Monday, September 28, 2020

McDonald breaks through, braces for Nadal

Mackenzie McDonald, a San Francisco Bay Area product,
defeated qualifier Steven Diez of Canada in the first round
of the French Open. File photo by Paul Bauman
    The good news for Mackenzie McDonald is that he won a main-draw match in the French Open for the first time.
   The bad news is he plays Rafael Nadal next.
   McDonald, a 25-year-old product Piedmont in the San Francisco Bay Area, defeated qualifier Steven Diez, a 29-year-old Canadian based in Spain, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 today in a matchup of undersized players in chilly Paris.
   Diez, 5-foot-9 (1.75 meters) and 167 pounds (75 kilograms), broke with McDonald serving for the match at 5-3 in the fourth set, but McDonald broke right back to advance.
   McDonald, 5-foot-10 (1.77 meters) and 160 pounds (72 kilograms), pounded 11 aces and committed two double faults in the first-time meeting.
   McDonald played at UCLA for three years (2014-16), turning pro after winning the NCAA singles and doubles titles in 2016 as a junior. He won his first Challenger title in Fairfield, Calif., 40 miles (64.4 kilometers) north of Piedmont, in 2017 and advanced to the fourth round at Wimbledon in 2018.
   Last year, McDonald reached a career-high No. 57 in April but underwent right hamstring surgery in June and sat out the rest of the season. Now ranked No. 236, he is playing with a protected ranking.
   Nadal, seeking his fourth consecutive French Open title and 13th overall, beat Belarus' Egor Gerasimov, a semifinalist in last year's Aptos (Calif.) Challenger, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2. Nadal and McDonald, now based at the USTA National Campus near Orlando, Fla., are set to meet for the first time on Wednesday. 
   Like McDonald, CiCi Bellis was born and raised in the Bay Area, trains at the USTA National Campus and is rebounding from surgery. She lost to left-hander Bernarda Pera, a 25-year-old American born in Croatia, 7-6 (3), 6-1.
   Bellis, a right-hander who had three operations on her right wrist and one on her right elbow in 2018-19, played in the French Open for the first time since reaching the third round in 2017.
   Sixth-seeded Serena Williams, a three-time champion at Roland Garros, eliminated Kristie Ahn, a 28-year-old Stanford graduate, in straight sets in the first round for the second consecutive Grand Slam tournament. Williams triumphed 7-6 (2), 6-0 after beating Ahn 7-5, 6-3 in the U.S. Open.
   Meanwhile, fourth-seeded Daniil Medvedev of Russia and eighth-seeded Gael Monfils, a 34-year-old Frenchman, lost in the opening round. 
   Marton Fucsovics of Hungary ousted Medvedev, the U.S. Open runner-up in 2019 and a semifinalist at Flushing Meadows this month, 6-4, 7-6 (3), 2-6, 6-1. Fucsovics, ranked No. 63, had been 0-14 against top-10 players. Medvedev, 24, fell to 0-4 in the French Open.
   Kazakhstan's Alexander Bublik, the champion of the 2017 Aptos Challenger, downed Monfils 6-4, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3. The 23-year-old Bublik, ranked No. 49, had been 0-5 against top-10 players. Monfils, a Roland Garros semifinalist in 2008, committed 12 double faults.
   Third-seeded Dominic Thiem, the runner-up in the last two French Opens, outclassed Marin Cilic, the 2014 U.S. Open champion playing on his 32nd birthday, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.
   Thiem, 27, played for the first time since winning his maiden Grand Slam title in the U.S. Open. He defeated Cilic in four sets in the third round at Flushing Meadows.
   Lorenzo Giustino, a 29-year-old Italian qualifier, topped Corentin Moutet, a 21-year-old left-hander from France, 0-6, 7-6 (7), 7-6 (3), 2-6, 18-16 in 6 hours, 5 minutes for his first Grand Slam victory. The fifth set lasted 3 hours. 
   The match fell 28 minutes short of the Roland Garros record, Fabrice Santoro's victory over fellow Frenchman Arnaud Clement in the first round in 2004.
   Iga Swiatek, 19, of Poland eliminated 15th-seeded Marketa Vondrousova, last year's runner-up to Ashleigh Barty at 19, 6-1, 6-2 in 63 minutes. Vondrousova, a 21-year-old left-hander, had left-wrist surgery last summer and sat out for the rest of the year.
   In 2018, Swiatek won the Wimbledon girls singles title and the French Open girls doubles crown with American Caty McNally.

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