Saturday, August 11, 2018

Kokkinakis, Harris to meet for 100K Aptos title

Fourth-seeded Thanasi Kokkinakis, shown Tuesday, beat
top-seeded Thomas Fabbiano 7-5, 6-1 today in the semi-
finals in Aptos, Calif. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Thanasi Kokkinakis, who beat Roger Federer in March, and red-hot Lloyd Harris will meet for the first time Sunday in the final of the $100,000 Nordic Naturals Challenger.
   The fourth-seeded Kokkinakis, a 22-year-old Australian, beat top-seeded Thomas Fabbiano, 29, of Italy 7-5, 6-1 today at the Seascape Sports Club.
   Harris, a 21-year-old South African, dismissed 6-foot-7 (2.01-meter) Christopher Eubanks, 22, of Atlanta 6-2, 6-2 in only 46 minutes in a matchup of unseeded players.
   Harris' four matches in the tournament have averaged 55 minutes. His longest one, a 6-2, 6-2 decision over Liam Broady in the quarterfinals, lasted 64 minutes.
   Harris, who won his first Challenger title last week in a $75,000 tournament in Lexington, Ky., extended his winning streak to nine matches. He has not lost more than four games in any of them.
   Kokkinakis, 6-foot-4 (1.93 meters), is rebounding from multiple injuries. He had 11 aces and three double faults against the 5-foot-8 (1.73-meter) Fabbiano, ranked No. 105 after reaching a career-high No. 70 last September. Kokkinakis converted all four of his break points and saved six of seven against him.
   "He started playing really well, and I immediately felt I needed to raise my level and be a bit more switched-on," said Kokkinakis, who has plunged from a career-high No. 69 in June 2015 to No. 268. "I couldn't really sustain that at the start, but then I started to find my way into the match. I started to serve a lot better and played really well toward the end."
   Harris, 6-foot-5 (1.96 meters) finished with eight aces and one double fault. He won 73 percent of the points on both his first serve (22 of 30) and second delivery (11 of 15).
   "Really good performance once again," said Harris, ranked a career-high No. 161. "I felt I played tremendously well the whole match. I think I retrieved so many serves that he didn't expect. I was making him play every single point and really found my range to get the balls nice and deep and made it difficult for him to attack and play his game."
   Eubanks had no aces after hammering 10 in his 6-4, 7-6 (6) semifinal victory over former top-70 players Ernesto Escobedo. Eubanks, ranked No. 236, flexed his right wrist late in today's match.
   WTA tour -- No. 3 seed Sloane Stephens, a 25-year-old Fresno product, beat No. 5 Elina Svitolina of Ukraine 6-3 6-3 to reach the Rogers Cup final in Montreal.
   Stephens, now based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., will meet No. 1 seed Simona Halep in a rematch of the French Open final in June. Halep won that match 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 for her first Grand Slam title after going 0-3 in major finals.
   Halep advanced to the Montreal final with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over No. 15 seed Ashleigh Barty of Australia.
   Stephens won her only Grand Slam singles title in last year's U.S. Open, beating countrywoman and close friend Madison Keys.
   ITF Pro Circuit -- Unseeded Kristie Ahn, a 26-year-old Stanford graduate, topped fellow American Jessica Pegula 6-7 (3), 7-6 (7), 6-4 in the semifinals of the Koser Jewelers $60,000 Tennis Challenge in Landisville, Pa.
   Ahn will play third-seeded Madison Brengle, a 28-year-old American who beat Priscilla Hon of Australia 7-5, 7-5.

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