Saturday, April 20, 2019

Stephens lifts U.S. into tie; Stanford women rout Cal

   Sloane Stephens came through under pressure today in the Fed Cup World Group playoffs after a disappointing performance by Madison Keys.
   Stephens, a Fresno product ranked eighth, defeated Switzerland's Timea Bacsinszky, a former top-10 player ranked 111th, 6-4, 6-3 on an indoor hard court in San Antonio to give the United States a 1-1 tie in the best-of-five-match series.
   Bacsinszky reached a career-high No. 9 in May 2016 but underwent surgery on her right (playing) hand in September 2017. She lost the first nine matches of her comeback last year and dropped out of the rankings.
   In today's opener, the 14th-ranked Keys lost to 80th-ranked Victorija Golubic 6-2, 6-3. Keys won the last edition of the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford in 2017.
   Absent this weekend are 11th-ranked Serena Williams of the United States and 20th-ranked Belinda Bencic of Switzerland. Like Bacsinszky, Bencic cracked the top 10 in 2016 and had surgery (wrist) in 2017.
   The winner of the series will compete for the Fed Cup championship in the World Group next year. The loser will drop to World Group II and be unable to play for the title.
   In Sunday's first match, Stephens is scheduled to play Golubic at noon PDT (Tennis Channel), followed by Keys against Bacsinszky and the U.S. doubles team of Sofia Kenin and Jessica Pegula versus Ylena In-Albon and Conny Perrin.
   Kenin is ranked 104th in doubles (14th in the United States), and Pegula is 151st (22nd in the U.S.). Barring a lineup change, Pegula will make her Fed Cup debut.
   Kenin, 20, won Northern California Challenger singles titles in 2016, 2017 and 2018. Pegula, 25, lost to Modesto product Maria Sanchez in the final of the 2012 Sacramento Challenger and reached the singles semifinals in the Stockton (Calif.) Challenger last October.
   Pegula's parents, Terrence and Kim Pegula, own the NFL's Buffalo Bills and NHL's Buffalo Sabres.
   College women -- No. 4 Stanford, the defending NCAA champion, dominated No. 14 Cal 6-1 in the Big Slam in Berkeley for its 14th consecutive victory and 37th straight in conference regular-season matches.
   On Court 1, No. 28 Michaela Gordon, a sophomore from Saratoga in the San Francisco Bay Area, beat No. 44 Julia Rosenqvist 5-7, 6-4, 6-0.
   The Cardinal (19-1 overall and 10-0 in the Pac-12) will be seeded first in the Pac-12 Championships, Thursday through Saturday in Ojai, Calif. The Bears fell to 12-7 and 6-4.

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