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.

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