Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Roundup: Bryans to retire after 2020 U.S. Open

Bob Bryan, left, and Mike Bryan have won a record 16 Grand
Slam men's doubles titles. 2016 photo by Paul Bauman
   Former Stanford stars Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan, generally considered the greatest doubles team in history, announced today that they will retire after the 2020 U.S. Open.
   The 41-year-old identical twins have won a record 16 Grand Slam men's doubles titles, an Open Era-record 118 trophies (including four in the ATP Finals) and an Olympic gold medal (2012 London). They also helped the United States win the Davis Cup championship in 2007.
   The Bryans spent 438 weeks and ended 10 seasons as the No. 1 team (2003, 2005-07, 2009-14). Mike Bryan became the oldest No. 1 at age 40 on July 16, 2018, and holds the record of 506 weeks at the top of the rankings.
   Overall, the Bryans have a 1,102-358 (.755) match record.
   "Mike and I chose to finish our 2019 season after the U.S. Open, even knowing there was a strong chance we'd qualify for the ATP Finals," Bob Bryan said on atptour.com. "After much discussion, we decided that it would be best to rest our minds and strengthen our bodies in preparation for 2020, which will be our final season on the ATP Tour.
   "For the last 21 years, we have been so grateful for the opportunity to live out our dreams of playing professional tennis. It has truly been a magical ride. However, we want to end this great ride while we're healthy and we can still compete for titles."
   Mike Bryan said: "We are currently extremely motivated and excited going into our last season. We will enjoy and appreciate each moment we have while saying our goodbyes and giving thanks to the fans who have given us so much joy."
   Bob Bryan underwent right hip surgery in August 2018 and returned at the beginning of 2019. The brothers won two titles this year, in Delray Beach and Miami. After reaching the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, they lost in the third round of the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.
   The Bryans played at Stanford in 1997 and 1998, helping the Cardinal win the NCAA team championship each year. Bob Bryan achieved a rare Triple Crown in 1998, sweeping the NCAA singles, doubles (with Mike) and team titles.
   Stanford students are not allowed to choose roommates. The Bryans were given rooms on opposite sides of campus, but Bob brought a mattress to Mike's dorm and slept on the floor.
   The Bryans' father, Wayne Bryan, coached the now-defunct Sacramento Capitals of World TeamTennis for 12 years (2002-13). He led Sacramento to two WTT titles (2002 and 2007) and was named the league's Coach of the Year three times (2004-06).
   Oracle Challenger Series in Houston – Second-seeded Bradley Klahn, a 29-year-old Stanford graduate, and 13th-seeded Jenson Brooksby, 19, of Carmichael in the Sacramento area won their second-round matches.
   Klahn, a left-hander, defeated Filip Cristian Jianu, 18, of Romania 7-5, 6-3. Brooksby outclassed Gonzalo Villanueva of Argentina 6-2, 6-2.
   Klahn is set to face 14th-seeded Michael Mmoh, 21, of Bradenton, Fla., on Thursday at about 11 a.m. PST (live stream). Klahn leads the head-to-head series 2-0, both three-set matches in 2017.
   Mmoh won last week's $54,160 Knoxville Challenger after being defaulted from his second-round match in the $54,160 Charlottesville Challenger the previous week for throwing his racket and hitting a line judge.
   Brooksby will meet fourth-seeded Marcos Giron of Thousand Oaks in the Los Angeles region for the first time at about 1 p.m.
   Collin Altamirano, 23, of Sacramento lost to 11th-seeded Adrian Menendez-Maceiras of Spain 6-4, 6-0. Both Brooksby and Altamirano train at the JMG Tennis Academy in Sacramento.
   Qualifier CiCi Bellis, a 20-year-old San Francisco Bay Area product, will take on third-seeded Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium at 9 a.m.
   Bellis is playing in her first tournament in 19 months. During her layoff, the right-hander underwent three operations on her right wrist and one on her right elbow.
   College signing – Stefan Leustian of Mather in the Sacramento area signed with UCLA.
   "I have seen all the things Billy (Martin) and (assistant coach) Rikus (de Villiers) have done in the past and seen improvements from all the players," Leustian said on tennisrecruiting.net. "I've been a really big UCLA fan since I was young, and I love the location. Nothing beats L.A. It was kind of like the best of every world."

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Bellis survives Houston test; Cibulkova retires at 30

Qualifier CiCi Bellis, shown in 2017, edged 16th-seeded Varvara Lepchenko
6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (5) today in the second round of the Oracle Challenger Series in
Houston. Bellis, a 20-year-old San Francisco Bay Area product, is playing in
her first tournament in 19 months. Photo by Mal Taam
   CiCi Bellis survived the first big test of her comeback.
   The 20-year-old qualifier, who was born in San Francisco and grew up in nearby Atherton, edged 16th-seeded Varvara Lepchenko, a 33-year-old American from Uzbekistan, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (5) in 2 hours, 25 minutes today in the second round of the $162,480 Oracle Challenger Series in Houston.
   Bellis reached a career-high No. 35 in 2017. The right-hander is playing in her first tournament since undergoing three operations on her right wrist and one on her right elbow and sitting out for 19 months.
   Lepchenko, a left-hander, is ranked No. 167 after climbing as high as No. 19 in 2012.
   Bellis will take on another 33-year-old former top-20 player, third-seeded Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium, on Thursday. Live streaming is available.
   Flipkens, ranked No. 94, nipped 17-year-old Hailey Baptiste of Washington, D.C., 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4) in 2:04.
   Flipkens reached the Wimbledon semifinals in 2013, catapulting her to a career-high No. 13. In her only match against Bellis, Flipkens prevailed 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 in the first round at Indian Wells in 2017.
   Meanwhile, 14th-seeded Caroline Dolehide, a 20-year-old native of Hinsdale, Ill., now based in Orlando, Fla., beat Giuliana Olmos of Mexico 7-5, 6-4.
   Dolehide reached the quarterfinals of the $60,000 Berkeley (Calif.) Tennis Club Challenge in July.  Olmos, 26, was born in Austria and grew up in Fremont in the San Francisco Bay Area.
   In the completion of a men's match suspended by rain, Collin Altamirano of Sacramento defeated Gage Brymer of Irvine in the Los Angeles area 6-2, 7-6 (5) in the opening round.
   The 23-year-old Altamirano, ranked No. 390, will face 11th-seeded Adrian Menendez-Maceiras, a 34-year-old Spaniard ranked No. 236, for the first time.
   Cibulkova retires – Dominika Cibulkova, who won the 2013 Bank of the West Classic at Stanford, announced her retirement at 30.
   The 5-foot-3 (1.61-meter) Cibulkova peaked at No. 4, the highest ranking by a Slovakian woman, in 2017 and became the first woman from her country to reach a Grand Slam final, losing to Li Na in the 2014 Australian Open.
   Cibulkova also advanced to the French Open semifinals in 2009, the Wimbledon quarterfinals three times (2011, 2016 and 2018) and the U.S. Open quarters in 2010. She won eight WTA singles titles, including the 2016 WTA Finals.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Bellis breezes in second match of comeback

CiCi Bellis, serving in 2017, has not lost a set in two matches in the first tournament
of her comeback. Photo by Mal Taam
   Qualifier CiCi Bellis, playing in her first tournament after a 19-month layoff, dismissed Ellen Perez of Australia 6-3, 6-2 in 55 minutes today in the first round of the $162,480 Oracle Challenger Series in Houston.
   Bellis, who was born in San Francisco and grew up in nearby Atherton, has not lost a set in two matches in the hardcourt tournament. The 20-year-old right-hander is returning from three operations on her right wrist and one on her right elbow.
   "I knew (Perez) was going to come out firing," Bellis said on oraclechallengerseries.com. "She's such a great player. I've known her forever. I just had to counteract her pace, move really well and move her around really well."
   Perez, a 24-year-old left-hander ranked No. 238 in singles and No. 66 in doubles, was impressed with Bellis' performance in their first meeting.
   "Welcome back to the tour @cicibellis your game looked like you never left!" Perez tweeted. "Big things are coming for you again."
   Bellis, who reached a career-high No. 35 in 2017, is scheduled to face another left-hander, 16th-seeded Varvara Lepchenko, on Tuesday at about noon PST. Live streaming is available.
   Lepchenko, a 33-year-old American citizen from Uzbekistan, received a first-round bye.
   Ranked No. 167 after climbing as high as No. 19 in 2012, Lepchenko is 1-0 against Bellis. Lepchenko won 6-3, 6-2 in the quarterfinals on clay in Rabat, Morocco, in 2017.
   In the Houston men's draw, Collin Altamirano of Sacramento leads Gage Brymer of Irvine in the Los Angeles area 6-2, 1-4 in a first-round match suspended by rain.
   Second seed and defending champion Bradley Klahn, a 29-year-old Stanford graduate, and 13th-seeded Jenson Brooksby, 19, of Carmichael in the Sacramento region received first-round byes.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Bellis beats Glatch in Houston after 19-month layoff

CiCi Bellis, a 20-year-old San Francisco Bay Area product, defeated Alexa Glatch
6-4, 6-3 today to reach the main draw of the Oracle Challenger Series in Houston.
Bellis returned to competition after undergoing four operations during a 19-month
layoff. 2017 photo by Mal Taam
  In her first match in 19 months, CiCi Bellis defeated fellow California native Alexa Glatch 6-4, 6-3 today to advance to the main draw of the $162,480 Oracle Challenger Series on hardcourts in Houston.
   Bellis, a right-hander, underwent three operations on her right wrist and one on her right elbow during her layoff.
   The 20-year-old San Francisco native, who grew up in nearby Atherton, told reporters after today's match that nerves and rust "are going to be here for the next few tournaments. Today was pretty ugly tennis, but I'm glad I got through it. Everything is going to go up from here."
   Glatch has had an even more star-crossed career than Bellis. The 30-year-old Newport Beach native, who climbed as high as No. 102 in 2009, has had four hip operations, two knee surgeries and one wrist procedure.
   Bellis, who reached a career-high No. 35 in 2017, is scheduled to play Ellen Perez of Australia for the first time on Monday at 8 a.m. PST. Live streaming is available.
  Perez, a 24-year-old left-hander, is ranked No. 241 in singles and No. 65 in doubles. She won the biggest singles title of her career in a $60,000 tournament in Ashland, Ky., in July. But the highest-ranked player she beat was No. 200 Zoe Hives of Australia in the final, and that was by retirement.
   Perez also won her first WTA doubles title in May, teaming with Daria Gavrilova of Australia in Strasbourg, and reached the doubles round of 16 at the U.S. Open in September with Danielle Collins of St. Petersburg, Fla.
   Collins, 25, is seeded first in singles in Houston at No. 31 in the world.
   ITA National Fall Championships in Newport Beach –  Top-seeded Yuya Ito of the University of Texas beat unseeded Damon Kesaris of Saint Mary's 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 in the men's final.
   Ito won the clinching match over Petros Chrysochos in the Longhorns' 4-1 victory over Wake Forest in the NCAA final in Orlando, Fla., last May. Both Chrysochos and the Demon Deacons were defending champions. It was Texas' first NCAA team title in men's tennis.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Clijsters postpones comeback because of knee injury

   International Tennis Hall of Famer Kim Clijsters has postponed her comeback because of a knee injury.
   "I've had to make the decision that I will not be able to compete in January," the 36-year-old mother of three tweeted Monday. "I am undergoing rehab and treatment for a knee injury. It's a setback but I'm determined as ever to get back to the game I love. I really appreciate all your support and encouragement."
   Clijsters did not disclose the nature of the injury, how it occurred or when she hopes to return. She reportedly was hurt while playing padel, a different racket sport.
   Clijsters, who left the circuit for the second time in 2012, won four Grand Slam titles in singles (three in the U.S. Open) and two in doubles. With 41 overall singles crowns, she ranks third among active players, behind Serena Williams (72) and Venus Williams (49), and 14th in the Open era (since 1968).
   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 Krantzcke 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, October 23, 2019

Bellis plans to return soon; U.S. Davis Cup team named

CiCi Bellis hopes to play in her first tournament in 19 months in November. The
20-year-old San Francisco Bay Area product will try to rebound from three surgeries
on her right wrist and one operation on her right elbow. 2018 photo by Mal Taam
   After four operations and 19 months, former world No. 35 CiCi Bellis plans to return to competition in November.
   The 20-year-old San Francisco Bay Area product hopes to play in the $162,480 Oracle Challenger Series, Nov. 10-17 on hardcourts in Houston, usta.com reported today.
   "Everything's going really well," Bellis, who has been sidelined since the Miami Open in March 2018, said in the story. "I've gotten to the point where I'm practicing normally, and obviously I've done a lot of rehab in the past year or more. Everything has really strengthened and (is) looking pretty positive.
   "I love tennis so much, and it's been my life for so long. I would miss it so much if I wasn't playing. It's been so amazing for me to be back to my normal practice routine, and that's really what motivated me from Day One when I had to get my first surgery, knowing that I'd be able to get back to playing full time. If everything goes well and I'm feeling good, hopefully I'll be able to play my first tournament in about three weeks, then the Australian swing."
   Bellis was born in San Francisco and grew up in Atherton, near Stanford. She reached a career-high No. 35 in August 2017 and was named the WTA Newcomer of the Year.
   The petite 5-foot-7 (1.68-meter) right-hander had surgery on her right wrist to repair three tears, shave a bone in her right elbow, shorten a bone in her right wrist and insert a plate, and remove the plate.
   U.S. Davis Cup team – Taylor Fritz, 21, and Reilly Opelka, 22, were named to the U.S. Davis Cup team for the first time on Monday.
   Joining Fritz and the 6-foot-11 (2.11-meter) Opelka will be 32-year-old Sam Querrey, 21-year-old Frances Tiafoe and 27-year-old Jack Sock in the revamped Davis Cup Finals, Nov. 18-24 in Madrid.
   All except Opelka have won Challenger singles titles in Northern California. Querrey, in fact, was born in San Francisco.
   With No. 31 Fritz, No. 37 Opelka, No. 47 Querrey and No. 48 Tiafoe, new captain Mardy Fish has four of the top five Americans in singles. No. 16 John Isner declined to play because of family commitments.
   Sock has slumped from a career-high No. 8 in 2017 to No. 251 in singles, but he has won three Grand Slam men's doubles titles, including two last year.
   Eighteen nations, divided into six groups, will compete for the Davis Cup. The winner of each group and the top two second-place teams after the round-robin stage will advance to the quarterfinals, when single-elimination play begins. Each "tie" will consist of two singles matches and one doubles match, all the best-of-three tiebreak sets.
   The United States, seeded sixth, will play in Group F with Italy and Canada. The winner will play the winner of Group F (Belgium, Colombia and Australia) in the quarters.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Aussie O'Connell defeats top seed for Fairfield title

   Once again, live-stream commentator Ken Thomas put it best.
   "Christopher O'Connell may be the best player you've never heard of," Thomas said during today's broadcast.
   The 12th-seeded O'Connell completed a spectacular week with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over top-seeded Steve Johnson in the final of the $108,320 NorthBay Healthcare Men's Pro Championship in Fairfield, Calif.
   O'Connell, a 25-year-old Australian, did not lose a set en route to the biggest title of his career. All week at Solano Community College, the 6-foot (1.83-meter) right-hander served brilliantly and displayed a devastating one-handed backhand along with a punishing forehand.
   "I love playing in California," O'Connell, a Fairfield semifinalist as a qualifier in 2017, said during the awards ceremony. "It feels a lot like home."
   Unseeded Darian King of Barbados and Peter Polansky of Canada won the doubles title, beating fourth-seeded Andre Goransson (University of California, Berkeley, 2014-17) of Sweden and Sem Verbeek (University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif., 2013-16) of the Netherlands 6-4, 3-6 [12-10].
   Polansky, 31, was severely injured in a three-story fall from his hotel room in Mexico in 2007. He needed 550 stitches in his legs and back after having a night terror and trying to escape through the window.
   Doctors initially suggested amputating one of Polansky's legs. Four months later, he reached the boys singles final in the U.S. Open.
   O'Connell won his fifth title of the year in 13 finals, including five in a row in $15,000 tournaments in Australia and Turkey in March and April. Two other finals came in $15Ks, three in $25Ks and three in $50,000-plus tournaments.
   O'Connell missed several months with pneumonia in 2017 and six months early last year with knee tendinitis. Unranked at the beginning of 2019, he will soar 43 places to a career-high No. 149 on Monday.
   Johnson, a 29-year-old resident of Redondo Beach in the Los Angeles area, will rise 13 notches to No. 86. The United States Davis Cup veteran climbed to a career-high No. 21 in 2016.
   In today's final, O'Connell pounded 13 aces, committed only two double faults and did not face a break point. He won 30 of 32 points (94 percent) on his first serve and 12 of 18 (67 percent) on his second delivery.
   O'Connell broke Johnson's serve in the last game of the match. Johnson lost the first two points but hammered a service winner for 15-30. O'Connell then ripped two forehand passing shots, the last one on Johnson's first serve, for the title.
   O'Connell earned $14,400, and Johnson collected $8,480.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Obscure O'Connell to face top seed in Fairfield final

   At least twice during today's first semifinal in the Fairfield (Calif.) Challenger, commentator Ken Thomas asked on the live stream, "Who is this guy? Who is Christopher O'Connell?"
   It's a good question.
   O'Connell, a 25-year-old Australian, seems to come out of nowhere to excel in Fairfield. A semifinalist at Solano Community College as a qualifier in 2017, he reached the final of the $108,320 NorthBay Healthcare Men's Pro Championship with a 6-3, 7-6 (2) victory over unseeded Kevin King of Atlanta.
   O'Connell, seeded 12th at a career-high No. 192, is scheduled to meet Steve Johnson, seeded first at No. 99, for the first time on Sunday at 11 a.m. O'Connell will jump to at least No. 160 in Monday's updated rankings.
   Johnson, a 29-year-old resident of Redondo Beach in the Los Angeles area, beat Brandon Nakashima, an 18-year-old wild card from San Diego, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2.
   O'Connell, a 6-foot (1.83-meter) right-hander with a one-handed backhand, hasn't lost a set in the tournament. He will play in his second consecutive singles final and – brace yourself – 13th of the year. But seven have come in $15,000 tournaments, three in $25Ks and two in $50,000-plus tourneys in remote outposts around the world.
   O'Connell is 4-8 in those finals, including a loss on clay in Sibiu, Romania, three weeks ago in his last tournament.
   It hasn't helped O'Connell's career that he missed several months in 2017 with pneumonia and six months last year with knee tendinitis.
   Johnson, meanwhile, is trying to regain the form that took him to a career-high No. 21 in 2016.
   Sunday's doubles final, which follows the singles title match, will feature two adopted Northern Californians. Fourth-seeded Andre Goransson (Cal, 2014-17) of Sweden and Sem Verbeek (University of the Pacific in Stockton, 2013-16) of the Netherlands will play unseeded Darian King of Bardados and Peter Polansky of Canada.
   Here are the updated Fairfield singles and doubles draws. Live streaming is available.

Nakashima, 18, reaches first Challenger semifinal

   Brandon Nakashima, an 18-year-old wild card from San Diego, beat fourth-seeded Taro Daniel of Japan 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5) on Friday in the quarterfinals of the $108,320 NorthBay Healthcare Men's Pro Championship at Solano Community College in Fairfield, Calif.
   Nakashima became the youngest American man to reach a Challenger semifinal since Taylor Fritz won the 2015 Fairfield Challenger at 17. Fritz is now ranked No. 29 at age 21.
   Nakashima, a University of Virginia sophomore, is playing in only his fifth professional tournament of the year. He advanced to the quarterfinals in the $108,320 Tiburon (Calif.) Challenger two weeks ago, losing to Thai-Son Kwiatkowski in a third-set tiebreaker. Kwiatkowski won the 2017 NCAA singles title as a University of Virginia senior.
   Daniel reached the quarterfinals in Tokyo on the ATP World Tour last week, upsetting then-No. 14 Borna Coric in the first round, to rise 16 spots to No. 111. He is 1-0 against Novak Djokovic and has been ranked as high as No. 64 in August last year.
   Nakashima will skyrocket at least 222 places to No. 487 in Monday's updated rankings. He is scheduled to face top-seeded Steve Johnson for the first time today not before noon in a matchup of Southern Californians.
   Johnson, a Los Angeles-area resident who has slumped from a career-high No. 21 in 2016 to No. 99, trounced ninth-seeded Darian King of Barbados 6-1, 6-1 in 62 minutes.
   In today's first semifinal at 11 a.m., unseeded Kevin King, an Atlanta native and resident ranked No. 399, will meet 12th-seeded Christopher O'Connell, an Australian ranked a career-high No. 192, for the first time.
   Kevin King, a 28-year-old former Georgia Tech All-American, eliminated eighth-seeded Peter Polansky of Canada, 6-3, 7-6 (10) after knocking off former top-70 players Ernesto Escobedo, seeded 15th, in the second round and Denis Kudla, seeded second, in the third round.
   Kevin King, a 6-foot-3 (1.91-meter) left-hander, slugged 12 aces, had six double faults and put in 69 percent of his first serves. He won 75 percent of the points (43 of 57) on his first serve and 58 percent (15 of 26) on his second delivery.
   Kevin King has been ranked as high as No. 162 in May last year. He reached the second round in Atlanta on the ATP World Tour in July as a qualifier, shocking former world No. 3 Grigor Dimitrov in the first round. Later in the summer, Dimitrov ousted Roger Federer in the U.S. Open to reach his third Grand Slam semifinal.
   O'Connell dispatched Jack Draper 6-2, 6-3 to reach the Fairfield semifinals for the second time in three years and end the 17-year-old Briton's winning streak at eight matches.
   The 25-year-old O'Connell, only 6 feet (1.83 meters), served even better than King. O'Connell blasted 17 aces, committed only one double fault and put in 70 percent of his first serves. He won 89 percent of the points (33 of 37) on his first serve and 50 percent (eight of 16) on his second.
   O'Connell has played in a whopping 12 singles finals this year (two in $50,000-plus tournaments, three in $25Ks and seven in $15Ks), winning four.
   None of the Fairfield semifinalists has lost a set in the tournament. O'Connell, in fact, hasn't lost more than four games in a set.
   Here are the updated Fairfield singles and doubles draws and today's schedule. Live streaming is available.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Kevin King takes out second-seeded Kudla in Fairfield

Second-seeded Denis Kudla lost to fellow American
Kevin King 6-2, 6-3 today in the Fairfield (Calif.)
Challenger. File photo by Paul Bauman
   Unseeded Kevin King of Atlanta dispatched second-seeded Denis Kudla of Arlington, Va., 6-2, 6-3 today to reach the quarterfinals of the $108,320 NorthBay Healthcare Men's Pro Championship at Solano Community College in Fairfield, Calif.
   King, a 6-foot-3 (1.91-meter) left-hander ranked No. 399, evened his career record against Kudla, ranked No. 107, at 1-1.
   King, a 28-year-old former Georgia Tech All-American, reached the second round in Atlanta on the ATP World Tour in July as a qualifier, shocking former world No. 3 Grigor Dimitrov in the first round. Later in the summer, Dimitrov ousted Roger Federer in the U.S. Open to reach his third Grand Slam semifinal.
   Kudla, 27, advanced to the third round of the U.S. Open this past summer, losing to defending champion Novak Djokovic in straight sets.
   King is scheduled to face eighth-seeded Peter Polansky of Canada for the first time on Friday. The 31-year-old Polansky, ranked No. 163, beat 10th-seeded Nicola Kuhn of Spain 6-4, 6-4.
   Brandon Nakashima, an 18-year-old wild card from San Diego, eliminated sixth-seeded James Duckworth of Australia 7-6 (5), 7-5.
   Nakashima, a sophomore at the University of Virginia, also reached the quarterfinals of the $108,320 Tiburon (Calif.) Challenger two weeks ago. He will meet Japan's Taro Daniel, seeded fourth and ranked No. 111, for the first time.
   Daniel, 26, escaped with a 1-6, 7-6 (2), 6-3 victory over 16th-seeded Maxime Cressy, a Paris native who plays for the United States. Daniel is 1-0 against Novak Djokovic. UCLA's Cressy and Keegan Smith, both 6-foot-6 (1.98 meters), won the NCAA doubles title in May in Orlando, Fla.
   In Friday's other quarterfinals, top-seeded Steve Johnson of Redondo Beach in the Los Angeles area will face ninth-seeded Darian King of Barbados, and 12th-seeded Christopher O'Connell of Australia will play Jack Draper, 17, of Great Britain.
   The 6-foot-3 (1.91-meter) Draper extended his winning streak to eight matches with a 6-3, 7-6 (1) victory over 30-year-old Donald Young in a matchup of left-handers. Young, 30, has tumbled from a career-high No. 38 in 2012 to No. 233.
   Draper won a $25,000 tournament on an indoor hardcourt in Shrewsbury, Great Britain, two weeks ago and upset 14th-seeded Jack Sock on Wednesday night. Sock has plunged a high of No. 8 in 2017 to No. 210.
   The 29-year-old Johnson, ranked No. 99, has never lost more than three games in a set in two career matches against the 27-year-old King, ranked No. 171.
   The 192nd-ranked O'Connell, a Fairfield semifinalist as a qualifier in 2017, and Draper, ranked No. 340, will meet for the first time. 
   Here are the updated Fairfield singles and doubles draws and Friday's schedule. Live streaming is available.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

British teenager upsets Sock in Fairfield Challenger

Jack Sock, playing in Indian Wells in 2016, has plunged from a career-high No. 8
in singles in November 2017 to No. 210, partly because of surgery. The 27-year-
old Kansas City, Kan., resident has won three Grand Slam men's doubles titles.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   Jack Sock's singles woes continued tonight.
   The former top-10 player, competing in his first Challenger in more than five years, lost to 17-year-old Jack Draper of Great Britain 3-6, 7-6 (2), 6-3 in the second round of the $108,320 NorthBay Healthcare Men's Pro Championship in Fairfield, Calif.
   Draper, a 6-foot-3 (1.91-meter) left-hander, converted his sixth match point. He took a nasty fall in the tiebreaker while chasing a ball and scraped his knees and palms on the hardcourt at Solano Community College.
   Sock, seeded 14th at No. 210, fell to 1-6 in singles this year. After ascending to No. 8 in November 2017, he went 9-22 in singles in 2018. Then the 27-year-old Kansas City, Kan., resident, who has won three Grand Slam men's doubles titles, underwent surgery for torn finger ligaments last February and missed six months.
   Draper, ranked No. 340, extended his winning streak to seven matches. He has won three singles titles in $25,000 tournaments, all in Great Britain, since the beginning of August.
   Draper will meet another left-hander, 30-year-old Donald Young of Atlanta, in Thursday's featured night match not before 7. Young, ranked No. 233 after climbing as high as No. 38 in 2012, has won four Challenger singles crowns in Northern California.
   Two teenage wild cards from San Diego played earlier matches on the stadium court.
   Brandon Nakashima, an 18-year-old sophomore at the University of Virginia, defeated lucky loser Dennis Novikov, a 25-year-old San Jose product, 6-2, 6-4.
   Novikov replaced 11th-seeded Thai-Son Kwiatkowski, who withdrew because of a right wrist injury.  Kwiatkowski won the 2017 NCAA singles title as a University of Virginia senior and reached the semifinals of the Tiburon (Calif.) Challenger two weeks ago.
   Zachary Svajda, 16, lost to second-seeded Denis Kudla 6-1, 3-6, 6-4. Kudla advanced to the third round of this year's U.S. Open, falling to defending champion Novak Djokovic in straight sets.
   Svajda won the USTA boys 18 singles title in Kalamazoo, Mich., in August to earn an automatic wild card in the U.S. Open. He led 37-year-old Italian Paolo Lorenzi two sets to none in the opening round before suffering full-body cramps and losing in five sets.
   Also today, ninth-seeded Darian King of Barbados outlasted American Sebastian Korda, the 19-year-old son of former world No. 2 Petr Korda, 5-7, 6-0, 7-5.
   Three players named King, all unrelated, are set to play on Thursday in the third round.
   Darian King, 27, will meet fifth-seeded Blaz Rola, a former Ohio State star from Slovenia who won the 2013 NCAA singles crown, at 10 a.m. Kudla, 27, will face Kevin King, a 28-year-old left-hander from Atlanta, at about noon. And top-seeded Steve Johnson, 29, of Redondo Beach in the Los Angeles area will play Evan King, a 27-year-old left-hander from Chicago, not before 4 p.m.
   Here are the updated Fairfield singles and doubles draws and Thursday's schedule. Live streaming is available.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Top-seeded Johnson downs prospect Mmoh in Fairfield

Steve Johnson serves during the Aptos (Calif.) final, in which
he beat Dominik Koepfer, in August. Photo by Paul Bauman
   In tonight's featured match, top-seeded Steve Johnson beat fellow American Michael Mmoh 7-6 (4), 6-4 in the second round of the $108,320 NorthBay Healthcare Men's Pro Championship at Solano Community College in Fairfield, Calif.
   Johnson pounded 10 aces and won 82 percent of the points on his first serve (31 of 38) in his first match against Mmoh, who was named after Michael Jordan. Johnson committed six double faults.
   Johnson, 29, and Mmoh, 21, have won three Northern California Challenger singles titles combined. Johnson captured his second Aptos crown in August, and Mmoh took last year's Tiburon title.
   Both players, however, have dropped in the rankings. Johnson, mourning the death of his father/mentor at 58 in 2017, has fallen from a career-high No. 21 in 2016 to No. 99. Mmoh, who sat out for four months early this year because of injuries, has plunged from a career-high No. 96 last October to No. 290.
   Johnson is scheduled to play unseeded Evan King, a 27-year-old left-hander from Chicago, on Thursday. King edged 13th-seeded Mitchell Krueger of Dallas 7-5, 5-7, 7-6 (4) in 2 hours, 54 minutes after outlasting alternate Strong Kirchheimer of Cary, N.C., 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-4 in 2:18 on Monday.
   On Wednesday not before 7 p.m., 14th-seeded Jack Sock will meet Jack Draper of Great Britain in the second round. Sock, a former top-10 singles player and a three-time Grand Slam men's doubles champion, will make his first Challenger appearance in more than five years. All 16 singles seeds received first-round byes.
   Also advancing today were fourth-seeded Taro Daniel of Japan and unseeded Sebastian Korda of Bradenton, Fla.
   Daniel, 26, beat wild card Brandon Holt, the 21-year-old son of International Tennis Hall of Famer Tracy Austin, 6-1, 6-4 in the second round.
   Korda, the 19-year-old son of former world No. 2 Petr Korda, topped Sebastian Fanselow, a 27-year-old former Pepperdine All-American from Germany, 6-4, 7-6 (4) in the first round.
   Daniel reached the quarterfinals last week in Tokyo on the ATP Tour to rise 16 places to No. 111. He was born in New York to an American father, Paul, and Japanese mother, Yasue. The family moved to Japan when Taro was an infant and to Spain when he was 14.
   Paul Daniel grew up in Santa Cruz, Calif., a two-hour drive south of Fairfield, on the Pacific Ocean, and Taro spent summers there until he was 15 or 16.
   Here are the updated Fairfield singles and doubles draws and Wednesday's schedule.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Austin's son routs Altamirano in Fairfield Challenger

Brandon Holt, the son of International Tennis Hall of Famer
Tracy Austin, dismissed Collin Altamirano of Sacramento 6-2,
6-2 today in the first round of the Fairfield (Calif.) Challenger.
2018 photo by Paul Bauman
   Collin Altamirano's stay in the Fairfield (Calif.) Challenger didn't last long.
   Playing 56 miles (90 kilometers) from his home in Sacramento, the 23-year-old Altamirano lost to Brandon Holt, a 21-year-old wild card from Rolling Hills in the Los Angeles area, 6-2, 6-2 in the first round of the $108,320 NorthBay Healthcare Men's Pro Championship.
   The match at Solano Community College lasted only 58 minutes. Altamirano is not entered in doubles.
   Holt, a USC senior and the son of International Tennis Hall of Famer Tracy Austin, has never lost a set in three career matches against Altamirano. Aside from one tiebreaker, Holt hasn't dropped more than two games in a set against Altamirano.
   Holt is scheduled to play fourth-seeded Taro Daniel, who trains in Bradenton, Fla., but plays for Japan, for the first time on Tuesday at about 2 p.m. All 16 seeds received first-round byes.
   Daniel, 26, reached the quarterfinals last week in Tokyo on the ATP Tour to rise 16 notches to No. 111. He was born in New York to an American father, Paul, and Japanese mother, Yasue. The family moved to Japan when Taro was an infant and to Spain when he was 14.
   Paul Daniel grew up in Santa Cruz, Calif., a two-hour drive south of Fairfield, and Taro spent summers there until he was 15 or 16.
   "It basically feels like home, my first home," Daniel told the Santa Cruz Sentinel during the $81,240 Aptos (Calif.) Challenger in August.
   In Tuesday's featured night match, top-seeded Steve Johnson, 29, of Redondo Beach in the Los Angeles region will play Michael Mmoh, 21, of Bradenton not before 7 p.m.
   Mmoh, the son of former journeyman pro Tony Mmoh of Nigeria, beat countryman Evan Zhu, an ex-UCLA star who won the 2018 NCAA doubles title with Martin Redlicki, 6-4, 6-3.
   Second-seeded Denis Kudla, 27, of Arlington, Va., will meet Zachary Svajda, a 16-year-old wild card from San Diego, on Wednesday at a time to be determined.
   Svajda, who won the USTA boys 18 singles title in August to earn an automatic wild card in the U.S. Open, defeated 6-foot-8 (2.03-meter) Michael Redlicki, Martin's older brother, 7-6 (5), 6-2.
   Both Kudla and Svajda, made news in the U.S. Open. Kudla reached the third round, losing to defending champion Novak Djokovic in straight sets, and Svajda extended Paolo Lorenzi, a 37-year-old Italian, to five sets in the first round.
   In the first round at 10 a.m., Sebastian Fanselow of Germany will play Bradenton resident Sebastian Korda, the 19-year-old son of former world No. 2 Petr Korda. Fanselow, a 27-year-old former Pepperdine All-American, has reached the Fairfield quarterfinals as a qualifier in each of the past two years.
   In the final round of Fairfield qualifying, Sem Verbeek, a former University of the Pacific standout from the Netherlands, beat Dennis Novikov, a 25-year-old San Jose product, 6-2, 7-6 (0).
   Here are the Fairfield singles and doubles draws and Tuesday's schedule.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Third-seeded Giron withdraws from Fairfield Challenger

Marcos Giron, right, poses with Novak Djokovic last year
in Los Angeles. Photo courtesy of Brener Zwikel & Assoc.
   Third-seeded Marcos Giron of Thousand Oaks in the Los Angeles area withdrew today from the $108,320 NorthBay Healthcare Men's Pro Championship at Solano Community College in Fairfield, Calif.
   Giron, 26, was diagnosed with cellulitis (a bacterial skin infection), according to USTA supervisor Keith Crossland. Further details were not available.
   Giron, the 2014 NCAA singles champion from UCLA, has soared from No. 308 at the end of last year to No. 126. He reached the third round of the prestigious BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells in March, beating then-No. 24 Alex de Minaur and then-No. 37 Jeremy Chardy.
   Giron, only 5-foot-11 (1.80 meters) and 170 pounds (77 kilograms), also made his first two appearances in the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament this year. He lost in the opening round at Wimbledon as a qualifier and the U.S. Open as a wild card.
   Donald Young, a 30-year-old left-hander who has won four Challenger singles titles in Northern California, took Giron's place in the Fairfield draw as the 17th seed. Young has tumbled from a career-high No. 38 in 2012 to No. 233.
   Strong Kirchheimer, a 24-year-old former Northwestern star from Cary, N.C., moved into Young's former spot as an alternate.
   In the first match of the main draw on Monday at 11 a.m., Collin Altamirano of Sacramento is scheduled to play wild card Brandon Holt, a USC senior and the son of International Tennis Hall of Famer Tracy Austin. Holt has not lost a set to Altamirano in two career meetings, although one went to a tiebreaker.
   Another wild card, 16-year-old Zachary Svajda of San Diego, will meet 6-foot-8 (2.03-meter) Michael Redlicki, a 25-year-old Chicago native. Svajda won the USTA boys 18 singles title in August to earn an automatic wild card in the U.S. Open and extended Paolo Lorenzi, a 37-year-old Italian, to five sets in the opening round.
   In a final-round qualifying match, Dennis Novikov, a 25-year-old San Jose product, will face Sem Verbeek, a former University of the Pacific star from the Netherlands, at 10 a.m.
   Here are the Fairfield singles and doubles draws and Monday's schedule. Live streaming is available.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Sock, formerly No. 8, set to play in Fairfield Challenger

Jack Sock reacts during an exhibition against Roger Federer last year in San Jose.
Photo by Mal Taam
   Jack Sock, a former top-10 singles player and a three-time Grand Slam men's doubles champion, is scheduled to play in his first Challenger in more than five years next week in Fairfield, Calif.
   Sock, who has plunged from a career-high No. 8 in singles in November 2017 to No. 210, is seeded 14th in the $108,320 NorthBay Healthcare Men's Pro Championship at Solano Community College.
   Steve Johnson, who won his second Aptos (Calif.) Challenger singles title in August, is seeded first at No. 98. Johnson and Sock, U.S. Davis Cup teammates, won the bronze medal in men's doubles in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
   All 16 seeds in Fairfield, 41 miles (66 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco, received first-round byes. Johnson and Sock will open in singles on Tuesday or Wednesday. Defending champion Bjorn Fratangelo, a 26-year-old Pittsburgh native, withdrew with an undisclosed injury.
   Sock, 27, of Kansas City, Kan., will play in a Challenger for the first time since losing to Nick Kyrgios in the final of a $50,000 clay-court tournament in Savannah, Ga., in April 2014. Sock won the 2012 Tiburon (Calif.) Challenger and reached the singles quarterfinals and doubles final (with compatriot Nicholas Monroe) in the 2011 Sacramento (Calif.) Challenger at age 19.
   Sock went 9-22 in singles in 2018, underwent surgery for torn ligaments in a finger on his right (playing) hand last February and missed six months. He is 1-5 in singles this year.
   Collin Altamirano, 23, of Sacramento is scheduled to play wild card Brandon Holt, a USC senior and the son of International Tennis Hall of Famer Tracy Austin, in the first round. Holt has not lost a set to Altamirano in two career meetings, although one set went to a tiebreaker.
   Altamirano, who in 2013 became the first unseeded player to win the USTA boys 18 singles championship, lost eventual runner-up Alex Bolt of Australia in the second round in the best match of last year's tournament.
   Zachary Svajda, a 16-year-old wild card from San Diego, is set to play 6-foot-8 (2.03-meter) Michael Redlicki, a 25-year-old Chicago native, in the opening round.
   Svajda won the USTA boys 18 singles title in August to earn an automatic wild card in the U.S. Open and extended Paolo Lorenzi, a 37-year-old Italian, to five sets in the first round.
   Here's the Fairfield singles main draw.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Ma, 16, leads U.S. to title; Tursunov, Sabalenka reunite

Connie Ma, playing in the $60,000 Berkeley (Calif.)
Challenger in July, led the United States to its third
consecutive Junior Fed Cup title on Sunday. Photo
by Paul Bauman  
   Connie Ma, 16, of Dublin in the San Francisco Bay Area led the United States to a 2-1 victory over the Czech Republic in the Junior Fed Cup final on Sunday in Lake Nona, Fla.
   In the deciding match on clay at the USTA National Campus, Ma and Robin Montgomery, 15, defeated 14-year-old Linda Noskova, replacing injured Darja Vidmanova, and 15-year-old Barbora Palicova 6-2, 7-5.
   Ma gave the United States a 1-0 lead with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Palicova at No. 2 singles. Noskova evened the match by defeating 15-year-old Katrina Scott 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.
   "So solid in singles," U.S. captain Jamea Jackson told ZooTennis regarding Ma's performance during the week. "(She allowed) nothing for free. And when things came down to the wire in doubles, she stepped it up to a whole other level. That's what great competitors do. I was so proud of her. This is her second year doing this, and just to see her grow up and blossom before my eyes, it's one of the rewarding parts of what we do."
   It was the third consecutive Junior Fed Cup title for the Americans and second straight for Ma. She played on last year's team, but not in the final against Ukraine.
   Tursunov returns – Two days after Aryna Sabalenka fired coach Dmitry Tursunov in late August, the 21-year-old star from Belarus rehired him, according to Tursunov.
   Sabalenka, the San Jose runner-up in August, won her fourth career WTA singles title last week in Wuhan, China, surprising top-ranked Ashleigh Barty in the semifinals.
   Also, Sabalenka won her first Grand Slam title in the U.S. Open last month, teaming with Elise Mertens of Belgium in women's doubles.
   Sabalenka is ranked No. 14 in singles and No. 5 in doubles.
   Tursunov, a 36-year-old Moscow native, trained in Northern California as a junior and professional. He reached a career-high No. 20 and played on Russia's Davis Cup championship team in 2016.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Paul tops Kokkinakis for $108K Tiburon title

Tommy Paul, right, beat Thanasi Kokkinakis 7-5, 6-7 (3), 6-4 on Sunday to win
the $108,320 First Republic Tiburon (Calif.) Challenger. Photo by Natalie Kim
   Tommy Paul overcame a determined opponent, the wind and a sore shoulder on Sunday to win his third Challenger singles title of the year.
   The top-seeded Paul, from Greenville, N.C., outlasted eighth-seeded Thanasi Kokkinakis of Australia 7-5, 6-7 (3), 6-4 in the $108,320 First Republic Tiburon Challenger.
   Paul broke the 6-foot-4 (1.93-meter) Kokkinakis' serve at love in the final game of the 2-hour, 46-minute match at the Tiburon Peninsula Club. Kokkinakis double-faulted for 0-30 and missed his first serve on the next two points. It was the only break of the third set.
   For the second consecutive day, USTA supervisor Keith Crossland was called onto Center Court. Crossland assessed Kokkinakis a game penalty for taking too long of a bathroom break after the second set. Kokkinakis then uttered an audible obscenity while arguing with chair umpire Roger Pennington but was not penalized.
   On Saturday, Crossland defaulted doubles player Alex Lawson, a 25-year-old left-hander from Tempe, Ariz., for swatting a ball into the VIP seats.
   Paul, 22, earned $14,400 and rose six places to a career-high No. 81.
   Kokkinakis, 23, received $8,480 and improved 22 spots to No. 161. He was playing in only his ninth tournament, and first final, of the year because of a nagging pectoral injury.
   Kokkinakis climbed as high as No. 69 at age 18 in 2015 before injuries derailed his career. Last year, he shocked Roger Federer in the second round in Miami and won a $100,000 Challenger in Aptos, Calif., 98 miles (157 kilometers) south of Tiburon. 
   Here are the complete Tiburon singles and doubles draws.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Doubles player defaulted; Paul, Aussie reach singles final

Thanasi Kokkinakis, shown en route to the title in Aptos, Calif.,
last year, will try to win another Northern California Challenger
on Sunday. Photo by Paul Bauman
   After a scary moment in the doubles semifinals, Tommy Paul and Thanasi Kokkinakis reached the singles final in the $108,320 First Republic Tiburon (Calif.) Challenger.
   Alex Lawson, seeded second with fellow American Jackson Withrow, was defaulted for swatting a ball into the seats today during a match tiebreaker against third-seeded Robert Galloway of Greenville, S.C., and Roberto Maytin of Venezuela.
   After Lawson sailed a moonball long on his serve for a 1-3 deficit, a ballboy tossed a ball to him to serve again. Lawson swung at the ball, apparently intending to bash it high in the air.
   Instead, the ball zoomed into the VIP seats, striking a middle-aged man in the back. The man, who was not injured, was standing at a banquet table behind the seats with his back to the court.
   Lawson immediately dropped his racket, put his head in his hands in dismay and ran to the stands. USTA supervisor Keith Crossland, who was watching the match, promptly defaulted the 25-year-old former Notre Dame All-American, who's ranked No. 139 in doubles.
   The top-seeded Paul, 22, of Greenville, N.C., beat fourth-seeded Emilio Gomez of Ecuador 6-1, 7-5 on a windy day to tie their head-to-head series 1-1. Gomez, the son of 1990 French Open champion Andres Gomez, defeated Paul, the 2015 French Open boys singles champion, 6-2, 6-2 on clay in the final of the $54,160 Tallahassee (Fla.) Challenger in April.
   The eighth-seeded Kokkinakis, a 23-year-old Australian who has battled a pectoral injury all year, topped 14th-seeded Thai-Son Kwiatkowski of Charlottesville, Va., 2-6, 6-2, 6-1.
   Last year, Kokkinakis stunned Roger Federer in the second round in Miami and won a $100,000 Challenger in Aptos, Calif., 98 miles (157 kilometers) south of Tiburon.
   Kwiatkowski won the 2017 NCAA singles title as a University of Virginia senior.
   Paul, the only top-100 player in the singles draw at No. 87, and Kokkinakis, ranked No. 183, will meet for the first time on Sunday not before 2 p.m. Kokkinakis climbed as high as No. 69 at 18 in 2015 before injuries derailed his career.
   Here are the updated Tiburon singles and doubles draws and Sunday's schedule.

For top seed Paul, narrow win in Tiburon tastes good

Tommy Paul, playing in Tiburon last year, took a swig
of beer after edging Gonzalo Escobar in Friday's quar-
terfinals. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Tommy Paul didn't wait long to celebrate his narrow victory over Gonzalo Escobar.
   After shaking hands with Escobar, Paul walked to the side of the court opposite the chair umpire and took a swig of beer from an unattended pitcher sitting on the first row of the stands.
   The top-seeded Paul, from Greenville, N.C., edged the unseeded Escobar, from Ecuador, 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 (2) on Friday in the quarterfinals of the $108,320 First Republic Tiburon Challenger at the Tiburon Peninsula Club.
   Paul, the only top-100 player in the field at No. 87, is scheduled to meet another Ecuadorian, fourth-seeded Emilio Gomez, today at about 4:30 p.m. Gomez, ranked No. 158, beat unseeded Sekou Bangoura of Bradenton, Fla., 6-3, 1-6, 6-2.
   Gomez, the son of 1990 French Open champion Andres Gomez, defeated Paul, the 2015 French Open boys singles champion, 6-2, 6-2 on clay in the final of the $54,160 Tallahassee (Fla.) Challenger in April in their only previous meeting.
   In today's first semifinal at 2:30 p.m., eighth-seeded Thanasi Kokkinakis of Australia will play 14th-seeded Thai-Son Kwiatkowski of Charlottesville, Va., for the first time.
   Kokkinakis, ranked No. 183, dispatched 16th-seeded Maxime Cressy, a 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Paris native who plays for the United States, 6-4, 6-2.
   Kokkinakis reached a career-high No. 69 at age 18 in 2015 before injuries derailed his career. He shocked Roger Federer in the second round in Miami and won the $100,000 Aptos (Calif.) Challenger last year.
   Cressy and Keegan Smith of UCLA won the NCAA doubles title in May.
   Kwiatkowski, the 2017 NCAA singles champion from the University of Virginia, nipped wild card Brandon Nakashima, a Virginia sophomore from San Diego, 7-5, 1-6, 7-6 (6).
   Here are the updated Tiburon singles and doubles draws and today's schedule.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Kwiatkowski tops third-seeded Giron in $108K Tiburon

   In a matchup of former NCAA singles champions, 14th-seeded Thai-Son Kwiatkowski of Charlottesville, Va., outlasted third-seeded Marcos Giron of Thousand Oaks in the Los Angeles area 4-6, 7-6 (3), 6-4 today to reach the quarterfinals of the $108,320 First Republic Tiburon Challenger at the Tiburon Peninsula Club.
   Kwiatkowski (University of Virginia) and Giron (UCLA) won the NCAA singles crown in 2017 and 2014, respectively.
   Kwiatkowski improved to 2-0 against Giron, also winning 6-4 in the third set in the first round of qualifying in Fairfield, Calif., last October.
   Also losing today were fifth-seeded Mikael Torpegaard of Denmark, seventh seed and 2016 Tiburon champion Darian King of Barbados and 10th-seeded Christopher Eubanks of Atlanta.
   Gonzalo Escobar of Ecuador toppled Torpegaard, a former Ohio State All-American, 6-4, 7-6 (9). Torpegaard reached the 2018 NCAA singles quarterfinals and doubles final with Martin Joyce.
   Sekou Bangoura of Bradenton, Fla., eliminated King 1-6, 6-4, 6-0 after knocking off 12th seed and 2013 Tiburon champion Peter Polansky of Canada on Wednesday. Polansky, 31, won last week's $54,160 Columbus (Ohio) Challenger on an indoor hard court.
   Wild card Brandon Nakashima, a Virginia sophomore from San Diego, surprised the 6-foot-7 (2.01-meter) Eubanks 7-6 (5), 7-5 one day after ousting sixth seed and defending champion Michael Mmoh.
   Only three of the top 13 seeds reached Friday's quarterfinals. Advancing were top-seeded Tommy Paul of Greenville, N.C., fourth-seeded Emilio Gomez of Ecuador and eighth-seeded Thanasi Kokkinakis of Australia.
   Gomez's father, Andres Gomez, won the 1990 French Open. Kokkinakis stunned Roger Federer last year in Miami.
   Here are the updated Tiburon singles and doubles draws and Friday's schedule.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Defending champ, 2013 winner fall in Tiburon openers

   Two Tiburon champions lost their opening matches in this year's Challenger, and a third nearly joined them.
   Wild card Brandon Nakashima, a University of Virginia sophomore from San Diego, ousted sixth seed and defending champion Michael Mmoh of Bradenton, Fla., 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 today in the second round at the Tiburon Peninsula Club. All 16 singles seeds received first-round byes.
   Mmoh, also the Tiburon runner-up in 2016, cracked the top 100 for the first time at No. 96 by winning last year's tournament for his second title in two weeks. But the 21-year-old son of former pro player Tony Mmoh will plummet 79 places to No. 287 on Monday. Michael Mmoh sat out for four months early this year because of injuries.
   Also today, Sekou Bangoura of Bradenton beat 12th seed and 2013 Tiburon champion Peter Polansky of Canada 6-1, 6-4. Polansky, 31, won last week's $54,160 Columbus (Ohio) Challenger on an indoor hard court.
   Bangoura also surprised fourth-seeded Dustin Brown, a German who's 2-0 against Rafael Nadal, in the first round at Tiburon in 2015 as a qualifier before losing to Mackenzie McDonald of nearby Piedmont in the second round.
   Seventh-seeded Darian King, the 2016 Tiburon champion from Barbados, topped another 21-year-old American, Ulises Blanch, 2-6, 7-6 (2), 7-5.
   Meanwhile, Ecuador's Roberto Quiroz, a Columbus semifinalist last week, dispatched second-seeded Denis Kudla, a 27-year-old American who lost a thriller in the 2015 Tiburon final, 6-3, 6-2 in 61 minutes.
   Top-seeded Tommy Paul of Greenville, N.C., beat wild card Brandon Holt, a USC senior and the son of International Tennis Hall of Famer Tracy Austin, 5-7, 6-3, 6-2. Paul also defeated Holt in the second round in Tiburon last year, 5-0, retired (shoulder).
   Here are the updated Tiburon singles and doubles draws and Thursday's schedule.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Legends share compelling stories, including opioid battle

Left to right, International Tennis Hall of Famers Rosemary Casals, Charlie
Pasarell and Dennis Ralston answer questions during the Sutter Lawn Tennis
Club's 100th-anniversary celebration on Saturday night in Sacramento. Photo
by Paul Bauman
   SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Dennis Ralston overcame an opioid addiction.
   Rosemary Casals and Charlie Pasarell played key roles in the astronomical growth of professional tennis over the past 50 years.
   The three International Tennis Hall of Famers, who played in the Central California Championships early in their careers, returned to the Sutter Lawn Tennis Club on Saturday night to help celebrate its 100th anniversary. Sutter Lawn is one of 10 clubs in the United States and 77 in the world that are at least that old.
   Ralston, Casals and Pasarell told several poignant stories during a Q&A with emcee Pam Shriver, another Hall of Famer.
   Ralston, a 77-year-old native of Bakersfield in Southern California, was dubbed "Dennis the Menace" during his playing days. He won five Grand Slam men's doubles titles, reached the 1966 Wimbledon singles final, played on one Davis Cup championship team and served as the captain (coach) on another.
   But Ralston paid a heavy price for his success. He underwent eight operations on each knee, and his left leg was amputated below the knee in 2010 because of an infection after foot surgery.
   After retiring in 1977, Ralston coached Hall of Famers Chris Evert, Gabriela Sabatini and Yannick Noah and the Southern Methodist University men.
   Casals, a 71-year-old San Francisco native, helped launch the first women's pro circuit in 1970. She amassed 112 doubles titles, second in the Open era (since 1968) behind Martina Navratilova's 177.
   Casals won 12 Grand Slam crowns (nine in women's doubles and three in mixed doubles). They include five at Wimbledon and two in the U.S. championships with Billie Jean King.
   In singles, Casals reached two U.S. Open finals and climbed as high as No. 3 in 1970.
   Shriver called the 5-foot-2 (1.57-meter) Casals "pound-for-pound the greatest player in women's tennis history."
   Pasarell, 75, from Puerto Rico was inducted into the Hall of Fame as a contributor. He helped found the Association of Tennis Professionals in 1972 and built the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells into what is considered "the fifth Grand Slam."
   Also an outstanding player, Pasarell was ranked No. 1 in the United States in 1967 and No. 11 in the world in 1966.
   In 1969, Pasarell and Pancho Gonzales played the longest match in Wimbledon history until John Isner and Nicolas Mahut broke the record in 2010. Gonzales, then 41, outlasted Pasarell, 25 at the time, 22-24, 1-6, 16-14, 6-3, 11-9 in 5 hours, 12 minutes.
   Following are highlights from Saturday night's Q&A.
   Ralston: I came up here in 1964 because I was kicked off the Davis Cup team for a match in Bakersfield. The captain had scheduled a match against Canada at my home club, which is very much like Sutter Lawn – a real family club with nice people. The reason I got kicked off was I got married in 1964, and I went on the six-week Caribbean circuit with Linda, who's still my wife – lucky for me ... 56 years, that's a long time ... poor girl ... I've been blessed. She got very sick in Baranquilla, Colombia, so she came home, but I had to play a few more tournaments.
   The last tournament I had to play was in River Oaks in Houston. George MacCall, the Davis Cup captain, could tell you who you had to play with. He told me I had to play doubles with a gentleman named Ham Richardson, who was a good player.
   I said, "George, I don't really want to play doubles in River Oaks. If I lose (in singles), I want to go home." He said, "You have to play doubles with Richardson. We're thinking you guys might be the (Davis Cup doubles) team for this year. I said, "Well, I don't want to play doubles."
   He didn't listen to me, and I lost my singles. He entered me in the doubles with Richardson, and I went to the tournament director and said, "If I play, I'm going to tank." I had tanked a match in Australia in 1962. It was embarrassing; I was such a baby and such an idiot. The guy would serve, and I'd hit the ball over the fence. There were about 5,000 people watching and booing me. That's why I made No. 10 in the Bad Boys of the Game.
   I vowed I would never tank a match again, and I knew if I played this doubles match, I wasn't going to try. So I went to the airport in Houston. In those days, they had that white phone. You could call people and say, "Please, Pam Shriver, the white phone is for you – answer it." I knew it was George MacCall. He had tracked me down at the airport, and I didn't answer it.
   I flew home to Bakersfield. When I got home, George said, "You're off the team" for the match at my home club. And I said, "Well, that's nice." I got a call from Bill Demas (the tournament director of the Central California Championships), and I came up here. I had a great week at Sutter Lawn, winning the singles and doubles. They would call Bakersfield during the Davis Cup match and tell the people at the stadium the score over the loudspeaker.
   So Bakersfield was pretty happy. Originally, they weren't going to have the match because I didn't play, but I said, "You've got to have the Davis Cup," which is a real honor.
   Shriver: Charlie, I assume since you're from Puerto Rico that, like me from Baltimore, you hadn't heard of this club as a junior. Was your first recollection of this club when you were a college player at UCLA?
   Pasarell: No, I used to read World Tennis magazine. Sutter Lawn was much talked about in World Tennis. I used to read all the results when I was 8, 9, 10 years old. I knew about this club and California. I had to come to California all the way from Puerto Rico if I wanted to become a good tennis player.
   Unfortunately, I only got to play (at Sutter Lawn) one year. That was in 1968. (Former UCLA teammate) Arthur (Ashe) and I were in the U.S. Army, and we were part of the U.S. Davis Cup team. We could get some leave to go play Davis Cup matches. We played this tournament to prepare for a match against Colombia in Charlotte, North Carolina.
   We finished the tournament and went to the train station because Robert F. Kennedy was running for president. He would have won the Democratic nomination. Bobby was a good friend of ours, and we went to the station to meet the train and listen to his speech. We were in the caboose while he was giving the speech at the station. Afterward, he came and talked to us for about 45 minutes or an hour. He was feeling very up.
   We got on a plane and flew to Charlotte to play the Davis Cup match. Dennis was our Davis Cup coach, and he met us there. The next night, we heard on the television that he had been shot, so we were with him in the last 24 hours. Maybe it's not a nice way to remember Sutter Lawn, but it certainly was a meaningful time in our lives.
   Shriver: Rosie, when you reflect on the Original 9 (women's tennis pioneers) and the recent U.S. Open, what stands out to you about how our sport has grown?
   Casals: It's definitely evolved from the '60s and'70s, the Open era coming in with prize money. (Bianca) Andreescu won $3.85 million ... wow! I think it took Billie Jean a whole year to win $100,000. When we started, we were playing for $10,000 total prize money (in tournaments), so it took a long time to make $100,000.
   I'm proud to be one of the Original 9 who took that risk (to sign $1 contracts) with Gladys Heldman to start the women's tour. We were very fortunate to get Virginia Slims on board. They knew how to market, and they had the dollars to put women's tennis on the map.
   Even further, the "Battle of the Sexes" in 1973 really put women's tennis on the map. God knows what would happened if Billie Jean had lost that match (against 55-year-old Bobby Riggs). We know what happened when Margaret Court lost her match (to Riggs). That meant (King) had to play.
   I remember coming back from Japan (with King) and stopping in Hawaii. They had those little TV sets at the airport where you put your quarter in to see what was going on. We saw that (Court) was down a set and 5-2, and I said, "I can't believe she's going to lose." Billie Jean said, "If she loses, damn it, I've going to have to play him." That's what happened.
   Tennis is in pretty good shape, and I'm very proud to be a part of all that.
   Shriver: Tell us what happened this morning because you've done quite the doubleheader, speaking of Billie Jean King.
   Casals: They named the Long Beach library the Billie Jean King Library. It was a great moment obviously for her to come back to (her hometown of) Long Beach and a great honor. It's a beautiful building. ... It wasn't a long flight (from Long Beach to Sacramento).
   Shriver: Dennis, when you watch a match – maybe the U.S. Open final between (Daniil) Medvedev and (Rafael) Nadal that had plenty of tactics or the Wimbledon final – put your coaching hat on and share with us what you might say to a player you were coaching in today's game.
   Ralston: The gal from Canada, (Bianca) Andreescu, played really well in the U.S. Open. I think Serena (Williams) has made a remarkable comeback, but it's really tough when you're out for a period of time. Whether she continues to try to get that (24th Grand Slam singles title to tie Court's record), that's up to her and her team. I think she has to get in better shape because physically she hasn't played a lot of matdches.
   I thought the men's final was going to be boring. For the first two sets, it was. I happened to come in at 3-all in the third set. I've watched a lot of tennis in my 70-plus years in the game, and I was on the edge of my seat. That Medvedev guy, he's (6-foot-6, 1.98 meters), he moves like a cat, and he's as smart as a whip. He played unbelievable. You could never tell that the guy was down. He changed tactics. He was the first guy I've seen to do something other than try to beat Nadal from the baseline. Nadal was lucky to win that match.
   You asked Rosie about (tennis' growth). When I won Wimbledon (doubles) in 1960, I got a £5 – $7.50 – voucher for a sweater at Lillywhites. Now, I think you get £50,000 if you lose in the first round, plus your hotel. I kind of think the money has gone crazy, but all sports have gone crazy. Guys that hit .250 are making $50 million in baseball. It's just the way it is.
   People say, "Don't you feel bad that you didn't make a lot of money?" I say, "No, I played at a great time. I've had a great life, and I'm very blessed to have the memories that this great game has given me. ... I wouldn't change anything."
   Shriver: I think most of us feel that way. You play when you play. I played when Chris Evert was winning 18 singles majors and Martina Navratilova was winning 18 singles majors. Then Steffi Graf came along and won 22 singles majors. Monica Seles was probably on her way to winning 20 singles majors when the tragic thing happened in Hamburg.
   It's tough if you're on the men's tour right now. Charlie, how frustrating would it be if you were a top-10 player for as long as people like (Jo-Wilfried) Tsonga or (David) Ferrer, and you played in the era of Nadal, (Roger) Federer, (Novak) Djokovic, and then throw (Andy) Murray and (Stan) Wawrinka in there.
   Pasarell: It's very frustrating. I want to talk first about women's tennis. I think women's tennis is wide open today. There are 50 girls that could win any tournament at any given time, including the majors. That's very exciting, in my opinion.
   Men's tennis is an interesting thing. Since 2005, only seven players have won the majors (in singles): Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, Wawrinka, Murray, (Marin) Cilic and  (Juan Martin) del Potro. So think about how frustrating it would be all those young players who have been trying to come up the last 15 years or so. It'll change.
   I grew up in a generation of players that I am so fortunate and so proud to be among: Arthur Ashe, Billie Jean King, Rosie, Dennis and Cliff Drysdale. They had a huge impact on the game. We were in our prime when (pros weren't allowed in the major tournaments). The first year of Open tennis was 1968. It didn't happen accidentally. It happened because all of us felt we needed to make this game bigger and better. To Rosie's point, (the pioneers) said, "Someday we'll be playing for a million dollars." Well, a million dollars now is nothing in some of these big tournaments.
   Billie Jean and Arthur went outside of the tennis court and had a huge impact on society. Those are the people I grew up with. I really consider myself to be very fortunate to have been part of that generation.
   Ralston: This is way off the mark from tennis, but you've probably all read about the pharmaceutical mess that the world's going through. I was one of those victims of the pills. I took stuff for 10 years, and I can tell you it is absolutely insidious and horrible.
   I had knee problems all my life, and two doctors told me, "You'll take these for the rest of your life. You'll be fine; it's OK." That was when the pendulum swung toward chronic pain was not good for you. I went to (the) Betty Ford (Center) for one month to get off this stuff, and I vowed if I made it out of Betty Ford, any chance I had to talk to an audience, I would say this: One out of four of you could be around somebody who's taking this stuff from Purdue Pharma, basically OxyContin and Vicodin, and you don't know how dangerous it is.
   The last prescription they gave me – if you can believe this; some of you are doctors here – was for 12-a-day, 80-milligram OxyContin pills. And they were giving me Adderall to stay awake during the day and sleeping pills at night. That was 2010 when I went to Betty Ford, and thanks to Charlie and a lot of other people, my family – I had intervention – I got off this stuff, and it was not easy. I could have been dead; some scary stuff happened.
   If you know someone that's dealing with that, help them. Don't let them say, "I don't need your help," because it's a worldwide epidemic, especially in the United States. It's bigger than you think.
   Rehab is not a lot of fun. I used to live in Palm Desert, and I'd go by Betty Ford and say, "Oh, those poor people." I learned so much. I was there with Lindsay Lohan. She had to listen to a couple of my talks. They asked you to get up and say, "I'm an addict," and all this stuff. I met a guy there who was in charge of Asian medicine, and he really helped me. He said, "You're not an addict – you're addicted." I never took the stuff illegally; I took it prescribed, but I was addicted to the stuff.
   Shriver: In 2010, it sounds like you had one of your great matches, and you had a win, so congratulations, Dennis, and thanks for sharing.

Escobedo advances as Young quits in $108K Tiburon

Ernesto Escobedo, playing in Aptos, Calif., last month,
is ranked No. 218 after reaching a career-high No. 67
in 2017. Photo by Paul Bauman 
   In a clash of American former top-100 players, 15th-seeded Ernesto Escobedo beat Donald Young 6-1, 4-2, retired today in the second round of the $108,320 First Republic Tiburon (Calif.) Challenger at the Tiburon Peninsula Club.
   Escobedo, 23, is ranked No. 218 after reaching a career-high No. 67 in 2017. He won the title in Granby, Quebec, and advanced to the semis in Aptos, Calif., in consecutive Challengers over the summer.
   Young, a 30-year-old left-hander, has tumbled from a career-high No. 38 in 2012 to No. 242. He has reached the third round of a tournament only once since April.
   Escobedo is scheduled to play fourth-seeded Emilio Gomez of Ecuador on Thursday. Gomez, the 27-year-old son of 1990 French Open champion Andres Gomez and a semifinalist last week in Columbus, Ohio, outlasted Michael Pervolarakis of Greece 5-7, 6-0, 6-4.
   Fifth-seeded Mikael Torpegaard of Denmark beat Ryan Peniston of Great Britain 4-6, 6-4, 6-4. Torpegaard, 25, reached the quarterfinals in Columbus, where he starred at Ohio State. Torpegaard advanced to the NCAA singles quarterfinals and doubles final with Martin Joyce last year.
   Another former Buckeyes standout, 20-year-old J.J. Wolf, topped American Alexander Sarkissian, the 2014 NCAA runner-up from Pepperdine, 6-7 (3), 7-6 (3), 6-4 in 2 hours, 39 minutes. Wolf reached the Columbus final, losing to Peter Polansky of Canada.
   Polansky, the 2013 Tiburon champion, is set to play American Sekou Bangoura on Wednesday in the second round. All 16 singles seeds received first-round byes.
   Here are the updated Tiburon singles and doubles draws and Wednesday's schedule.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Shriver says Serena era could be over

Pam Shriver emcees the Sutter Lawn Tennis
Club's 100th-anniversary celebration on Satur-
day night in Sacramento. Photo by Paul Bauman
   SACRAMENTO, Calif. – She formed half of perhaps the greatest women's doubles team in history.
   Pam Shriver teamed with Martina Navratilova to win 20 Grand Slam doubles titles, tied for the record with Louise Brough and Margaret Osborne duPont. Venus and Serena Williams are tied for third place at 14 with Gigi Fernandez and Natasha Zvereva.
   Shriver also won one Grand Slam doubles title with Zvereva, a major mixed doubles crown with Spain's Emilio Sanchez and the Olympic gold medal in women's doubles with Zina Garrison at Seoul in 1988.
   In singles, Shriver reached one Grand Slam final, at 16 in the 1978 U.S. Open, and a career-high No. 3 in 1984. She was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2002.
   Now an ESPN commentator, Shriver emceed the Sutter Lawn Tennis Club's 100th-anniversary celebration on Saturday night. Sutter Lawn is one of 10 clubs in the United States and 77 in the world that are at least that old.
   After dinner, Shriver conducted a Q&A with Hall of Famers Rosemary Casals, a San Francisco native; Dennis Ralston, a native of Bakersfield in Southern California; and Charlie Pasarell, who was inducted in the contributor category. All but Shriver, 57, played in the Central California Championships at Sutter Lawn. The tournament ended after the 1972 edition.
   Shriver lives in Brentwood in West Los Angeles with her three children – George Jr., 15, and twins Kate and Sam, 13 – all with her ex-husband, Australian actor George Lazenby.
   Shriver's first husband, former Walt Disney Company lawyer Joe Shapiro, died of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma 20 years ago today. One of her two siblings, Marion, died of cancer at 37 in 1997.
   Shriver, a Baltimore native and minority owner of the Orioles, spoke insightfully and candidly to a reporter during Saturday night's festivities.
   Q: Have you been to Sacramento before?
   A: Yes, I have. A couple of momentous occasions – when my twins came up here from L.A. three and a half years ago for an overnight gold-panning camp in Old Sacramento, so I went on a field trip, and our beloved golden retriever came from a nearby mom-and-pop breeder. They do one litter a year, and I got the last pup. The last time I was at the airport before today was three years ago when I picked up our beautiful Bo. It's short for Lamborghini because that's my oldest child's idea of a great car to have at some point in his life.
   Q: How surprised were you by Bianca Andreescu's victory over Serena in the U.S. Open final?
   A: Before the tournament, she was my outside pick based on winning Indian Wells and in her home country of Canada. She was injured a lot in between, but I just thought this kid can win the big ones and she seemed to have something special. She showed that in New York. She didn't play her best, a little like when (Naomi) Osaka won the Australian Open this year. (Andreescu) was able to win without playing her best, but she played a great final, even when Serena made the charge.
   Q: What makes Andreescu special?
   A: Her forehand is maybe the best groundstroke in women's tennis right now. She's an athletic, powerful mover. She's only 19. You can kind of see where she got the bad shoulder because her serve is a weapon. She has a pretty live arm. She's going to have to watch that and take care of it.
   To me, the most impressive thing was the intangibles, her belief under great pressure. And there was no greater pressure than when Serena got back to 5-all because (Andreescu) already had a set and 5-1 to win her first major. She was still able to win it from there.
   Q: Serena will turn 38 on Thursday. How much longer do you think she'll play, and how many Grand Slam singles titles will she end up with?
   A: It's really been a huge setback to lose four straight major finals, not winning a set. She has to work hard physically and emotionally to get over that. One of the things I don't know is her commitment to truly working not for just a month or two but for a full 12 months. I think she can win one or two more, but it's gotten a lot harder. The surface and conditions at the Australian Open are tough – even though she's won it (seven) times – whether it's a heat wave or the hardcourts being tough on her knee.
   You look at women's tennis, and even though there hasn't been a great champion step up besides Serena in this era, the depth one through 20 is crazy. Sometimes you can look at players ranked 10 through 18, and they look almost the same as two through 10. It's who finds their game at the right time, like Sloane (Stephens) two years ago at the (U.S.) Open or (Jelena) Ostapenko at the French two and a half years ago – I mean some crazy results.
   Going back to Serena, I thought she would have won either the Wimbledon final or the U.S. Open final. Now I'm a little concerned. It may be a lot harder even getting to a final. But nothing she does will surprise me. I'm just saying there have been a lot of emotional scars the last two years. 
   Q: You wouldn't be surprised if she didn't win any more Slams?
   A: No, I wouldn't be surprised at all. And I wouldn't be surprised if she passed Margaret Court. She could end up just tying her, maybe eke out one more at Wimbledon next year. Even in six or nine months, her serve can still be the best in women's tennis. (But) her serve hasn't been as consistent. Her movement is not as good, and she can't play defense like she did. In my mind, she's a good step down from her peak.
Charlie Pasarell, second from left, an International Tennis Hall of Famer in the
contributor category, toasts Sutter Lawn's 100th anniversary. Also shown, left to
right, are Hall of Famers Rosemary Casals, Dennis Ralston and Pam Shriver.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   Q: Is Coco Gauff the real deal?
   A: She looks like it. It's way too early to tell for sure. I think she has some flaws with her forehand and second serve. She needs to not get on the full-time professional training mentality. She still needs to develop her game. (She has) world-class movement. She could be one of the top two of three movers in the women's game right now. I saw her close some gaps – where the ball was and from courtside where she was – and I was astounded by how quickly she covered the court. She has great power for 15.
   She looks like the real deal, but there's so many things that can happen – injuries, you get sidetracked, you don't develop your game ... you never know.
   Q: Do you see her winning multiple Slams?
   A: Based on what we saw this summer – if she loves it and stays healthy, she should have a 20-year career – yes. But it's never a sure thing. You're talking to someone who got to the (singles) final of the U.S. Open in my second major. I never got back. Everybody said, 'You're going to win many of 'em.' I didn't. I'm maybe more skeptical than some, (but) it's not an automatic.
   Q: Roger Federer turned 38 last month. How much longer do you think he'll play, and will he win any more Slams?
   A: I think he'll play one more (calendar) year, then he'll play his last tournament in 2021, maybe Wimbledon. That's almost two years. That's just a hunch. If he's still enjoying it, he might see if he can stay in the top 10 after 40.
   Some of his lackluster play at the U.S. Open (losing to Grigor Dimitrov in the quarterfinals) was because of the leftover sadness from not closing out Wimbledon. To have (almost) gotten to 21 (Slams) against (Novak) Djokovic, that was a big match for history, and he came up short on the (two championship) points. He says he gets over things quickly, but no one gets over that loss, not even Federer.
   If he stays healthy, he's still dangerous. He's gotten tactically smarter as a player. So has Serena, actually. As you get older, sometimes you lose a little bit of your physical gifts, but you can get smarter as a player, and I think he's done that.
   Q: Who will end up with the most Slams – Federer, Rafael Nadal or Djokovic?
   A: Right now, most people would bet on Djokovic because of his age (32). The shoulder thing I think is a bit of a fluke – the left shoulder. It could be Djokovic at the end of the day. I don't think it'll be Federer, which is going to upset a lot of Fed fans, but there are two guys who are considerably younger, and Nadal is only one behind him. And Nadal (33) is going to still be a favorite to win two of the next three French Opens. I think he'll lose at least one of the next three. Nadal is always this close to having another serious knee injury, but he seems to have figured out how to manage it. (Platelet-rich plasma therapy) seems to have really helped.
Left to right, ex-pro doubles specialist Christina Hinds (formerly Fusano),
current pro doubles star Raquel Atawo (formerly Kops-Jones) and Sacramento
Mayor Darrell Steinberg appear on the stage at Sutter Lawn on Saturday night.
Hinds and Atawo won the 2003 NCAA doubles title while playing for Cal. Both
live in Sacramento. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Q: No U.S. man has won a Grand Slam singles title since Andy Roddick in the 2003 U.S. Open. How much longer will the drought last, and who will end it?
   A: First off, from when I played (1979-97) and everything that happened before me and everything that happened after I finished, if you had told me we'd go 16 years between U.S. men's major champions, I would never have believed it. I could only believe it if I had seen what happened in the last 16 years.
   As soon as the Big Three are no longer grabbing hold of virtually every one, a lot of them will be up for grabs, just like in the women's game. That'll be the time when they have a better chance. Someone might sneak in there and win one. But honestly, I still don't see anybody where I'd say they're going to win one. You can look at (Dominic) Thiem and say eventually he'll win a French Open. The way (Daniil) Medvedev tactically plays the game, you sort of see him winning a few.
   (Frances) Tiafoe? Is he going to decide he's going to train and be a professional tennis player year-round, or is he going to dip in and out with his dedication?
   I'll just take a guess – (the drought will end) in the next five years. I think it'll be right around the 20-year mark. It would be a great story if (34-year-old John) Isner could sneak in before he retires, but he's going to have a harder and harder time staying healthy through a two-week run at a major, three-out-of-five sets.
   Q: Any guesses as to who will end the drought?
   A: I'd like to see Frances – he's from my home state – step up and be consistent, be really hungry and really, really want to be a major champion. You see what Nadal, Federer, Djokovic, even Stan Wawrinka go through. Look what Andy Murray went through to win his three. Frances has the background to be that hungry – his family came from nothing. To be a major champion, you have to be determined to leave no stone unturned.
   Q: You haven't seen that commitment from Tiafoe?
   A: Not yet, but guys mature later. It's not to say he won't, but you kind of look at people's patterns. People develop patterns pretty early. I like him a lot. He's fun.
   Q: Can you see Taylor Fritz or Reilly Opelka ending the drought?
   A: Fritz's improvement since he became a dad has been a little bit surprising in that he's taken that distraction and channeled it into being more professional. He's a great ball-striker but not a great mover. He's become a better mover and all-around such a steady player.
   Opelka is an interesting one. He's a wild card because of his athleticism for his size (6-foot-11 or 2.11 meters). He could be the one if he keeps improving. You've got to look for trends. You mentioned two guys who have improved a lot in the last 12 months. If they can improve the same amount in the next 12 months, it doesn't take much (so that) all of a sudden, you're knocking on the door of the top 10.
   Just look at what Opelka's serve can be at 7 feet tall. It's (tremendous) now; I think it can get even better with hitting his spots. It's just crazy how much of an advantage that is for Isner and Opelka. It's like a volleyball spike every single serve.
   Q: Does Opelka move well enough to win a Slam someday?
   A: Most people say among (Ivo) Karlovic, Isner and Opelka – the ones between 6-11 and 7 feet – Opelka is the best mover. And he's at an age (22) where he's only going to get better with his movement. When I see him rally at the back of the court, I don't feel the unease that I've felt sometimes with Isner or Karlovic through the years. I actually feel like he can hang in there.
   Q: One more question: How tough is it to root for the Orioles?
   A: (Roars with laughter) It's pretty hard right now, but living in L.A. helps because it's not right there in front of my face the way it would be if I lived in Baltimore. They have a new general manager and a new manager. You just have to give it time. They're playing some exciting baseball; they have some good athletes. I'm patient ... I'm patient.
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