Saturday, November 10, 2018

U.S. trails 2-0 in Fed Cup; Gibbs reaches Las Vegas final

Sofia Kenin, shown in July, narrowly lost in her Fed
Cup debut today. Photo by Paul Bauman
   The Czech Republic almost certainly will win the Fed Cup title for the fourth time in five years and sixth time in eight years on Sunday.
   The Czechs' "B" team leads the defending champion United States' "C" team 2-0 in the best-of-five competition in Prague.
   It's very unlikely that the Americans will win both reverse singles matches to tie the final, and even if they do, the Czechs will send the No. 1 doubles team in the world against two players debuting in the Fed Cup in the deciding match.
   Barbora Stycova, ranked 33rd, topped 52nd-ranked Sofia Kenin 6-7 (5), 6-1, 6-4 in the opening rubber today on an indoor hardcourt. Kenin, who will turn 20 on Wednesday, also debuted in the Fed Cup.
   "It's funny because it's her first tie and my last one," the 32-year-old Strycova, who improved to 11-7 in Fed Cup singles (she's 11-4 in doubles), told reporters. "On one hand it's sad, but on the other, I experienced so many amazing moments with this team. I played with so many different players, both opponents and teammates. I will never forget this, because it was really special."
   Katerina Siniakova, ranked 31st, then defeated 63rd-ranked Alison Riske 6-3, 7-6 (2). Siniakova, 22, is now 2-1 in Fed Cup singles (she's 1-2 in doubles).
   Eighth-ranked Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic withdrew from the final with calf and wrist injuries. Seventh-ranked Petra Kvitova sat out today with a fever but could play on Sunday. The left-hander won Wimbledon in 2011 and 2014 before suffering severe injuries to her left hand in a December 2016 knife attack,
   Kenin and Riske are ranked sixth and seventh, respectively, in singles in the United States. Absent are No. 6 Sloane Stephens, No. 16 Serena Williams, No. 17 Madison Keys and No. 40 Venus Williams. No. 36 Danielle Collins is scheduled to play doubles only.
   Siniakova and Kenin will meet for the first time on Sunday at 3 a.m. PST (Tennis Channel), followed by Strycova against Riske. Strycova leads the head-to-head series 2-0. Then Barbora Krejcikova and Siniakova are set to play Collins and Nicole Melichar, a Czech native.
   Pliskova reached the final of the 2015 Bank of the West Classic at Stanford, losing to Angelique Kerber, and Siniakova was the doubles runner-up at Stanford in 2014 with Paula Kania of Poland. The tournament moved to San Jose this year under a new sponsor.
   Riske advanced to the 2016 semifinals and 2015 quarterfinals at Stanford.
   Collins, who won the 2014 and 2016 NCAA singles titles while attending Virginia, reached the semifinals of the inaugural Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose in August.
   Kenin has won a Northern California Challenger in each of the past three years, including the $60,000 Berkeley Tennis Club Challenge in July.
   The United States and the Czech Republic lead all nations with 18 and 10 Fed Cup titles, respectively.
   USTA Pro Circuit -- Eighth-seeded Nicole Gibbs (Stanford, 2011-13) of Venice in the Los Angeles area beat qualifier Giuliana Olmos, a San Francisco Bay Area product who plays for Mexico, 6-2, 6-4 in the semifinals of the $80,000 Red Rock Pro Open in Las Vegas.
   Gibbs, 25, will face top-seeded Belinda Bencic of Switzerland for the title. The 21-year-old Bencic, who reached a career-high No. 7 in February 2016, outplayed unseeded Kurumi Nara of Japan 6-1, 6-4.
   In the doubles final, second-seeded Asia Muhammad of Las Vegas and Maria Sanchez, a Modesto product, will play unseeded Americans Sophie Chang and Alexandra Mueller.
   College -- Bjorn Thomson and Parker Wynn of Texas Tech defeated Yuta Kikuchi and Jacob Brumm of Cal 6-3, 6-4 in a matchup of unseeded teams in the semifinals of the Oracle ITA National Fall Championships in Surprise, Ariz.

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