Wednesday, October 28, 2020

McDonald upsets Bublik in Kazakhstan opener

Mackenzie McDonald, a 25-year-old San Francisco
Bay Area product, practices during the 2017 Fairfield
 (Calif.) Challenger. He went on to win the title. Photo
by Paul Bauman
   In a matchup of former Northern California Challenger champions, San Francisco Bay Area product Mackenzie McDonald dismissed sixth-seeded Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan 6-3, 6-2 today in the first round of the Astana Open in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan.
   The 6-foot-5 (1.96-meter) Bublik, who won the 2017 Aptos title at age 20, pounded 11 aces but committed eight double faults in the 72-minute match.
   The 5-foot-10 (1.78 meters) McDonald, who captured his first Challenger title in Fairfield in 2017, had one ace and no double faults.
   McDonald, ranked No. 209, avenged a 2-6, 7-6 (2), 6-4 loss to Bublik, ranked No. 49, in the first round at St. Petersburg two weeks ago.
   McDonald, now 25 and based at the USTA National Campus near Orlando, Fla., reached a career-high No. 57 in April last year but underwent right hamstring surgery in June and missed the rest of the season. He is scheduled to play Andreas Seppi, a 36-year-old wild card from Italy, for the second time on Thursday. McDonald won 6-4, 6-2 in the second round at 's-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands, on grass in 2018.
   Bublik, a 23-year-old free spirit who lists his best quality as "sleeping," suffered a broken ankle in Indian Wells qualifying in 2018.
   In the other half of the draw, three additional players who have won NorCal Challenger titles — fourth-seeded John Millman (2010 Sacramento and 2015 Aptos), seventh-seeded Tommy Paul (2019 Tiburon) and unseeded Frances Tiafoe (2016 Stockton) — advanced to the quarterfinals.
   Tiafoe, 22, ousted second-seeded Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia 7-5, 6-3. Kecmanovic, 21, won his first ATP title last month on clay in Kitzbuhel, Austria.
   ATP Challenger Tour — Third-seeded Andre Goransson (University of California, Berkeley, 2014-17) and Jan Zielinski of Poland reached the semifinals of the €44,820 ($52,759) Hamburg Challenger by walkover against Frenchmen Hugo Gaston and Arthur Rinderknech.
   The 5-foot-8 (1.73-meter) Gaston, 20, reached the fourth round of singles in the recent French Open, stunning 2015 champion Stan Wawrinka in the third round.
   Goransson won his first ATP title in February in Pune, India, with Christopher Rungkat of Indonesia. 
   Both Goransson and Rungkat have won a Challenger doubles title in NorCal, Goransson in Tiburon in 2017 with former Cal teammate Florian Lakat of France and Rungkat in Fairfield in 2018 with Sanchai Ratiwatana of Thailand.
   Goransson and Zielinksi will play either top-seeded Andre Begemann of Germany and David Pel of the Netherlands or unseeded Marc-Andrea Huesler of Switzerland and Kamil Majchrzak of Poland. 
   Begemann and Pel, a 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) left-hander, won the title in last week's Ismaning (Germany) Challenger.
   In singles, the 6-foot-5 (1.96-meter) Huesler, a 24-year-old left-hander, lost to eighth-seeded Oscar Otte of Germany 6-2, 6-3 in the first round after winning two consecutive Challenger titles.
   USTA Pro Circuit — Rain postponed the first round of the main draw in the $80,000 Bellatorum Resources Pro Classic on hardcourts in Tyler, Texas.
   Fifth-seeded Kristie Ahn, a 28-year-old Stanford graduate, is scheduled to meet Hailey Baptiste, an 18-year-old wild card, for the first time on Thursday at a time to be announced. Live streaming will be available.
  Baptiste shocked second-seeded Madison Keys, the U.S. Open runner-up in 2017, in the opening round in Washington, D.C., Baptiste's hometown, last year. Baptiste, however, is 0-3 since the pro tours resumed from the five-month COVID-19 hiatus in August.
   CiCi Bellis, a 21-year-old Bay Area product, will face sixth-seeded Anna-Lena Friedsam of Germany in a clash of former top-50 players. Bellis, also now based at the USTA National Campus, won last week's $80,000 Mercer Tennis Classic on hardcourts in Macon, Ga.
   Friedsam defeated Bellis 1-6, 7-6 (1), 6-3 in the second round of a $125,000 hardcourt tournament in San Antonio in 2016 in their only previous meeting.
   Katie Volynets, an 18-year-old wild card from Walnut Creek in the Bay Area, will play a qualifier to be determined.    

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