Saturday, August 31, 2019

Aptos runner-up Koepfer gains last 16 in U.S. Open

Dominik Koepfer, shown in Aptos, Calif., three weeks ago,
had never played in a Grand Slam tournament, even in
qualifying, before this year. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Qualifier Dominik Koepfer, who has reached the final of a Northern California Challenger in each of the past two years, surprised 17th-seeded Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia 6-4, 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-1 on Friday to reach the round of 16 in the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
   Koepfer, a 25-year-old German left-hander, graduated from Tulane in New Orleans in 2016 and lives in Tampa, Fla. He had never played in a Grand Slam tournament, even in qualifying, before this year. Koepfer, 5-foot-11 (1.80 meters), lost in the second round of qualifying in the Australian Open and French Open and reached the second round of the main draw at Wimbledon as a wild card.
   Koepfer, the runner-up in Aptos three weeks ago and San Francisco in 2018, is scheduled to play fifth-seeded Daniil Medvedev of Russia on Sunday. Medvedev, 6-foot-6 (1.98 meters), topped Feliciano Lopez, a 37-year-old left-hander from Spain, 7-6 (1), 4-6, 7-6 (7), 6-4 in 3 hours, 19 minutes.
   In Medvedev's three other tournaments since Wimbledon, he reached the finals in Washington, D.C., and Montreal and won his first Masters 1000 title in Cincinnati.
   Even if Koepfer loses, he will catapult 34 places to a career-high No. 84 after the U.S. Open and pocket $280,000, almost doubling his career earnings of $332,732.
   Top-ranked Novak Djokovic, who won his third U.S. Open title last year, and 38-year-old Roger Federer, the third seed and a five-time champion in Flushing Meadows, won in straight sets.
   Djokovic, who was hampered by a left shoulder injury against Juan Ignacio Londero on Wednesday night, said in an on-court interview that he played "almost pain-free."
   Eighth-seeded Serena Williams, a 37-year-old part-time resident of Silicon Valley, dismissed Karolina Muchova, 23, of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-2. Muchova reached the quarterfinals in her Wimbledon main-draw debut last month.
   Williams, who needs one more Grand Slam singles title to tie Margaret Court's record of 24, will meet 22nd-seeded Petra Martic of Croatia for the first time on Sunday.
   Martic, 28, eliminated 12th-seeded Anastasija Sevastova, a U.S. Open semifinalist last year and quarterfinalist in 2016 and 2017, 6-4, 6-3.

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