruneau substituted 19-year-old Katherine Sebov for former Stanford star Carol Zhao, 22, in today's first match against Romania in World Group II.
   It didn't help.
   Irina-Camelia Begu, ranked 37th, defeated Sebov, ranked 319th, 6-2, 6-4 to clinch Romania's 3-1 victory in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. In a meaningless doubles match, Gabriela Dabrowski and Zhao edged Ana Bogdan and Raluca Olaru 6-4, 1-6 [10-6]. The second reverse singles match was abandoned.
   Zhao, ranked No. 138, lost to No. 38 Sorana Cirstea 6-2, 6-2 on Saturday.
   Romania was missing its top singles player, No. 2 Simona Halep, and Canada was without its top two singles competitors, No. 116 Eugenie Bouchard and No. 123 Francoise Abanda.
   Bouchard reached the 2014 Wimbledon final and climbed to a career-high No. 5 later that year. Abanda won the $25,000 Redding (Calif.) Challenger in 2016 at age 19.
   Romania advances to the World Group playoffs, and Canada drops to the World Group II playoffs.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

German routs NorCal's Novikov in 100K S.F. semis

   Dominik Koepfer of Germany dismissed San Jose product Dennis Novikov 6-3, 6-1 in 51 minutes today in a semifinal matchup of unseeded players in the $100,000 Kunal Patel San Francisco Open.
   Koepfer, a 23-year-old left-hander, has not lost a set in the indoor tournament at the Bay Club SF Tennis Center, surviving two tiebreakers.
  The former All-American at Tulane in New Orleans advanced to his first Challenger singles final. He won the $75,000 Columbus (Ohio) Challenger doubles crown with American Denis Kudla last September.
   Today's other semifinal also featured unseeded players. Jason Jung, a Los Angeles-area native who plays for Taiwan, beat Miomir Kecmanovic, an 18-year-old Serb, 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-2 in 1 hour, 58 minutes. Jung, only 5-foot-11 (1.80 meters), had 11 aces and only one double fault.
   Kecmanovic had needed 2 hours, 38 minutes to subdue third-seeded Michael Mmoh on Friday night, while Jung had breezed past sixth-seeded Noah Rubin in 52 minutes in the following match.
  Jung, 28, seeks his third Challenger singles title and first outside of China. He will face Koepfer, also 5-foot-11, for the first time on Sunday at 4 p.m.
   Jung is ranked No. 205, 80 spots above Koepfer. Their career highs are No. 143 (October 2016) and No. 239  (last October), respectively.
   Here are the singles and doubles draws and Sunday's schedule.
   Fed Cup -- Sorana Cirstea defeated former Stanford star Carol Zhao, making her Fed Cup singles debut, 6-2, 6-2 as Romania took a 2-0 lead over Canada in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, in World Group II. In the second match, Irina-Camelia Begu beat 17-year-old Bianca Andreescu 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-2.
   Zhao, ranked No. 138, will try to keep Canada alive in the best-of-five-match competition when she faces Begu, ranked No. 37, in Sunday's first match.
   Romania is missing its top singles player, No. 2 Simona Halep, and Canada is without its top two singles players, No. 116 Eugenie Bouchard and No. 123 Francoise Abanda.
   Bouchard reached the 2014 Wimbledon final and climbed to a career-high No. 5 later that year. Abanda won the $25,000 Redding (Calif.) Challenger in 2016 at age 19.
   The four victorious nations in World Group II will play the four losers in the World Group for berths in next year's World Group, which determines the Fed Cup champion.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Four unseeded players oust seeds in S.F. quarters

   Seedings meant nothing on an extraordinary day in the $100,000 San Francisco Open.
   An unseeded player beat a seed in every quarterfinal today in the indoor tournament at the Bay Club SF Tennis Center. Falling were No. 3 Michael Mmoh, No. 5 Bradley Klahn, No. 6 Noah Rubin and No. 7 Filip Peliwo.
   Miomir Kecmanovic, an 18-year-old Serb, outslugged Mmoh, a semifinalist last year at 19 years old, 7-6 (3), 6-7 (4), 6-1 in 2 hours, 38 minutes. The match featured an epic 53-point rally. Both players train in Bradenton, Fla.
   Germany's Dominik Koepfer, a former Tulane All-American, beat Southern California's Klahn, a 2012 Stanford graduate, 6-2, 7-6 (6) in a matchup of left-handers.
   Jason Jung, a Los Angeles-area native who plays for Taiwan, routed New York-area resident Rubin, the 2014 Wimbledon boys singles champion, 6-3, 6-1 in 52 minutes.
   And Dennis Novikov, a 24-year-old San Jose product, held off Canada's Peliwo, the 2012 Wimbledon boys singles champion, 7-5, 7-5.
   In Saturday's semifinals, the 215th-ranked Novikov will meet No. 285 Koepfer for the first time at 5:30 p.m., followed by No. 194 Kecmanovic vs. No. 205 Jung.
   Jung crushed Kecmanovic 6-1, 6-1 in 48 minutes last week in the quarterfinals of the $125,000 Dallas Challenger in their first meeting. Kecmanovic was coming off a 7-6 (4), 6-7 (5), 7-6 (4) victory over American Austin Krajicek, also in 2 hours, 38 minutes.
   Here are the San Francisco singles and doubles draws and Saturday's schedule.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Jung stuns No. 2 seed McDonald in S.F. Open

   Jason Jung, a Los Angeles-area native who plays for Taiwan, stunned second-seeded Mackenzie McDonald, a San Francisco Bay Area product, 1-6, 7-6 (3), 6-2 tonight to reach the quarterfinals of the $100,000 Kunal Patel San Francisco Open.
   McDonald, the runner-up to Kei Nishikori last week in Dallas, double-faulted on Jung's second match point in the indoor tournament at the Bay Club SF Tennis Center.
   Jung, 28, graduated from the University of Michigan in political science in 2011 and worked for an oil company in his native Torrance for one month before being laid off. He planned to go to law school but didn't do as well on the admission test as he had hoped, so he launched his professional tennis career.
   Jung, who lost to Nishikori in the Dallas semifinals, will face sixth-seeded Noah Rubin of Long Island, N.Y., in Friday night's late match.
   Rubin, the 2014 Wimbledon boys singles champion, defeated qualifier Jared Hiltzik of Orlando, Fla., 6-1, 6-4.
   In another quarterfinal, San Jose product Dennis Novikov will take on seventh-seeded Filip Peliwo of Canada.
   Novikov, 24, survived his second straight three-setter. He outlasted Daniel Elahi Galan of Colombia 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 after ousting top-seeded Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan 7-6 (10), 3-6, 6-2 on Tuesday night.
   The 6-foot-4 (1.93-meter), 200-pound (91-kilogram) Novikov pounded 15 aces and committed three double faults against Galan. Novikov won 53 percent of the points on his second serve (19 of 36) to only 36 percent for Galan (12 of 33).
   Peliwo, the 2012 Wimbledon boys singles champion, dismissed wild card Danny Thomas, an 18-year-old left-hander based in Wesley Chapel, Fla.
   Here are the singles and doubles draws and Friday's schedule.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Stanford grad Klahn reaches 100K S.F. quarters

Bradley Klahn, volleying in last year's San Francisco Open, improved to 5-0
against fellow American Mitchell Krueger today. Photo by Mal Taam
   It came as no surprise that today's match between Americans Bradley Klahn and Mitchell Krueger went to three sets.   Or that Klahn prevailed.
   The fifth-seeded Klahn, a 2012 Stanford graduate in economics, outlasted Krueger 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-4 to reach the quarterfinals of the $100,000 Kunal Patel San Francisco indoors at the Bay Club SF Tennis Center.
   Klahn, a 27-year-old left-hander rebounding from his second back operation, hammered 12 aces to Krueger's four. Both players committed four double faults.
   Klahn improved to 5-0 against Krueger, 24, but each of the last four meetings has gone to three sets. Furthermore, Klahn beat Krueger 6-4 in the third set for the second time in three weeks.
   Klahn will face former Dominik Koepfer, a 23-year-old German left-hander, on Friday. Koepfer, a former All-American at Tulane in New Orleans, upset fourth-seeded Denis Kudla, a 2017 quarterfinalist from Arlington, Va., and Tampa, Fla., 7-6 (3), 6-3.
   Klahn defeated Koepfer 7-5, 6-1 on outdoor clay in the second round of the $75,000 Tallahassee (Fla.) Challenger last April in their only previous meeting.
   In another quarterfinal, third-seeded Michael Mmoh, a semifinalist last year at 19, will play 18-year-old Serb Miomir Kecmanovic for the first time. Both players train in Bradenton, Fla.
   Two San Francisco Bay Area products, Dennis Novikov and second-seeded Mackenzie McDonald, will seek quarterfinals berths on Thursday at 2 p.m. and approximately 8:30 p.m., respectively.
   Here are the updated singles and doubles draws and Thursday's schedule.
   College rankings -- The Stanford men jumped from No. 10 to No. 5 after beating then-No. 5 USC 6-1 on Friday and then-No. 6 UCLA 4-3 on Sunday, both at Stanford.

NorCal's Novikov ousts top seed in 100K S.F. Open

Dennis Novikov serves in doubles during the 2016
U.S. Open. Photo by Paul Bauman
   SAN FRANCISCO -- Patience paid off for Dennis Novikov in a wild first-set tiebreaker on Tuesday night.
   Top-seeded Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan double-faulted on the 24-year-old San Jose product's eighth set point, and Novikov went on to win 7-6 (10), 3-6, 6-2 in the first round of the $100,000 Kunal Patel San Francisco Open indoors at the Bay Club SF Tennis Center. Novikov won the last four games.
   Bublik, 20, had a set point serving at 7-6 in the tiebreaker, but his backhand slice down the line sailed wide.
   Novikov admitted it was difficult to keep his composure in the tiebreaker.
   "Definitely," he said. "He let me off the hook a little bit as well when he was serving for it and didn't convert. Tennis can go either way based on a couple of points. I just tried to stick with it."
   Bublik, who according to at least one pro has top-10 potential, double-faulted three times in the tiebreaker and twice at 2-3, 30-30 in the third set. He finished with 18 aces and 11 double faults.
   "That's the way he plays," Novikov said of Bublik going for big second serves. "He also had some games where he hit big second serves, and he came back with them in games where I should have broken. When you play like that, it kind of comes and goes. You take it as it is."
   It's the third consecutive week in which Novikov played the top seed in the opening round. He ousted former world No. 4 Kei Nishikori, who had been out since August with a right wrist injury, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 two weeks ago in Newport Beach and lost to Nishikori 6-3, 6-3 in Dallas. Nishikori went on to win the Dallas title, beating San Francisco Bay Area product Mackenzie McDonald in the final.
   "It's unlucky, I guess," Novikov said. "But I know if I come out and play to my level, it doesn't matter what seed it is. At the end of the day, you have to go through all of them to win the tournament. Obviously, it would be nice to play them in the final and get a little easier draw, but either way, you've got to beat them, so I was ready."
   Novikov lives in downtown Los Angeles, but his parents reside in Milpitas in the Bay Area.
   "I'm up here visiting pretty often," he said. "I still consider myself from the Bay Area."
   Bublik, who was not available for comment, lost in the first round of a Challenger for the second consecutive week and fell to 2-5 this year after reaching a career-high No. 95 last September.
   Russia natives Bublik, 6-foot-5 (1.96 meters) and only 167 pounds (76 kilograms), and Novikov, 6-foot-4 (1.93) and 200 pounds (91), met for the second time. Bublik won 6-1, 6-4 in the quarterfinals at Aptos, 82 miles (132 kilometers) south of San Francisco, en route to the title last August. Novikov had sprained an ankle playing in Cabo San Lucas the previous week.
   After the Aptos final, runner-up Liam Broady of Great Britain said of the hard-hitting Bublik, "I don't see why he can't be top 10."
   Unlike in Aptos, the right-handed Bublik wore a sleeve on his right arm on Tuesday night. However, the arm did not appear to trouble him.
   Bublik qualified for the Australian Open and Wimbledon last year, upsetting then-No. 16 Lucas Pouille of France in the first round in Melbourne and falling in straight sets to then-No. 1 and defending champion Andy Murray at the All-England Club.
   Bublik also reached the quarterfinals indoors in Moscow on the ATP World Tour in 2016 and 2017, ousting then-No. 23 Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain in the second round last year.
  Novikov advanced to the second round at the U.S. Open in 2012 and Wimbledon in 2016. He gained his first ATP quarterfinal last July on grass in Newport, R.I.
   Bublik, who lost in the second round of qualifying in the Australian Open this year, has dropped to No. 132. Novikov is No. 215, down from his career high of No. 119 in August 2016.
   In Tuesday night's last match, the second-seeded McDonald beat wild card Florian Lakat of France 6-4, 6-4 in a matchup of 22-year-olds. McDonald was born and raised in Piedmont, across the bay from San Francisco, and Lakat starred at Cal, a 15-minute drive north of Piedmont.
   All four seeds in action during the day session, including three Americans, won in straight sets.
   No. 3 Michael Mmoh, a semifinalist last year at 19, dispatched wild card Christian Garin of Chile 6-2, 6-3 in their first career meeting.
   Mmoh, the American son of former Nigerian pro Tony Mmoh, reached his first quarterfinal on the ATP World Tour in Brisbane, Australia, last month as a qualifier. He took out then-No. 33 Mischa Zverev of Germany in the second round.
   Garin qualified for Wimbledon last year and fell to Jack Sock, ranked eighth at the time, in the opening round. Garin also won the French Open boys singles title five years ago, beating Alexander Zverev (Mischa's younger brother) in the final. In the current rankings, 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Alexander Zverev is No. 5 at 20 years old, and the 6-foot-1 (1.85-meter) Garin is No. 298 at age 21.
   No. 5 Bradley Klahn, who graduated from Stanford in 2012, topped Marcelo Arevalo of El Salvador 7-6 (1), 6-3 in a battle of 27-year-olds to even their head-to-head series at 1-1. Arevalo, a former Tulsa star, won 7-5, 6-4 in the first round of qualifying at a $50,000 Challenger on outdoor clay in Vicenza, Italy, last May.
   Arevalo reached the doubles final in the $100,000 Tiburon Challenger last fall with Miguel Angel Reyes-Varela of Mexico. The lost to Lakat and his former Cal teammate Andre Goransson of Sweden. Affluent Tiburon is situated across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco.
   Two former Wimbledon boys champions, Noah Rubin (2014) and Canada's Filip Peliwo (2012), also advanced.
   Rubin, seeded sixth, beat Jose Hernandez-Fernandez of the Dominican Republic 6-1, 3-0, retired (right thigh). Peliwo, seeded seventh, eliminated 34-year-old qualifier Maximo Gonzalez of Argentina 6-4, 6-2.
   Here are the San Francisco Open singles and doubles draws and today's schedule.

Monday, February 5, 2018

No. 4 seed Kudla advances in 100K San Francisco

Denis Kudla continued his strong start in 2018.
File photo by Paul Bauman
   Continuing his strong start in 2018, fourth-seeded Denis Kudla of Arlington, Va., and Tampa, Fla., defeated Ante Pavic of Croatia 6-4, 7-6 (4) tonight in the first round of the $100,000 Kunal Patel San Francisco Open at the Bay Club SF Tennis Center.
   Kudla, a quarterfinalist in San Francisco last year, reached the second round of the Australian Open as a qualifier last month. He upended countryman Steve Johnson, ranked 48th at the time, in the first round and led Austria's Dominic Thiem, then No. 5, two sets to none before falling.
   Kudla also advanced to the semifinals of last week's $125,000 Dallas Challenger, losing to Mackenzie McDonald of Piedmont in the San Francisco Bay Area.
   McDonald, seeded second in San Francisco, is scheduled to play wild card Florian Lakat, a former Cal standout from France, after Tuesday's featured match at 7 between top-seeded Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan and Dennis Novikov, a 24-year-old San Jose product.
  Kudla, ranked a career-high No. 53 in 2016, tumbled to No. 207 last October. He has since climbed to No. 166.
   Kudla, a 25-year-old Ukraine native, attributes his hot start to harder offseason training.
   "I did a lot more cardio ... so I could sustain a higher level of tennis for a longer period of time," he said on atpworldtour.com. "That was a big thing. I knew the game was there, but I kept dying at a certain point, and I realized I just wasn't in good enough shape. I thought I was, but I wasn't. So that was the biggest thing. When I know I'm in shape, the game is there. It was always been there."
   Earlier today, 18-year-old Serbian phenom Miomir Kecmanovic ousted eighth-seeded Brayden Schnur of Canada 6-4, 7-6 (2).
   In the final round of qualifying, 17-year-old Jenson Brooksby of Sacramento lost to 34-year-old Maximo Gonzalez of Argentina 6-4, 6-2.
   Here are the qualifying, singles and doubles draws and Tuesday's schedule.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Brooksby, 17, advances in 100K S.F. qualies

Jenson Brooksby seeks his first berth in the main draw
of a Challenger. 2017 photo by Paul Bauman
   Jenson Brooksby, 17, of Sacramento beat eighth-seeded Franco Agamenone of Argentina 7-5, 6-1 today to reach the final round of qualifying in the $100,000 Kunal Patel San Francisco Open at the Bay Club SF Tennis Center.
   Brooksby will face another Argentine, 34-year-old Maximo Gonzalez, on Monday at 1 p.m. The 403rd-ranked Gonzalez, only 5-foot-9 (1.75 meters) and 165 pounds (75 kilograms), dominated Sem Verbeek, a former University of the Pacific standout from the Netherlands, 6-3, 6-2.
   Brooksby seeks his first berth in the main draw of a Challenger in his fourth attempt. He came within a tiebreaker of beating then-
No. 153 Marco Trungelliti of -- yep -- Argentina in the second round of qualifying in the $100,000 Stockton (Calif.) Challenger at 15 in 2016. Trungelliti triumphed 2-6, 7-6 (3),
6-3.
   Patel was a tennis enthusiast who died in a 2014 bicycle accident at 27. He was scheduled to leave for London one week later with friends to watch the ATP World Tour Finals.
   Here are the San Francisco Open qualifying, singles and doubles draws and Monday's schedule.

Novikov to face top seed (again) in S.F. Challenger

   With Dennis Novikov's luck, he shouldn't bet on the Super Bowl.
   The 24-year-old San Jose product drew the top seed for the third consecutive week in the Kunal Patel San Francisco Open. Novikov will face Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan in the $100,000 tournament, which begins Monday at the Bay Club SF Tennis Center.
   Novikov upset former world No. 4 Kei Nishikori, who had been out since August with a right wrist injury, in the opening round in Newport Beach two weeks ago and lost to Nishikori last week in Dallas.
   Nishikori, the 2014 U.S. Open runner-up, went on to defeat Mackenzie McDonald, from Piedmont across the bay from San Francisco, 6-1, 6-4 in the Dallas final on Saturday.
   Bublik, a 20-year-old Russia native, won a $100,000 Challenger in Aptos, 82 miles (132 kilometers) south of San Francisco, last August.
   McDonald, seeded second, will meet wild card Florian Lakat, a 22-year-old former Cal star from France.
   McDonald won the $100,000 Fairfield Challenger near San Francisco last October and reached the second round of the Australian Open as a qualifier last month.
   Lakat won the doubles title in the $100,000 Tiburon Challenger with former Cal teammate Andre Goransson of Sweden last fall. Tiburon is located across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco.
   Third-seeded Michael Mmoh, a San Francisco semifinalist last year at 19, will play wild card Christian Garin of Chile. Fifth-seeded Bradley Klahn, a 27-year-old former Stanford star, drew Marcelo Arevalo of El Salvador.
   Neither 2017 champion Zhang Ze of China nor runner-up Vasek Pospisil of Canada is entered this year.
   Here are the San Francisco Open singles qualifying and main draws and today's schedule.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

U.S. clinches Davis Cup opener vs. Serbia

   The United States defeated Serbia in the Davis Cup for the first time today.
   Of course, Novak Djokovic missed the series after having minor surgery on his right elbow and probably wouldn't have played anyway.
   Ryan Harrison and Steve Johnson topped Nikola Milojevic and Miljan Zekic 6-7 (3), 6-2, 7-5, 6-4 to give the United States an insurmountable 3-0 lead in Nis, Serbia, in the first round.
   Harrison, who won the French Open last year with Michael Venus of New Zealand, played in the Davis Cup for the first time since 2012.
   Serbia is missing its top three singles players -- No. 13 Djokovic, No. 38 Filip Krajinovic and No. 67 Viktor Troicki. Absent for the United States are its top singles player, No. 8 Jack Sock, and doubles team, Bob and Mike Bryan.
   The 39-year-old Bryan twins (Stanford, 1997-98) retired from Davis Cup competition at the beginning of last year. They won a U.S.-record 24 matches and lost five.
   The United States, which won the last of its record 32 Davis Cup titles in 2007, improved to 1-2 against Serbia, which defeated the Americans on clay in Belgrade in 2010 and on hard courts in Boise in 2013. Djokovic won the decisive fourth rubber each time. Serbia reached the final in both years, beating France in 2010 and losing to the Czech Republic in 2013. Both finals were in Belgrade.
   The United States will host either Belgium or Hungary in the quarterfinals on April 6-8 at a site to be announced. Belgium leads that series 2-1 in Liege, Belgium.
   Meanwhile, former Cal All-American Ben McLachlan lost his doubles match for Japan. Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini, the 2015 Australian Open champions, defeated McLachlan and Yasutaka Uchiyama 7-5, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (3), 7-5 in Morioka, Japan, to give Italy a 2-1 lead.
    McLachlan, a New Zealand native with a Japanese mother, and Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany reached the semifinals of the recent Australian Open in their first tournament together.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Querrey, U.S. lead Serbia 2-0 in Davis Cup opener

   A trip to Serbia normally spells trouble for the United States Davis Cup team.
   But with Serbia missing its top three players, towering Sam Querrey and John Isner gave the United States a 2-0 lead today on indoor clay in Nis in the first round.
   It still wasn't easy, especially without the No. 1 American.
   Sam Querrey, a 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) San Francisco native, pounded 20 aces in a 6-7 (4), 6-2, 7-5, 6-4 victory over 88th-ranked Laslo Djere in the opening match. Isner, 6-foot-10 (2.08 meters), blasted 24 aces in a 6-4, 6-7 (6), 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (4) win over 84th-ranked Dusan Lajovic.
   Absent are No. 13-ranked Novak Djokovic, No. 38 Filip Krajinovic and No. 67 Viktor Troicki for Serbia and No. 8 Jack Sock for the United States. Djokovic, formerly ranked No. 1, announced today that he had a "small medical intervention" on his right elbow.
   Querrey is ranked a career-high 12th, and Isner is 18th.
   The United States can clinch the best-of-five series in Saturday's doubles match, in which Ryan Harrison and Steve Johnson will face Nikola Milojevic and Miljan Zekic. Harrison won the French Open last year with Michael Venus of New Zealand.
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