Friday, January 18, 2019

Anisimova, 17, routs No. 11 seed; Stephens, Tiafoe win

Amanda Anisimova displays her credential at the Indian
Wells Challenger last February. Photo courtesy of JFS
Communications
   Amanda Anisimova, a 17-year-old American, dismantled No. 11 seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus 6-3, 6-2 in 65 minutes on Thursday (California time) to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open in Melbourne.
   Sabalenka, 20, is coached by former Northern California resident Dmitry Tursunov.
   Anisimova, who won her maiden professional title in the 2017 Sacramento Challenger at 15, has advanced to the second week of a major for the first time.
   Anisimova will meet No. 8 seed Petra Kvitova, who beat Belinda Bencic of Switzerland 6-1, 6-4. Anisimova defeated Kvitova, a two-time Wimbledon singles champion, 6-2, 6-4 in the third round at Indian Wells last March in their only previous meeting.
   Meanwhile, No. 30 seed and 2008 Australian Open champion Maria Sharapova eliminated No. 3 seed and defending champ Caroline Wozniacki 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.
   No. 5 seed Sloane Stephens, who grew up in Fresno, topped No. 31 seed Petra Martic of Croatia 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5). Stephens will play Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who dismissed Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus 6-0, 6-3 in 60 minutes. Pavlyuchenkova played for the Sacramento Capitals of World TeamTennis at 15 in 2006.
   On the men's side, 20-year-old Frances Tiafoe of Orlando, Fla., outlasted Andreas Seppi, a 34-year-old Italian, 6-7 (3), 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.
   Tiafoe, who won the 2016 Stockton (Calif.) Challenger at 18, is the last remaining U.S. man in singles. He will face No. 20 seed Grigor Dimitrov, a 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-4 winner over Thomas Fabbiano of Italy and a two-time Grand Slam semifinalist.
   Fabbiano, only 5-foot-8 (1.73 meters), reached the semifinals of the $100,000 Aptos (Calif.) Challenger last August as the top seed.
   No. 3 seed Roger Federer, seeking his third consecutive Australian Open title and seventh overall, dismantled Taylor Fritz, a 21-year-old American, 6-2, 7-5, 6-2. Fritz won the $100,000 Sacramento and Fairfield Challengers back-to-back in 2015 at 17.
   In the second round of men's doubles, No. 4 seeds and ex-Stanford stars Bob and Mike Bryan beat Adrian Mannarino of France and Andreas Mies of Germany 7-5, 4-6, 6-2.
   Like Federer, the 40-year-old Bryans seek their seventh Australian Open title. The difference is that the Bryans' last one came in 2013. They are playing in their first major since Bob underwent hip surgery in August.
   Ryan Harrison of Austin, Texas, and Sam Querrey, a 31-year-old San Francisco native, beat Austin Krajicek of Bryan, Texas, and Artem Sitak, a Russia native who plays for New Zealand, 6-4, 7-6 (5).
   In the first round, Jeremy Chardy and Fabrice Martin of France defeated Mackenzie McDonald, from Piedmont in the San Francisco Bay Area, and Tennys Sandgren of Gallatin, Tenn., 6-4, 6-4.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Berkeley champ Kenin blows late lead, loses to Halep

Sofia Kenin, playing in the $60,000 Berkeley Tennis
Club Challenge last July, lost to top-ranked Simona
Halep today in the Australian Open after leading 4-2
in the third set. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Top-ranked Simona Halep rallied to defeat Sofia Kenin, a 20-year-old American, 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-4 today in the second round of the Australian Open.
   Kenin, who won the inaugural $60,000 Berkeley Tennis Club Challenge last July, overcame a 6-3, 3-0 deficit to lead 4-2 in the third set of a grueling baseline battle that lasted 2 hours, 31 minutes at Rod Laver Arena.
   Halep will play Venus Williams, a 6-3, 4-6, 6-0 winner over Alize Cornet of France, in a matchup of Australian Open runners-up.
   No. 16 seed Serena Williams, who has a residence in Silicon Valley, dominated Eugenie Bouchard of Canada 6-2, 6-2. Williams will play Dayana Yastremska, an 18-year-old Ukrainian who beat No. 23 seed Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain 6-3, 3-6, 6-1.
   Williams, 37, seeks her eighth Australian Open title and record-tying 24th Grand Slam crown in singles. She improved to 3-0 against Bouchard, 24, also winning 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 in the second round at Cincinnati in 2013 and 6-1, 6-1 in the round-robin phase of the 2014 WTA Finals in Singapore.
   Bouchard, the 2014 Wimbledon runner-up to Petra Kvitova, has slumped from a career-high No. 5 that year to No. 79. She won her first career WTA doubles title two weeks ago in Auckland with Kenin.
   Bouchard sued the USTA after slipping on the wet floor of a dimly lit trainers room during the 2015 U.S. Open and suffering a head injury. The parties reached an undisclosed settlement last February.
   Meanwhile, Alexei Popyrin, a 19-year-old wild card from Australia, ousted seventh-seeded Dominic Thiem of Austria 7-5, 6-4, 2-0, retired (fatigue). Popyrin squandered six match points in a 4-6, 7-6 (2), 7-6 (6) loss to countryman James Duckworth in the second round of the $100,000 Tiburon (Calif.) Challenger last September.
   Aussie wild card Alex Bolt, the runner-up in the $100,000 Fairfield (Calif.) Challenger last October, took out No. 29 seed Gilles Simon of France, 2-6, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (8), 6-4 in 4 hours, 4 minutes.
   In the first round of women's doubles, ninth-seeded Raquel Atawo, a 36-year-old former Cal star from Sacramento, and Katerina Srebotnik, 37, of Slovenia dominated Americans Amanda Anisimova, 17, and Danielle Collins 6-1, 6-3.
   On the men's side, eighth-seeded Ben McLachlan (Cal, 2011-14) of Japan and Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany lost in the first round after reaching the semifinals last year in their first tournament together. They fell to Radu Albot of Moldova and Malek Jaziri of Tunisia 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (11-9).

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Young Americans Tiafoe, Fritz, Anisimova upset seeds

Frances Tiafoe, right, poses with his trophy after beating fellow
American Noah Rubin to win the $100,000 Stockton (Calif.)
Challenger at age 18 in 2016. Photo by Paul Bauman
   The United States' youth brigade is beginning to make a big impact in Grand Slam tournaments.
   For the second time in three days, a U.S. male prospect ousted a top-10 seed in the Australian Open. Also, 21-year-old Taylor Fritz and 17-year-old Amanda Anisimova knocked off low seeds.
   Frances Tiafoe, who will turn 21 on Sunday, stunned 6-foot-8 (2.03-meter) Kevin Anderson, the fifth seed in Melbourne and runner-up in two of the last five majors, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 today in the second round.
   Anderson led 6-4, 3-0 before Tiafoe "just went to a different place," he told reporters. "I dug insanely deep. ... It's all about competing. Guys are so good, it's just how bad do you really want it? I wanted it real bad."
   Afterward, Tiafoe repeatedly slapped his right biceps and yelled in exultation.
   Anderson, 32, received treatment on his right elbow after the third set.
   On Sunday (California time), 6-foot-11 (2.11-meter) Reilly Opelka, 21, eliminated 6-foot-10 (2.08-meter) John Isner, seeded ninth, in the first round.
   Thomas Fabbiano of Italy beat Opelka 6-7 (17-15), 6-2, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (10-5) in a late second-round match. Opelka pounded 67 aces, the fifth-highest match total ever.
   Fabbiano, only 5-foot-8 (1.73 meters), reached the semifinals of the $100,000 Aptos (Calif.) Challenger last August as the top seed.
   Opelka lost in the first round of back-to-back $100,000 Challengers in Northern California last October as the second seed in Stockton and fourth seed in Fairfield.
   Tiafoe, who won the $100,000 Stockton Challenger in 2016 at 18, reached the third round of a major for the second time. He will face 34-year-old Italian Andreas Seppi, who shocked Roger Federer to reach the fourth round of the 2015 Australian Open.
   Fritz, who won the $100,000 Sacramento and Fairfield Challengers back-to-back at 17 in 2015, topped 30th-seeded Gael Monfils of France 6-3, 6-7 (8), 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5) in 3 hours, 24 minutes.
   "Tiafoe, Opelka and Fritz are the new Big 3," trumpeted ESPN commentator Brad Gilbert, who could have included extremely athletic Michael Mmoh in a Big 4. "That's the future of American men's tennis."
   Fritz will take on the third-seeded Federer, 37, for the second time. Federer, who seeks his third consecutive Australian Open title and seventh overall, beat 5-foot-9 (1.75-meter) Briton Daniel Evans, the Aptos champion in 2016 and runner-up to Stanford graduate Bradley Klahn in 2013, 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-3), 6-3. Evans returned from 10-month cocaine suspension last April.
   Federer edged Fritz 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 in the second round at Stuttgart on grass in 2016.
   Anisimova, who won her first professional title in the $60,000 Sacramento Challenger in 2017 at 15, crushed 24th-seeded Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine 6-0, 6-2 in 54 minutes. Tsurenko advanced to the U.S. Open quarterfinals last September before losing to eventual champion Naomi Osaka.
   Anisimova will play 11th-seeded Aryna Sabalenka, a 20-year-old Belarusian coached by former Northern California resident Dmitry Tursunov of Russia.
   Meanwhile, fifth seed and Fresno product Sloane Stephens dispatched Timea Babos of Hungary 6-3, 6-1. Stephens, the 2017 U.S. Open champion and 2018 French Open runner-up, will meet 31st-seeded Petra Martic of Croatia.
   Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who played for the Sacramento Capitals of World TeamTennis at 15 in 2006, took out ninth-seeded Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.
   Sixth-seeded Marin Cilic, a 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Croat, beat 5-foot-10 (1.78-meter) Mackenzie McDonald, a 23-year-old product of Piedmont in the San Francisco Bay Area, 7-5, 6-7 (11-9), 6-4, 6-4. McDonald reached the fourth round at Wimbledon last July.
   In the first round of men's doubles, fourth seeds and ex-Stanford stars Bob and Mike Bryan beat Australian wild cards Alex Bolt and Marc Polmans 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-1).
   The 40-year-old Bryans seek their seventh Australian Open men's doubles title but first since 2013. Bolt and Polmans reached the singles final in Fairfield and Stockton, respectively, last October.
   Americans Ryan Harrison and Sam Querrey, a 31-year-old San Francisco native, downed 16th-seeded Robin Haase and Matwe Middelkoop of the Netherlands 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.
   Sixth-seeded Raven Klaasen of South Africa and Michael Venus of New Zealand eliminated Bradley Klahn, a 28-year-old Stanford graduate from Los Angeles, and Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.
   Kukushkin lost to Marcos Baghdatis, the 2006 Australian Open runner-up to Federer, in the 2014 Aptos final.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Stanford grad, up two sets to none, falls to Chung

Bradley Klahn, playing in the $100,000 San Francisco Chal-
lenger last February, lost to No. 24 seed Hyeon Chung 6-7 (5),
6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 in the first round of the Australian Open.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   Bradley Klahn was on his way to a big upset and his first main-draw victory in the Australian Open.
   But South Korea's Hyeon Chung, the 24th seed and a surprise semifinalist in Melbourne last year, beat the 28-year-old Stanford graduate 6-7 (5), 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 in 3 hours, 37 minutes today.
   Klahn, who underwent his second operation for a herniated disc in 2015, had his back treated during the third set.
   Klahn, a 6-foot (1.83-meter) left-hander, finished with 22 aces, 58 winners and 84 unforced errors. Chung, 22, had 10 aces, 34 winners and 35 unforced errors.
   Meanwhile, Sam Querrey's slump continued with a 5-7, 7-6 (6), 6-3, 6-1 loss to Pierre-Hugues Herbert of France. Querrey, a 31-year-old San Francisco native, has tumbled from a career-high No. 11 last February to No. 49.
   Serena Williams, seeded 16th, dismantled Tatjana Maria of Germany 6-0, 6-2 in a 49-minute matchup of neighbors in Palm Beach, Fla., and mothers.
   Williams, who also has a residence in Silicon Valley, seeks her eighth Australian Open title and a record-tying 24th Grand Slam crown in singles. She will face Canadian Eugenie Bouchard, the Wimbledon runner-up in 2014 to Petra Kvitova.
   Venus Williams, a two-time Australian Open runner-up (2003 and 2017), eliminated 25th-seeded Mihaela Buzarnescu of Romania 6-7 (3), 7-6 (3), 6-2.
   Venus Williams, 38, has a long history in Northern California. She made her WTA debut in Oakland at 14 in 1994, won two titles in the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford (2000 and 2002) and reached the final there six times (1998, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2009 and 2016).
   Buzarnescu, a 30-year-old left-hander with a long history of injuries, won the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic, which replaced the Bank of the West Classic, last August in San Jose.
   Top-ranked Simona Halep avoided a second consecutive loss to Kaia Kanepi of Estonia in the first round of a Grand Slam tournament, prevailing 6-7 (2), 6-4, 6-2. It was Halep's first match win since she reached the Cincinnati final last August.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Stephens ends Aussie Open drought; Isner, Murray lose

Reilly Opelka, serving during his first-
round loss in the $100,000 Stockton
(Calif.) Challenger last October, ousted
ninth seed and fellow U.S. giant John
Isner today in the opening round of the
Australian Open in Melbourne. Photo
by Paul Bauman
   Sloane Stephens won her first match in the Australian Open in five years today, beating fellow American Taylor Townsend 6-4, 6-2 in Melbourne.
   Stephens, a 25-year-old Fresno product now based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., lost in the first round of the Australian Open in 2015, 2016 and 2018. She missed the 2017 tournament because of foot surgery but won the U.S. Open nine months later for her first Grand Slam title.
   Townsend, a 22-year-old left-hander, played for the Sacramento Capitals of World TeamTennis in 2013, the team's final year of existence.
   Stephens, seeded fifth, is scheduled to play Timea Babos of Hungary on Tuesday (California time). Babos, also 25, defeated Tunisia's Ons Jabeur, the 2011 French Open girls singles champion, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (3).
   Stephens and Babos know each other well, having won three of four major girls doubles titles in 2010.
   Stephens made her first big splash in the 2013 Australian Open, stunning Serena Williams to reach the semifinals before losing to eventual champion Victoria Azarenka.
   Meanwhile, Reilly Opelka's first main-draw victory in a Grand Slam tournament was a big one — in more ways than one.
   The 6-foot-11 (2.11-meter) Opelka ousted 6-foot-10 (2.08-meter) John Isner, seeded ninth, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (6), 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5) in an all-American matchup. Isner blasted 47 aces, and Opelka had 40.
   Opelka lost in the first round of back-to-back $100,000 Challengers in Northern California last October as the second seed in Stockton and fourth seed in Fairfield.
   Five-time runner-up Andy Murray played his last match in the Australian Open -- if not his career -- losing 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-7 (4), 6-2 to 22nd-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain.
   The 31-year-old Murray, who won the first two of his 45 tour-level singles titles in San Jose (2006-07), announced Friday that he will retire by Wimbledon because of chronic hip pain.
   Bautista Agut won his ninth career ATP singles title two weeks ago in Doha, stunning top-ranked Novak Djokovic in the semifinals.
   Mackenzie McDonald, a 23-year-old product of Piedmont in the San Francisco Bay Area, defeated Andrey Rublev, a promising 21-year-old Russian rebounding from a stress fracture in his lower back, 6-4, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4. McDonald, only 5-foot-10 (1.78 meters) and 160 pounds (73 kilograms), next will face sixth-seeded Marin Cilic, who's 6-foot-6 (1.98 meters).
  McDonald, ranked No. 81, is making his second appearance in the Australian Open. He lost to third-seeded Grigor Dimitrov 8-6 in the fifth set in the second round last year as a qualifier.
   ATP Challenger Tour -- Bernardo Saraiva, a 25-year-old former University of San Francisco star from Portugal, won his first Challenger doubles title.
   Unseeded Maxime Cressy, a 6-foot-7 (2.01-meter) American originally from France, and Saraiva beat second-seeded Robert Galloway and Nathaniel Lammons of the United States 7-5, 7-6 (3) in the final of the $54,160 Columbus Challenger.
   In the $54,160 Canberra (Australia) Challenger, third-seeded Marcelo Demoliner of Brazil and Hugo Nys of France topped unseeded Andre Goransson of Sweden and Sem Verbeek of the Netherlands 3-6, 6-4 [10-3] for the crown. Goransson and Verbeek played at Cal and Pacific, respectively.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Berkeley champion Kenin earns first WTA singles title

Sofia Kenin, playing in Berkeley last July, routed Anna Karo-
lina Schmiedlova 6-3, 6-0 today to win the Hobart (Australia)
International. Photo by Paul Bauman
   You might say Sofia Kenin is in good form entering the Australian Open.
   Ditto for Ben McLachlan.
   One week after claiming her first WTA doubles title, Kenin did the same in singles.
   The 20-year-old American routed Anna Karolina Schmiedlova of Slovakia 6-3, 6-0 in 71 minutes today to win the Hobart (Australia) International.
    McLachlan, a 26-year-old former Cal star, and Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany beat third-seeded Raven Klaasen of South Africa and Michael Venus of New Zealand 6-3, 6-4 to capture the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand.
   McLachlan, a New Zealand native who plays for his mother's native Japan, and Struff reached the Australian Open semifinals last year in their first tournament together.
   In the Auckland singles final, unseeded Tennys Sandgren of Gallatin, Tenn., topped wild card Cameron Norrie, a New Zealand product who plays for Great Britain, 6-4, 6-2.
   Sandgren, a surprise quarterfinalist in last year's Australian Open, avenged a 6-2, 6-3 loss to Norrie in the final of the $100,000 Tiburon (Calif.) Challenger in 2017. The left-handed Norrie also won the $100,000 Stockton (Calif.) Challenger the following week, beating Darian King of Barbados.
   Kenin reeled off the last nine games against Schmiedlova in a matchup of unseeded players to become the first American champion in Tasmania since Amy Frazier in 2004. Kenin and Eugenie Bouchard of Canada won last week's women's ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand.
   "I feel in great form, and I'm really proud of myself," Kenin, who won the inaugural $60,000 Berkeley Tennis Club Challenge last July for her third title in Northern California in three years, told reporters. "I'm so happy with my start and will try to keep the momentum going."
   Kenin did not lose a set in the tournament, upsetting top-seeded Caroline Garcia of France 6-3, 6-2 in the first round, seventh-seeded Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium 7-5, 7-5 in the quarterfinals and sixth-seeded Alize Cornet of France 6-2, 6-4 in the semifinals.
   Kenin also dismissed Garcia 6-3, 6-3 on grass in Mallorca in June for her first victory over a top-10 player and her first berth in a WTA semifinal.
   Kenin will make her top-40 debut on Monday, jumping from No. 56 to No. 37. She is scheduled to play Veronika Kudermetova, a 21-year-old Russian qualifier, in the first round of the Australian Open on Monday (California time). Kenin was born in Moscow and moved to the United States as a young child.
   It will be Kenin's second main-draw appearance in Melbourne. She lost to 12th-seeded Julia Goerges of Germany 6-4, 6-4 in the opening round last year.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Murray, two-time San Jose champ, says he'll retire soon

Andy Murray, troubled by a nagging hip injury, said he will
retire after Wimbledon at the latest. The upcoming Australian
could be his last tournament. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Andy Murray, who won the first two of his 45 tour-level titles in San Jose, announced Thursday that he will retire after Wimbledon this year at the latest.
   Hobbled by a hip injury since June 2016, Murray said the Australian Open could be his last tournament. Play is scheduled for Sunday (California time) through Jan. 27.
   "I spoke to my team, and I told them, 'I cannot keep doing this,' " Murray, who underwent hip surgery last January, said in an emotional news conference in Melbourne. "I needed to have an end point because I was sort of playing with no idea when the pain was going to stop. I felt like making that decision.
   "I said to my team, 'Look, I think I can get through this until Wimbledon.' That's where I would like to stop playing. But I am also not certain I am able to do that."
   Murray, 31, has won three Grand Slam singles titles and two Olympic gold medals in singles. He ended British droughts of 77 years by winning Wimbledon in 2013 and 79 years by clinching a victory over Belgium in the 2015 Davis Cup final. Murray reached No. 1 in the world in November 2016.
   The last match of Murray's career could come Sunday against 22nd-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain in the first round of the Australian Open, in which Murray is a five-time runner-up.
   Bautista Agut won his ninth career ATP title last week in Doha, stunning top-ranked Novak Djokovic in the semifinals.
   Murray went 10-0 in the now-defunct SAP Open in San Jose, winning the title in 2006 at 18 years old and the following year. He also won the Challenger in Aptos, a 45-minute drive south of San Jose, in 2005 at 18.
   Brad Gilbert, a lifelong San Francisco Bay area resident, coached Murray for 16 months in 2006 and 2007.
   Australian Open draw -- No. 16 seed Serena Williams, who has a residence in Silicon Valley, could face top-ranked Simona Halep or Venus Williams in the fourth round.
   Serena, who hopes to tie Margaret Court's record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles, also could meet Naomi Osaka in the semifinals in a rematch of the controversial 2018 U.S. Open final, won by the then-20-year-old Japanese upstart.
   In the other half of the women's draw, No. 5 seed and Fresno product Sloane Stephens could play No. 2 seed and 2016 champion Angelique Kerber in the quarterfinals.
   Three men with Northern California connections are unseeded.
   Sam Querrey, a 31-year-old San Francisco native, will meet Pierre-Hugues Herbert of France in the first round. The winner will play either No. 24 seed and 2018 semifinalist Hyeon Chung of South Korea or left-hander Bradley Klahn, a 28-year-old Stanford graduate.
   Mackenzie McDonald, a 23-year-old product of Piedmont in the San Francisco Bay Area, will play Andrey Rublev, a promising 21-year-old Russian rebounding from a stress fracture in his lower back.
   Australian Open qualifying -- No. 3 seed Viktorija Golubic of Switzerland defeated ex-Stanford star Nicole Gibbs 6-3, 7-6 (3) to earn a main-draw berth.
   Gibbs led 3-0 (two service breaks) in the second set and served for the set at 6-5. She reached the second round or better in the Australian Open main draw for the last four years, losing to eventual champion Serena Williams in the third round in 2017.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Fish named Davis Cup captain; no ex-Stanford clash

Mardy Fish warms up between sets during a Sacramento
Capitals home match in 2013. Photo by Paul Bauman 
   Mardy Fish, the runner-up in the 2009 SAP Open in San Jose and a former Sacramento Capital in World TeamTennis, was named the captain (coach) of the United States Davis Cup team today.
   Fish replaces Jim Courier, who stepped down in September after eight years.
   "It is something that is a dream job for me, something I won't take for granted," Fish, 37, said during a conference call. "To be the next Davis Cup captain is incredibly humbling."
   Fish retired in 2015 after battling an irregular heartbeat and severe anxiety. He competed in the Davis Cup from 2002 to 2012, won the singles silver medal in the 2004 Athens Olympics and reached a career-high No. 7 in 2011.
   Fish lost to Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic in the final of the 2009 SAP Open and played part-time for the Capitals in 2012 and 2013.
   The SAP Open ended a 125-year run in Northern California in 2013. The Capitals announced in February 2014 that they were moving to Las Vegas after 28 years in Sacramento and folded the following month.
   The Davis Cup will enter a new era this year. Instead of rounds being played months apart each year, an 18-team tournament is scheduled for Nov. 18-24 in Madrid.
   Australian Open qualifying -- Nicole Gibbs won't have to play a friend and former teammate for a berth in the main draw in Melbourne.
   The 18th-seeded Gibbs beat Paula Ormaechea of Argentina 7-5, 6-2 in the second round of qualifying, but Kristie Ahn lost to third-seeded Victorija Golubic of Switzerland 6-4, 6-4.
   Gibbs and Ahn played No. 1 and 2, respectively, on Stanford's 2013 NCAA championship team.
   Golubic, ranked No. 104, is 3-1 (2-1 on hard courts) against Gibbs, ranked No. 127. They last met in September, with Golubic winning 6-4, 6-2 in the second round of qualifying in Wuhan, China, on the WTA tour on an outdoor hard court.
   College rankings -- The NCAA defending champion Stanford women are No. 1 in the year's first rankings, and the Cardinal men are No. 10. Neither the Cal men nor women cracked the Top 25.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Ex-Stanford teammates could meet for Aussie Open spot

Nicole Gibbs, playing in the $60,000 Berkeley Tennis
Club Challenge last July, could face former Stanford
teammate Kristie Ahn for a berth in the Australian
Open main draw. Photo by Paul Bauman
   It will take an upset, but friends and former Stanford teammates Nicole Gibbs and Kristie Ahn could meet for a berth in the Australian Open main draw.
   Gibbs and Ahn -- who played No. 1 and 2, respectively, on Stanford's 2013 NCAA championship team -- won their first-round qualifying matches in straight sets today in Melbourne.
   The 18th-seeded Gibbs, a 25-year-old resident of Venice in the Los Angeles area, beat Elitsa Kostova of Bulgaria 6-4, 6-2. Ahn, 26, of Boca Raton, Fla., dismissed Gabriella Taylor of Great Britain 6-1, 6-1 in 62 minutes.
   On Wednesday (California time), Gibbs will play Paula Ormaechea of Argentina, and Ahn will face third-seeded Viktorija Golubic of Switzerland. The winners will meet for a spot in the main draw.
   Gibbs, ranked No. 127, and the 26-year-old Ormaechea, ranked No. 235, have split two career matches. Ormaechea won 6-2, 6-1 on a clay court in 2014, and Gibbs triumphed 6-2, 6-3 on a hard court in 2012. The 26-year-old Golubic, ranked No. 104, and Ahn, ranked No. 210, will meet for the first time.
   Gibbs, the runner-up in the inaugural $60,000 Berkeley Tennis Club Challenge last July, has reached the second round or better in the Australian Open main draw for the past four years. She advanced to the third round in 2017, losing to eventual champion Serena Williams 6-1, 6-3.
   Ahn seeks her second main-draw berth in Melbourne. As a wild card there last year, she lost to 20th-seeded Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic 6-1, 7-5 in the first round.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Brooksby loses to Austin's son in $25K L.A. semifinals

Jenson Brooksby practices at the JMG Tennis Academy in
Sacramento last May. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Jenson Brooksby will have to be content with reaching his second consecutive semifinal in a professional tournament.
   The 18-year-old amateur from the Sacramento suburb of Carmichael lost to wild card Brandon Holt, the son of International Tennis Hall of Famer Tracy Austin, 6-7 (3), 6-1, 6-4 on Saturday in the semifinals of the Los Angeles $25,000 Pro Tournament.
   Holt is playing on his home courts at USC, where he is a junior.
   Brooksby, who won the USTA Boys 18 National Championships in Kalamazoo, Mich., last August to earn a wild card in the U.S. Open, also reached the semis of a $25,000 tournament in Waco, Texas, last November. He plans to enroll at Baylor in Waco in the fall or next January. Brooksby still seeks his first berth in a pro final.
 

Friday, January 4, 2019

NorCal juniors dominate; Brooksby routs top seed

Connie Ma, 15, of Dublin in the San Francisco Bay Area swept
the girls 18 titles in the USTA National Winter Championships
in Orlando, Fla. 2018 photo by Paul Bauman
   Juniors from Northern California, not more-heralded Florida or Southern California, dominated the singles events in past week's USTA National Winter Championships.
   Of the eight singles titles offered in Orlando, Fla., (boys and girls 18s and 16s) and Tucson, Ariz., (boys and girls 14s and 12s), NorCal players won five.
   Ishaan Ravichander (boys 18), Connie Ma (girls 18), and Luke Casper (boys 16) today joined Ria Bhakta (girls 14) and Mason Nguyen (boys 12) as champions.
   The 17th-seeded Ravichander, 16, defeated ninth-seeded Zachery Lim 7-6 (2) on a hard court at the USTA National Campus in a matchup of players from Sacramento's JMG Tennis Academy.
   Ravichander lost two sets in his seven tournament matches, including his 3-6, 7-6 (2), 6-1 victory over 17th-seeded Finn Garner of Annapolis, Md., in the fourth round.
   The fourth-seeded Ma, a 15-year-old resident of Dublin in the San Francisco Bay Area, downed third-seeded Alana Wolfberg of Orlando 6-4, 6-0.
   Ma, only 5-foot-3 (1.60 meters) and 95 pounds (43.1 kilograms), won the last nine games against the Oklahoma State signee and dropped no more than four games in a set in the tournament. She also won the doubles title with Anna Campana of Hillsborough in the Bay Area on Thursday.
   The fifth-seeded Casper, a Santa Cruz resident who turned 16 on Dec. 16, beat 13th-seeded Quinn Snyder of Delran, N.J., 7-6 (5), 6-4 on Har-Tru at the USTA National Campus.
   Casper never lost a set in the tournament, winning three tiebreakers.
   USTA Pro Circuit -- Unseeded Jenson Brooksby, an 18-year-old amateur from Carmichael in the Sacramento area, routed top-seeded Dmitry Popko, a 22-year-old Russia native who plays for Kazakhstan, 6-3, 6-0 in 68 minutes in $25,000 Los Angeles to reach the semifinals of a professional tournament for the second time.
   Popko, at No. 351, is the highest-ranked player and second consecutive top seed whom Brooksby has beaten. He also shocked 6-foot-8 (2.03-meter) Michael Redlicki of Fayetteville, Ark., en route to the semis of the $25,000 Waco (Texas) Futures in November.
   Brooksby, who plans to enroll at Baylor in Waco in the fall or next January, will meet wild card Brandon Holt, a USC junior and the son of International Tennis Hall of Famer Tracy Austin.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Ma, 2 others reach Winter finals; Brooksby survives; etc.

Connie Ma, 15, of Dublin in the San Francisco Bay Area, will
play for the girls 18 singles title in the USTA National Winter
Championships in Orlando, Fla. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Three more Northern California juniors will play for singles titles in the USTA National Winter Championships.
   Advancing today in Orlando, Fla., were 15-year-old Connie Ma of Dublin in the San Francisco Bay Area in the girls 18s, Zachery Lim of Fairfield in the boys 18s and Luke Casper of Santa Cruz in the boys 16s.
   Ria Bhakta of Saratoga in the Bay Area and Mason Nguyen of El Dorado Hills in the Sacramento region won the girls 14 and boys 12 crown, respectively, in Tucson, Ariz., on Wednesday.
   The fourth-seeded Ma, only 5-foot-3 (1.60 meters) and 95 pounds (43.1 kilograms),  routed eighth-seeded Carly Briggs of Calhoun, Ga., 6-2, 6-1. Ma will face third-seeded Alana Wolfberg, an Orlando resident and Oklahoma State recruit who topped unseeded India Houghton of Belvedere Tiburon in the Bay Area 7-6 (4), 6-4.
   Anna Campana of Hillsborough in the Bay Area and Ma, seeded 15th in doubles, beat fourth-seeded Allie Gretkowski of Mount Pleasant, S.C., and Anna Ross of Charleston, S.C., 6-4, 6-2 for the title.
   The ninth-seeded Lim defeated 14th-seeded Daniel Milavsky of Needham, Mass., 7-6 (4), 6-2 to set up a match against 17th-seeded Ishaan Ravichander of Belle Mead, N.J.
   Casper, seeded fifth, eliminated 11th-seeded Samir Banerjee of Basking Ridge, N.J., 6-1, 7-5. Casper will meet 13th-seeded Quinn Snyder of Delran, N.J.
   ITF World Tour -- Jenson Brooksby, 18, of Carmichael in the Sacramento region saved two match points in a 2-6, 7-6 (10), 7-5 victory over Brandon Nakashima, 17, of San Diego in the second round of the Los Angeles $25,000 Pro Tournament.
   Brooksby, who's headed to Baylor, won all three of his matches against Nakashima last year in straight sets. Each match was in the juniors, including the best-of-five-set final in the USTA Boys 18 National Championships in Kalamazoo, Mich.
   Brooksby will face top-seeded Dmitry Popko, a 22-year-old Russia native who plays for Kazakhstan, in the quarterfinals.
   WTA Tour -- Unseeded Viktoria Kuzmova of Slovakia held off Amanda Anisimova, a 17-year-old wild card from Aventura, Fla., 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 in the quarterfinals of the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand.
   Anisimova, who won her first professional title at 15 in the 2017 Sacramento Challenger, ousted fifth-seeded Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic in the second round.
   ATP Challenger Tour -- No. 14 seed Mathias Bourgue of France defeated wild card Sam Riffice, a Florida freshman from Roseville in the Sacramento area, 6-4, 5-7, 6-2 in the third round of the $50,000 Orlando (Fla.) Open.
   Riffice stunned fourth-seeded Filip Peliwo of Canada in the second round. Peliwo won the 2012 Wimbledon boys singles title.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Bhakta, Nguyen claim National Winter singles titles

   Ninth-seeded Ria Bhakta of Saratoga in the San Francisco Bay Area crushed fifth-seeded Kinaa Graham of Austin, Texas, 6-0, 6-0 today to win the girls 14 title in the USTA National Winter Championships in Tucson, Ariz.
   Bhakta lost an average of only 1.4 games per set in her seven tournament matches. Her closest match came in the fourth round, a 6-3, 6-4 victory over sixth-seeded Sia Chaudry of Midlothian, Va.
   Ninth-seeded Mason Nguyen of El Dorado Hills in the Sacramento area captured the boys 12 title in Tucson, beating fourth-seeded Maxwell Exsted of Savage, Minn., 6-4, 7-5.
   Nguyen was not tested until the semifinals, in which he ousted third-seeded Santiago Muhala of Katy, Texas, 6-4, 7-5. Nguyen also toppled second-seeded Cooper Woestendick of Olathe, Kan., 6-2, 6-0 in the fourth round.
   In Orlando, Fla., India Houghton of Belvedere Tiburon in the Bay Area and Luke Casper of Santa Cruz knocked off the top seed in the girls 18 and boys 16 quarterfinals, respectively.
   Houghton, the runner-up in the Orange Bowl 16s last month, took out Anessa Lee of San Marino in the Los Angeles region 6-3, 6-7 (2), 6-2.
   Advancing in the other half of the draw was fourth-seeded Connie Ma, 15, of Dublin in the Bay Area. Ma, who also reached the doubles semifinals with Anna Campana of Hillsborough, helped the United States win the Junior Fed Cup in Budapest, Hungary, in September.
   Casper surprised Jack Anthrop of Orlando 6-3, 6-4. In the other half of the draw, 17th-seeded John Kim of Sunnyvale beat unseeded Carter Morgan of Jacksonville, Fla., 6-2, 6-4.
   In the boys 18 quarterfinals, ninth-seeded Zachery Lim of Fairfield topped 17th-seeded Joshua Raab of Woodstock, Ga., 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5), 6-2. Lim will face 14th-seeded Daniel Milavsky, a resident of Needham, Mass., who downed 10th-seeded Aryan Chaudhary of Santa Clara 3-6, 7-6 (6), 6-3.
   Also in the boys 18s, fourth-seeded Logan Zapp of Fleming Island, Fla., beat unseeded Karl Lee of Sacramento 6-4, 6-3.
   Anisimova scores upset -- Amanda Anisimova, who won her first professional title at 15 in the 2017 Sacramento Challenger, surprised fifth-seeded Barbora Strycova, a 32-year-old Czech ranked 33rd, 6-3, 6-3 to reach the quarterfinals of the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand.
   Anisimova, a 17-year-old wide card from Aventura, Fla., ranked 90th, will play Viktoria Kuzmova of Slovakia. Kuzmova beat Sofia Kenin of Pembroke Pines, Fla., 7-5, 5-7, 6-3 in a matchup of 20-year-olds. Kenin won a Northern California Challenger for the third consecutive year in Berkeley in July.
   Strycova outlasted Kenin 6-4 in the third set to help the Czech Republic defeat the United States 3-0 in the Fed Cup final in Prague in November. Kenin played in the international team competition for the first time and Strycova for the last.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Fed tops Serena; Bryan back; Stephens stumbles; etc.

   Roger Federer and Belinda Bencic beat Frances Tiafoe and Serena Williams 4-2, 4-3 (5-3) today, lifting Switzerland to a 2-1 victory over the United States in the Hopman Cup in Perth, Australia.
   It was the first meeting between Federer, who has won a record 20 Grand Slam singles titles, and Williams, who needs one more major singles crown to tie Margaret Court's mark of 24.
   Both Williams and Federer are 37. Williams has a residence in Silicon Valley, and Federer made his Northern California debut in a San Jose exhibition last March.
   Bryan returns -- Robert Lindstedt of Sweden and Milos Raonic of Canada edged top-seeded Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan, 40-year-old identical twins, 3-6, 6-4 (10-7) in the first round of the Brisbane International.
   Bob Bryan played for the first time since hurting his hip in the Madrid final in May. He underwent surgery on Aug. 2.
   All four players have Northern California connections.
   The Bryans led Stanford to the NCAA team title in both of their years there (1997-98).
   Lindstedt, 41, played at Fresno State before transferring to Pepperdine and reaching the 1998 NCAA doubles final, in which he and Kelly Gullett lost to the Bryans.
   Raonic, 28, never lost a set in the SAP Open in San Jose, winning the last three titles (2011-13) before the tournament ended a 125-year run in NorCal.
   Stephens ousted early -- Johanna Konta of Great Britain eliminated third-seeded Sloane Stephens, who grew up in Fresno, 6-4, 6-3 in the first round of the Brisbane International. Konta won the 2016 Bank of the West Classic at Stanford.
   Riffice scores big upset -- Wild card Sam Riffice, a Florida freshman from Roseville in the Sacramento area, stunned fourth-seeded Filip Peliwo of Canada 1-6, 6-2, 6-0 in the second round of the $50,000 Orlando (Fla.) Open. Peliwo won the 2012 Wimbledon boys singles title.
   USTA National Winter Championships -- Ria Bhakta of Saratoga in the San Francisco Bay Area and Mason Nguyen of El Dorado Hills in the Sacramento region reached the girls 14 and boys 12 singles final, respectively, in Tucson, Ariz.
   Both players are seeded ninth. Bhakta will meet fifth-seeded Kinaa Graham of Austin, Texas, and the Nguyen will play fourth-seeded Maxwell Exsted of Savage, Minn.
   Three boys and two girls from NorCal reached the 18s quarterfinals in Orlando. Advancing were ninth-seeded Zachery Lim of Fairfield, 10th-seeded Aryan Chaudhary of Santa Clara, unseeded Karl Lee of Sacramento, fourth-seeded Connie Ma of Dublin and unseeded India Houghton of Belvedere Tiburon.
   Moving into the boys 16 singles quarterfinals in Orlando were fifth-seeded Luke Casper of Santa Cruz and 17th-seeded John Kim of Sunnyvale.
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