Sunday, September 15, 2019

Romanian routs ailing U.S. teen for $25K Redding title

Champion Gabriela Talaba, right, and Alycia Parks, clutching her sore right
arm, hold their checks during the awards ceremony. Photo by Paul Bauman
   REDDING, Calif. – It doesn't exactly compare to Simona Halep's Wimbledon crown two months ago, but fellow Romanian Gabriela Talaba's title today was special all the same.
   The third-seeded Talaba routed ailing Alycia Parks, 18, of Port St. Lucie, Fla., 6-1, 6-1 in 62 minutes to win the $25,000 Ascension Project Women's Open on a breezy day at Sun Oaks Tennis & Fitness.
   It was the 24-year-old Talaba's fourth singles title in a professional tournament but first on a hardcourt.
Gabriela Talaba of Romania celebrates after
converting her first championship point.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   "I wanted to win it so bad, and it happened," gushed Talaba, who graduated from Texas Tech in sports management last year. "I'm fortunate to be in this situation right now."
   Halep played the match of her life to dismantle Serena Williams 6-2, 6-2 in July for her second Grand Slam singles title and first at Wimbledon. After ending 2017 and 2018 ranked No. 1, Halep is now No. 6.
   "Everyone (in Romania) appreciates what she's doing," said Talaba, a 5-foot-8 (1.73-meter) left-hander with a beautiful one-handed backhand. "For her being No. 1 in the world and coming from such a small country (with a population of 19.4 million), it brings so much pride to the people.
   "Of course, it's not only her. There are so many others after her – top 100, top 200. There are probably 10 girls ahead of me, and I'm pretty high-ranked right now."
   Actually, Talaba is ranked 13th in Romania at No. 307. No. 125 Mihaela Buzarnescu, another left-hander, won last year's inaugural Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose on the WTA Tour.
   Talaba has crossed paths with Halep once, at a fitness camp in 2014 before enrolling at Texas Tech. Talaba has never hit with the 27-year-old star.
   "I barely got to talk to her," Talaba cracked.
Alycia Parks serves during the final. Gabriela
Talaba praised Parks' serve and said the 18-
year-old American has top-100 potential.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   Parks, who turned pro at 16, fell to 0-2 in singles finals. The 5-foot-11 (1.80-meter) right-hander, who ousted top-seeded Katherine Sebov 6-4, 7-5 in Saturday night's second semifinal, often grabbed her right forearm and shook her right arm during the final. She also iced her right biceps on changeovers.
   "I had this problem a month ago," the unseeded Parks said. "It started bothering me in the quarterfinals. If I play a tougher match, it starts bothering me the next day. It affected me a lot (today) because I couldn't serve."
  Parks had only one ace and committed seven double faults. The wind didn't help, especially considering Parks has a high service toss.
   "Some of my tosses were too far in front," lamented Parks, who also made numerous unforced errors. "Today just wasn't my day."
   Parks said she will play in a $15,000 tournament in windy Lubbock, the home of Texas Tech, next week as planned.
   Talaba, who played all week with a bandage on her left hand to protect a blister on her palm, formulated her strategy against the explosive Parks after watching the American's semifinal.
   "I thought she made more mistakes on the backhand side," said Talaba, who collected $3,935 and improved to 2-0 against Parks, who earned $2,107. "Today, I tried to mix it up because yesterday from what I watched, they were just playing a flat ball all the time back and forth.
   "I tried to slice the return pretty much all the time, then be aggressive on other shots, mixing spin with slice and coming in sometimes. She (plays very well) if I hit flat balls to her, but she doesn't (play) that well when I mix it up. I tried to switch sides, (hitting) not only (to her) backhand or forehand. I think that helped."
Gabriela Talaba prepares to slug her one-handed
backhand. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Talaba was Parks' second left-handed opponent in the tournament. Parks edged American Sanaz Marand, who won the Redding doubles title in 2012 with compatriot Jacqueline Cako, 7-6 (5), 1-6, 7-6 (5) in 3 hours, 6 minutes on Tuesday in the first round and did not play singles on Wednesday.
   "She doesn't usually get to play lefties, so that was a little bit of an advantage for me," said Talaba, who saved all six break points against her, twice overcoming 0-40 deficits, had one ace and committed no double faults.
   The 522nd-ranked Parks has top-100 potential, according to Talaba.
   "She has a really good serve," observed Talaba. "If she stays a little bit more positive throughout her matches, I think she has a bright future."
   Talaba, who's based in Dallas, will skip the Lubbock tournament and play a $60,000 event in Templeton, Calif., the following week.
   "I want to go farther and farther in the rankings and play in the bigger tournaments, but I miss the place. Probably what I don't miss about it is the wind," Talaba said with a laugh. "But I miss the people, the place. It just brings me really good memories."
   Kunal Patel San Francisco (KPSF) ChampionshipsSteve Johnson of Redondo Beach in the Los Angeles area defeated Stefan Kozlov of Pembroke Pines, Fla., in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale region 6-4, 6-2 to win the unsanctioned tournament at the Berkeley Tennis Club.
   Johnson, 29, is ranked No. 95, and Kozlov, 21, is No. 546.

Parks, 18, stuns top seed to reach $25K Redding final

Alycia Parks, playing in Berkeley, Calif., in July, beat top-seeded
Katherine Sebov of Canada 6-4, 7-5 on Saturday night to reach the
final of the $25,000 Ascension Project Women's Open in Redding,
Calif. Photo by Paul Bauman
   REDDING, Calif. – It's easy to see why Alycia Parks has been compared to Venus and Serena Williams.
   Like the Williams sisters, Parks is an African-American who skipped the juniors to let her body develop.
   Like Venus, Parks is tall (5-foot-11 or 1.80 meters) and slender. They even look alike facially.
   Like Serena, Parks has a booming serve.
   The unseeded Parks, 18, of Port St. Lucie, Fla., used her serve and laser groundstrokes to overpower top-seeded Katherine Sebov, a 20-year-old Canadian ranked 200th, 6-4, 7-5 on Saturday night to reach the final of the $25,000 Ascension Project Women's Open.
   Parks, ranked No. 522, earned her first victory over a top-200 player and advanced to the second and biggest final of her career. She lost to Chieh-Yu Hsu of Chinese Taipei in the final of a $15,000 clay-court tournament in Shreveport, La., in late June.
   Parks, who turned pro at 16, is scheduled to play third-seeded Gabriela Talaba, a 24-year-old left-hander from Romania, today at noon at Sun Oaks Tennis & Fitness.
   Talaba, who graduated from Texas Tech in sports management last year, outsteadied Jada Hart, a 21-year-old wild card from Colton, Calif., in the San Bernardino area, 6-3, 6-2.
   Hart reached the NCAA singles quarterfinals as a UCLA junior in May and won the 2016 U.S. Open girls doubles title with fellow Bruin Ena Shibahara.
   Talaba, ranked No. 307, reached the first hard-court final of her career. She won clay-court titles in Charleston ($25,000) and Marbella ($15,000) last year and Bucharest ($15,000) in 2017.
   Talaba and Parks will meet for the second time. Talaba triumphed 7-5, 6-0 in the final round of qualifying in a $25,000 clay-court tournament in Bethany Beach, Del., last summer.
   Parks reeled off the last five games against Sebov.
   "I'm known for coming back when I'm down," said Parks, who pounded nine aces and won 83 percent of the points on her first serve (30 of 36). "I just had to re-focus."
   Talaba raced to a 3-0 lead (one service break) against the unranked Hart, who recovered for 3-3.
   "I started being a little bit less aggressive and making a little bit more mistakes, so I changed that and said, 'Well, you have to be more aggressive. You can't just wait for the points to come to you,'" said Talaba, who won nine of the last 11 games. "I tried to force errors, and she made some."
   Talaba broke Hart's serve four consecutive times to lead 5-3 in the first set and 4-1 in the second set. Hart finished with six double faults, including two in a row to trail 3-5 in the first set.
   Talaba, one of the few women with a one-handed backhand, has played all week with a bandage on her left hand to protect a blister on her palm.
   In Saturday's doubles final, second-seeded Emina Bektas of Indianapolis and Tara Moore of Great Britain beat third-seeded Catherine Harrison of Germantown, Tenn., in the Memphis area and Paige Hourigan of New Zealand 6-3, 6-1.
   All except Moore starred in college – Bektas at Michigan, Harrison at UCLA and Hourigan at Georgia Tech.
   In the first round of singles in a $25,000 tournament at Sunderland, Great Britain, last April, Moore trailed 0-6, 0-5 and faced match point against Jessika Ponchet of France before prevailing 0-6, 7-6 (7), 6-3.
   Kunal Patel San Francisco (KPSF) ChampionshipsSteve Johnson is set to play Stefan Kozlov in the final of the non-sanctioned tournament today at 1:30 p.m. at the Berkeley Tennis Club.
   Johnson defeated Bradley Klahn, a Stanford graduate, 6-4, 7-6 (6) in a matchup of 29-year-old Americans. Kozlov, a 21-year-old American, beat Sam Querrey, a 31-year-old San Francisco native, 6-4, 7-5.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Wild card Hart reaches semifinals of $25K Redding

   Jada Hart, who had never won a main-draw singles match in a professional tournament before this week, has reached the semifinals of the $25,000 Ascension Project Women's Open in Redding, Calif.
   Hart, a 21-year-old wild card from Colton, Calif. (east of Los Angeles), beat Pamela Montez, a 28-year-old former UCLA All-American from La Quinta in the Palm Springs area, 6-4, 7-5 today at Sun Oaks Tennis & Fitness. The temperature peaked at 100 degrees (37.8 Celsius).
   Hart advanced to the NCAA singles quarterfinals as a UCLA junior in May and won the 2016 U.S. Open girls doubles title with fellow Bruin Ena Shibahara.
   Hart, who's unranked in singles, will face third-seeded Gabriela Talaba, a 24-year-old Romanian left-hander ranked No. 307, for the first time on Saturday not before 6 p.m.
   Talaba, who starred at Texas Tech, downed Emina Bektas, a 26-year-old former Michigan All-American from Indianapolis, 7-5, 6-2 to reach the semifinals for the third consecutive tournament.
   In the other semifinal not before 8 p.m., top-seeded Katherine Sebov, a 20-year-old Canadian ranked No. 200, will meet Alycia Parks, an 18-year-old professional from Port St. Lucie, Fla., ranked No. 522, for the first time.
   Sebov, the runner-up in two consecutive $25,000 tournaments during the summer, eliminated lucky loser Ellie Douglas, a Texas Christian sophomore from McKinney, Texas, 6-2, 7-5.
   Parks, a finalist in a $15,000 clay-court tournament in Shreveport, La., in June, defeated qualifier Elysia Bolton, the Pacific-12 Conference Freshman/Newcomer of the Year last spring from UCLA, 6-3, 7-5.
   Here are the updated Redding singles and doubles draws and Saturday's schedule.

Top seed survives as upsets continue in $25K Redding

   Only two seeds reached the quarterfinals of the $25,000 Ascension Project Women's Open on another blistering day in Redding, Calif.
   Joining top-seeded Katherine Sebov and third-seeded Gabriela Talaba in the quarters were qualifier Elysia Bolton, wild card Jada Hart and lucky loser Ellie Douglas.
   Sebov, a 20-year-old Canadian, prevailed in three sets for the second consecutive match, beating Paige Hourigan, a former Georgia Tech All-American from New Zealand, 6-1, 3-6, 6-1 on Thursday in 2 hours, 15 minutes on a 100-degree (37.8 Celsius) day at Sun Oaks Tennis & Fitness.
   Talaba, a 24-year-old Romanian left-hander who starred at Texas Tech, dispatched qualifier Peyton Stearns, a high school senior from Mason, Ohio, 6-2, 6-2.
   Bolton, the Pacific-12 Conference Freshman/Newcomer of the Year last spring from UCLA, eliminated fourth-seeded Hanna Chang of Fontana in the Los Angeles area 6-3, 6-7 (3), 6-0 in 2 hours, 35 minutes.
   Hart, a 21-year-old resident of Colton (east of Los Angeles), routed fifth-seeded Bianca Turati of Italy 6-2, 6-1.
   Hart won the 2016 U.S. Open girls doubles title with UCLA teammate Ena Shibahara. Turati, a senior at the University of Texas, is ranked No. 1 nationally in singles by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association.
   Pamela Montez, a 28-year-old former UCLA All-American from La Quinta in the Palm Springs area, outlasted Ashley Kratzer of Newport Beach, Calif., 5-7, 7-5, 6-4 in 3 hours, 2 minutes.
   Kratzer, a 20-year-old left-hander, knocked off second-seeded Catherine Harrison of Germantown, Tenn., in the Memphis region in the first round.
   Here are the Redding singles and doubles draws and today's schedule.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Clijsters, 36, plans return to WTA Tour

   International Tennis Hall of Famer Kim Clijsters, a 36-year-old mother of three, announced today that she plans to return to the WTA Tour in 2020.
   "I don't really feel like I want to prove something," Clijsters said on the WTA Insider Podcast. "For me, it's a challenge. ... I still love to play tennis."
   Clijsters, who left the circuit in 2012, won four Grand Slam titles in singles (three in the U.S. Open) and two in doubles. She ranks third among active players, behind Serena and Venus Williams, and 14th in the Open era (since 1968) with 41 singles titles.
   Four of Clijsters' titles came in the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford (2001, 2003, 2005 and 2006). The tournament moved to San Jose as the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic last year.
   Clijsters also played on Belgium's Fed Cup championship team in 2001 and won the Karen Kranrtzcke Sportsmanship Award, voted on by players, a record eight times.
   As a former world No. 1, Clijsters is eligible for unlimited wild cards in WTA tournaments.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Kratzer ousts No. 2 seed Harrison in $25K Redding

Ashley Kratzer, playing in Berkeley, Calif., last year,
ousted second-seeded Catherine Harrison today in the
first round of the $25,000 Ascension Project Women's
Open in Redding, Calif. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Ashley Kratzer, a 20-year-old left-hander from Newport Beach, Calif., toppled second-seeded Catherine Harrison from Germantown, Tenn., in the Memphis area 7-6 (4), 6-3 today in the first round of the $25,000 Ascension Project Women's Open in Redding, Calif.
   Kratzer won the USTA Girls 18 National Championships in 2017, reached the final of the $60,000 Stockton (Calif.) Challenger in 2017 and advanced to the semifinals of the $60,000 Berkeley (Calif.) Challenger last year. But she has tumbled from a career-high No. 200 last summer to No. 439.
   After defeating Kratzer in Berkeley, Nicole Gibbs (Stanford, 2011-13) predicted that Kratzer would climb to the "top 50 for sure, if not top 20, soon."
   Also losing today at Sun Oaks Tennis & Fitness were sixth-seeded Grace Min of Lake Nona, Fla., seventh-seeded Quinn Gleason from Mendon, N.Y., and eighth-seeded Chieh-Yu Hsu of Chinese Taipei.
   Qualifier Maria Mateas, a 20-year-old American, outlasted Min, the runner-up in the 2016 Sacramento Challenger, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in 2 hours, 54 minutes. Min, 25, has plunged from a career-high No. 97 in 2015 to No. 366.
   Lucky loser Ellie Douglas, a Texas Christian sophomore from McKinney, Texas, defeated Gleason, a 24-year-old former Notre Dame star, 2-6, 6-3, 6-1. Also, qualifier Kimmi Hance, a high school junior from Torrance in the Los Angeles area, topped Hsu 6-4, 0-6, 6-3.
   The only singles seed in action today who won was No. 5 Bianca Turati of Italy. A University of Texas senior ranked No. 1 nationally, Turati beat qualifier Lauren Proctor of Bradenton, Fla., 6-4, 6-4. Proctor completed her eligibility at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., in the spring.
   Here are the Redding singles and doubles draws and Thursday's schedule.
   ATP Challenger Tour – Second-seeded Andre Goransson (Cal, 2014-17) of Sweden and Sem Verbeek (Pacific, 2013-16),  a Dutch left-hander, edged top-seeded Sander Arends and David Pel of the Netherlands 7-6 (6), 4-6 [11-9] last weekend to win the doubles title in the $51,311 Cassis (France) Open Provence.
   Goransson, 25, earned his third Challenger doubles title of the year and fifth overall. Verbeek, also 25, won his second Challenger doubles crown of 2019, both with Goransson, and third overall. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Top seed, others survive marathons in $25K Redding

   So much for easing into the tournament.
   Top-seeded Katherine Sebov needed almost three hours to win her first-round match in the $25,000 Ascension Project Women's Open in Redding, Calif.
   Sebov, a 20-year-old Canadian, wore down Tara Moore of Great Britain 7-6 (4), 4-6, 6-0 in 2 hours, 55 minutes at Sun Oaks Tennis & Fitness.
   Moore, 27, put in only 48 percent of her first serves (48 of 99) and committed 11 double faults.
   In the first round of a $25,000 tournament in Sunderland, Great Britain, in April, Moore trailed 0-6, 0-5 and faced match point against Jessika Ponchet of France before prevailing 0-6, 7-6 (7), 6-3.
   The Sebov-Moore match was not the longest of the day. Alycia Parks, 18, of Port St. Lucie, Fla., edged Sanaz Marand, a 31-year-old American left-hander, 7-5, 1-6, 7-6 (5) in 3 hours, 6 minutes. Marand won the Redding doubles title in 2012 with compatriot Jacqueline Cako.
   Also, third-seeded Gabriela Talaba, a Romanian left-hander, needed 2 hours, 32 minutes to subdue Lorraine Guillermo of Walnut in the Los Angeles area 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 in a battle of former collegiate All-Americans. Talaba, 24, starred at Texas Tech and Guillermo, 26, at Pepperdine.
   Wild card Jada Hart, a 21-year-old resident of Colton (east of Los Angeles), outlasted Luisa Stefani of Brazil 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 in 2 hours, 26 minutes.
   Hart won the 2016 U.S. Open girls doubles title with UCLA teammate Ena Shibahara, and Stefani reached the doubles final in last year's $60,000 Stockton, Calif.,  Challenger with American Quinn Gleason.
   Fourth-seeded Hanna Chang of Fontana in the Los Angeles region had an easier time than the others, defeating wild card Haley Giavara, a Cal freshman from San Diego, 6-0, 7-5.
   Alexa Glatch, a Newport Beach, Calif., native playing on her 30th birthday, beat 18-year-old American Elizabeth Mandlik, the daughter of International Tennis Hall of Famer Hana Mandlikova, 7-5, 6-1.
   Here are the Redding qualifying draw, singles and doubles main draws and Wednesday's schedule.

Top seed Sebov set for $25K Redding opener

   Top-seeded Katherine Sebov of Canada is scheduled to play Tara Moore of Great Britain today not before noon in the first round of the $25,000 Ascension Project Women's Open at Sun Oaks Tennis & Fitness in Redding, Calif.
   Sebov, 20, is ranked No. 200, and Moore, 27, is No. 518.
   Last year's tournament was canceled because of wildfires that ravaged the area. The Carr Fire, the sixth-most destructive in California history, killed eight people and injured three, burned 229,651 acres, destroyed 1,079 residences and 525 other structures, and cost more than $1.659 billion.
   Redding tournament alumni include former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, ex-doubles world No. 1 Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic and current top-70 singles players Lauren Davis (No. 62) and Jennifer Brady (No. 66), both of Boca Raton, Fla.
   The Redding-based Ascension project develops athletes into leaders.
   Here are the Redding qualifying drawsingles and doubles main draws, and today's schedule.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Nadal wins epic battle for title, nears Federer record

Rafael Nadal, shown in 2017, beat Daniil Medvedev in straight sets today for
his second Grand Slam title of the year and 19th overall. Photo by Mal Taam
   Look out, Roger. Rafa is gaining ground fast.
   Rafael Nadal moved within one of Roger Federer's record 20 Grand Slam singles titles today, holding off gutsy Daniil Medvedev 7-5, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4 in the U.S. Open.
   The scintillating battle of wills lasted 4 hours, 50 minutes in front of a boisterous crowd at 23,771-seat Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing Meadows, N.Y. No matter how bleak the situation looked for Medvedev, he would not give up. Nadal, meanwhile, was as tenacious as ever.
   "It was an amazing final," Nadal, who collected $3.85 million, said during the awards ceremony. "I had more or less the match under control. Daniil had one of the best summers I ever saw. Tonight, everybody saw why he (will be) No. 4 in the world already at 23. The way he was able to fight and change the rhythm of the match was just incredible.
   "It's difficult to speak. It's one of the most emotional nights of my tennis career."
   Nadal, 33, is five years younger than Federer. Then there's Novak Djokovic, who ranks third with 16 major crowns at age 32.
   Nadal and Djokovic earned two major singles titles apiece this year. The last man other than Federer, Nadal or Djokovic to win a Grand Slam singles title was Stan Wawrinka in the 2016 U.S. Open.
   Nadal collected $3.85 million after winning his second U.S. Open title in three years and fourth overall. Seeded second, he ended Medvedev's winning streak at 12 matches.
   The fifth-seeded Medvedev fell to 20-3 since Wimbledon, including a 6-3, 6-0 loss to Nadal in the Montreal final in their only previous meeting. Medvedev won his first Masters 1000 title last month in Cincinnati, upsetting the top-ranked Djokovic in the semifinals.
   The 6-foot-6 (1.97-meter) Medvedev played in his first Grand Slam final. He became the first Russian to reach the U.S. Open title match since Marat Safin stunned Pete Sampras in 2000.
   Safin was inducted in the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2016. His countryman, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, entered the Hall of Fame this year.
   Medvedev, who will rise one notch to No. 4 on Monday, is part of a long-awaited new wave of Russian men that also includes No. 9 Karen Khachanov, 23, and No. 43 Andrey Rublev, 21.
   Rublev reached the quarterfinals in Cincinnati as a qualifier, surprising Wawrinka and Federer before losing to Medvedev, and the fourth round of the U.S. Open, ousting eight-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas in the first round and 28th-seeded Nick Kyrgios in the third round.
   Nadal ran Medvedev from side to side with his punishing groundstrokes, many of which Medvedev retrieved, in the first 2 1/2 sets before Medvedev somehow summoned the energy to rebound.
   Medvedev, who was booed last week after snatching a towel from a ballperson and tossing his racket, was cheered by the crowd for his hustle, heart and perseverance.
   When Nadal broke serve to lead 3-2 in the third set, it appeared he was on his way to a straight-set victory.
   "To be honest, in my mind, I was already, 'OK, what do I say in the speech? It's going to be soon, in 20 minutes, losing in three sets in (my first major) final,'" said Medvedev, who earned $1.9 million. "So I was like, 'OK, I have to fight for every ball and see how it goes.' It went far, huh? Unfortunately, it didn't go my way."
   Medvedev broke right back and again in the last game of the set. He scored the only break of the fourth set, also in the final game, to level the match.
   Nadal saved two break points to hold for 1-1 in the fifth set. Medvedev served at 2-2, 40-0, but Nadal broke with a backhand cross-court passing shot off a backhand drop shot by Medvedev.
   Nadal broke again for 5-2, but Medvedev broke right back and saved two championship points to hold for 4-5. Nadal then held serve, converting his third championship point with a service winner.
   Earlier today, Elise Mertens of Belgium and Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus won their first Grand Slam title, separately or together. Seeded fourth, they beat eighth-seeded Ashleigh Barty of Australia and Victoria Azarenka of Belarus 7-5, 7-5.
   Sabalenka, 21, recently split with coach Dmitry Tursunov, a 36-year-old Moscow native who trained in Northern California as a junior and professional, after 15 months.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Andreescu, 19, upsets Serena for U.S. Open title

   For the second consecutive year, a young upstart prevented Serena Williams from tying Margaret Court's record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles in the U.S. Open final.
   At least Williams didn't melt down this time.
   One year after 20-year-old Naomi Osaka stunned Williams in a tumultuous final in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., 19-year-old Bianca Andreescu triumphed 6-3, 7-5 today in front of a staunchly pro-Williams crowd at 23,771-seat Arthur Ashe Stadium.
   The hard-hitting Andreescu, seeded 15th, showed no sign of nerves in her first major final until trying to close out the match. The daughter of Romanian immigrants, she became the first Canadian man or woman to win a Grand Slam singles title.
   Andreescu lost in the first round of qualifying in last year's U.S. Open and was ranked No. 152 at the end of 2018.
   "Last year wasn't an easy period in my life," Andreescu, who earned $3.85 million for the title and will rise 10 spots to No. 5 in the world on Monday, said during the awards ceremony. "I was going through a lot with injuries, but I persevered. I told myself to never give up. I had a really good preseason with my amazing team. I thank you guys so much for sticking by me every step of the way, so I have to dedicate this win to all of you.
   "I just kept believing in myself. I kept working hard, and I just kept that momentum and confidence throughout this whole year. Hopefully, I can keep going."
   The eighth-seeded Williams, a part-time Silicon Valley resident who will turn 38 on Sept. 26, fell to 0-4 in Grand Slam singles finals since having her first child on Sept. 1, 2017, and undergoing life-threatening complications. Each loss has been in straight sets.
   "My team has been so supportive through all the downs and downs and downs and downs, and hopefully we'll have some ups soon," Williams, who was on her best behavior throughout the tournament, said with a laugh.
   Nerves played a big role in today's final, especially for Williams, as they have in each of her four losses. She double-faulted on break point the first three times she lost her serve, and her footwork was poor for much of the match.
   Andreescu raced to a 5-1 lead in the second set, but Williams saved a championship point and reeled off the next four games. After Andreescu held for 6-5, she converted her third championship point with a forehand winner off a Williams second serve.
   Earlier, Bethanie Mattek-Sands of Phoenix and Jamie Murray of Great Britain won the mixed doubles title for the second straight year. Unseeded, they knocked off top-seeded Hao-Ching Chan of Chinese Taipei and Michael Venus of New Zealand 6-2, 6-3. Murray, Andy Murray's older brother, also won the 2017 crown with Martina Hingis.

Nadal to meet Medvedev in U.S. Open final

Rafael Nadal, shown in 2017, can pull within one of Roger Federer's record 20
Grand Slam singles titles. Photo by Mal Taam
   Daniil Medvedev is known as a fast learner, among other things.
   He had better be.
   The rising Russian star must figure out how to beat Rafael Nadal in the U.S. Open final on Sunday at 1 p.m. PDT on ESPN. Good luck with that.
   Four weeks ago, Nadal drubbed Medvedev 6-3, 6-0 for the Montreal title in their only previous career meeting.
   Nadal, seeded second, and Medvedev, seeded fifth, reached the final in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., with victories by remarkably similar scores on Friday.
   Nadal, 33, eliminated 24th-seeded Matteo Berrettini of Italy 7-6 (6), 6-4, 6-1. The 6-foot-6 (1.97-meter) Medvedev, 23, downed unseeded Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-3 to reach his first Grand Slam final.
   Nadal seeks his second U.S. Open title in three years and fourth overall. He can pull within one of Roger Federer's record 20 major singles crowns.
   Medvedev improved to 20-2 since Wimbledon with his 12th consecutive victory, including his first Masters 1000 title in Cincinnati.
   Earlier Friday, Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah of Colombia won their second consecutive Grand Slam title. The top seeds beat eighth-seeded Marcel Granollers of Spain and Horacio Zeballos of Argentina 6-4, 7-5.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Serena, Andreescu advance to U.S. Open final

Serena Williams, playing in San Jose last year, will try again to equal Margaret
Court's record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles. Photo by Mal Taam
   Serena Williams has lost one-sided finals three times while trying to tie Margaret Court's record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles.
   Williams will get another chance on Saturday (1 p.m. PDT on ESPN).
   Seeded eighth, the 37-year-old part-time resident of Silicon Valley dismissed fifth-seeded Elina Svitolina of Ukraine 6-3, 6-1 in 70 minutes on Thursday in the U.S. Open semifinals.
   Combined with her 44-minute quarterfinal victory over Wang Qiang, Williams has averaged 57 minutes in her last two matches in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
   Williams will meet 15th-seeded Bianca Andreescu, a 19-year-old Canadian, for the title. Andreescu turned back 13th-seeded Belinda Bencic of Switzerland 7-6 (3), 7-5 to reach her first Grand Slam final. Bencic, 22, led 5-2 in the second set.
   Andreescu and Williams have met once – sort of. Andreescu led 3-1 in last month's Toronto final when Williams retired with back spasms.
   Williams won her 23rd major singles crown in the 2017 Australian Open, had her first child seven months later and suffered life-threatening complications. She lost finals to Angelique Kerber 6-3, 6-3 at Wimbledon in 2018, Naomi Osaka 6-2, 6-4 in last year's U.S. Open and Simona Halep 6-2, 6-2 at Wimbledon in July.
   Williams has been on her best behavior during matches and interviews the last two weeks after her tumultuous loss to Osaka.
   In the third round of boys singles on Thursday, eighth-seeded Emilio Nava, 17, of Woodland Hills in the Los Angeles area beat Aidan Mayo, a 16-year-old product of Roseville in the Sacramento region, 7-6 (3), 6-2.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Serena, Nadal close in on U.S. Open titles

   It appears that Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal each will win another Grand Slam singles title this weekend.
   Four women and four men remain in the U.S. Open singles draws, and Williams and Nadal are the only ones who have played in a major final. Actually, Williams has played in 32 of them, winning 23, and Nadal has appeared in 26 of them, winning 18.
   That, of course, guarantees nothing. If Williams and Nadal reach the finals, their opponents will have nothing to lose. Williams, in fact, is 0-3 in major finals since having her first child on Sept. 1, 2017.
   Williams needs one more Grand Slam singles title to equal Margaret Court's record of 24, and Nadal can pull within one of Roger Federer's record of 20 major singles crowns.
   The eighth-seeded Williams, who has a residence in Silicon Valley, is scheduled to play fifth-seeded Elina Svitolina of Ukraine today at 4 p.m. PDT (ESPN), followed by 13th-seeded Belinda Bencic of Switzerland against 15th-seeded Bianca Andreescu of Canada.
   Today, Bencic beat 23rd-seeded Donna Vekic of Croatia 7-6 (5), 6-3, and Andreescu topped 25th-seeded Elise Mertens of Belgium 3-6, 6-2, 6-3. Vekic, 23, reached the San Jose semifinals this summer.
   Williams, 37, is 4-1 against the 24-year-old Svitolina, a quarterfinalist as the top seed in San Jose, but they have not met since 2016. Bencic, 22, and Andreescu, 19, will meet for the first time.
   The second-seeded Nadal, 33, will face 24th-seeded Matteo Berrettini – a sturdy, 6-foot-5 (1.95-meter) Italian – for the first time on Friday at 4 p.m. (ESPN). Nadal dispatched 20th-seeded Diego Schwartzman, a 5-foot-7 (1.70-meter) Argentine, 6-4, 7-5, 6-2.
   Berrettini, 23, edged 13th-seeded Gael Monfils of France 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (5) in 3 hours, 57 minutes to become the second Italian man to reach the U.S. Open semis. Corrado Barazzutti accomplished the feat in 1977.
   In the other semifinal, fifth-seeded Daniil Medvedev of Russia is set to play unseeded Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria on Friday at 1 p.m. (ESPN). Medvedev, 23, and Dimitrov, 28, have split two career meetings, both in 2017.
   Meanwhile, top-seeded Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah of Colombia eliminated Luke Bambridge of Great Britain and Ben McLachlan (Cal, 2011-14) of Japan 6-4, 6-4 in the men's doubles quarterfinals.
   In the second round of girls singles, fourth-seeded Maria Camila Osorio Serrano of Colombia beat Katie Volynets of Walnut Creek in the San Francisco Bay Area 6-4, 6-4.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Dimitrov shocks Federer in U.S. Open quarterfinals

Grigor Dimitrov beat Roger Federer for the first
time in eight matches. File photo by Paul Bauman
   For the second consecutive year, Roger Federer wilted before the semifinals of the U.S. Open.
   Last year, it was against 55th-ranked John Millman in extreme humidity in the fourth round.
   On Tuesday night, it was against 78th-ranked Grigor Dimitrov, who had been 0-7 against the Swiss star, in the quarterfinals.
   Dimitrov, ranked a career-high No. 3 as recently as November 2017, beat the third-seeded Federer 3-6, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 in Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
   "Grigor was able to put me away," Federer, who was seeking a record-breaking sixth U.S. Open singles title, told reporters. "I fought with what I had."
   Federer, 38, took a rare medical timeout after the fourth set for pain in his upper back and neck. He put up little resistance in the fifth set and finished with 60 unforced errors to Dimitrov's 41.
   "He started slowing down a little bit," the 28-year-old Dimitrov, who's known as "Baby Fed" because of his one-handed backhand and artistry on the court, said in an on-court interview. "For sure, in the end, he was not 100 percent of himself."
   Dimitrov, who had lost six of his last seven matches entering the U.S. Open, will jump to at least No. 25 on Monday. In his third Grand Slam singles semifinal, he is scheduled to meet fifth-seeded Daniil Medvedev of Russia on Friday. The 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Medvedev, 23, beat 23rd-seeded Stan Wawrinka 7-6 (6), 3-6, 6-3, 6-1.
   In Medvedev's last three tournaments before the U.S. Open, he reached the finals in Washington, D.C., and Montreal and won his first Masters 1000 title in Cincinnati. 
   Wawrinka won his third and last Grand Slam singles in the 2016 U.S. Open but underwent two knee operations in 2017. 
   Medvedev and Dimitrov have split two career meetings, both in 2017.
   In the women's quarterfinals, eighth seed and six-time champion Serena Williams demolished 18th-seeded Wang Qiang of China 6-1, 6-0 in 44 minutes. That tied Simona Halep's third-round victory over Viktoria Kuzmova in Madrid for the shortest WTA match of the year, wtatennis.com reported.
   Williams, a 37-year-old part-time resident of Silicon Valley, is set to play fifth-seeded Elina Svitolina of Ukraine on Thursday. 
   Svitolina, who reached the San Jose quarterfinals as the top seed this summer, eliminated 16th-seeded Johanna Konta, the champion of the 2016 Bank of the West Classic at Stanford, 6-4, 6-4.
   Williams is 4-1 against the 24-year-old Svitolina, but they have not met since 2016.
   In junior singles:
   –Aidan Mayo, a 16-year-old product of Roseville in the Sacramento area, defeated Juan Bautista Torres of Argentina 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 in the second round.
   –Fifth-seeded Zheng Qinwen of China dominated Allura Zamarripa of Saint Helena in the Napa region 6-0, 6-2 in the second round.
   –Katie Volynets, 17, of Walnut Creek in the San Francisco Bay Area, outplayed Carole Monnet of France 6-1, 6-3 in the first round.
   In the first round of junior doubles:
   –Sixth-seeded Pablo Llamas Ruiz of Spain and Gauthier Onclin of Belgium beat Cash Hanzlik of Portland, Ore., and Mayo 6-2, 6-2.
   –Nicolas Alvarez Varona of Spain and Bautista Torres defeated Hugo Hashimoto of San Jose and Benjamin Kittay of Potomac, Md., 7-5, 7-5.
   –Top-seeded Alexa Noel of Summit, N.J., and Diane Parry of France beat India Houghton of Belvedere Tiburon in the San Francisco Bay Area and Carol Young Suh Lee of Northern Mariana Islands 6-1, 6-4.
   –Joanna Garland of Chinese Taipei and Mananchaya Sawangkaew of Thailand topped identical twins Allura and Maribella Zamarripa 7-5, 5-7 [10-2].

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Osaka follows Djokovic out the door in U.S. Open

   Less than 24 hours after world No. 1 and defending champion Novak Djokovic lost in the round of 16 at the U.S. Open, his female counterpart did the same.
   Naomi Osaka fell to 13th-seeded Belinda Bencic of Switzerland 7-5, 6-4 on Monday at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
   Since winning her second consecutive Grand Slam singles title in the Australian Open in January, the 21-year-old Osaka has failed to reach the quarterfinals of a major.
   Ashleigh Barty will rise one spot to regain the No. 1 ranking after the U.S. Open, Karolina Pliskova will improve one notch to No. 2, and Osaka will drop to No. 3.
   Bencic, 22, advanced to her second Grand Slam quarterfinal. The first came five years ago in the U.S. Open.
   A 5-foot-9 (1.75-meter) right-hander, Bencic climbed to a career-high No. 7 at age 18 in 2016 but underwent left-wrist surgery in the spring of 2017 and sat out for five months. She has fought back from No. 318 in September 2017 to No. 12 and will improve to at least No. 8 after the U.S. Open.
Donna Vekic, shown last month in San Jose, saved
a match point in her three-set victory over Julia
Goerges. Photo by Mal Taam
   Bencic is set to face 23rd-seeded Donna Vekic of Croatia on Wednesday. Vekic, a semifinalist in San Jose last month and first-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist, saved a match point in her 6-7 (5), 7-5, 6-3 victory over 26th-seeded Julia Goerges of Germany.
   Bencic is 2-1 against the 23-year-old Vekic, winning in straight sets on grass and a hard court in 2014 and losing 6-4, 6-1 in the third round of the French Open in June.
   In the other quarterfinal in the top half of the women's draw, 15th-seeded Bianca Andreescu of Canada will meet 25th-seeded Elise Mertens of Belgium for the first time.
   Andreescu, 19, stopped U.S. qualifier Taylor Townsend, who played for the now-defunct Sacramento Capitals of World TeamTennis six years ago at 17, 6-1, 4-6, 6-2. Mertens routed U.S. wild card Kristie Ahn 6-1, 6-1 in 66 minutes, avenging a loss to the 27-year-old Stanford graduate in the second round in San Jose.
   Ahn had never won a main-draw match in a Grand Slam tournament before last week. She was born two miles from the National Tennis Center at Flushing Hospital, lives in nearby Englewood Cliffs, N.J., and trains at the center.
   Ahn will soar 48 places to No. 93, cracking the top 100 for the first time, and add $280,000 to her career prize money of $548,241.
   In the men's quarterfinals in the bottom half of the draw on Wednesday, second seed and three-time U.S. Open champion Rafael Nadal will play 20th-seeded Diego Schwartzman of Argentina, and 13th-seeded Gael Monfils of France will meet 24th-seeded Matteo Berrettini of Italy for the first time.
   Nadal, 33, is 7-0 against the 5-foot-7 (1.70-meter) Schwartzman, 27.
   Meanwhile, 41-year-old twins Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan, both former Stanford stars, lost in the third round of a major for the third consecutive time. The seventh seeds and five-time U.S. Open champions fell to unseeded Jack Sock and Jackson Withrow 6-4, 7-5 in an all-American matchup.
   Sock and Mike Bryan won last year's U.S. Open while Bob Bryan was recovering from hip surgery.
   Also on Monday, fourth-seeded Latisha Chan of Chinese Taipei and Ivan Dodig of Croatia topped Raquel Atawo (Cal, 2001-04) of San Jose and Fabrice Martin of France 7-6 (3), 3-6 [10-3] in the mixed doubles quarterfinals.
   In the first round of boys singles, 16-year-old Aidan Mayo, who grew up in the Sacramento suburb of Roseville, surprised 12th-seeded Shunsuke Mitsui of Japan 6-4, 7-5.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Djokovic quits with injury; Wawrinka reaches quarters

Stan Wawrinka led 6-4, 7-5, 2-1 when
Novak Djokovic quit with a left-shoulder
injury in the U.S. Open round of 16.
 File photo by Paul Bauman
   Stan Wawrinka is regaining the form that carried him to three Grand Slam singles titles.
   Novak Djokovic, meanwhile, is hurting. 
   Wawrinka, seeded 23rd, led 6-4, 7-5, 2-1 when the top-ranked Djokovic retired with a left-shoulder injury in the U.S. Open round of 16 on Sunday in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
   On the women's side, 18th-seeded Qiang Wang of China ousted second-seeded Ashleigh Barty of Australia 6-2, 6-4, and eighth-seeded Serena Williams rolled her right ankle in a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Petra Martic of Croatia.   
   Wawrinka, 34, had two operations on his left knee in August 2017, returned too soon and sat out again from February to May last year.
   Djokovic, 32, won his third U.S. Open singles title last year. On Sunday, he was seeking his third Grand Slam singles title of 2019 and 17th of his career, which would have pulled him within one of second-place Rafael Nadal. Roger Federer has 20.
   Wawrinka, the 2016 U.S. Open champion, is scheduled to play fifth-seeded Daniil Medvedev of Russia on Tuesday. Medvedev, 23, eliminated qualifier Dominik Koepfer, the runner-up in the Aptos (Calif.) Challenger three weeks ago, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (2).
   Medvedev beat Wawrinka in four sets in the first round at Wimbledon in 2017 in their only previous meeting.
   Wawrinka's Swiss countryman, the third-seeded Federer, thrashed 15th-seeded David Goffin of Belgium 6-2, 6-2, 6-0 in 79 minutes. The 38-year-old Federer, who won the last of his five (consecutive) U.S. Open crowns in 2008, will meet resurgent Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria.
   Dimitrov, known as "Baby Fed" because his playing style is similar to Federer's, beat Alex De Minaur of Australia 7-5, 6-3, 6-4.
   Federer is 7-0 against Dimitrov, who has tumbled from a career-high No. 3 in November 2017 to No. 78.
   Barty also lost in the round of 16 at Wimbledon after winning her first Grand Slam singles title in the French Open. The 37-year-old Williams, who has a residence in Silicon Valley, will face Wang for the first time. 
   In the other quarterfinal in the bottom half of the women's draw, fifth-seeded Elina Svitolina of Ukraine is set to play 16th-seeded Johanna Konta of Great Britain.
   Svitolina, coming off her first Grand Slam semifinal at Wimbledon, beat Madison Keys, who won the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford and reached the U.S. Open final in 2017, 7-5, 6-4.
   Konta took out third-seeded Karolina Pliskova 6-7 (1), 6-3, 7-5. In 2016, Konta won the Bank of the West Classic, and Pliskova advanced to the U.S. Open final.
   Svitolina, 24, is 4-0 against Konta, 28.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Stanford grad Ahn advances to last 16 in U.S. Open

Kristie Ahn, playing in Berkeley, Calif., last month, had never won
a main-draw match in a Grand Slam tournament before this week.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   Kristie Ahn jumped for joy, put her head in her hands, sobbed and covered her face with a towel.
   The 27-year-old Stanford graduate, who had never won a main-draw match in a Grand Slam tournament before this week, defeated 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko 6-3, 7-5 to reach the round of 16 in the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
   "Obviously, it's always going to be a tough battle with her," Ahn, who also beat the top-seeded Ostapenko in the first round on clay in Bogota in April, said on usopen.org. "I'm just really proud of how I was able to stay mentally focused and not let nerves get the best of me. She's come back from pretty much every score possible probably, so I was really keen on getting the first match point done."
   Ahn, who lives a 30-minute drive from Flushing Meadows in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., had more tape on her body than a mummy during the match. Both her right (playing) arm and left knee were wrapped to protect hyperextensions.
   Ahn overcame a long history of injuries to win the clinching match in Stanford's 4-3 victory over Texas A&M in the 2013 NCAA final in Urbana, Ill.
   The 5-foot-5 (1.65-meter) Ahn became the first winner of the U.S. Open Wild Card Challenge to advance to the fourth round in the eight-year history of the competition. She is set to face 25th-seeded Elise Mertens of Belgium on Monday. Mertens, 23, dispatched former top-10 player Andrea Petkovic of Germany 6-3, 6-3.
   Ahn, who has a long history of injuries, shocked Mertens, a semifinalist in the 2018 Australian Open, 6-3, 6-3 in the second round of the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose last month as a qualifier in their only previous meeting. It was the first hard-court match after Wimbledon for Mertens, who had received a first-round bye in San Jose.
   Even if Ahn loses on Monday, she will crack the top 100 in the world for the first time, soaring from No. 141 to No. 93, and add $280,000 to her career earnings of $548,241.
   In an anticlimactic match, top-ranked Naomi Osaka, the defending champion, routed 15-year-old phenom Coco Gauff, a wild card from Delray Beach, Fla., 6-3, 6-0.
   No U.S. man reached the singles round of 16.
   Americans John Isner, seeded 14th, and unseeded Tennys Sandgren lost to 22nd-seeded Marin Cilic, who won the U.S. Open five years ago, and 20th-seeded Diego Schwartzman of Argentina, respectively. The 6-foot-10 (2.08-meter) Isner slugged 40 aces.

Aptos runner-up Koepfer gains last 16 in U.S. Open

Dominik Koepfer, shown in Aptos, Calif., three weeks ago,
had never played in a Grand Slam tournament, even in
qualifying, before this year. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Qualifier Dominik Koepfer, who has reached the final of a Northern California Challenger in each of the past two years, surprised 17th-seeded Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia 6-4, 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-1 on Friday to reach the round of 16 in the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
   Koepfer, a 25-year-old German left-hander, graduated from Tulane in New Orleans in 2016 and lives in Tampa, Fla. He had never played in a Grand Slam tournament, even in qualifying, before this year. Koepfer, 5-foot-11 (1.80 meters), lost in the second round of qualifying in the Australian Open and French Open and reached the second round of the main draw at Wimbledon as a wild card.
   Koepfer, the runner-up in Aptos three weeks ago and San Francisco in 2018, is scheduled to play fifth-seeded Daniil Medvedev of Russia on Sunday. Medvedev, 6-foot-6 (1.98 meters), topped Feliciano Lopez, a 37-year-old left-hander from Spain, 7-6 (1), 4-6, 7-6 (7), 6-4 in 3 hours, 19 minutes.
   In Medvedev's three other tournaments since Wimbledon, he reached the finals in Washington, D.C., and Montreal and won his first Masters 1000 title in Cincinnati.
   Even if Koepfer loses, he will catapult 34 places to a career-high No. 84 after the U.S. Open and pocket $280,000, almost doubling his career earnings of $332,732.
   Top-ranked Novak Djokovic, who won his third U.S. Open title last year, and 38-year-old Roger Federer, the third seed and a five-time champion in Flushing Meadows, won in straight sets.
   Djokovic, who was hampered by a left shoulder injury against Juan Ignacio Londero on Wednesday night, said in an on-court interview that he played "almost pain-free."
   Eighth-seeded Serena Williams, a 37-year-old part-time resident of Silicon Valley, dismissed Karolina Muchova, 23, of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-2. Muchova reached the quarterfinals in her Wimbledon main-draw debut last month.
   Williams, who needs one more Grand Slam singles title to tie Margaret Court's record of 24, will meet 22nd-seeded Petra Martic of Croatia for the first time on Sunday.
   Martic, 28, eliminated 12th-seeded Anastasija Sevastova, a U.S. Open semifinalist last year and quarterfinalist in 2016 and 2017, 6-4, 6-3.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Townsend takes out Wimbledon champ Halep

   For the fourth consecutive match, Taylor Townsend won after dropping the first set.
   This one, however, was special.
   The 23-year-old qualifier from Atlanta knocked off fourth-seeded Simona Halep, the reigning Wimbledon champion, 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4) today in the second round of the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
   "It's been a really long journey," the 116th-ranked Townsend, a left-hander who played for the now-defunct Sacramento Capitals of World TeamTennis at 17 in 2013, told reporters. "You flood with emotions of the things you've been through – positive, negative ... 
   "It's just confirmation more for myself that I'm on the right path, doing the right things. You keep your head down and keep working, and you see what happens."
   Townsend, who had never won more than four games in a set in three career matches against Halep, is scheduled to play another Romanian, unseeded Sorana Cirstea, on Saturday. The 29-year-old Cirstea, ranked 106th after reaching a career-high No. 21 in 2013, defeated Aliona Bolsova of Spain 3-6, 6-4, 6-2.
   Wild card Kristie Ahn, a 27-year-old Stanford graduate, needed eight match points to defeat Russia's Anna Kalinskaya, a 20-year-old qualifier, 6-2, 6-3. Kalinskaya ousted 11th-seeded Sloane Stephens, the U.S. Open champion two years ago, on Tuesday.
   Ahn, who lives a 30-minute drive from Flushing Meadows in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., set up a rematch against unseeded Jelena Ostapenko, who won the 2017 French Open two days after turning 20 and last year became the first Latvian woman to reach the Wimbledon semifinals.
   Ahn shocked the top-seeded Ostapenko 2-6, 7-6 (5), 7-5 in the first round on clay at Bogota in April in their only other career meeting.
   Coco Gauff, a 15-year-old U.S. sensation, outlasted Timea Babos, ranked No. 112 in singles and No. 3 (formerly No. 1) in doubles, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 to become the youngest player to reach the third round of the U.S. Open since Anna Kournikova, also 15, in 1996.
   Gauff will meet top seed and defending champion Naomi Osaka, who eliminated Magda Linette of Poland 6-2, 6-4 in a blockbuster match on Saturday.
    Jenson Brooksby, an 18-year-old qualifier from Carmichael in the Sacramento area, lost to 17th-seeded Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia 3-6, 7-6 (3), 7-5, 6-2 in 3 hours, 4 minutes.
   Brooksby, who will jump from No. 394 to No. 271 after the U.S. Open, led 4-0 in the second set and served for it at 5-4. He plans to enroll at Baylor in January but could turn pro instead.
   Basilashvili trained with Dmitry Tursunov, now the coach of 13th-ranked Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, at the Gorin Tennis Academy in the Sacramento suburb of Granite Bay.
   Tim Smyczek, 31, ended his career with a first-round doubles loss. In a matchup of U.S. wild-card teams, Martin Damm, 15, and Toby Kodat, 16, defeated Mitchell Krueger and Smyczek 7-6 (6), 7-5.
   In other opening-round men's doubles matches:
   –Luke Bambridge of Great Britain and Ben McLachlan (Cal, 2011-14) edged Americans Thai-Son Kwaitkowski and Noah Rubin 4-6, 6-1, 7-6 (4).
   –No. 10 seeds Rajeev Ram of Carmel, Ind., and Joe Salisbury of Great Britain beat unseeded Ryan Harrison and Sam Querrey, a 31-year-old San Francisco native, 6-4, 6-2.
   In the first round of mixed doubles, Raquel Atawo (Cal, 2001-04) of San Jose and Fabrice Martin of France nipped seventh-seeded Anna-Lena Groenefeld of Germany and Oliver Marach of Austria 2-6, 6-4 [10-8].
   Here are the U.S. Open men's singles, women's singles, men's doubles, women's doubles and mixed doubles draws and Friday's schedule.

Serena rallies to beat McNally, 17, in U.S. Open

Serena Williams, shown at Indian Wells in March, defeated Catherine McNally
5-7, 6-3, 6-1 in the second round of the U.S. Open. Photo by Harjanto Sumali
   Serena Williams won the first of her 23 Grand Slam singles titles 20 years ago in the U.S. Open.
   That was two years before Catherine McNally was born.
   The eighth-seeded Williams, a 37-year-old part-time resident of Silicon Valley, beat McNally, a 17-year-old wild card from Cincinnati, 5-7, 6-3, 6-1 Wednesday night in the second round of the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
   Only 10 matches, all in covered Arthur Ashe Stadium and Louis Armstrong Stadium, were completed because of rain. Sunny weather with highs of 82 degrees (27.8 Celsius) and 85 (29.4) is forecast for today and Friday, respectively.
   McNally, ranked No. 121, showed promise and poise in the late match in 23,771-seat Arthur Ashe Stadium, the biggest tennis facility in the world.
   Williams, who's still trying to equal Margaret Court's record of 24 major singles crowns, will meet either 29th-seeded Hsieh Su-Wei, 33, of Chinese Taipei or Karolina Muchova, 23, of the Czech Republic.
   Hseih stunned top-ranked Simona Halep in the second round at Wimbledon last year, and Muchova reached the quarterfinals in her main-draw debut there last month.
   Seventh-seeded Kei Nishikori, the U.S. Open runner-up to Marin Cilic five years ago, outplayed left-hander Bradley Klahn, a 29-year-old Stanford graduate, 6-2, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5.
    Top-ranked Novak Djokovic, who won his third U.S. Open singles title last year, overcame a left-shoulder injury to defeat Juan Ignacio Londero of Argentina 6-4, 7-6 (3), 6-1.
   Third seed and five-time champion Roger Federer, 38, beat Damir Dzumhur, a quarterfinalist in the $81,240 Aptos (Calif.) Challenger as the top seed last month, 3-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-4.
   Also, German left-hander Dominic Koepfer, the runner-up to Steve Johnson in Aptos, defeated 6-foot-11 (2.11-meter) Reilly Opelka, a 22-year-old American, 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (2).

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Stephens loses to qualifier in U.S. Open

No. 11 seed Sloane Stephens, who grew up in Fresno, lost to Anna Kalinskaya,
a qualifier ranked 127th, 6-3, 6-4 tonight in the first round of the U.S. Open.
Stephens won the title two years ago. 2016 photo by Mal Taam 
   Even for erratic Sloane Stephens, this was a stunning loss.
   The 11th-seeded Stephens, who grew up in Fresno, fell to Anna Kalinskaya, a 20-year-old Russian qualifier ranked 127th, 6-3, 6-4 tonight in the first round of the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
   Stephens, who committed 33 unforced errors to Kalinskaya's 15, has dropped five of her last six matches. In addition, she lost in the first round of a Grand Slam tournament for the third time since winning the U.S. Open two years ago.
   Kalinskaya is scheduled to meet Kristie Ahn, a 27-year-old Stanford graduate, on Thursday at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
   Ahn, who lives a 30-minute drive away in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., and practices at the site of the U.S. Open, beat 34-year-old Svetlana Kuznetsova, the champion 15 years ago, 7-5, 6-2.
   Both Kalinskaya and the 141st-ranked Ahn, who's playing in the main draw of the U.S. Open for the first time in 11 years, earned their first Grand Slam victories.
   This year, Ahn also:
   –Saved two match points in a victory over top-seeded Jelena Ostapenko, the 2017 French Open champion, in the first round on clay in Bogota.
   –Played in the main draw at Wimbledon for the first time, losing in the first round as a qualifier.
   –Reached the semifinals of the $60,000 Berkeley Challenger.
   –And earned her first win over a top-20 player, No. 20 Elise Mertens, in San Jose to reach her second WTA quarterfinal.
   Ahn's friend and former Stanford teammate, lucky loser Nicole Gibbs, lost to fourth-seeded Simona Halep, the reigning Wimbledon champion, 6-3, 3-6, 6-2.
   Gibbs was playing in her fourth tournament since undergoing surgery for a rare cancer in the roof of her mouth on May 17 in Los Angeles.
   Halep, a U.S. Open semifinalist in 2015 and quarterfinalist in 2016, ended a streak of two first-round losses in Flushing Meadows.
   Fifteenth-seeded Bianca Andreescu, 19, of Canada outplayed Katie Volynets, 17, of Walnut Creek in the San Francisco Bay Area 6-2, 6-4.
   Volynets received an automatic wild card for winning the USTA Girls 18 National Championships in San Diego and made her Grand Slam women's main-draw debut.
   An even younger teenager, 15-year-old phenom Coco Gauff of Delray Beach, Fla., defeated Anastasia Potopova, 18, of Russia, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4. Last month, Gauff became the youngest player to reach the round of 16 at Wimbledon since Jennifer Capriati in 1991.
   Four top-10 men's seeds, all in the bottom half of the draw, lost today. Exiting were No. 4 Dominic Thiem, No. 8 Stefanos Tsitsipas, No. 9 Karen Khachanov and No. 10 Roberto Bautista Agut.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Brooksby, 18, shocks Berdych for first tour-level win

Jenson Brooksby, an 18-year-old qualifier from the Sacramento
area, beat Tomas Berdych, formerly ranked No. 4, today in the
first round of the U.S. Open. 2018 photo by Paul Bauman
   Jenson Brooksby said last December that he "definitely" would play at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, for at least one season.
   Now he's not so sure.
   The 18-year-old qualifier from the Sacramento suburb of Carmichael shocked 33-year-old Tomas Berdych, who reached a career-high No. 4 in 2015, 6-1, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 today in the first round of the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
   Berdych, the Wimbledon runner-up in 2010 and a U.S. Open semifinalist in 2012, has missed most of the last 14 months because of a back injury and fallen to No. 98. He has earned almost $30 million in prize money.
   Brooksby recorded his first tour-level win and victory over a top-100 player. He also became only the second qualifying wild card to win a men's main-draw match in the U.S. Open, joining Bradley Klahn. The Stanford graduate accomplished the feat in 2012.
   "I haven't decided whether I'm still going to college or not; it's still up in the air," Brooksby, who won the 2018 USTA Boys 18 National Championships to earn an automatic wild card in the U.S. Open and lost to John Millman in the opening round, told reporters. "I'll see where the rest of the tournament ends up, and also where my ranking is in the next two months. The more I win here, the more likely it could go in the other direction."
   Brooksby will soar from No. 394 to at least No. 268 after the U.S. Open. He is scheduled to face a top-20 player for the first time, Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia, in the second round on Wednesday.
   Basilashvili, seeded 17th and ranked 18th, outlasted Marton Fuksovics of Hungary 3-6, 6-4, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 in three hours, 41 minutes.
   Unless Brooksby turns pro, he will forgo at least $100,000 for reaching the second round of the U.S. Open. On the other hand, a full scholarship at Baylor is worth $63,000 a year.
   "Yeah, it's definitely financial because I would get four years of free college if I went just for one semester compared with the money I earn here," said Brooksby, whose father, Glen, is an anesthesiologist. "You've got to figure all that out."
   Klahn dismissed Thiago Monteiro of Brazil 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 in a one-hour, 47-minute matchup of left-handers. The 108th-ranked Klahn will take on seventh-seeded Kei Nishikori in a clash of 29-year-olds. Nishikori, the runner-up to Marin Cilic in the 2014 U.S. Open, beat Marco Trungelliti of Argentina 6-1, 4-1, retired.
   Sam Querrey lost in the first round of the U.S. Open for the fourth time in five years. The 31-year-old San Francisco native, a quarterfinalist in Flushing Meadows two years ago, fell to Juan Ignacio Londero of Argentina 3-6, 6-1, 7-6 (3), 7-5. Londero, 26, made his U.S. Open main-draw debut.
   Eighth-seeded Serena Williams, playing in Arthur Ashe Stadium for the first time since her tumultuous loss to Naomi Osaka in last year's final, crushed Maria Sharapova 6-1, 6-1 in 59 minutes.
   Williams, a 37-year-old part-time resident of Silicon Valley, improved to 20-2 with a 19-match winning streak against Sharapova, 32, in a matchup of former world No. 1s. They are among six women to achieve a career Grand Slams in the Open era, with Margaret Court, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova and Steffi Graf.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Smyczek, a consummate professional, to retire at 31

Diminutive Tim Smyczek, playing in the 2016 Fairfield (Calif.)
 Challenger, reached a career-high No. 68 in 2015. He is best
known for his sportsmanship during a five-set loss to Rafael
Nadal in the Australian Open that year. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Tim Smyczek attained a career-high ranking of No. 68 in the world in 2015.
   That's nothing to scoff at, especially for someone 5-foot-9 (1.75 meters) and 160 pounds (73 kilograms).
   But in terms of class and professionalism, Smyczek was top-10 material.
   The 31-year-old Dallas resident plans to retire after playing doubles in the U.S. Open, which begins Monday.
   "I went into this year knowing it would be my last," Smyczek (pronounced SMEE-check), who starred in Northern California tournaments, said in a podcast on Aug. 15. " ... When I got married (to Ana Pier on Nov. 21, 2015), it became a little harder for me to travel. Then when we had a daughter (Valentina, on Aug. 16, 2018), it became exponentially harder for me to travel. My wife and daughter have traveled with me a little bit, but it's a tough life for both me and them.
   "I knew it was time, and I also know I want to have a career outside of tennis. I'm 31 years old, and at some point, you're just kind of delaying the inevitable. I figured this fall was as good a time as any."
   Sick of traveling and wanting to be "intellectually challenged," Smyczek said he will begin a two-year Master of Business Administration program at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. He has not attended college but said an undergraduate degree is not required.
   Smyczek, who missed almost three months in the spring with an injury, has plunged to No. 310. He earned $2,059,479 in career prize money and compiled victories over 6-foot-11 (2.11-meter) Ivo Karlovic, 6-foot-10 (2.08-meter) John Isner and 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Sam Querrey.
   Smyczek's earnings, though significant, are deceptively high because of traveling and coaching expenses. By comparison, the U.S. Open men's and women's singles champions each will pocket $3.85 million. Each runner-up will collect $1.9 million.
   Smyczek – who grew up in frigid Milwaukee, of all places – is best remembered for his sportsmanship late in a five-set loss to Rafael Nadal in the second round of the 2015 Australian Open.
   With Nadal, suffering from nausea and dizziness, serving at 6-5, 30-0, in the fifth set, a fan yelled as the Spaniard tossed the ball on his first delivery, distracting him. The serve sailed long, but Smyczek allowed Nadal to take another first serve.
   "I'll always remember that (match)," Smyczek said on the podcast. "A couple of months later in Miami, I was a huge nerd and got ahold of a photo of us shaking hands after the match, and I asked Rafa to sign it. I'll put that up in my office someday."
   Smyczek also reached the third round of the 2013 U.S. Open as the last remaining American man, the semifinals on grass in Newport, R.I., on the ATP World Tour in 2018 and three ATP quarterfinals. One of those quarterfinal appearances came in San Jose in 2011 as a qualifier.
   In Northern California Challengers, Smyczek won the Tiburon singles title in 2015 and was the runner-up twice in singles (2013 Sacramento and 2014 Napa) and twice in doubles (2013 and 2014 Napa). Overall, he won seven singles and two doubles titles on the Challenger tour, all in the United States.
   Because of his size, Smyczek had to train extra hard. He wasn't going to blow anyone off the court with his serve, so he had to be prepared to play long points.
    Smyczek, though, wasn't always so professional.
   "In 2008, I had been on the tour for two or three years," Smyczek recalled. "Craig Boynton, who's still out there coaching, has been a bit of a mentor to me and one of my dear friends. He sat me down at a Challenger somewhere and said, 'What are your goals for tennis?' I told him, and he looked at me and said, 'Do you really think you're doing enough to get there?'
   "I was taken aback a little bit. When I was a young pro, I wasn't the most professional. I was the first one to go out and have a few beers after I lost and do that until I played the next week.
   "I just had a little bit of an 'aha' moment with him and had to come to terms with the fact that if I wanted to reach my goals, the only way I was going to have a chance was to work harder than most. Ever since that point, I can rest easy that I worked as hard as possible. That's probably what made it possible for me to have a 12-, 13-year career."
   Following up on Smyczek's goals, podcast moderator and New York Times reporter Ben Rothenberg noted that juniors invariably aspire to win Grand Slam titles.
   "Very early in my professional career, I kind of forgot about winning Slams," Smyczek replied with a laugh. "Goals are supposed to be realistic. I always wanted to be top 30. I didn't quite get there, but there were a few times when I was actually quite close. Maybe not numerically, but around those times, I might have lost five or six times in a year where I either served for the match or had match points.
   "That was one (goal). I had some monetary goals as well. Those are kind of what get you up in the morning, right? If I set a goal and said I wanted to be top 100, and I reached it and didn't set a new one, I probably would have retired shortly thereafter."
   Smyczek was all business on the court – staying composed and rarely, if ever, arguing with officials –  and thoughtful off it. He was generous with his time with reporters and wrote thank-you notes to host families on personalized stationery.
   Smyczek expressed mixed feelings about having played professional tennis.
   "I don't want to insult people who love tennis and tennis is their life, (but) it hasn't been that way for me," Smyczek said. "I've always loved competing, just kind of suffering on court and embracing the battle of tennis. The actual tennis part has always seemed less important to me.
   "That's probably a function of me being not as talented as a lot of other guys. You can tell that Roger (Federer) just loves tennis, and I would, too, if I could do what he can. ... "
   Similarly, Smyczek conceded that retirement will be bittersweet.
   "I'm sure I will end up being sad at some point," he said. "I don't know whether that will be a few weeks from now or a few months from now. I know that's coming, but right now I'm really excited to get going with school, get off the road and be around every day with my wife and daughter. I couldn't be happier."

Friday, August 23, 2019

Brooksby, Gibbs advance to main draw in U.S. Open

Jenson Brooksby, 18, of Carmichael in the Sacramento area qualified for
the U.S. Open after receiving a wild card last year in Flushing Meadows
as the USTA boys 18 national champion. 2018 photo by Paul Bauman
   Jenson Brooksby received a main-draw berth in last year's U.S. Open by defeating fellow juniors.
   The 18-year-old Sacramento-area resident earned a spot this year by beating the big boys.
   Brooksby, a wild card from Carmichael, topped unseeded Pedro Martinez, 22, of Spain 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-3 today in the final round of qualifying in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
   Also, 24th-seeded Nicole Gibbs (Stanford, 2011-13) lost to 33-year-old Peng Shuai of China 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 but advanced to the main draw as a lucky loser.
   Gibbs is playing in her fourth tournament since undergoing surgery for a rare cancer in the roof of her mouth on May 17 in Los Angeles. She reached the final of the $60,000 Honolulu Challenger, lost in the first round of qualifying in Toronto on the WTA tour and fell in the opening round of the $100,000 Vancouver Challenger.
   Martinez, ranked No. 152, was the second top-200 player Brooksby, ranked No. 393, has beaten in three days and third overall. Brooksby knocked off No. 134 Yuichi Sugita of Japan on Thursday and No. 163 Marc Polmans of Australia on clay in April.
   Brooksby is scheduled to face unseeded Tomas Berdych, a 33-year-old Czech who has been sidelined with a back injury for most of the past 14 months, on Monday. The 2010 Wimbledon runner-up has tumbled from a career-high No. 4 in 2015 to No. 101.
   Brooksby won the USTA Boys 18 National Championships last year in Kalamazoo, Mich., to earn an automatic wild card in the U.S. Open. He lost to John Millman of Australia 6-4, 6-2, 6-0 in the first round in sweltering weather but advanced to the boys semifinals in the last junior tournament of his career. Millman went on to stun five-time champion Roger Federer to reach his first Grand Slam quarterfinal.
   Brooksby, who plans to enroll at Baylor in January, could have entered Kalamazoo again this year but told reporters he felt he "was ready to qualify" in the U.S. Open.
   Men's qualifiers also included Dominik Koepfer of Germany and Egor Gerasimov of Belarus. They reached the final and semifinals, respectively, in the $81,240 Aptos (Calif.) Challenger two weeks ago.
   Koepfer, a 25-year-old left-hander who graduated from Tulane in New Orleans, will meet Jaume Munar of Spain. Gerasimov, 26, will play South Africa's Lloyd Harris, last year's champion in the $100,000 Stockton (Calif.) Challenger and runner-up in Aptos.
   Peng, formerly ranked No. 14 in singles and No. 1 in doubles, began cramping in both legs while leading 5-1 in the third set against Gibbs. During a semifinal loss to Caroline Wozniacki in the 2014 U.S. Open, Peng suffered full-body cramps and left the court in a wheelchair.
   Gibbs, a 26-year-old resident of Venice in the Los Angeles area, will make her eighth consecutive appearance in the main draw of the U.S. Open. She reached the third round five years ago.
   Gibbs will face fourth-seeded Simona Halep, the reigning Wimbledon champion, for the second time. Halep won 6-4, 6-1 in the first round en route to the title in Shenzhen, China, during the first week of 2018.
   Halep has lost in the first round of the U.S. Open for the past two years after having reached the quarterfinals in 2016 and semifinals in 2015.
   Here are the U.S. Open men's and women's singles draws and Monday's schedule. ESPN and ESPN2 will televise the tournament beginning Monday at 9 a.m. PDT.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Serena, Sharapova to meet in first round of U.S. Open

Serena Williams, shown last year, is scheduled to play Maria Sharapova in the
U.S. Open for the first time. Photo by Mal Taam
   Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova have met in four Grand Slam singles finals, with Williams winning three.
   Not only will the former world No. 1s and U.S. Open champions square off in the first round in Flushing Meadows, they will face each other there for the first time.
   The draw for the year's last Grand Slam tournament, Monday through Sept. 8, was held today.
   The eighth-seeded Williams, a 37-year-old part-time resident of Silicon Valley, and Sharapova, 32, are among six women to have achieved a career Grand Slam in the Open era (since 1968), joining Margaret Court, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova and Steffi Graf. 
   However, Williams has dropped to eighth in the world and Sharapova to 87th. Williams had her first child in September 2017, Sharapova returned from a 15-month doping ban in April 2017, and both have been hampered by physical problems. Williams retired from the Toronto final two weeks ago with an upper-back injury.
Former world No. 1s Maria Sharapova, shown in 2017, and Serena Williams
 have struggled in recent years. Photo by Mal Taam 
   Williams, who won the last of her six U.S. Open singles titles five years ago, is 19-2 against Sharapova, the 2006 champion at Flushing Meadows. Not counting Williams' injury withdrawal in the fourth round of last year's French Open, she owns an 18-match winning streak in the head-to-head series.
   Fresno product Sloane Stephens, the 11th seed and 2017 U.S. Open champion, will play a qualifier in the first round. The winner will meet either 34-year-old Svetlana Kuznetsova, the 2004 U.S. Open champion and runner-up last week in Cincinnati, or wild card Kristie Ahn, a 27-year-old Stanford graduate.
   Katie Volynets, a 17-year-old wild card from Walnut Creek in the San Francisco Bay Area, will make her Grand Slam women's debut against 15th-seeded Bianca Andreescu, a 19-year-old who became the first Canadian woman to win the Rogers Cup in Toronto in 50 years.
   In the men's draw, San Francisco native Sam Querrey, a U.S. Open quarterfinalist in 2017, will play Argentina's Juan Ignacio Londero, who reached the fourth round of the French Open in June. The survivor likely will face top-ranked Novak Djokovic, who won his third U.S. Open singles title last year, in the second round. Querrey ousted Djokovic in the third round at Wimbledon in 2016.
   Bradley Klahn, a 28-year-old Stanford graduate who won his first Challenger title in Aptos, Calif., in 2013, will play Thiago Monteiro, 25, of Brazil in a clash of left-handers. The winner probably will face seventh-seeded Kei Nishikori, the U.S. Open runner-up five years ago, in the second round. 
   Steve Johnson, who won his second Aptos title two weeks ago, will meet 28th-seeded Nick Kyrgios of Australia. Kyrgios incurred eight fines totaling $113,000 after his second-round loss to Karen Khachanov in Cincinnati last week. Kyrgios was cited for violations including unsportsmanlike conduct, verbal abuse and audible obscenity.
   U.S. Open qualifying – Nicole Gibbs, who played with Ahn on Stanford's 2013 NCAA championship team, advanced to the last round of U.S. Open qualifying by walkover against former Pacific-12 Conference rival Robin Anderson, who starred at UCLA, in a matchup of 26-year-olds.
   Gibbs will seek her eighth consecutive berth in the main draw against 33-year-old Peng Shuai, formerly ranked as high as No. 14 in singles and No. 1 in doubles, from China. They will meet for the first time.
   Fifth-seeded Kirsten Flipkens, a 33-year-old Belgian who reached the Wimbledon semifinals in 2013, trounced Jovana Jaksic, a 25-year-old Serb living in Sacramento, 6-2, 6-0 in 58 minutes.
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