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 Katarina 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).

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