Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Gibbs, McDonald, Brooksby fall in U.S. Open

Nicole Gibbs serves in the final of last month's $60,000 Berkeley
Challenger. Photo by Paul Bauman
   One of Nicole Gibbs' U.S. Open streaks ended today against a formidable opponent.
   No. 30 seed Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain topped the ex-Stanford star 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 in the first round at Flushing Meadows.
   Gibbs, a 25-year-old qualifier, was trying to reach at least the second round of the U.S. Open for the fifth consecutive year. Still, she managed to play in the main draw at Flushing Meadows for the seventh straight year.
   Suarez Navarro is scheduled to play Kristina Mladenovic of France on Thursday in a matchup of former U.S. Open quarterfinalists.
   Mladenovic, who has slumped from a career-high No. 10 last October to No. 53, routed Tamara Zidansek of Slovenia 6-0, 6-3 in 59 minutes. Mladenovic, 25, owns four Grand Slam doubles titles, two women's and two mixed, but none at the U.S. Open.
   Gibbs, from Venice in the Los Angeles area, had reached the second round at Flushing Meadows for three consecutive years and advanced to the third round in 2014.
   Suarez Navarro, who will turn 30 on Monday, has reached the fourth round of the U.S. Open for the past two years and advanced to the quarterfinals five years ago. She won the doubles title in the 2014 Bank of the West Classic at Stanford with countrywoman Garbine Muguruza. The tournament moved to San Jose this year under a new sponsor.
   Both Suarez Navarro and Gibbs are undersized players who have tumbled from career-high rankings in 2016 and lost to promising players in recent finals.
   Suarez Navarro, only 5-foot-4 (1.62 meters) and one of the few women with a one-handed backhand, has plunged from No. 6 to No. 30. She fell to 20-year-old Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus in the final of last week's Connecticut Open in New Haven.
   The 5-foot-6 (1.68-meter) Gibbs has dropped from No. 68 to No. 115. She succumbed to 19-year-old Sofia Kenin of Pembroke Pines, Fla., in the title match of last month's $60,000 Berkeley Challenger.
   In U.S. Open men's action today, Dutch veteran Robin Haase eliminated San Francisco Bay Area product Mackenzie McDonald 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-1, 6-3.
   McDonald, 23, advanced to the fourth round at Wimbledon last month and won his first Challenger singles title last October in Fairfield, Calif., 40 miles (64 kilometers) northeast of his childhood home in Piedmont.
   Meanwhile, John Millman of Australia dominated Jenson Brooksby, a 17-year-old wild card from Carmichael in the Sacramento area, 6-4, 6-2, 6-0.
   Millman has won two Northern California Challengers (Sacramento in 2010 and Aptos in 2015) and reached the final of another (Tiburon in 2014).
   Brooksby received an automatic wild card in the U.S. Open for winning the USTA Boys 18 National Championships in Kalamazoo, Mich., this month. He plans to enroll at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth in the fall of 2019 or in January 2020.

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