Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Gibbs defeats Aussie in return to Grand Slam play

Ex-Stanford star Nicole Gibbs, playing in Berkeley
last year, won today in the first round of qualifying
at the U.S. Open after undergoing cancer surgery
in May. Photo by Paul Bauman
   No. 24 seed Nicole Gibbs (Stanford, 2011-13) returned to Grand Slam competition today with a 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 victory over Kaylah McPhee of Australia in the first round of qualifying at the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
   It was Gibbs' first appearance in a major tournament since she fell in the last round of qualifying at the Australian Open in January. She underwent surgery for a rare cancer in the roof of her mouth on May 17 at UCLA.
   Gibbs has played in the main draw of the U.S. Open for the past seven years, reaching the third round in 2014.
   Gibbs is playing in her fourth tournament since the surgery. After advancing to the final of a $60,000 ITF tournament in Honolulu, Gibbs lost in the opening round of qualifying in Toronto on the WTA tour and to a qualifier in the first round of a $100,000 tournament in Vancouver.
   "I've had a tough last couple of competitive weeks, so I think that today was a tough one to get through for me in terms of my confidence," Gibbs, a resident of Venice in the Los Angeles area, said on usopen.org. "Being on the other side of it feels really good, and I think I'll have a lot to build on now."
   Gibbs, 5-foot-6 (1.68 meters), is scheduled to meet former Pacific-12 Conference rival Robin Anderson, a 5-foot-3 (1.61-meter) native of Long Branch, N.J., who starred at UCLA, in a matchup of 26-year-olds on Thursday.
   Anderson, ranked No. 165, is 2-1 against Gibbs, ranked No. 135 after climbing to a career-high No. 68 in 2016, in professional tournaments. This will be their third meeting of the year after they split matches in $100,000 U.S. clay-court tournaments in consecutive weeks last spring.
   Also today, Jovana Jaksic, a 25-year-old Serb living in Sacramento, beat Julia Grabher of Austria 6-2, 6-4.
   Jaksic has tumbled from a career-high No. 102 in 2014 to No. 244 because of injuries. She is set to play fifth-seeded Kirsten Flipkens, 33, of Belgium for the first time on Thursday. Flipkens, a Wimbledon semifinalist in 2013, eliminated Irina Bara of Romania 6-3, 6-4.
   Anisimova withdraws – Amanda Anisimova, a 17-year-old American ranked No. 24, withdrew from the U.S. Open after the death of her father and coach, Konstantin Anisimov.
   In June, Anisimova shocked defending champion Simona Halep to become the youngest American to reach the French Open semifinals since 14-year-old Jennifer Capriati in 1990.
   At 15 in 2017, Anisimova claimed her first professional title in a $60,000 tournament in Sacramento and won the U.S. Open girls singles crown.

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