Friday, September 13, 2019

Wild card Hart reaches semifinals of $25K Redding

   Jada Hart, who had never won a main-draw singles match in a professional tournament before this week, has reached the semifinals of the $25,000 Ascension Project Women's Open in Redding, Calif.
   Hart, a 21-year-old wild card from Colton, Calif. (east of Los Angeles), beat Pamela Montez, a 28-year-old former UCLA All-American from La Quinta in the Palm Springs area, 6-4, 7-5 today at Sun Oaks Tennis & Fitness. The temperature peaked at 100 degrees (37.8 Celsius).
   Hart advanced to the NCAA singles quarterfinals as a UCLA junior in May and won the 2016 U.S. Open girls doubles title with fellow Bruin Ena Shibahara.
   Hart, who's unranked in singles, will face third-seeded Gabriela Talaba, a 24-year-old Romanian left-hander ranked No. 307, for the first time on Saturday not before 6 p.m.
   Talaba, who starred at Texas Tech, downed Emina Bektas, a 26-year-old former Michigan All-American from Indianapolis, 7-5, 6-2 to reach the semifinals for the third consecutive tournament.
   In the other semifinal not before 8 p.m., top-seeded Katherine Sebov, a 20-year-old Canadian ranked No. 200, will meet Alycia Parks, an 18-year-old professional from Port St. Lucie, Fla., ranked No. 522, for the first time.
   Sebov, the runner-up in two consecutive $25,000 tournaments during the summer, eliminated lucky loser Ellie Douglas, a Texas Christian sophomore from McKinney, Texas, 6-2, 7-5.
   Parks, a finalist in a $15,000 clay-court tournament in Shreveport, La., in June, defeated qualifier Elysia Bolton, the Pacific-12 Conference Freshman/Newcomer of the Year last spring from UCLA, 6-3, 7-5.
   Here are the updated Redding singles and doubles draws and Saturday's schedule.

Top seed survives as upsets continue in $25K Redding

   Only two seeds reached the quarterfinals of the $25,000 Ascension Project Women's Open on another blistering day in Redding, Calif.
   Joining top-seeded Katherine Sebov and third-seeded Gabriela Talaba in the quarters were qualifier Elysia Bolton, wild card Jada Hart and lucky loser Ellie Douglas.
   Sebov, a 20-year-old Canadian, prevailed in three sets for the second consecutive match, beating Paige Hourigan, a former Georgia Tech All-American from New Zealand, 6-1, 3-6, 6-1 on Thursday in 2 hours, 15 minutes on a 100-degree (37.8 Celsius) day at Sun Oaks Tennis & Fitness.
   Talaba, a 24-year-old Romanian left-hander who starred at Texas Tech, dispatched qualifier Peyton Stearns, a high school senior from Mason, Ohio, 6-2, 6-2.
   Bolton, the Pacific-12 Conference Freshman/Newcomer of the Year last spring from UCLA, eliminated fourth-seeded Hanna Chang of Fontana in the Los Angeles area 6-3, 6-7 (3), 6-0 in 2 hours, 35 minutes.
   Hart, a 21-year-old resident of Colton (east of Los Angeles), routed fifth-seeded Bianca Turati of Italy 6-2, 6-1.
   Hart won the 2016 U.S. Open girls doubles title with UCLA teammate Ena Shibahara. Turati, a senior at the University of Texas, is ranked No. 1 nationally in singles by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association.
   Pamela Montez, a 28-year-old former UCLA All-American from La Quinta in the Palm Springs area, outlasted Ashley Kratzer of Newport Beach, Calif., 5-7, 7-5, 6-4 in 3 hours, 2 minutes.
   Kratzer, a 20-year-old left-hander, knocked off second-seeded Catherine Harrison of Germantown, Tenn., in the Memphis region in the first round.
   Here are the Redding singles and doubles draws and today's schedule.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Clijsters, 36, plans return to WTA Tour

   International Tennis Hall of Famer Kim Clijsters, a 36-year-old mother of three, announced today that she plans to return to the WTA Tour in 2020.
   "I don't really feel like I want to prove something," Clijsters said on the WTA Insider Podcast. "For me, it's a challenge. ... I still love to play tennis."
   Clijsters, who left the circuit in 2012, won four Grand Slam titles in singles (three in the U.S. Open) and two in doubles. She ranks third among active players, behind Serena and Venus Williams, and 14th in the Open era (since 1968) with 41 singles titles.
   Four of Clijsters' titles came in the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford (2001, 2003, 2005 and 2006). The tournament moved to San Jose as the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic last year.
   Clijsters also played on Belgium's Fed Cup championship team in 2001 and won the Karen Kranrtzcke Sportsmanship Award, voted on by players, a record eight times.
   As a former world No. 1, Clijsters is eligible for unlimited wild cards in WTA tournaments.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Kratzer ousts No. 2 seed Harrison in $25K Redding

Ashley Kratzer, playing in Berkeley, Calif., last year,
ousted second-seeded Catherine Harrison today in the
first round of the $25,000 Ascension Project Women's
Open in Redding, Calif. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Ashley Kratzer, a 20-year-old left-hander from Newport Beach, Calif., toppled second-seeded Catherine Harrison from Germantown, Tenn., in the Memphis area 7-6 (4), 6-3 today in the first round of the $25,000 Ascension Project Women's Open in Redding, Calif.
   Kratzer won the USTA Girls 18 National Championships in 2017, reached the final of the $60,000 Stockton (Calif.) Challenger in 2017 and advanced to the semifinals of the $60,000 Berkeley (Calif.) Challenger last year. But she has tumbled from a career-high No. 200 last summer to No. 439.
   After defeating Kratzer in Berkeley, Nicole Gibbs (Stanford, 2011-13) predicted that Kratzer would climb to the "top 50 for sure, if not top 20, soon."
   Also losing today at Sun Oaks Tennis & Fitness were sixth-seeded Grace Min of Lake Nona, Fla., seventh-seeded Quinn Gleason from Mendon, N.Y., and eighth-seeded Chieh-Yu Hsu of Chinese Taipei.
   Qualifier Maria Mateas, a 20-year-old American, outlasted Min, the runner-up in the 2016 Sacramento Challenger, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in 2 hours, 54 minutes. Min, 25, has plunged from a career-high No. 97 in 2015 to No. 366.
   Lucky loser Ellie Douglas, a Texas Christian sophomore from McKinney, Texas, defeated Gleason, a 24-year-old former Notre Dame star, 2-6, 6-3, 6-1. Also, qualifier Kimmi Hance, a high school junior from Torrance in the Los Angeles area, topped Hsu 6-4, 0-6, 6-3.
   The only singles seed in action today who won was No. 5 Bianca Turati of Italy. A University of Texas senior ranked No. 1 nationally, Turati beat qualifier Lauren Proctor of Bradenton, Fla., 6-4, 6-4. Proctor completed her eligibility at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., in the spring.
   Here are the Redding singles and doubles draws and Thursday's schedule.
   ATP Challenger Tour – Second-seeded Andre Goransson (Cal, 2014-17) of Sweden and Sem Verbeek (Pacific, 2013-16),  a Dutch left-hander, edged top-seeded Sander Arends and David Pel of the Netherlands 7-6 (6), 4-6 [11-9] last weekend to win the doubles title in the $51,311 Cassis (France) Open Provence.
   Goransson, 25, earned his third Challenger doubles title of the year and fifth overall. Verbeek, also 25, won his second Challenger doubles crown of 2019, both with Goransson, and third overall. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Top seed, others survive marathons in $25K Redding

   So much for easing into the tournament.
   Top-seeded Katherine Sebov needed almost three hours to win her first-round match in the $25,000 Ascension Project Women's Open in Redding, Calif.
   Sebov, a 20-year-old Canadian, wore down Tara Moore of Great Britain 7-6 (4), 4-6, 6-0 in 2 hours, 55 minutes at Sun Oaks Tennis & Fitness.
   Moore, 27, put in only 48 percent of her first serves (48 of 99) and committed 11 double faults.
   In the first round of a $25,000 tournament in Sunderland, Great Britain, in April, Moore trailed 0-6, 0-5 and faced match point against Jessika Ponchet of France before prevailing 0-6, 7-6 (7), 6-3.
   The Sebov-Moore match was not the longest of the day. Alycia Parks, 18, of Port St. Lucie, Fla., edged Sanaz Marand, a 31-year-old American left-hander, 7-5, 1-6, 7-6 (5) in 3 hours, 6 minutes.
   Also, third-seeded Gabriela Talaba, a Romanian left-hander, needed 2 hours, 32 minutes to subdue Lorraine Guillermo of Walnut in the Los Angeles area 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 in a battle of former collegiate All-Americans. Talaba, 24, starred at Texas Tech and Guillermo, 26, at Pepperdine.
   Wild card Jada Hart, a 21-year-old resident of Colton (east of Los Angeles), outlasted Luisa Stefani of Brazil 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 in 2 hours, 26 minutes.
   Hart won the 2016 U.S. Open girls doubles title with UCLA teammate Ena Shibahara, and Stefani reached the doubles final in last year's $60,000 Stockton, Calif.,  Challenger with American Quinn Gleason.
   Fourth-seeded Hanna Chang of Fontana in the Los Angeles region had an easier time than the others, defeating wild card Haley Giavara, a Cal freshman from San Diego, 6-0, 7-5.
   Alexa Glatch, a Newport Beach, Calif., native playing on her 30th birthday, beat 18-year-old American Elizabeth Mandlik, the daughter of International Tennis Hall of Famer Hana Mandlikova, 7-5, 6-1.
   Here are the Redding qualifying draw, singles and doubles main draws and Wednesday's schedule.

Top seed Sebov set for $25K Redding opener

   Top-seeded Katherine Sebov of Canada is scheduled to play Tara Moore of Great Britain today not before noon in the first round of the $25,000 Ascension Project Women's Open at Sun Oaks Tennis & Fitness in Redding, Calif.
   Sebov, 20, is ranked No. 200, and Moore, 27, is No. 518.
   Last year's tournament was canceled because of wildfires that ravaged the area. The Carr Fire, the sixth-most destructive in California history, killed eight people and injured three, burned 229,651 acres, destroyed 1,079 residences and 525 other structures, and cost more than $1.659 billion.
   Redding tournament alumni include former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, ex-doubles world No. 1 Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic and current top-70 singles players Lauren Davis (No. 62) and Jennifer Brady (No. 66), both of Boca Raton, Fla.
   The Redding-based Ascension project develops athletes into leaders.
   Here are the Redding qualifying drawsingles and doubles main draws, and today's schedule.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Nadal wins epic battle for title, nears Federer record

Rafael Nadal, shown in 2017, beat Daniil Medvedev in straight sets today for
his second Grand Slam title of the year and 19th overall. Photo by Mal Taam
   Look out, Roger. Rafa is gaining ground fast.
   Rafael Nadal moved within one of Roger Federer's record 20 Grand Slam singles titles today, holding off gutsy Daniil Medvedev 7-5, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4 in the U.S. Open.
   The scintillating battle of wills lasted 4 hours, 50 minutes in front of a boisterous crowd at 23,771-seat Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing Meadows, N.Y. No matter how bleak the situation looked for Medvedev, he would not give up. Nadal, meanwhile, was as tenacious as ever.
   "It was an amazing final," Nadal, who collected $3.85 million, said during the awards ceremony. "I had more or less the match under control. Daniil had one of the best summers I ever saw. Tonight, everybody saw why he (will be) No. 4 in the world already at 23. The way he was able to fight and change the rhythm of the match was just incredible.
   "It's difficult to speak. It's one of the most emotional nights of my tennis career."
   Nadal, 33, is five years younger than Federer. Then there's Novak Djokovic, who ranks third with 16 major crowns at age 32.
   Nadal and Djokovic earned two major singles titles apiece this year. The last man other than Federer, Nadal or Djokovic to win a Grand Slam singles title was Stan Wawrinka in the 2016 U.S. Open.
   Nadal collected $3.85 million after winning his second U.S. Open title in three years and fourth overall. Seeded second, he ended Medvedev's winning streak at 12 matches.
   The fifth-seeded Medvedev fell to 20-3 since Wimbledon, including a 6-3, 6-0 loss to Nadal in the Montreal final in their only previous meeting. Medvedev won his first Masters 1000 title last month in Cincinnati, upsetting the top-ranked Djokovic in the semifinals.
   The 6-foot-6 (1.97-meter) Medvedev played in his first Grand Slam final. He became the first Russian to reach the U.S. Open title match since Marat Safin stunned Pete Sampras in 2000.
   Safin was inducted in the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2016. His countryman, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, entered the Hall of Fame this year.
   Medvedev, who will rise one notch to No. 4 on Monday, is part of a long-awaited new wave of Russian men that also includes No. 9 Karen Khachanov, 23, and No. 43 Andrey Rublev, 21.
   Rublev reached the quarterfinals in Cincinnati as a qualifier, surprising Wawrinka and Federer before losing to Medvedev, and the fourth round of the U.S. Open, ousting eight-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas in the first round and 28th-seeded Nick Kyrgios in the third round.
   Nadal ran Medvedev from side to side with his punishing groundstrokes, many of which Medvedev retrieved, in the first 2 1/2 sets before Medvedev somehow summoned the energy to rebound.
   Medvedev, who was booed last week after snatching a towel from a ballperson and tossing his racket, was cheered by the crowd for his hustle, heart and perseverance.
   When Nadal broke serve to lead 3-2 in the third set, it appeared he was on his way to a straight-set victory.
   "To be honest, in my mind, I was already, 'OK, what do I say in the speech? It's going to be soon, in 20 minutes, losing in three sets in (my first major) final,'" said Medvedev, who earned $1.9 million. "So I was like, 'OK, I have to fight for every ball and see how it goes.' It went far, huh? Unfortunately, it didn't go my way."
   Medvedev broke right back and again in the last game of the set. He scored the only break of the fourth set, also in the final game, to level the match.
   Nadal saved two break points to hold for 1-1 in the fifth set. Medvedev served at 2-2, 40-0, but Nadal broke with a backhand cross-court passing shot off a backhand drop shot by Medvedev.
   Nadal broke again for 5-2, but Medvedev broke right back and saved two championship points to hold for 4-5. Nadal then held serve, converting his third championship point with a service winner.
   Earlier today, Elise Mertens of Belgium and Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus won their first Grand Slam title, separately or together. Seeded fourth, they beat eighth-seeded Ashleigh Barty of Australia and Victoria Azarenka of Belarus 7-5, 7-5.
   Sabalenka, 21, recently split with coach Dmitry Tursunov, a 36-year-old Moscow native who trained in Northern California as a junior and professional, after 15 months.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Andreescu, 19, upsets Serena for U.S. Open title

   For the second consecutive year, a young upstart prevented Serena Williams from tying Margaret Court's record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles in the U.S. Open final.
   At least Williams didn't melt down this time.
   One year after 20-year-old Naomi Osaka stunned Williams in a tumultuous final in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., 19-year-old Bianca Andreescu triumphed 6-3, 7-5 today in front of a staunchly pro-Williams crowd at 23,771-seat Arthur Ashe Stadium.
   The hard-hitting Andreescu, seeded 15th, showed no sign of nerves in her first major final until trying to close out the match. The daughter of Romanian immigrants, she became the first Canadian man or woman to win a Grand Slam singles title.
   Andreescu lost in the first round of qualifying in last year's U.S. Open and was ranked No. 152 at the end of 2018.
   "Last year wasn't an easy period in my life," Andreescu, who earned $3.85 million for the title and will rise 10 spots to No. 5 in the world on Monday, said during the awards ceremony. "I was going through a lot with injuries, but I persevered. I told myself to never give up. I had a really good preseason with my amazing team. I thank you guys so much for sticking by me every step of the way, so I have to dedicate this win to all of you.
   "I just kept believing in myself. I kept working hard, and I just kept that momentum and confidence throughout this whole year. Hopefully, I can keep going."
   The eighth-seeded Williams, a part-time Silicon Valley resident who will turn 38 on Sept. 26, fell to 0-4 in Grand Slam singles finals since having her first child on Sept. 1, 2017, and undergoing life-threatening complications. Each loss has been in straight sets.
   "My team has been so supportive through all the downs and downs and downs and downs, and hopefully we'll have some ups soon," Williams, who was on her best behavior throughout the tournament, said with a laugh.
   Nerves played a big role in today's final, especially for Williams, as they have in each of her four losses. She double-faulted on break point the first three times she lost her serve, and her footwork was poor for much of the match.
   Andreescu raced to a 5-1 lead in the second set, but Williams saved a championship point and reeled off the next four games. After Andreescu held for 6-5, she converted her third championship point with a forehand winner off a Williams second serve.
   Earlier, Bethanie Mattek-Sands of Phoenix and Jamie Murray of Great Britain won the mixed doubles title for the second straight year. Unseeded, they knocked off top-seeded Hao-Ching Chan of Chinese Taipei and Michael Venus of New Zealand 6-2, 6-3. Murray, Andy Murray's older brother, also won the 2017 crown with Martina Hingis.

Nadal to meet Medvedev in U.S. Open final

Rafael Nadal, shown in 2017, can pull within one of Roger Federer's record 20
Grand Slam singles titles. Photo by Mal Taam
   Daniil Medvedev is known as a fast learner, among other things.
   He had better be.
   The rising Russian star must figure out how to beat Rafael Nadal in the U.S. Open final on Sunday at 1 p.m. PDT on ESPN. Good luck with that.
   Four weeks ago, Nadal drubbed Medvedev 6-3, 6-0 for the Montreal title in their only previous career meeting.
   Nadal, seeded second, and Medvedev, seeded fifth, reached the final in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., with victories by remarkably similar scores on Friday.
   Nadal, 33, eliminated 24th-seeded Matteo Berrettini of Italy 7-6 (6), 6-4, 6-1. The 6-foot-6 (1.97-meter) Medvedev, 23, downed unseeded Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-3 to reach his first Grand Slam final.
   Nadal seeks his second U.S. Open title in three years and fourth overall. He can pull within one of Roger Federer's record 20 major singles crowns.
   Medvedev improved to 20-2 since Wimbledon with his 12th consecutive victory, including his first Masters 1000 title in Cincinnati.
   Earlier Friday, Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah of Colombia won their second consecutive Grand Slam title. The top seeds beat eighth-seeded Marcel Granollers of Spain and Horacio Zeballos of Argentina 6-4, 7-5.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Serena, Andreescu advance to U.S. Open final

Serena Williams, playing in San Jose last year, will try again to equal Margaret
Court's record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles. Photo by Mal Taam
   Serena Williams has lost one-sided finals three times while trying to tie Margaret Court's record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles.
   Williams will get another chance on Saturday (1 p.m. PDT on ESPN).
   Seeded eighth, the 37-year-old part-time resident of Silicon Valley dismissed fifth-seeded Elina Svitolina of Ukraine 6-3, 6-1 in 70 minutes on Thursday in the U.S. Open semifinals.
   Combined with her 44-minute quarterfinal victory over Wang Qiang, Williams has averaged 57 minutes in her last two matches in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
   Williams will meet 15th-seeded Bianca Andreescu, a 19-year-old Canadian, for the title. Andreescu turned back 13th-seeded Belinda Bencic of Switzerland 7-6 (3), 7-5 to reach her first Grand Slam final. Bencic, 22, led 5-2 in the second set.
   Andreescu and Williams have met once – sort of. Andreescu led 3-1 in last month's Toronto final when Williams retired with back spasms.
   Williams won her 23rd major singles crown in the 2017 Australian Open, had her first child seven months later and suffered life-threatening complications. She lost finals to Angelique Kerber 6-3, 6-3 at Wimbledon in 2018, Naomi Osaka 6-2, 6-4 in last year's U.S. Open and Simona Halep 6-2, 6-2 at Wimbledon in July.
   Williams has been on her best behavior during matches and interviews the last two weeks after her tumultuous loss to Osaka.
   In the third round of boys singles on Thursday, eighth-seeded Emilio Nava, 17, of Woodland Hills in the Los Angeles area beat Aidan Mayo, a 16-year-old product of Roseville in the Sacramento region, 7-6 (3), 6-2.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Serena, Nadal close in on U.S. Open titles

   It appears that Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal each will win another Grand Slam singles title this weekend.
   Four women and four men remain in the U.S. Open singles draws, and Williams and Nadal are the only ones who have played in a major final. Actually, Williams has played in 32 of them, winning 23, and Nadal has appeared in 26 of them, winning 18.
   That, of course, guarantees nothing. If Williams and Nadal reach the finals, their opponents will have nothing to lose. Williams, in fact, is 0-3 in major finals since having her first child on Sept. 1, 2017.
   Williams needs one more Grand Slam singles title to equal Margaret Court's record of 24, and Nadal can pull within one of Roger Federer's record of 20 major singles crowns.
   The eighth-seeded Williams, who has a residence in Silicon Valley, is scheduled to play fifth-seeded Elina Svitolina of Ukraine today at 4 p.m. PDT (ESPN), followed by 13th-seeded Belinda Bencic of Switzerland against 15th-seeded Bianca Andreescu of Canada.
   Today, Bencic beat 23rd-seeded Donna Vekic of Croatia 7-6 (5), 6-3, and Andreescu topped 25th-seeded Elise Mertens of Belgium 3-6, 6-2, 6-3. Vekic, 23, reached the San Jose semifinals this summer.
   Williams, 37, is 4-1 against the 24-year-old Svitolina, a quarterfinalist as the top seed in San Jose, but they have not met since 2016. Bencic, 22, and Andreescu, 19, will meet for the first time.
   The second-seeded Nadal, 33, will face 24th-seeded Matteo Berrettini – a sturdy, 6-foot-5 (1.95-meter) Italian – for the first time on Friday at 4 p.m. (ESPN). Nadal dispatched 20th-seeded Diego Schwartzman, a 5-foot-7 (1.70-meter) Argentine, 6-4, 7-5, 6-2.
   Berrettini, 23, edged 13th-seeded Gael Monfils of France 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (5) in 3 hours, 57 minutes to become the second Italian man to reach the U.S. Open semis. Corrado Barazzutti accomplished the feat in 1977.
   In the other semifinal, fifth-seeded Daniil Medvedev of Russia is set to play unseeded Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria on Friday at 1 p.m. (ESPN). Medvedev, 23, and Dimitrov, 28, have split two career meetings, both in 2017.
   Meanwhile, top-seeded Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah of Colombia eliminated Luke Bambridge of Great Britain and Ben McLachlan (Cal, 2011-14) of Japan 6-4, 6-4 in the men's doubles quarterfinals.
   In the second round of girls singles, fourth-seeded Maria Camila Osorio Serrano of Colombia beat Katie Volynets of Walnut Creek in the San Francisco Bay Area 6-4, 6-4.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Dimitrov shocks Federer in U.S. Open quarterfinals

Grigor Dimitrov beat Roger Federer for the first
time in eight matches. File photo by Paul Bauman
   For the second consecutive year, Roger Federer wilted before the semifinals of the U.S. Open.
   Last year, it was against 55th-ranked John Millman in extreme humidity in the fourth round.
   On Tuesday night, it was against 78th-ranked Grigor Dimitrov, who had been 0-7 against the Swiss star, in the quarterfinals.
   Dimitrov, ranked a career-high No. 3 as recently as November 2017, beat the third-seeded Federer 3-6, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 in Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
   "Grigor was able to put me away," Federer, who was seeking a record-breaking sixth U.S. Open singles title, told reporters. "I fought with what I had."
   Federer, 38, took a rare medical timeout after the fourth set for pain in his upper back and neck. He put up little resistance in the fifth set and finished with 60 unforced errors to Dimitrov's 41.
   "He started slowing down a little bit," the 28-year-old Dimitrov, who's known as "Baby Fed" because of his one-handed backhand and artistry on the court, said in an on-court interview. "For sure, in the end, he was not 100 percent of himself."
   Dimitrov, who had lost six of his last seven matches entering the U.S. Open, will jump to at least No. 25 on Monday. In his third Grand Slam singles semifinal, he is scheduled to meet fifth-seeded Daniil Medvedev of Russia on Friday. The 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Medvedev, 23, beat 23rd-seeded Stan Wawrinka 7-6 (6), 3-6, 6-3, 6-1.
   In Medvedev's last three tournaments before the U.S. Open, he reached the finals in Washington, D.C., and Montreal and won his first Masters 1000 title in Cincinnati. 
   Wawrinka won his third and last Grand Slam singles in the 2016 U.S. Open but underwent two knee operations in 2017. 
   Medvedev and Dimitrov have split two career meetings, both in 2017.
   In the women's quarterfinals, eighth seed and six-time champion Serena Williams demolished 18th-seeded Wang Qiang of China 6-1, 6-0 in 44 minutes. That tied Simona Halep's third-round victory over Viktoria Kuzmova in Madrid for the shortest WTA match of the year, wtatennis.com reported.
   Williams, a 37-year-old part-time resident of Silicon Valley, is set to play fifth-seeded Elina Svitolina of Ukraine on Thursday. 
   Svitolina, who reached the San Jose quarterfinals as the top seed this summer, eliminated 16th-seeded Johanna Konta, the champion of the 2016 Bank of the West Classic at Stanford, 6-4, 6-4.
   Williams is 4-1 against the 24-year-old Svitolina, but they have not met since 2016.
   In junior singles:
   –Aidan Mayo, a 16-year-old product of Roseville in the Sacramento area, defeated Juan Bautista Torres of Argentina 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 in the second round.
   –Fifth-seeded Zheng Qinwen of China dominated Allura Zamarripa of Saint Helena in the Napa region 6-0, 6-2 in the second round.
   –Katie Volynets, 17, of Walnut Creek in the San Francisco Bay Area, outplayed Carole Monnet of France 6-1, 6-3 in the first round.
   In the first round of junior doubles:
   –Sixth-seeded Pablo Llamas Ruiz of Spain and Gauthier Onclin of Belgium beat Cash Hanzlik of Portland, Ore., and Mayo 6-2, 6-2.
   –Nicolas Alvarez Varona of Spain and Bautista Torres defeated Hugo Hashimoto of San Jose and Benjamin Kittay of Potomac, Md., 7-5, 7-5.
   –Top-seeded Alexa Noel of Summit, N.J., and Diane Parry of France beat India Houghton of Belvedere Tiburon in the San Francisco Bay Area and Carol Young Suh Lee of Northern Mariana Islands 6-1, 6-4.
   –Joanna Garland of Chinese Taipei and Mananchaya Sawangkaew of Thailand topped identical twins Allura and Maribella Zamarripa 7-5, 5-7 [10-2].

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Osaka follows Djokovic out the door in U.S. Open

   Less than 24 hours after world No. 1 and defending champion Novak Djokovic lost in the round of 16 at the U.S. Open, his female counterpart did the same.
   Naomi Osaka fell to 13th-seeded Belinda Bencic of Switzerland 7-5, 6-4 on Monday at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
   Since winning her second consecutive Grand Slam singles title in the Australian Open in January, the 21-year-old Osaka has failed to reach the quarterfinals of a major.
   Ashleigh Barty will rise one spot to regain the No. 1 ranking after the U.S. Open, Karolina Pliskova will improve one notch to No. 2, and Osaka will drop to No. 3.
   Bencic, 22, advanced to her second Grand Slam quarterfinal. The first came five years ago in the U.S. Open.
   A 5-foot-9 (1.75-meter) right-hander, Bencic climbed to a career-high No. 7 at age 18 in 2016 but underwent left-wrist surgery in the spring of 2017 and sat out for five months. She has fought back from No. 318 in September 2017 to No. 12 and will improve to at least No. 8 after the U.S. Open.
Donna Vekic, shown last month in San Jose, saved
a match point in her three-set victory over Julia
Goerges. Photo by Mal Taam
   Bencic is set to face 23rd-seeded Donna Vekic of Croatia on Wednesday. Vekic, a semifinalist in San Jose last month and first-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist, saved a match point in her 6-7 (5), 7-5, 6-3 victory over 26th-seeded Julia Goerges of Germany.
   Bencic is 2-1 against the 23-year-old Vekic, winning in straight sets on grass and a hard court in 2014 and losing 6-4, 6-1 in the third round of the French Open in June.
   In the other quarterfinal in the top half of the women's draw, 15th-seeded Bianca Andreescu of Canada will meet 25th-seeded Elise Mertens of Belgium for the first time.
   Andreescu, 19, stopped U.S. qualifier Taylor Townsend, who played for the now-defunct Sacramento Capitals of World TeamTennis six years ago at 17, 6-1, 4-6, 6-2. Mertens routed U.S. wild card Kristie Ahn 6-1, 6-1 in 66 minutes, avenging a loss to the 27-year-old Stanford graduate in the second round in San Jose.
   Ahn had never won a main-draw match in a Grand Slam tournament before last week. She was born two miles from the National Tennis Center at Flushing Hospital, lives in nearby Englewood Cliffs, N.J., and trains at the center.
   Ahn will soar 48 places to No. 93, cracking the top 100 for the first time, and add $280,000 to her career prize money of $548,241.
   In the men's quarterfinals in the bottom half of the draw on Wednesday, second seed and three-time U.S. Open champion Rafael Nadal will play 20th-seeded Diego Schwartzman of Argentina, and 13th-seeded Gael Monfils of France will meet 24th-seeded Matteo Berrettini of Italy for the first time.
   Nadal, 33, is 7-0 against the 5-foot-7 (1.70-meter) Schwartzman, 27.
   Meanwhile, 41-year-old twins Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan, both former Stanford stars, lost in the third round of a major for the third consecutive time. The seventh seeds and five-time U.S. Open champions fell to unseeded Jack Sock and Jackson Withrow 6-4, 7-5 in an all-American matchup.
   Sock and Mike Bryan won last year's U.S. Open while Bob Bryan was recovering from hip surgery.
   Also on Monday, fourth-seeded Latisha Chan of Chinese Taipei and Ivan Dodig of Croatia topped Raquel Atawo (Cal, 2001-04) of San Jose and Fabrice Martin of France 7-6 (3), 3-6 [10-3] in the mixed doubles quarterfinals.
   In the first round of boys singles, 16-year-old Aidan Mayo, who grew up in the Sacramento suburb of Roseville, surprised 12th-seeded Shunsuke Mitsui of Japan 6-4, 7-5.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Djokovic quits with injury; Wawrinka reaches quarters

Stan Wawrinka led 6-4, 7-5, 2-1 when
Novak Djokovic quit with a left-shoulder
injury in the U.S. Open round of 16.
 File photo by Paul Bauman
   Stan Wawrinka is regaining the form that carried him to three Grand Slam singles titles.
   Novak Djokovic, meanwhile, is hurting. 
   Wawrinka, seeded 23rd, led 6-4, 7-5, 2-1 when the top-ranked Djokovic retired with a left-shoulder injury in the U.S. Open round of 16 on Sunday in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
   On the women's side, 18th-seeded Qiang Wang of China ousted second-seeded Ashleigh Barty of Australia 6-2, 6-4, and eighth-seeded Serena Williams rolled her right ankle in a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Petra Martic of Croatia.   
   Wawrinka, 34, had two operations on his left knee in August 2017, returned too soon and sat out again from February to May last year.
   Djokovic, 32, won his third U.S. Open singles title last year. On Sunday, he was seeking his third Grand Slam singles title of 2019 and 17th of his career, which would have pulled him within one of second-place Rafael Nadal. Roger Federer has 20.
   Wawrinka, the 2016 U.S. Open champion, is scheduled to play fifth-seeded Daniil Medvedev of Russia on Tuesday. Medvedev, 23, eliminated qualifier Dominik Koepfer, the runner-up in the Aptos (Calif.) Challenger three weeks ago, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (2).
   Medvedev beat Wawrinka in four sets in the first round at Wimbledon in 2017 in their only previous meeting.
   Wawrinka's Swiss countryman, the third-seeded Federer, thrashed 15th-seeded David Goffin of Belgium 6-2, 6-2, 6-0 in 79 minutes. The 38-year-old Federer, who won the last of his five (consecutive) U.S. Open crowns in 2008, will meet resurgent Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria.
   Dimitrov, known as "Baby Fed" because his playing style is similar to Federer's, beat Alex De Minaur of Australia 7-5, 6-3, 6-4.
   Federer is 7-0 against Dimitrov, who has tumbled from a career-high No. 3 in November 2017 to No. 78.
   Barty also lost in the round of 16 at Wimbledon after winning her first Grand Slam singles title in the French Open. The 37-year-old Williams, who has a residence in Silicon Valley, will face Wang for the first time. 
   In the other quarterfinal in the bottom half of the women's draw, fifth-seeded Elina Svitolina of Ukraine is set to play 16th-seeded Johanna Konta of Great Britain.
   Svitolina, coming off her first Grand Slam semifinal at Wimbledon, beat Madison Keys, who won the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford and reached the U.S. Open final in 2017, 7-5, 6-4.
   Konta took out third-seeded Karolina Pliskova 6-7 (1), 6-3, 7-5. In 2016, Konta won the Bank of the West Classic, and Pliskova advanced to the U.S. Open final.
   Svitolina, 24, is 4-0 against Konta, 28.
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