Saturday, November 21, 2020

Cal coach Ram loses doubles heartbreaker in ATP Finals

   Much like Dominic Thiem earlier in singles, Jurgen Melzer and Edouard Roger-Vasselin staged an amazing comeback in a decisive tiebreaker today to reach the title match in the Nitto ATP Finals.
   The seventh-seeded Melzer and Roger-Vasselin saved a match point in their 6-7 (4), 6-3 [11-9] victory over second-seeded Rajeev Ram, a volunteer assistant coach at the University of California, Berkeley, and Joe Salisbury in the indoor hardcourt tournament in London.
   Ram, 36, of Carmel, Ind., and Salisbury, a 28-year-old London native and resident, led 7-1 in the match tiebreaker before Melzer, a 39-year-old left-hander from Austria, and Roger-Vasselin, a 36-year-old Frenchman, reeled off seven consecutive points. 
   Ram then won both points on his serve to earn a match point at 9-8. After Roger-Vasselin, the son of 1983 French Open singles semifinalist Christophe Roger-Vasselin, missed his first serve, Melzer nailed a forehand volley while falling to the court. 
   Roger-Vasselin held for 10-9 to garner his own match point. On Salisbury's second serve, Melzer ripped a backhand passing shot down the middle to end the thriller.
   In the second set, Roger-Vasselin saved two break points to hold for 4-2 and two more to win the set.
   Melzer and Roger-Vasselin are scheduled to play fifth-seeded Wesley Koolhof of the Netherlands and Nikola Mektic of Croatia on Sunday at 7:30 a.m PST (Tennis Channel). Koolhof and Mektic dispatched fourth-seeded Marcel Granollers of Spain and Horacio Zeballos of Argentina 6-3, 6-4.
   Thiem, seeded third, edged top-ranked Novak Djokovic 7-5, 6-7 (10), 7-6 (5) in 2 hours, 54 minutes to reach the final for the second consecutive year. Thiem, who lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas last year, trailed 0-4 in the third-set tiebreaker.
   Djokovic saved four match points in the second-set tiebreaker and one in the decisive tiebreaker. He entered the match 15-1 in tiebreakers this year.
   In Sunday's final at 10 a.m. (ESPN2), Thiem will face fourth-seeded Daniil Medvedev, who eliminated second-seeded Rafael Nadal 3-6, 7-6 (4), 6-3. Nadal, who has never won the ATP Finals, served for the match at 6-3, 5-4. 
   ITF Women's Circuit — Second-seeded Maiar Sherif Ahmed Abdelaziz (Fresno State, 2015-16) of Egypt beat unseeded Jule Niemeier of Germany 7-5, 5-7, 6-1 in 2 hours, 59 minutes to reach the final of the $25,000 Open Gran Canaria on clay in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, off the coast of northwestern Africa. 
   Sherif, who won a $100,000 clay-court tournament in Charleston, S.C., as a qualifier two weeks ago, extended her winning streak to 11 matches. She will face top-seeded Kaia Kanepi of Estonia for the first time. 
   Kanepi, 35, dismissed sixth-seeded Richel Hogenkamp of the Netherlands 6-2, 6-2. Kanepi has reached the quarterfinals of the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open twice each and been ranked as high as No. 15 in 2012. 
   ATP Challenger Tour — Fourth-seeded Prajnesh Gunneswaran of India advanced to his second final in two weeks, beating unseeded Christopher Eubanks of Atlanta 6-4, 7-6 (2) on a hardcourt in the $52,080 Orlando (Fla.) Open.
   Gunneswaran, a 31-year-old left-hander who lost to Denis Kudla last week in Cary, N.C., is set to meet unseeded Brandon Nakashima, 19, of San Diego for the first time on Sunday at 8 a.m. The match will be streamed live.
   Nakashima, who ousted top-seeded Thiago Monteiro of Brazil in the second round, routed unseeded Mitchell Krueger of Dallas 6-1, 6-3 to reach his first Challenger final. 
   Gunneswaran advanced to the semifinals of the 2017 Tiburon, Calif., Challenger, and Nakashima reached his first Challenger semifinal in Fairfield, Calif., last fall. Both were $100,000 tournaments.
   In the doubles final, second-seeded Andrey Golubev and Aleksandr Nedovyesov of Kazakhstan beat unseeded Mitchell Krueger of Dallas and Jackson Withrow of Omaha, Neb., 7-5, 6-4.

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