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 "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.
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