Friday, June 22, 2018

Kenin shocks No. 6 Garcia; Kudla to face Federer

Sofia Kenin, 19, beat a top-10 player for the first time to reach
her first WTA semifinal. 2017 photo by Rob Vomund
   Two American qualifiers who have excelled in Northern California Challengers are making big splashes on grass in the major leagues of tennis this week.
   Sofia Kenin, 19, of Pembroke Pines, Fla., stunned France's Caroline Garcia, seeded first and ranked sixth, 6-3, 6-3 today in the Mallorca (Spain) Open to reach her first WTA semifinal.
   It was the first victory over a top-10 player for Kenin, who won Challengers in Sacramento in 2016 and Stockton last year. She lost to then-No. 3 Caroline Wozniacki in the Auckland quarterfinals in January and to then-No. 9 Petra Kvitova in the third round at Miami in March.
   Denis Kudla, 25, of Arlington, Va., and Tampa, Fla., defeated Yuichi Sugita of Japan 6-2, 7-5 in Halle, Germany, to advance to his second ATP semifinal. Kudla fell to John Isner in the Atlanta semis in 2015 and later that year lost to his close friend and training partner Tim Smyczek 1-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7) in the Tiburon Challenger. Kudla held four match points against Smyczek and saved one.
   Kudla, ranked No. 109 after climbing to a career-high No. 53 in 2016, trailed 2-5 in the second set against Sugita and survived one set point.
   The 5-foot-11 (1.80-meter) Kudla, who reached the fourth round at Wimbledon in 2015, will face nine-time Halle champion Roger Federer, who extended his grass-court winning streak to 19 matches with a 7-6 (2), 7-5 victory over Matthew Ebden of Australia.
Denis Kudla, 25, advanced to his second ATP semi-
final. File photo by Paul Bauman
   One day after saving two match points against Benoit Paire, Federer rallied from a 3-5 deficit in the second set against Ebden.
   Federer beat Kudla 6-4, 6-1 in the second round at Indian Wells in 2012 in their only meeting.
   Kenin, playing in her first tournament since going 0-4 on European clay, double-faulted twice in a row in the last game against Garcia.
   "I started getting a little nervous closing the match, but I was able to win, so that's important," Kenin, ranked No. 91, said on "I love grass a lot, so I know this is my surface. I got a lot of match play (coming out of qualifying) ... but it's good match play, and I won a lot of good matches."
   The 5-foot-7 (1.70-meter) Kenin will meet unseeded Tatjana Maria, a 30-year-old German who lives in Palm Beach, Fla. Maria topped seventh-seeded Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-4 in 2 hours, 34 minutes.
   Kenin and Maria have split two career meetings, both in the first round of U.S. Challengers last year. This will be their first encounter on grass.
   Kudla and Kenin were born in Ukraine and Russia, respectively, and moved to the United States as infants.
   In the quarterfinals of the Fever-Tree Championships in London, top-seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia beat fifth-seeded Sam Querrey, a 30-year-old San Francisco native, 7-6 (3), 6-2 in a matchup of 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) former tournament champions. Cilic, who won the title in 2012, pounded 10 aces and won 91 percent of the points on his first serve (30 of 33) against Querrey, the 2010 champ.
   Cilic defeated Querrey in four close sets in the first Wimbledon semifinal for both players last year. Cilic then lost to Federer 6-3, 6-1, 6-4.

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