Saturday, September 28, 2019

Doubles player defaulted; Paul, Aussie reach singles final

Thanasi Kokkinakis, shown en route to the title in Aptos, Calif.,
last year, will try to win another Northern California Challenger
on Sunday. Photo by Paul Bauman
   After a scary moment in the doubles semifinals, Tommy Paul and Thanasi Kokkinakis reached the singles final in the $108,320 First Republic Tiburon (Calif.) Challenger.
   Alex Lawson, seeded second with fellow American Jackson Withrow, was defaulted for swatting a ball into the seats today during a match tiebreaker against third-seeded Robert Galloway of Greenville, S.C., and Roberto Maytin of Venezuela.
   After Lawson sailed a moonball long on his serve for a 1-3 deficit, a ballboy tossed a ball to him to serve again. Lawson swung at the ball, apparently intending to bash it high in the air.
   Instead, the ball zoomed into the VIP seats, striking a middle-aged man in the back. The man, who was not injured, was standing at a banquet table behind the seats with his back to the court.
   Lawson immediately dropped his racket, put his head in his hands in dismay and ran to the stands. USTA supervisor Keith Crossland, who was watching the match, promptly defaulted the 25-year-old former Notre Dame All-American, who's ranked No. 139 in doubles.
   The top-seeded Paul, 22, of Greenville, N.C., beat fourth-seeded Emilio Gomez of Ecuador 6-1, 7-5 on a windy day to tie their head-to-head series 1-1. Gomez, the son of 1990 French Open champion Andres Gomez, defeated Paul, the 2015 French Open boys singles champion, 6-2, 6-2 on clay in the final of the $54,160 Tallahassee (Fla.) Challenger in April.
   The eighth-seeded Kokkinakis, a 23-year-old Australian who has battled a pectoral injury all year, topped 14th-seeded Thai-Son Kwiatkowski of Charlottesville, Va., 2-6, 6-2, 6-1.
   Last year, Kokkinakis stunned Roger Federer in the second round in Miami and won a $100,000 Challenger in Aptos, Calif., 98 miles (157 kilometers) south of Tiburon.
   Kwiatkowski won the 2017 NCAA singles title as a University of Virginia senior.
   Paul, the only top-100 player in the singles draw at No. 87, and Kokkinakis, ranked No. 183, will meet for the first time on Sunday not before 2 p.m. Kokkinakis climbed as high as No. 69 at 18 in 2015 before injuries derailed his career.
   Here are the updated Tiburon singles and doubles draws and Sunday's schedule.

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