Friday, March 1, 2019

NorCal Challenger star eyes second career WTA title

Sofia Kenin, shown en route to the Berkeley title last July, will play
Wang Yafan of China on Saturday for the Acapulco title on the WTA
tour. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Sofia Kenin will play for her second WTA tour singles title this year and of her career.
   The 20-year-old American, seeded fifth, outlasted unseeded Bianca Andreescu, an 18-year-old Canadian, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 in 2 hours, 14 minutes tonight in the semifinals of the Abierto Mexicano Telcel in Acapulco.
   Andreescu, ranked No. 71, lost her serve in the last game on a backhand long to fall to 21-3 in singles this year. Kenin, a great fighter ranked 35th, also defeated former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka 7-5 in the third set in the quarterfinals.
   Kenin, who won Hobart in January, is scheduled to play unseeded Wang Yafan of China for the first time on Saturday at 4 p.m. California time (Tennis Channel).
   The 24-year-old Wang, ranked No. 65, beat third-seeded Donna Vekic of Croatia 2-6, 6-3, 6-1 to reach her first WTA final.
   Kenin dominated Northern California Challengers, winning Sacramento in 2016, Stockton in 2017 and Berkeley last year.
   In the Acapulco men's final, second-seeded Alexander Zverev of Germany will face unseeded Nick Kyrgios of Australia on Saturday not before 7 p.m. (Tennis Channel).
   Zverev beat unseeded Cameron Norrie of Great Britain 7-6 (0), 6-3. Norrie won back-to-back Challengers in Tiburon, across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, and Stockton in 2017.
   Kyrgios topped third-seeded John Isner 7-5, 5-7, 7-6 (7) in 2 hours, 21 minutes in a match that ended at 1:05 a.m. Saturday Acapulco time.
   Kyrgios also ousted top-seeded Rafael Nadal, the Acapulco champion in 2005 and 2013, in the second round and three-time Grand Slam singles champion Stan Wawrinka, who's rebounding from knee surgery, in the quarterfinals.
   Giuliana Olmos, a 25-year-old product of Fremont in the San Francisco Bay Area who plays for Mexico, reached the Acapulco doubles final. Third-seeded Desirae Krawczyk, from Palm Desert, Calif., and Olmos will meet unseeded Azarenka of Belarus and Zheng Saisai of China.
   Azarenka and Zheng edged unseeded Sharon Fichman of Canada and Maria Sanchez, who was born and raised in Modesto, 6-7 (3), 6-2 [13-11]. When Sanchez was 10, she lived in Guadalajara, Mexico, for a year with her family.
   Krawczyk and Olmos won the $60,000 Sacramento Challenger in 2017.
   Women's Challenger -- Nicole Gibbs' singles winning streak ended at eight matches.
   The ex-Stanford star lost to fellow American Jennifer Brady 7-5, 6-0 in a quarterfinal matchup of unseeded players in the $162,480 Oracle Challenger Series Indian Wells.
   Gibbs, who will turn 26 on Sunday, won last week's $25,000 Shoebacca Women's Open in the San Diego suburb of Rancho Santa Fe.
   Gibbs also lost in the Indian Wells doubles semifinals with countrywoman Asia Muhammad. They fell to Kristyna Pliskova of the Czech Republic and Evgeniya Rodina of Russia 7-5, 6-3 in a clash of unseeded teams.
   Gibbs and Muhammad won the inaugural $60,000 Berkeley Tennis Club Challenge last July.

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