Thursday, April 2, 2020

British coach launches online program on mental side

British coach David Sammel poses with Billie Jean King
at the 2018 U.S. Open. Sammel has known Ilana Kloss,
King's partner, since they were children in South Africa.
Photo courtesy of David Sammel 
   Have you ever choked in a match?
   "The answer is 'yes' because everyone chokes," Mindset College co-founder David Sammel recently wrote in a webinar promotion. "The magic is in how you manage your mind to still perform when choking."
   Mental toughness is one of the topics Sammel, a top British coach with 30 years of experience, covers in Mindset College, a new online program designed to help athletes and coaches win more. It also applies to business leaders and parents.
   The program features:
   –Twelve monthly webinars.
   –Live interactive Q&A's plus access to replays forever.
   –A digital copy of Sammel's book, "Locker Room Power: Building an Athlete's Mind."
  –Access to Mindset College's private Facebook group.
   –Insights into world-class athletes with guest appearances.
   Sammel, a 58-year-old South Africa native, in insightful and blunt in several short, entertaining videos, including Chapel of Bull----, The One Thing, Quit or Carry On and Your Weakness is as Important as Your Strength.
   Sammel coaches five professional players: Liam Broady of Great Britain and doubles standouts Marcus Daniell of New Zealand, Matwe Middelkoop of the Netherlands and Marcelo Demoliner of Brazil on the men's side and Samantha Murray Sharan (no relation to Andy Murray) of Great Britain on the women's side. All of the men have competed in the Davis Cup, and Sharan has played in the Fed Cup.
   Broady, who was ranked second in the world in the juniors, has excelled in singles in Northern California Challengers. He reached the singles final in Aptos in 2017 as a qualifier and the quarterfinals in Stockton in 2018.
   Daniell has advanced to two Grand Slam doubles quarterfinals, including Wimbledon last year with Wesley Koolhof of the Netherlands, and Middelkoop one. Middelkoop has won nine ATP doubles titles, Daniell four and Demoliner three.
   "Recently I was in South America and started with Matwe Middelkoop," Sammel recalled. "He said, 'How can you help me? I'm already a champion.' I loved the attitude, but after three weeks, he said, 'You're easily the best mental coach I've had. You've changed my perspective on so many things."
   Daniell, the doubles runner-up in Auckland in January with Philipp Oswald of Austria, has been ranked in the top 100 in doubles for more than five years.
   "I believe I wouldn't have continued for too much longer if (Sammel) hadn't seen something in me that made (him) want to snap me on to the right path," Daniell, 30, said in a testimonial. "I am truly grateful for (his) input and advice."
   Sharan is ranked No. 180 in singles.
   Sammel also coached Wesley Moodie after the South African won the Wimbledon doubles crown in 2005 with Stephen Huss of Australia. Moodie and Huss became the first qualifiers to accomplish the feat.
   "(It was) too late for my singles, but (Sammel) made my doubles career and the last two years of singles a lot more interesting and fun," Moodie, who retired in 2012, said in another testimonial. "I needed (him) out of college. I can't help but wonder what might have been."
   Full disclosure: Enrolling in Mindset College helps support this website.

U.S. prospect Kratzer provisionally suspended

Ashley Kratzer argues a call during her loss to former
Stanford star Nicole Gibbs in the semifinals of the 2018
Berkeley (Calif.) Challenger. Photo by Paul Bauman
   On July 23, 2017, Ashley Kratzer faced Sofia Kenin in the final of the $60,000 Stockton (Calif.) Challenger.
   Kenin, seeded fourth, needed only 65 minutes to demolish Kratzer, a wild card, 6-0, 6-1 in a matchup of 18-year-old Americans.
   Since then, their careers have gone in opposite directions.
   Kenin, who compensates for her relatively small size (5-foot-7 or 1.70 meters) with tenacity, has vaulted to No. 4 in the world and No. 1 in the United States. She marched to the Australian Open title as the 14th seed in January for her first Grand Slam title.
   Kratzer, who's 5-foot-11 (1.80 meters) and left-handed but volatile, is ranked No. 498. She was charged with an anti-doping violation on March 18 and provisionally suspended on March 27.
   Kratzer tested positive for a growth hormone at a $125,000 WTA tournament in her hometown of Newport Beach, Calif., in late January. She can appeal but had not as of March 27.
   The length of the suspension has not been announced.
   Kenin and Kratzer won the USTA Girls 18 National Championships in San Diego in 2015 and 2017, respectively.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Wimbledon canceled for first time in 75 years

Roger Federer tweeted "Devastated" after Wimbledon, which he has won eight
times, was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. 2017 photo by Mal Taam
   Tennis suffered its biggest blow of the coronavirus pandemic when Wimbledon was canceled today.
   It's the first time the tournament has been canceled in 75 years and the first time Wimbledon will not be played during peacetime since it began in 1877. 
   "Devastated," tweeted eight-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer, who on Monday posted a video of himself hitting trick shots against a backboard in the snow after having arthroscopic knee surgery on Feb. 19.
   Wimbledon had been scheduled for June 29 to July 12. Next year's tournament is set for July 28 to July 11. Organizers of the Tokyo Olympics also announced Monday that the games, scheduled for July 24 to Aug. 9, would be pushed back to the same time slot in 2021.
Simona Halep, shown at Indian Wells in 2015, will
have an extra year to defend her Wimbledon title.
Photo by Mal Taam
   "So sad to hear @Wimbledon won't take place this year," women's defending champion Simona Halep tweeted. "Last year's final will forever be one of the happiest days of my life! But we are going through something bigger than tennis and Wimbledon will be back! And it means I have even longer to look forward to defending my title."
   The ATP and WTA also jointly announced that all events have been canceled through July 13, wiping out the grass-court season. The International Tennis Federation made the same decision.
   All England Club officials declined to postpone the tournament because staff, supplies and services would be unavailable and the condition of the grass would be inadequate. The club also ruled out playing the tournament without spectators.
   The All England Club is insured against cancellation, sources told ESPN. Wimbledon had been canceled only because of World War I (1915-18) and World War II (1940-45).
   The U.S. Open remains scheduled for Aug. 31 to Sept. 13. However, ESPN tennis commentator Patrick McEnroe, interviewed on the network today, estimated the chances of that happening at less than 50 percent.
   McEnroe, a 53-year-old Stanford graduate and resident of Bronxville, N.Y., in the New York area, announced Tuesday that he had tested positive for the coronavirus but feels fine.
   Organizers of the French Open announced on March 17 the postponement of the tournament from May 24-June 7 to Sept. 20-Oct. 4. The unilateral move angered many players, including Vasek Pospisil of Canada.
   "This is madness," tweeted Pospisil, a member of the ATP Player Council. "Major announcement by Roland Garros changing the dates to one week after the U.S. Open. No communication with the players or the ATP .. we have ZERO say in this sport. It's time. #UniteThePlayers"

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Patrick McEnroe tests positive for coronavirus

   Patrick McEnroe, an ESPN tennis commentator who graduated from Stanford and starred on the pro doubles circuit, said today that he tested positive for coronavirus but feels fine.
   McEnroe, a 53-year-old resident of Bronxville, N.Y., in the New York area, said in a video posted on Twitter that he was tested at a drive-thru after he began feeling minor symptoms 10 or 11 days ago. He received the positive results this morning.
   "The good news is I feel fine. My symptoms have passed," said McEnroe, the younger brother of International Tennis Hall of Famer and fellow ESPN commentator John McEnroe. "I feel 100 percent."
   Patrick McEnroe said he has quarantined himself in his basement since the symptoms began.
   "We've been on full quarantine, our entire house, for well over two weeks," said McEnroe, who's married with three daughters. "I encourage everyone to do the same. Let's get this thing. Let's nail this thing. I'm an example of someone who has been able to fight through it. I'm doing absolutely fine. Thoughts and prayers to people who are struggling with this."
   Among U.S. states, New York has by far the most confirmed cases of coronavirus (75,795, according to cnn.com) and deaths (1,550). New Jersey is next with 18,696 and 267, respectively.
   Sixteen miles south of Bronxville, the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., is being converted to an emergency hospital as other facilities are overwhelmed with patients.
   In Tokyo, Olympic organizers announced Monday that the games will be held July 23-Aug. 8, 2021, the same time slot as originally scheduled this year.
   McEnroe helped Stanford win the 1986 and 1988 NCAA team titles. On the pro tour, he reached career highs of No. 28 in singles and No. 3 in doubles.
   McEnroe won 16 tour-level doubles titles, including the 1989 French Open with former Stanford teammate Jim Grabb.
   McEnroe's best Grand Slam singles result came in the 1991 Australian Open as he surprisingly reached the semifinals. He also advanced to the doubles final with David Wheaton, another ex-Stanford teammate.
   Commenting on the 1991 Australian Open singles semifinalists, McEnroe uttered one of the great lines in tennis history. He quipped to the media: "It's just like you all expected: Edberg, Lendl, McEnroe and Becker."

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Summer Olympics postponed until 2021

   The 2020 Summer Olympics have been postponed "to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021" because of the COVID-19 outbreak, the International Olympic Committee and Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee announced today.
   The Olympic tennis competition was scheduled for July 25-Aug. 2 at Ariake Tennis Park in Tokyo.
   This is the first time the Olympics have been postponed. They were canceled because of war in 1916, 1940 and 1944.
   The ATP, WTA and ITF last week announced the suspension of their tours until at least June 7.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

ATP, WTA suspend tournaments through June 7

   This spring's professional clay-court swing was wiped out today.
   The ATP and WTA extended the suspension of their tours through June 7 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
   Affected are combined ATP/WTA tournaments in Madrid and Rome, WTA events in Strasbourg and Rabat, and ATP events in Munich, Estoril, Geneva and Lyon.
   Also suspended through June 7 are ATP Challenger tournaments and the ITF World Tennis Tour.
   The French Tennis Federation announced Tuesday that Roland Garros will be moved from May 24-June 7 to Sept. 20-Oct. 4, one week after the U.S. Open.
   ATP and WTA rankings will be frozen indefinitely.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

French Open moved to one week after U.S. Open

Vasek Pospisil said moving the French Open to one week after the U.S. Open
"is madness." 2017 photo by Mal Taam
   The French Open today became the first Grand Slam tournament to be affected by the conoravirus pandemic.
   The French Tennis Federation announced that Roland Garros will move from May 24-June 7 to Sept. 20-Oct. 4.
   Federation president Bernard Giudicelli called it "a difficult yet brave decision in this unprecedented situation."
   The new dates put the clay-court French Open one week after the hard-court U.S. Open, Aug. 31-Sept. 13, and conflict with:
   –Several WTA and ATP tournaments in Asia and Europe.
   –The Laver Cup, Sept. 25-27 in Boston.
   –A combined men's and women's tournament in the Oracle Pro Series at Stanford (Sept. 21-27).
   –A men's Challenger in Tiburon, Calif. (Sept. 28-Oct. 4).
   "This is madness," tweeted Canadian pro Vasek Pospisil, a member of the ATP Player Council. "Major announcement by Roland Garros changing the dates to one week after the U.S. Open. No communication with the players or the ATP .. we have ZERO say in this sport. It's time. #UniteThePlayers"
   Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympic tennis event remain scheduled for June 29-July 12 and July 25-Aug. 2, respectively.
   "While we continue to plan for The Championships at this time," Richard Lewis, the chief executive of the All England Lawn Tennis Club, commented on wimbledon.com, "it remains a continuously evolving situation and we will act responsibly, in the best interests of wider society."
   The International Olympic Committee said on olympic.org that it will "protect the health of everyone involved" and "continue to monitor the situation 24/7."

Monday, March 16, 2020

WTA suspends tour until at least May 2

   The WTA announced today that it has suspended the women's tour until at least May 2 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
   The suspensions affect clay-court tournaments in Stuttgart, Istanbul and Prague.
   The WTA said in a news release that it will decide this week about the remaining European clay-court tournaments: Madrid (May 4-10), Rome (May 11-17), and Nuremberg and Strasbourg (May 18-24). The French Open is scheduled for May 24-June 7.
   Last week, the ATP suspended the men's tour for six weeks.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

ATP, WTA events suspended; Cal men's season canceled

   The Association of Tennis Professionals today suspended the men's tour for six weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic.
   Peter Wright, the men's tennis coach at the University of California, Berkeley, announced tonight that the remainder of the Bears' season and the NCAA Championships for all spring sports have been canceled.
   The ATP announcement came four days after the BNP Paribas Open, considered the "fifth Grand Slam," in Indian Wells, Calif., was abruptly called off.
   Today's decision affects tournaments in Houston, Marrakech, Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Budapest in addition to the Miami Open, a men's and women's tournament scheduled for March 23-April 5 that also was suspended.
   The WTA, meanwhile, canceled tournaments in Guadalajara, originally scheduled for next week, and tourneys in Bogota and Charleston, S.C., which had been set for the week of April 6.
   WTA chairman and CEO Steve Simon said in a statement that decisions on the European clay-court season would be made in the next week.
   Also, the International Tennis Federation announced today that it is suspending play until April 20 at the earliest. Therefore, the Fed Cup Finals, originally scheduled for April 24-15 in Budapest and Fed Cup playoffs, which had been set for April 17-18 at eight locations around the world, were postponed indefinitely.
   As of now, Peter Bodo of espn.com reported, the next men's or women's tournament still scheduled is a WTA event on clay in Stuttgart, beginning April 20.
   The fates of the French Open (May 24-June 7) and Wimbledon (June 29-July 12) are uncertain.
   The prestigious Easter Bowl junior tournament, originally scheduled for March 28-April 5 in Indian Wells, was called off.

Monday, March 9, 2020

BNP Paribas Open called off because of coronavirus

Dominic Thiem hoists the trophy after defeating Roger Federer in last year's
BNP Paribas Open. Also shown are Ted Mertens (far left), then the mayor of
Indian Wells, Calif.; Jean-Yves Fillion (second from left), the CEO of BNP
Paribas USA; and tournament director Tommy Haas (behind Thiem). Photo
by Mal Taam 
   The BNP Paribas Open, considered the "fifth Grand Slam," was called off on Sunday night because of the coronavirus pandemic.
   Officials canceled or indefinitely postponed the tournament, scheduled for today through March 22 in Indian Wells, Calif., after a confirmed case of coronavirus led Riverside County to declare a public health emergency.
   "There is too great a risk, at this time, to the public health of the Riverside County area in holding a large gathering," said Dr. David Agus, a professor of medicine and biomedical engineering at USC. "It is not in the public interest of fans, players and neighboring areas for this tournament to proceed. We all have to join together to protect the community from the coronavirus outbreak."
   Many elderly people, the most vulnerable group, live in the Palm Springs area, where the tournament is located, because of its warm winters.
   Tournament director Tommy Haas said he and his staff are exploring alternative dates this year.
   Patrons who have purchased tickets directly from the BNP Paribas Open may request a refund or a credit for the 2021 tournament at bnpparibasopen.com/coronavirus.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Stanford women's conference win streak ends at 38

   The Stanford women lost a Pacific-12 Conference match for the first time in almost exactly four years on Saturday.
   The No. 9 Cardinal fell to No. 3 UCLA 4-1 at Taube Family Tennis Stadium, snapping the Cardinal's conference winning streak at 38 matches.
   Stanford (10-2, 1-1), which has won the last two NCAA team titles and three of the last four, hadn't lost to a Pac-12 opponent in the regular season since a 4-3 decision at Arizona State on March 5, 2016.
   The Cardinal's Angelica Blake, a freshman from Boca Raton, Fla., tied the score against UCLA 1-1 with a 6-0, 6-4 victory over No. 17 Jada Hart on Court 3.
   No. 12 Michaela Gordon, a Stanford junior from Saratoga in the San Francisco Bay Area, led No. 9 Elysia Bolton 4-6, 6-2, 4-1 on Court 1 when the match was abandoned.
   Both of the Cardinal's losses this season have come against UCLA (12-1, 2-0), which has won five matches in a row. The Bruins routed Stanford 4-0 on Feb. 9 in the semifinals of the ITA National Team Indoor Championships in Chicago.
   Cal women – The No. 21 Bears defeated No. 37 USC 6-1 in Berkeley, Calif., on Saturday to improve to 3-4 overall and 1-1 in the Pac-12. The Women of Troy fell to 7-6 and 0-2.
   No. 27 Angela Kulikov of USC outlasted No. 15 Haley Giavara, a freshman from San Diego, 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 on Court 1 in the last match.
   College men – No. 7 seeds Ben Draper and Bjorn Hoffmann of Cal lost to brothers Tanner Smith and Colter Smith of Long Beach, Calif., 6-4, 6-7 (5) [13-11] today in the semifinals of the 131st Annual Pacific Coast Men's Doubles Championship in the San Diego suburb of La Jolla, Calif.
   Draper and Hoffman beat 10th-seeded Filip Kolasinski and Alexandre Rotsaert of Stanford 6-7 (5), 6-1, 6-1 in the fourth round on Friday.
   Kolasinski and Rotsaert ousted co-No. 1 seeds Keegan Smith and Johannes de Villiers (assistant coach) of UCLA in the third round.
   Co-No. 1 seeds Bradley Frye and Brandon Holt, the son of International Tennis Hall of Famer Tracy Austin, beat the Smith brothers 6-4, 6-3 for the title.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Bryans end Davis Cup career with win; U.S. advances

Bob Bryan, serving, and Mike Bryan finished 25-5 (.833)
in the Davis Cup to rank first in the United States and
tied for fourth overall in doubles wins. File photo by
Paul Bauman
   There are worse places to end your Davis Cup career than Honolulu.
   Especially with a clinching victory.
   Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan, 41-year-old identical twins and former Stanford stars who plan to retire after the U.S. Open, defeated Sanjar Fayziev and Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan 6-3, 6-4 in 67 minutes today to give the United States an insurmountable 3-0 lead in the best-of-five-match qualifier.
   Istomin, 33, and Fayziev, 25, are ranked No. 320 and No. 474 in doubles, respectively.
   It was the Bryans' first Davis Cup match together since an agonizing loss to Croatia in 2016 in Portland, Ore., where they had led the U.S. to the last of its record 32 championships in 2007.
   The Bryans could have given the Americans an unbeatable 3-0 lead against Croatia but lost to Marin Cilic and Ivan Dodig in four sets. Croatia went on to stun the U.S. 3-2 for its first win after trailing 2-0.
   Bob Bryan underwent right hip surgery in August 2018 and returned at the beginning of 2019.   
   The United States will face an opponent to be determined in the Davis Cup Finals, Nov. 23-29 in Madrid. Uzbekistan will compete in World Group I in September.
   The Bryans, who made their Davis Cup debut in 2003, finished 25-5 (.833) to rank first in the U.S. and tied for fourth overall in doubles wins. They played on one Davis Cup championship team, going 4-0 in 2007.
   Istomin reached the final of the 2012 SAP Open in San Jose, losing to Milos Raonic.
   The Bryans, who grew up in Camarillo in the Los Angeles area and have won just about everything in tennis, ironically never won the title in San Jose, a 30-minute drive from Stanford. They played in one SAP Open final, losing to – in another irony – ex-Stanford stars Scott Lipsky and David Martin. The tournament ended after the 2013 edition, its 125th year in Northern California.
   College men – No. 10 seedes Filip Kolasinksi and Alexandre Rotsaert of Stanford ousted co-No. 1 seeds Keegan Smith and Johannes de Villiers (assistant coach) of UCLA 8-4 on Friday in the third round of Pacific Coast Men's Doubles in the San Diego suburb of La Jolla, Calif.
   College women – No. 2 UCLA edged No. 21 Cal 4-3 on Friday in Berkeley, Calif., in a Pacific-12 Conference opener. No. 113 Sasha Vagramov gave the Bruins an insurmountable 4-2 lead with a 6-2, 7-6 (5) victory over Jessica Zeynel on Court 6.
   No. 9 Stanford, which has won the last two NCAA team titles and three of the last four, blanked No. 37 USC 7-0 at Stanford on Friday.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

No. 13 Stanford men rally to stun No. 5 Ohio State

   The No. 13 Stanford men rallied from a big deficit to shock No. 5 Ohio State 4-3 today at Taube Family Tennis Center.
   Neel Rajesh, a freshman from Oyster Bay, N.Y., capped the Cardinal's comeback from a 3-1 deficit with a 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 victory over No. 78 James Trotter on Court 5.
   After Ohio State (13-3) led 2-0, No. 37 Axel Geller of Stanford (8-5) defeated No. 13 John McNally 7-5, 6-1 on Court 1.
   No. 14 Cannon Kingsley gave the Buckeyes a 3-1 lead with a 7-5, 6-4 victory over No. 7 Alexandre Rotsaert on Court 2.
   Freshman Filip Kolasinski of Poland started Stanford's comeback on Court 6, and junior Timothy Sah of San Diego tied the match 3-3.
   The Cardinal ended a four-match skid – all away from home against No. 1 USC, No. 4 Texas (twice) and No. 12 Texas Christian – while the Buckeyes suffered their third consecutive loss, also all on the road.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Bay Area's Olmos captures Acapulco doubles title

Giuliana Olmos, left, and Desirae Krawczyk pose after winning the doubles
title in the 2017 Sacramento (Calif.) Challenger. Photo by Rob Vomund
   Giuliana Olmos, a 26-year-old product of Fremont in the San Francisco Bay Area, won her second career WTA doubles title today.
   Second-seeded Olmos, who plays for Mexico, and Desirae Krawczyk of Palm Desert, Calif., beat unseeded Kateryna Bondarenko, a 33-year-old mother from Ukraine, and Sharon Fichman of Canada 6-3, 7-6 (5) in Acapulco.
   Olmos and Krawczyk, last year's runners-up to Victoria Azarenka and Zheng Saisai, served for the match at 5-4 in the second set but were broken.
   Olmos, who was born in Austria, will rise five spots to No. 71 in the world doubles rankings on Monday. She also won the Nottingham title on grass with Krawczyk last June and climbed to a career-high No. 65 in September.
   Olmos and Krawczyk – former Pacific-12 Conference rivals at USC and Arizona State, respectively – split $13,580. Bondarenko and Fichman shared $7,200.

Friday, February 28, 2020

No. 4 Texas men rout No. 8 Stanford

   Facing Texas for the second time in 12 days, the No. 8 Stanford men lost to the No. 4 Longhorns 4-0 today in Austin, Texas.
   No. 6 Christian Sigsgaard dominated No. 5 Alexandre Rotsaert 6-3, 6-1 on Court 2 to give Texas (10-2) a 2-0 lead. No. 29 Axel Geller of Stanford (7-4) led No. 2 Yuya Ito 6-4, 5-6 on Court 1 when the match was abandoned.
   The Cardinal fell to Texas 4-2 in the consolation bracket of the ITA National Indoor Championships in Madison, Wis., on Feb. 16. Rotsaert defeated Sigsgaard 6-4, 6-4 in that match.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Sharapova retires at 32; Volynets, 18, falls in Acapulco

Maria Sharapova, one of six women to achieve a career
Grand Slam, collected five major singles titles. She reportedly
earned $325 million during her career, mostly from endorse-
ments. 2014 photo by Paul Bauman
   Maria Sharapova, one of six women to earn a career Grand Slam in the Open era, announced her retirement in an essay that appeared today in Vogue and Vanity Fair.
   Plagued by shoulder injuries, the former world No. 1 has plunged to No. 373. In her last match, she lost to 19th-seeded Donna Vekic 6-3, 6-4 in the first round of the Australian Open to fall to 0-2 this year. Vekic reached the semifinals of the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose, Calif., last August and the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open in September.
   "Throughout my career, Is it worth it? was never even a question – in the end, it always was," wrote the 32-year-old Sharapova, the runner-up to Victoria Azarenka in the 2010 Bank of the West Classic at Stanford. "My mental fortitude has always been my strongest weapon. Even if my opponent was physically stronger, more confident – even just plain better – I could, and did, persevere."
   The 6-foot-2 (1.88-meter) Sharapova won five Grand Slam singles titles overall, bookended by her victory over Serena Williams at Wimbledon in 2004 at 17 and the French Open 10 years later.
   By winning the 2012 French Open, Sharapova joined Margaret Court, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf and Serena Williams as the only women to achieve a career Grand Slam in singles in the Open era.
   Sharapova ranks 15th in the Open era with 36 tour-level singles titles. The last one came in Tianjin, China, in 2017, six months after she returned from a 15-month doping suspension.
   Forbes magazine reported that Sharapova earned $325 million during her career, mostly from endorsements.
   Volynets loses – In a matchup of wild cards, Renata Zarazua of Mexico outlasted 18-year-old Katie Volynets of Walnut Creek in the San Francisco Bay Area 4-6, 7-5, 6-0 in 2 hours, 42 minutes in the second round of the Abierto Mexicano in Acapulco.
   Volynets, who won the USTA 18 National Championships last August and turned pro in December, beat American Shelby Rogers on Tuesday for her first WTA Tour victory.
   The 22-year-old Zarazua, 5-foot-3 (1.60 meters), reached her first WTA International Level quarterfinal. She ousted top-seeded Sloane Stephens, a 26-year-old Fresno, Calif., product, in the first round.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Volynets, 18, earns her first tour-level victory

Katie Volynets, playing in the Berkeley, Calif.
Challenger last July, surprised Shelby Rogers
6-2, 7-6 (5) tonight in the first round in Acapulco.
Photo by Paul Bauman 
   Katie Volynets achieved the biggest win of her brief career tonight.
   The 18-year-old wild card from Walnut Creek in the San Francisco Bay Area defeated American Shelby Rogers 6-2, 7-6 (5) in the first round of the Abierto Mexicano in Acapulco on the WTA Tour.
   Volynets, who won the USTA 18 National Championships last August and turned pro in December, converted her second match point. The first came while she was serving at 6-5 in the second set.
   It was Volynets' first tour-level victory in four appearances (three in the main draw).
   Rogers, at No. 114, is by far the highest-ranked player Volynets, No. 384, has beaten. Her previous best victory came in her last tournament, a $100,000 Challenger in Nicholasville, Ky., two weeks ago, against No. 256 Catherine Harrison of the United States.
   Rogers reached the quarterfinals of the 2016 French Open and attained a career-high ranking of No. 48 in 2017. She had knee surgery in May 2018 and missed the rest of the season.
   Volynets is scheduled to face wild card Renata Zarazua, ranked No. 270, for the first time on Wednesday. The 22-year-old Mexican, 5-foot-3 (1.60 meters), stunned top-seeded Sloane Stephens, who grew up in Fresno, Calif., 6-4, 6-2. Stephens, the 2017 U.S. Open champion and 2018 French Open runner-up, fell to 0-4 this year.
   College rankings – The Stanford women (8-1), who have won the last two NCAA team titles and three of the last four, jumped from No. 12 to No. 6 after beating No. 3 Texas 4-3 in Austin, Texas, on Saturday. The Longhorns (8-2) slipped one spot.
   California (1-3) dropped out of the rankings from No. 18 after losing at No. 2 UCLA 7-0 and No. 12 Pepperdine 5-0.
   On the men's side, Stanford (7-3) remained No. 8, and Cal (5-2) fell four notches to No. 26.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Bryans win sixth Delray title; Stanford women top Texas

Bob Bryan, serving, and Mike Bryan will retire after the
U.S. Open in September. File photo by Paul Bauman
   The homecourt advantage helped former Stanford stars Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan win another title today.
   The top-seeded Bryan twins, Southern California natives who now live in Florida, edged fourth-seeded Luke Bambridge of Great Britain and Ben McLachlan (Cal, 2011-14) of Japan 3-6, 7-5 (10-5) to claim the Delray Beach Open for the second consecutive year and record-extending sixth overall.
   "It's amazing to win this title again in our backyard," Bob Bryan said on atptour.com. "I have been staying at home, and I have so many friends and family here. They kept us fighting and focused. Those are the people that have your back.
   "We were down most of the match. The other team was outplaying us for over an hour. Had it been any other place, it would have been easy to (lie) down. But here, they kept us in it until we got a little bit of luck."
   The Bryans, who will turn 42 in April and retire after the U.S. Open in September, won all three of their matches this week in match tiebreakers. They triumphed in their first-round match against Australians Nick Kyrgios and Jordan Thompson by walkover.
   The Bryans have won five other tournaments six times – the Australian Open, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami and Monte Carlo – and at least one ATP Tour title as a team for 20 consecutive years. They own 119 tour-level championships overall.
   Bambridge, who won the 2017 Fairfield, Calif., Challenger with David O'Hare of Ireland, and McLachlan, a New Zealand native who plays for his mother's native country, earned their first ATP Tour crown last month in Auckland.
   Oracle Pro Series – Men's and women's tournaments are scheduled for Sept. 21-27 at Stanford.
   Stanford women – The No. 12 Cardinal beat No. 3 Texas 4-3 in Austin, Texas, on Saturday.
   Emma Higuchi, a 5-foot-2 (1.57-meter) senior from Los Angeles, gave Stanford (8-1) an insurmountable 4-1 lead by defeating Marta Perez Mur 6-4, 6-1 on Court 6.
   Cal women – The No. 18 Bears lost at No. 2 UCLA 7-0 on Friday and No. 12 Pepperdine 5-0 on Saturday. The latter match was shortened because of rain and lightning in Malibu, Calif.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Federer has knee surgery, eyes grass-court return

Roger Federer plays in a 2018 exhibition in San Jose, Calif. Photo by Mal Taam
   Roger Federer will sit out until the grass-court season after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on Wednesday in Switzerland.
   "After the procedure, the doctors confirmed that it was the right thing to have done and are very confident of a full recovery," the 38-year-old Federer, whose only Northern California appearance came in a 2018 exhibition in San Jose, tweeted today. "As a result, I will unfortunately have to miss Dubai, Indian Wells, Bogota, Miami and the French Open. ... See you on the grass!"
   In Federer's only tournament of the year, he saved seven match points against Tennys Sandgren in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open before losing in the semifinals to eventual champion Novak Djokovic in straight sets.
   At Wimbledon last year, Federer held two championship points before falling to Djokovic 7-6 (5), 1-6, 7-6 (4), 4-6, 13-12 (3). It was the longest Wimbledon final ever, lasting 4 hours, 57 minutes.
   Federer has won a record 20 Grand Slam singles titles, one ahead of Rafael Nadal and three ahead of third-place Djokovic.

Stanford women plunge nine spots to No. 12

Michaela Gordon, a Stanford junior from nearby Saratoga, dropped three places
to No. 9 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association singles rankings. She is shown
in the 2017 Sacramento Challenger. Photo by Rob Vomund
   The Stanford women, who have won the last two NCAA team titles and three of the last four, tumbled nine places to No. 12 in this week's Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings.
   The Cardinal (6-1) lost to No. 7 UCLA 4-0 on Feb. 9 in the semifinals of the ITA Division I Women's National Team Indoor Championships in Chicago.
   Meanwhile, the California women (1-1) plunged 24 spots to No. 45 after losing to No. 9 Virginia 4-1 on Jan. 24 and edging No. 42 Kansas 4-3 on Jan. 25, both in Lawrence, Kan.
   In women's singles, Michaela Gordon, a Stanford junior from nearby Saratoga, dropped three notches to No. 9, and Haley Giavara, a Cal freshman from San Diego, slipped one spot to No. 13.
   The Stanford men (7-3) remained No. 8, and Cal (4-2) fell seven places to No. 22.
   Alexandre Rotsaert, a Cardinal sophomore from Boca Raton, Fla., soared from No. 21 to No. 5 after beating No. 6 Christian Sigsgaard of Texas 6-4, 6-4 on Sunday.
   Rotsaert's teammate, junior Axel Geller of Argentina, plunged from No. 16 to No. 29. Since beating No. 8 Keegan Smith of UCLA on Feb. 1, Geller has gone 0-3 with losses to No. 37 Alexis Galarneau of North Carolina State, No. 1 Daniel Cukierman of USC and No. 2 Yuya Ito of Texas.
   Damon Kesaris, a Saint Mary's senior from South Africa, dropped four spots to No. 13. Sam Riffice, a Florida sophomore who grew up in the Sacramento, Calif., suburb of Roseville,  stayed at No. 4.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Clijsters falls to Muguruza in comeback match

   So much for easing her way back onto the tour.
   In a matchup of former world No. 1 players, wild card Kim Clijsters lost to ninth-seeded Garbine Muguruza 6-2, 7-6 (6) today in the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
   "I had a good feeling out there," Clijsters, who won four singles titles in the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford (2001, 2003, 2005 and 2006), said on wtatennis.com. "I do feel a little bit of – I'm not going to say relief, but (satisfaction) that I can handle the pace.
   "Second set, I felt I was really in the match. I felt like for a while I was dominating some of the points. That's a good feeling. ... I'll take that with me for the next matches."
   It was the first match since 2012 for Clijsters, a 36-year-old mother of three. Inducted in the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2017, she has won six Grand Slam titles (four in singles and two in doubles).
   Muguruza, 26, has revived her career this year after reuniting with coach Conchita Martinez. In Muguruza's three other tournaments in 2020, she reached the semifinals in Shenzhen, quarterfinals in Hobart and final in the Australian Open.
   Muguruza advanced to the semifinals of the Bank of the West Classic in 2017, the tournament's last year before moving to San Jose as the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic. She also reached the singles quarterfinals and won the doubles title with fellow Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro at Stanford in 2014 at age 20.
   College Men's Indoors – Second-seeded USC overwhelmed seventh-seeded Stanford 4-0 on Saturday in the quarterfinals of the ITA Division I Men's National Team Indoor Championships in Madison, Wis. The Trojans defeated North Carolina 4-1 today for the title.
   College Women's Indoors – Fourth-seeded UCLA dominated top-seeded Stanford 4-0 in the semifinals of the ITA Division I Women's National Team Indoor Championships on Feb. 9 in Chicago. Second-seeded North Carolina routed the Bruins 4-0 for the crown.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Ex-Cal star wins 1st ATP doubles title, will crack top 100

Andre Goransson, right, of Sweden and Florian Lakat of France pose after
winning the doubles title in the 2017 Tiburon (Calif.) Challenger. Goransson
and Lakat played together at the University of California, Berkeley. Photo by
Paul Bauman
   Andre Goransson achieved one milestone today and will reach another on Monday.
   The 26-year-old former University of California, Berkeley star from Sweden won his maiden ATP doubles title as the unseeded pair of Goransson and Christopher Rungkat of Indonesia edged third-seeded Jonathan Erlich, 42, of Israel and Andrei Vasilevski of Belarus 6-2, 3-6 [10-8] in Pune, India.
   Goransson will crack the top 100 in the world doubles rankings for the first time on Monday, jumping 27 places to No. 81.
   Goransson and Rungkat split $30,900, and Erlich and Vasilevski shared $15,840.
   Rungkat, who also earned his first ATP doubles crown, reached the doubles final in the 2018 Stockton (Calif.) Challenger with Sanchai Ratiwatana of Thailand.
   Erlich won the doubles title in the Aptos (Calif.) Challenger with countryman Andy Ram in 2013 and with Neal Skupski of Great Britain in 2017.
   In the Pune singles final, unseeded Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic held off eighth-seeded Egor Gerasimov of Belarus 7-6 (2), 5-7, 6-3. Gerasimov advanced to the Aptos semifinals last August.
   ATP Challenger TourDennis Novikov, a 26-year-old San Jose product, won the Dallas Challenger doubles title for the second consecutive year.
   Unseeded Novikov and Goncalo Oliveira of Portugal beat third-seeded Luis David Martinez of Venezuela and Miguel Angel Reyes-Varela of Mexico 6-3, 6-4 in the $108,320 RBC Tennis Championships.
   Novikov and Oliveira each collected $3,100, while Martinez and Reyes-Varela received $1,800 apiece.
   Novikov, who took last year's crown with former UCLA teammate Marcos Giron, will drop one spot to No. 168 in Monday's doubles rankings. He earned his sixth Challenger doubles title.
   Reyes-Varela won the doubles title in the $81,240 Aptos Challenger last August with Marcelo Arevalo of El Salvador. In the first round, they nipped Novikov and compatriot Donald Young 6-2, 3-6 [14-12].
   An unseeded player also won the Dallas singles title as 20-year-old Jurij Rodionov of Austria topped fifth-seeded Denis Kudla of Arlington, Va., 7-5, 7-6 (10).
   Kudla reached the final of the 2015 Tiburon (Calif.) Challenger, losing a heartbreaker to friend and countryman Tim Smyczek. Kudla held four championship points in a 1-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7) loss.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Mattek-Sands, Kenin lift U.S. over Latvia in Fed Cup

Bethanie Mattek-Sands celebrates after shocking Venus Williams in the first
round of the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose, Calif., last July.
Photo by Mal Taam
   Sofia Kenin and Bethanie Mattek-Sands gave the United States a 3-2 victory over gutsy Latvia tonight in Fed Cup qualifying.
   Kenin, 21, and Mattek-Sands, 34, defeated Jelena Ostapenko and Anastasija Sevastova 6-4, 6-0 in the deciding match in Everett, Wash. Kenin won her first Grand Slam title last week in Australian Open singles. Mattek-Sands has fallen from No. 1 in doubles in 2017 to No. 20.
   The United States advanced to the 12-team Fed Cup Finals, April 14-19 in Budapest.
   Earlier today, Ostapenko, the 2017 French Open champion, beat Kenin 6-3, 2-6, 6-2, and Sevastova stunned Serena Williams, a part-time Silicon Valley resident, 7-6 (5), 3-6, 7-6 (4) in 2 hours, 25 minutes.
   Williams, 38, suffered her first Fed Cup singles loss after 14 victories. She had trounced Sevastova 6-3, 6-0 in 66 minutes in the semifinals of the 2018 U.S. Open in their only previous meeting.
   Williams' defeat was reminiscent of her 6-4, 6-7 (2), 7-5 loss to Wang Qiang of China in the third round of the recent Australian Open. Williams had crushed Wang 6-1, 6-0 in 44 minutes in the U.S. Open quarterfinals last September in their only previous meeting.
   ITF World Tennis Tour – Top-seeded Caroline Dolehide, a 21-year-old native of Hinsdale, Ill., and Maria Sanchez, a 30-year-old product of Modesto, Calif., won the doubles title in the $100,000 Dow Tennis Classic in Midland, Mich.
   Dolehide, a U.S. Open doubles semifinalist with Vania King last year, and Sanchez outclassed second-seeded Valeria Savinykh of Russia and Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium 6-3, 6-4.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Djokovic rallies to win eighth Australian Open title

Novak Djokovic poses with the trophy and Serbian flag after winning
the 2015 BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Trying to ("tryna" in today's vernacular) beat Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open is like trying to beat Rafael Nadal in the French Open.
   Just ask Dominic Thiem. For the third time, the 26-year-old Austrian had the misfortune of facing an all-time great in the final of Djokovic's or Nadal's favorite tournament.
   Djokovic improved to 8-0 in Australian Open finals early today, topping Thiem 6-4, 4-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 in 3 hours, 59 minutes in Melbourne. In the fifth set, Djokovic saved two break points to lead 3-1. Thirty minutes later, it was over.
   No other man has won the Australian Open more than six times.
   "This tournament sets a high standard for all the other tournaments around the world, and it's definitely my favorite court, my favorite stadium in the world," the second-seeded Djokovic said during the trophy presentation at Rod Laver Arena. "I'm blessed to hold this trophy once again."
   Djokovic became the first man in the Open era to win Grand Slam singles titles in three decades. He will return to No. 1 on Monday, replacing Nadal.
   Thiem, meanwhile, fell to 0-3 in Grand Slam finals. He has lost the last two French Open title matches to Nadal, who's 12-0 in Roland Garros finals.
   "I would like to start by saying a huge congrats to Novak (for) an amazing achievement," the fifth-seeded Thiem said. "It's unreal what you and your team are doing throughout all these years. You and two other guys (Nadal and Roger Federer) have brought men's tennis to a complete new level, and I'm really proud and happy to compete and be a part of these times. I fell short today, but I hope to get revenge soon."
   The French Open, the next Grand Slam tournament, is scheduled for May 24-June 7.
   Djokovic, 32, won his 17th Grand Slam singles title, including five of the last seven majors. He trails only Federer (20) and Nadal (19) on the all-time list. One of the Big Three has won the last 13 Slams and 56 of the last 67.
   Although Djokovic is six years older than Thiem, he was much fresher in the final. Not only did Djokovic win his previous two matches in straight sets, he had two days to rest to Thiem's one. Thiem, meanwhile, needed 4 hours, 10 minutes to subdue the top-seeded Nadal in four sets in the quarterfinals and 3:42 to top seventh-seeded Alexander Zverev in the semifinals. Overall during the tournament, Thiem spent six more hours on the court than Djokovic before the final.
   Djokovic improved to 17-9 in Grand Slam finals and 7-4 against Thiem. Djokovic had lost four of his last five matches versus the rising star, but three of the losses came on clay.
   Thiem was attempting to become the second Austrian ever and first man born in the 1990s to win a Grand Slam men's singles title. His countryman Thomas Muster took the 1995 French Open crown. Thiem dismissed Muster from his – ahem – team during the first week of the Australian Open.
   Both Djokovic and Thiem converted five of 12 break points in the final, committed 57 unforced errors and suffered five double faults. Thiem pounded more aces (13 to nine) and winners (55 to 46), but Djokovic won a higher percentage of points on his first serve (76 to 69) and second delivery (51 to 45). Overall, Djokovic won 157 points to Thiem's 147.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Ram, Salisbury claim Australian Open men's doubles title

Joe Salisbury, left, and Brydan Klein pose with their trophies
after winning the doubles title in the 2017 Stockton (Calif.)
Challenger. Photo by Paul Bauman 
   No. 11 seeds Rajeev Ram of Carmel, Ind., and Joe Salisbury of Great Britain defeated wild cards Max Purcell and Luke Saville of Australia 6-4, 6-2 tonight to win the Australian Open men's doubles title in Melbourne.
   It was the first Grand Slam men's doubles title for Ram, 35, and Salisbury, 27, together or separately. Ram also won last year's Australian Open mixed doubles crown with Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic.
   All of tonight's finalists except Purcell, 21, have won doubles titles in Northern California.
   Ram triumphed with Scott Lipsky, a former Stanford All-American, in the 2011 SAP Open in San Jose on the ATP World Tour and with compatriot Bobby Reynolds in the 2007 Aptos Challenger.
   Salisbury and countryman Brydan Klein prevailed in the 2017 Stockton Challenger.
   Qualifiers Saville, the 2011 Wimbledon boys singles champion, and Hans Hach Verdugo of Mexico went the distance in the 2018 Tiburon Challenger.

Kenin outslugs Muguruza for first Grand Slam title

Sofia Kenin, right, and ex-Stanford star Nicole Gibbs
pose after the final of the 2018 Berkeley (Calif.) Chal-
lenger. Kenin, then 19, defeated Gibbs, 25 at the time,
6-0, 6-4. Photo by Paul Bauman   
   After losing to 64th-ranked Sofia Kenin in the final of the 2018 Berkeley (Calif.) Challenger, former Stanford star Nicole Gibbs predicted that the 19-year-old American eventually would crack the top 20.
   Only 18 months later, Kenin far exceeded that bold forecast.
   The 14th-seeded Kenin outslugged unseeded Garbine Muguruza, a former world No. 1 who has won two Grand Slam singles titles, early today to win her first major crown.
   The 21-year-old Kenin, playing in her maiden Grand Slam final, used her impeccable groundstrokes and fierce determination to triumph 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 in the Australian Open in Melbourne.
   "My dream officially came true," Kenin gushed during the awards ceremony. "I cannot even describe this feeling. It's so emotional. I've worked so hard, and I'm just so grateful to be standing here. Dreams come true, so if you have a dream, go for it, and it's going to come true."
   It was the first Australian Open final in the Open era without a top-10 player. But Kenin, who was born in Moscow and moved to the United States as an infant, will rise eight spots and debut in the top 10 at No. 7 in Monday's rankings.
   "She is not a flash in the pan," crowed ESPN commentator Chris Evert, an International Tennis Hall of Famer. "She's going to be around for long time because she has the hunger and grit and she can still improve. She can improve her serve and her volley. She's going to continue going up the rankings."
   Mary Joe Fernandez, a former top-five player in singles and doubles, agreed with her ESPN colleague's assessment.
   "We're going to see her in more Grand Slam finals," Fernandez proclaimed. "She's tough to beat. She doesn't give you anything."
   The Berkeley crown was Kenin's third in a Northern California Challenger, all in consecutive years. She also won Sacramento at age 17 in 2016 and Stockton.
   Muguruza, 26, also has excelled in NorCal. She reached the semifinals of the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford in 2017, the tournament's last year. In addition, Muguruza advanced to the singles quarterfinals and won the doubles title with fellow Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro at Stanford in 2014 at age 20.
   With the Australian Open title, the 5-foot-7 (1.70-meter) Kenin improved to 2-0 against the 6-foot (1.82-meter) Muguruza and pocketed $2,853,100.
   Muguruza, who reunited with coach Conchita Martinez after last season, collected $1,430,012. She will cut her ranking of No. 32 in half.
   Muguruza called for a trainer after the second set for an apparent lower-back injury but did not take a medical timeout.
   The turning point in the match came with Kenin serving at 2-2 in the third set. She fell behind 0-40 but held serve with four passing shots and an ace. Kenin then broke for 4-2.
   Muguruza served at 2-5, 40-15 but double-faulted twice for deuce. Kenin converted her second championship point on another double fault.
   Kenin had a much easier road to the final than Muguruza. Kenin did not face a seed until ousting top-ranked Ashleigh Barty in the semifinals.
   Muguruza, meanwhile, survived three-set matches in the first rounds and knocked off three top-10 players: No. 5 Elina Svitolina in the third round, No. 10 Kiki Bertens in the fourth round and No. 3 Simona Halep in the semifinals. In the latter match, Muguruza survived a grueling baseline battle 7-6 (8), 7-5 in 2 hours, 5 minutes.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Thiem tops Zverev to gain first Australian Open final

Dominic Thiem hoists the trophy at Indian Wells last March after defeating
Roger Federer. Photo by Mal Taam
   Fifth-seeded Dominic Thiem beat seventh-seeded Alexander Zverev 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (4) early today to reach his first Australian Open final.
   Thiem, 26, saved two set points in the third set en route to his third Grand Slam singles final. He has lost to Rafael Nadal in the last two French Opens.
   The 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Zverev, a 22-year-old German, was playing in his first Grand Slam semifinal. He had pledged to donate the champion's prize money of $2,853,100 (U.S.) to the Australian Bushfire Relief Fund if he won the title.
   Thiem is scheduled to face second-seeded Novak Djokovic, who won his seventh Australian Open singles title last year. ESPN will televise Sunday's match live at 12:30 a.m. California time and taped at 6 p.m.
   Djokovic is 6-4 overall and 3-1 on hardcourts against Thiem, the first Austrian to reach the final in Melbourne. Djokovic is 7-0 in Australian Open finals and ranks third all-time with 16 Grand Slam singles titles. Federer has 20 and Nadal 19.
   Djokovic, 32, much fresher than Thiem, 26, in the final. Not only has Djokovic has won his last two matches in straight sets in less than three hours each, he has two days to rest to Thiem's one. Thiem needed 4 hours, 10 minutes to subdue the top-seeded Nadal in four sets in the quarterfinals and 3:42 to top Zverev.

Djokovic beats ailing Federer to reach Aussie Open final

   Roger Federer was coming off a physically and emotionally draining victory in which he suffered a groin injury.
   The weather was hot and muggy.
   And he was facing a rival who's six years younger.
   So second-seeded Novak Djokovic's 7-6 (1), 6-4, 6-3 victory in the Australian Open semifinals in Melbourne early Thursday (California time) was hardly shocking. The only surprise was that the third-seeded Federer had three break points to lead 5-1 in the first set.
   "Today was horrible, to go through what I did," Federer, whose only Northern California appearance came in a San Jose exhibition in 2018, told reporters. "Nice entrance. Nice send-off. And in between, it's one to forget, because you know you have a 3% chance to win. Once you see it coming, that it's not going to work anymore, it's tough."
   Federer, 38, saved seven match points in a 6-3, 2-6, 2-6, 7-6 (8), 6-3 win over American Tennys Sandgren in the quarterfinals.
   Federer has never handed an opponent a walkover in more than 400 Grand Slam matches or retired from any of his more than 1,500 tour-level matches.
   "I just want to say, respect to Roger for coming out tonight," Djokovic said. "He was obviously hurt. Wasn't at his best."
   Djokovic, who won his seventh Australian Open singles title last year, improved to 27-23 against Federer, a six-time Australian Open singles champion.
   Djokovic will face the winner of today's match between fifth-seeded Dominic Thiem and seventh-seeded Alexander Zverev (12:30 a.m., ESPN). Djokovic is 6-4 (3-1 on hardcourts) against Thiem and 3-2 (2-1 on hardcourts) against Zverev.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Kenin upsets No. 1 Barty to reach first Grand Slam final

Sofia Kenin chats with her father and coach, Alex, after winning in the quarter-
finals of the 2018 Berkeley (Calif.) Challenger. Kenin went on to capture the title.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   Only 18 months after winning the Berkeley (Calif.) title in her last Challenger, Sofia Kenin reached her first Grand Slam final.
   The 14th-seeded Kenin, a Moscow-born American, eliminated top-ranked Ashleigh Barty of Australia 7-6 (6), 7-5 tonight in the Australian Open in Melbourne.
   Kenin won the last four points of the tiebreaker, saving two set points, and the last three games of the second set, breaking serve twice and erasing two more set points, as the temperature topped 100 degrees (38 Celsius).
   Kenin won NorCal Challenger singles titles in three consecutive years – Sacramento in 2016 at age 17, Stockton and Berkeley.
   Kenin pocketed $9,199 for winning the Berkeley title. The Australian Open champion will collect $2,853,100, and the runner-up will take home $1,430,012. Regardless of the outcome, the 21-year-old Kenin will crack the top 10 for the first time in Monday's rankings.
   Barty was trying to become the first Aussie, male or female, to win the Australian Open since Chris O'Neil captured the women's title in 1978.
   Kenin, the youngest Australian Open finalist since 20-year-old Maria Sharapova in 2008, will play unseeded Garbine Muguruza. ESPN will televise Saturday's match live at 12:30 a.m. California time and taped at 2 p.m.
   Muguruza, 26, topped fourth-seeded Simona Halep 7-6 (8), 7-5 in a spectacular baseline battle. Muguruza survived four set points in the first set en route to her first Grand Slam final since she won Wimbledon in 2017. Both Muguruza and Halep have won two major singles titles – Wimbledon and the French Open.
   Kenin is 1-0 against Muguruza, winning 6-0, 2-6, 6-2 in the first round at Beijing last September. Even with a loss in the final, Kenin will rise six spots to No. 9.
   In the men's semifinals, second seed and defending champion Novak Djokovic will face third-seeded Roger Federer on Thursday at 12:30 a.m., and fifth-seeded Dominic Thiem will play seventh-seeded Alexander Zverev on Friday at 12:30 a.m. ESPN will televise both matches.

Resurgent Muguruza reaches Australian Open semis

Garbine Muguruza excelled in the Bank of the West
Classic at Stanford but has withdrawn from both edi-
tions of the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San
Jose, Calif., with injuries. File photo by Paul Bauman
   In a matchup of players with Northern California connections, unseeded Garbine Muguruza beat 30th-seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 7-5, 6-3 on Tuesday in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open in Melbourne.
   Muguruza, who has tumbled from No. 1 in 2017 to No. 32, reached her first Grand Slam semifinal since the 2018 French Open. She excelled in the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford but has yet to appear in its replacement, having withdrawn from both editions of the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose, Calif., with injuries.
   At Stanford, Muguruza advanced to the semis in 2017, the tournament's last year, and the quarterfinals in 2014 at age 20. Also in 2014, she won the doubles title with fellow Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro.
   Pavlyuchenkova played for the Sacramento Capitals of World TeamTennis in 2006 at age 15. The team announced in 2014 that it was moving to Las Vegas after 28 years in Sacramento and folded one month later after the owner was charged with orchestrating a $150 million Ponzi scheme. He is serving a 20-year prison sentence.
   Muguruza is set to play fourth-seeded Simona Halep, who crushed 28th-seeded Anett Kontaveit of Estonia 6-1, 6-1 in 53 minutes, today not before 8:30 p.m. PST (ESPN2).
   Muguruza, 26, is 3-2 (3-0 on hardcourts) against Halep, 26. Both players have won two Grand Slam singles titles, taking the Wimbledon and French Open crowns.
   In the other women's semifinal, top-ranked Ashleigh Barty of Australia will meet 14th-seeded Sofia Kenin of Pembroke Pines, Fla., today at 7 p.m. (ESPN2). Barty leads the head-to-head series 4-1.
   On the men's side, seventh-seeded Alexander Zverev of Germany beat 15th-seeded Stan Wawrinka, the 2014 Australian Open champion, 1-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 to reach his first Grand Slam semifinal.
   The 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Zverev, 22, is scheduled to meet fifth-seeded Dominic Thiem on Friday at 12:30 a.m. on ESPN2. Thiem knocked off top-seeded Rafael Nadal, the 2009 Australian Open champion and a four-time runner-up in Melbourne, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (4), 4-6, 7-6 (6). Nadal was trying to tie Roger Federer's record of 20 Grand Slam singles titles.
   Thiem, 26, is 6-2 (2-1 on hardcourts) against Zverev. If Zverev wins the title, he has pledged to donate his prize money of $2,853,100 (U.S.) to the Australian Bushfire Relief Fund.
   In the first men's semifinal, second seed and defending champion Novak Djokovic will face the third-seeded Federer on Thursday at 12:30 a.m. (ESPN2). Djokovic has won the Australian Open seven times and Federer six.
   Djokovic leads the head-to-head series 26-23 with four victories in the last five meetings. He's six years younger than the 38-year-old Federer, who saved seven match points and suffered a groin injury in a five-set victory over Tennys Sandgren in the quarterfinals.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Federer saves seven match points, tops Sandgren

Roger Federer said he was "incredibly lucky" to defeat Tennys Sandgren tonight
in the Australian Open quarterfinals. 2017 photo by Mal Taam
   Third-seeded Roger Federer saved seven match points tonight in a 6-3, 2-6, 2-6, 7-6 (8), 6-3 victory over unseeded American Tennys Sandgren, the runner-up in the 2017 Tiburon (Calif.) Challenger, in the Australian Open quarterfinals in Melbourne.
   Federer, 38, escaped three match points while serving at 4-5 in the fourth set and four in the tiebreaker.
Tennys Sandgren almost became the lowest-ranked American
to reach the Australian Open semifinals since Patrick McEnroe
in 1991. File photo by Paul Bauman
   "I was incredibly lucky today," Federer, whose only Northern California appearance came in a 2018 San Jose exhibition, said in an on-court interview. " ... I don't deserve this one, but I'm standing here and obviously very, very happy."
   Federer took an 8 1/2-minute medical timeout off the court for a groin problem at 0-3 (one service break) in the second set.
   Sandgren, an Australian Open quarterfinalist in 2018, out-aced Federer 27-5, the biggest discrepancy of the Swiss star's career.
   The 28-year-old Sandgren, at No. 100, almost became the lowest-ranked man to reach the Australian Open semifinals since No. 114 Patrick McEnroe in 1991 and the first American to advance to the final four in Melbourne since Andy Roddick in 2009.
   Federer is set to play second-seeded Novak Djokovic, the defending and seven-time champion. Djokovic eliminated 32nd-seeded Milos Raonic, an Australian Open semifinalist in 2016, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (1).
   Djokovic, 32, is 26-23 against Federer. Djokovic has won four of the past five meetings, including his epic victory in last year's Wimbledon final. Djokovic saved two championship points in the 7-6 (5), 1-6, 7-6 (4), 4-6, 13-12 (3) win. At 4 hours, 57 minutes, it's the longest Wimbledon final ever.

Kenin, closing in on top 10, to face No. 1 Barty in semis

Sofia Kenin, shown in the semifinals of the 2018 Berkeley
(Calif.) Challenger en route to the title, has reached her
first Grand Slam semifinal. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Sofia Kenin, who starred in Northern California Challengers, is on the verge of cracking the top 10 after reaching the Australian Open semifinals.
   The 21-year-old American, seeded 14th, beat unseeded Ons Jabeur of Tunisia 6-4, 6-4 today in Melbourne. Both players were competing in their first Grand Slam quarterfinal.
   Kenin, who was born in Moscow but moved to the United States as a young child, will rise at least four spots to No. 11.  She won NorCal Challenger singles titles in three consecutive years – Sacramento in 2016 at age 17, Stockton and Berkeley.
   Kenin hasn't played a seed in the tournament, but now she faces a huge challenge against top-ranked Ashleigh Barty of Australia. Barty, who won the French Open last year for her only Grand Slam singles title, beat seventh-seeded Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic 7-6 (6), 6-2.
   Kvitova, a 29-year-old left-hander, won Wimbledon in 2011 and 2014 and reached last year's Australian Open final, losing to Naomi Osaka. That was Kvitova's first major final since she suffered career-threatening cuts to her left hand in a December 2016 home invasion.
   Barty, 23, is 4-1 against Kenin, including 3-1 last year and 2-1 on hardcourts. However, most of the pressure will be on Barty as the favorite trying to become the first Australian woman to win in Melbourne since Chris O'Neil in 1978. Kenin, meanwhile, seeks her first Grand Slam final.
   In the second round of Australian Open boys singles, it was Mayot against Mayo. Top-seeded Harold Mayot of France dismissed Aidan Mayo, who grew up in the Sacramento suburb of Roseville, 6-2, 6-3 in 64 minutes.

Bryans bow out of their last Australian Open

No. 13 seeds Bob Bryan, left, and Mike Bryan lost to No. 4
seeds Ivan Dodig and Filip Polasek 6-3, 6-4 in the third
round of the Australian Open. File photo by Paul Bauman
   Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan are out of the Australian Open.
   For good.
   The 13th-seeded Bryans (Stanford, 1997-98) lost to fourth-seeded Ivan Dodig of Croatia and Filip Polasek of Slovakia 6-3, 6-4 on Sunday night (California time) in the third round in Melbourne.
   The Bryan twins, who will turn 42 in April, announced last November that they will retire after this year's U.S. Open.
   The Bryans have collected a record 16 Grand Slam men's doubles titles, including six in the Australian Open. They won their last Slam in the 2014 U.S. Open and their last Melbourne crown in 2013. Bob Bryan underwent right hip surgery in August 2018 and returned at the beginning of 2019.
   Dodig, 35, seeks his second Grand Slam men's doubles title and Polasek, 34, his first. Dodig won the 2015 French Open with Marcelo Melo of Brazil. Polasek retired in 2013 because of back, spine and left leg injuries. After hitting with Mike Bryan in May 2018, Polasek returned the following month.
   In the first round of Australian Open junior doubles:
   –Top-seeded Arthur Cazaux and Harold Mayot beat Lorenzo Claverie of Venezuela and Aidan Mayo, who grew up in Roseville in the Sacramento area, 6-3, 6-2.
   –Savannah Broadus of Carrollton, Texas, and Elizabeth Coleman of Midland, Mich., edged India Houghton, a Stanford commit from Belvedere Tiburon in the San Francisco Bay Area, and Celia Belle Mohr of France 6-4, 6-7 (11) [10-8].

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Raonic, Kenin score big wins to reach Aussie quarters

Milos Raonic beat Marin Cilic, the 2014 U.S. Open
champion, in straight sets tonight in the Australian
Open. File photo by Paul Bauman
   Two players, one man and one woman, who dominated in Northern California tournaments won fourth-round matches in the Australian Open tonight.
   Milos Raonic, a Canadian seeded 32nd, dispatched Marin Cilic of Croatia 6-4, 6-3, 7-5 in Melbourne. The 6-foot-5 (1.96-meter) Raonic, the 2016 Wimbledon runner-up to Andy Murray, has not lost his serve in the tournament. Cilic won the 2014 U.S. Open and reached the final of the 2018 Australian Open.
   Sofia Kenin topped 15-year-old sensation Coco Gauff 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-0 in an all-American matchup to reach her first Grand Slam quarterfinal. Gauff was coming off a 6-3, 6-4 victory over third seed and defending champion Naomi Osaka.
   Raonic never lost a set in three appearances in the SAP Open in San Jose, Calif., winning the last three titles before the tournament moved to Rio de Janeiro in 2014 after 125 years in Northern California.
   Kenin won NorCal Challenger singles titles in three consecutive years – Sacramento in 2016 at age 17, Stockton and Berkeley.
   Kenin, who was voted the WTA Most Improved Player of the Year in 2019, has a much better chance to reach the Australian Open semifinals than Raonic.
   Kenin, 21, will meet unseeded Ons Jabeur, a Tunisian who eliminated 27th-seeded Wang Qiang of China 7-6 (4), 6-1.
Sofia Kenin topped 15-year-old sensation Coco Gauff
to reach her first Grand Slam quarterfinal. Photo by
Paul Bauman
   Jabeur ended former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki's career in the third round. Wozniacki, the 2018 Australian Open champion, announced last month that she would retire after Melbourne this year.
   Wang, meanwhile, shocked eighth seed and seven-time Australian Open champion Serena Williams.
   Kenin, ranked 15th, is 3-1 against Jabeur, ranked 78th.
   Raonic, 29, will face second seed and defending champion Novak Djokovic, who outclassed 14th-seeded Diego Schwartzman of Argentina 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. Raonic is 0-9 against Djokovic.
   In matches involving Northern California players:
   –California natives Steve Johnson and Sam Querrey, who was born in San Francisco, lost to Alexander Bublik and Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan 6-4, 6-2 in the third round of men's doubles.
   Johnson and Querrey were unable to bounce back from their 4-6, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (12) victory over 14th-seeded Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski of Great Britain on Friday (California time).
   –Aidan Mayo, who grew up in the Sacramento suburb of Roseville, defeated qualifier Viacheslav Bielinskyi of Ukraine 3-6, 7-6 (3), 6-1 in the first round of boys singles.
   –India Houghton, a Stanford commit from Belvedere Tiburon in the San Francisco Bay Area, fell to Ya Yi Yang of Chinese Taipei 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the opening round of girls singles.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Bellis falls to Mertens in third round of Aussie Open

In the fourth tournament of her comeback, San Francisco Bay Area product CiCi
Bellis lost to 16th-seeded Elise Mertens 6-1, 6-7 (5), 6-0 in the third round of the
Australian Open. 2017 photo by Mal Taam
   CiCi Bellis will have to be content with equaling her deepest singles run in a Grand Slam tournament.
   In only the fourth tournament of her comeback, the 20-year-old San Francisco Bay Area product fell to 16th-seeded Elise Mertens of Belgium 6-1, 6-7 (5), 6-0 tonight in the third round of the Australian Open in Melbourne.
   "Mertens is one of the fittest players on the tour, and it's really showing in the third set," ESPN commentator Rennae Stubbs said during the match.
   The 5-foot-10 (1.79-meter) Mertens, an Australian Open semifinalist in 2018 and U.S. Open quarterfinalist last year, pounded 12 aces to none for the 5-foot-7 (1.68-meter) Bellis.
    Mertens evened her record against Bellis at 1-1. Bellis outclassed Mertens 6-3, 6-3 in the first round at Dubai in February 2018, one month before injuries forced Bellis off the tour for 19 months. She had four operations, three on her right wrist and one on her right elbow, during her layoff.
   Bellis, who used her protected ranking to play in the Australian Open, will soar from No. 600 to No. 298 when the next rankings are released on Feb. 3. She reached a career-high No. 35 at age 18 in 2017 and was named the WTA Newcomer of the Year.
   On the men's side in the Australian Open, Tennys Sandgren beat fellow American Sam Querrey 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 in the third round.
   Querrey, a 32-year-old San Francisco native, has never reached the fourth round of the Australian Open in 14 appearances (all consecutive).
   Sandgren, an Australian Open quarterfinalist in 2018, lost to Querrey 6-4, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5) in the round of 16 at Wimbledon last July in their only previous meeting.
   In the second round of men's doubles, Steve Johnson of Redondo Beach in the Los Angeles area and Querrey edged 14th-seeded Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski of Great Britain 4-6, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (12).
   Murray won the 2016 Australian Open and U.S. Open with Bruno Soares of Brazil and the 2007 SAP Open in San Jose, Calif., with Eric Butorac of Rochester, Minn. Skupski played for the Sacramento-based California Dream in 2015, the team's only year of existence.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Wang shocks Serena in third round of Aussie Open

Serena Williams lost to Wang Qiang four months after crushing
her 6-1, 6-0 in 44 minutes. File photo by Paul Bauman
   All indications were that Serena Williams would easily beat Wang Qiang tonight in the third round of the Australian Open.
   Four months ago in their only previous meeting, Williams crushed Wang 6-1, 6-0 in 44 minutes in the U.S. Open quarterfinals.
   Williams was 7-0 this year entering tonight's match. She won Auckland two weeks ago for her first title since having her first child in September 2017 and undergoing life-threatening complications.
   In her first two Australian Open matches, Williams lost no more than three games in a set.
   Despite all that, the 27th-seeded Wang topped the eighth-seeded Williams 6-4, 6-7 (2), 7-5 in 2 hours, 41 minutes in Melbourne. It was Williams' earliest loss in the Australian Open, a tournament she has won seven times, since she third-round exit in 2006.
   After the U.S. Open debacle, "I worked really hard on and off the court," China's Wang, who turned 28 on Jan. 14, said in an on-court interview.
   Wang had 25 winners and 20 errors to Williams' 43 and 56, respectively.
   "I just made far too many errors to be a professional athlete today," Williams, a 38-year-old part-time resident of Silicon Valley, told reporters.
   Williams again fell short in her quest to tie Margaret Court's record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles. Williams has not won a major since the 2017 Australian Open despite reaching four finals, losing in straight sets twice at Wimbledon and twice at the U.S. Open.
  "She wants No. 24 so much that the pressure is mounting," ESPN commentator Patrick McEnroe declared.
   Wang served for the match at 5-4 in the second set, but Williams broke at 15. After Williams prevailed in the tiebreaker, she saved a break point to hold for 1-1 in the third set.
   Williams served to stay in the match at 5-6 but slugged two backhands long to trail 0-30. Williams pounded a service winner for 15-30, but another backhand long gave Wang two match points. Wang squandered them with two errors, but Williams returned the favor (missing two first serves) to end it.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Bellis ousts 20th-seeded Muchova in Aussie Open

CiCi Bellis, a 20-year-old San Francisco Bay Area product, pulled off the first big
 win of her comeback tonight to reach the third round of the Australian Open. That
equals her best singles result in a Grand Slam tournament. 2018 photo by Mal Taam
   Bellis is back.
   CiCi Bellis scored the first big win of her comeback tonight, knocking off 20th-seeded Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic 6-4, 6-4 in the second round of the Australian Open in Melbourne. They met for the first time.
   Muchova stunned third seed and former world No. 1 Karolina Pliskova to reach the Wimbledon quarterfinals last July. Muchova then lost to Elina Svitolina.
   "I know how hard (Bellis) works, and this is an enormous story for American tennis," crowed ESPN commentator Rennae Stubbs.
   Bellis, a 20-year-old San Francisco native who grew up down the road in Atherton, was coming off a 6-0, 6-2 victory over 87th-ranked Tatjana Maria, a 32-year-old mother from Germany, in 52 minutes.
   Bellis climbed to No. 35 at age 18 in 2017 and was named the WTA Newcomer of the Year. Then came a harrowing 19-month layoff in which she had four operations, three on her right wrist and one on her right elbow.
   By reaching the third round of the Australian Open, Bellis equaled her best singles performance in a major in only the fourth tournament of her comeback. She also advanced to the third round of the 2016 U.S. Open and 2017 French Open.
   Bellis next will play 16th-seeded Elise Mertens of Belgium. Mertens, an Australian Open semifinalist in 2018 and U.S. Open quarterfinalist last year, dismissed Heather Watson of Great Britain 6-3, 6-0 in 56 minutes.
   Bellis outclassed Mertens 6-3, 6-3 in the first round at Dubai in February 2018 in their only previous meeting. Bellis played only two more tournaments before arm injuries forced her off the tour.
   In the first round of Australian Open doubles, Bellis and Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic lost to third-seeded Mertens and Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.
   Mertens and Sabalenka won the U.S. Open last September for their first Grand Slam title of any kind. Bellis and Vondrousova, last year's French Open singles runner-up, reached the 2014 girls final at Roland Garros.
   Early today, eighth-seeded Serena Williams, a part-time Silicon Valley resident, improved to 7-0 this year with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Tamara Zidansek of Slovenia in the second round.
   Williams, who won Auckland two weeks ago for her first title since having her first child in September 2017, next will meet 27th-seeded Wang Qiang of China. Wang routed Fiona Ferro of France 6-1, 6-2.
   Wang shocked then-No. 2 Ashleigh Barty in the round of 16 in the U.S. Open last September before losing to Williams 6-1, 6-0 in the quarterfinals. That's the only previous meeting between Williams and Wang, not counting a walkover for Wang in the third round at Miami last March.
   In the opening round of men's doubles, No. 13 seeds Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan (Stanford, 1997-98), playing in their last Australian Open 20 years after their first, defeated Rohan Bopanna of India and Yasutaka Uchiyama of Japan 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.
   The Bryan twins, who will turn 42 in April, announced last November that they will retire after this year's U.S. Open. They seek their seventh Australian Open men's doubles crown.
   In other first-round men's doubles matches:
   –No. 10 seeds Mate Pavic of Croatia and Bruno Soares of Brazil beat Luke Bambridge of Great Britain and Ben McLachlan (Cal, 2011-14) of Japan 7-6 (4), 7-5.
   Bambridge and McLachlan, a New Zealand native who plays for his mother's native country, won the Auckland title two weeks ago. McLachlan and Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany reached the Australian Open semifinals two years ago.
   Soares and Jamie Murray of Great Britain captured the Australian Open and U.S. Open in 2016. Pavic and Oliver Marach of Austria won the 2018 Australian Open.
   –U.S. Davis Cup teammates and California natives Steve Johnson and Sam Querrey, who was born in San Francisco, defeated Cheng-Peng Hsieh and Yen-Hsun Lu of Chinese Taipei 6-7 (9), 6-4, 6-4.
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