Saturday, November 14, 2020

San Jose product Novikov claims Cary crown in doubles

Unseeded Dennis Novikov (above) and Teymuraz Gabash-
vili won all four of their matches in the Cary, N.C., Challen-
ger in match tiebreakers. 2018 photo by Paul Bauman
   Here's a shocker: the doubles title in the Cary, N.C., Challenger was decided by a match tiebreaker.
   Unseeded Teymuraz Gabashvili, a Georgia native who plays for Russia, and Dennis Novikov, a San Jose, Calif., product who was born in Moscow, nipped top-seeded Luke Bambridge of Great Britain and Nathaniel Lammons of Dallas 7-5, 4-6 [10-8] today in the Atlantic Tire Championships.
   All six matches played by the finalists in the $52,800 hardcourt tournament went to match tiebreakers. Bambridge and Lammons won by walkover in the semifinals.
   Gabashvili and Novikov, playing in his first tournament since late February, led 5-2 in the match tiebreaker before Bambridge and Lammons reeled off four consecutive points. Novikov netted two forehands during the run but came up big late.
   With Bambridge serving at 7-7, Novikov ripped a forehand passing shot down the middle and pounded a service winner to earn two championship points. Lammons saved the first one, crushing a backhand winner on Novikov's first serve, but Novikov converted the second one with another forehand passing shot down the middle.
   In Sunday's singles final, second-seeded Denis Kudla, 28, of Arlington, Va., is scheduled to meet fourth-seeded Prajnesh Gunneswaran, a 31-year-old left-hander from India, for the first time at 9 a.m. PST. The match will be streamed live.
   Kudla, the runner-up in the 2015 Tiburon (Calif.) Challenger, outlasted third-seeded Daniel Elahi Galan of Colombia 6-7 (6), 6-1, 6-4. Gunneswaran, a semifinalist in the 2017 Tiburon (Calif.) Challenger, beat unseeded Mikael Torpegaard, a former three-time NCAA runner-up (singles, doubles and team) at Ohio State from Denmark, by walkover.
   Gabashvili, 35, and Novikov, 27, split $3,100 after winning their first title together. Bambridge, 25, and Lammons, 27, shared $1,800.
   Novikov, the Cary singles champion in 2015 and a singles semifinalist in the $100,000 San Francisco Challenger in 2018, won his seventh career Challenger doubles title and second of the COVID-shortened season. Novikov and Goncalo Oliveira, a left-hander from Portugal, took the Dallas crown in early February. 
   Gabashvili, a former top-50 singles player who has reached the fourth round of the French Open twice, claimed his 10th career Challenger doubles title and first of the year.
   Bambridge has won three ATP doubles titles, most recently Auckland in January with former University of California, Berkeley star Ben McLachlan. Bambridge also owns seven Challenger doubles crowns, including Fairfield, Calif., in 2017 with David O'Hare of Ireland.
   Novikov will jump 22 places to No. 156 in doubles in Monday's new world rankings, and Gabashvili will rise six spots to No. 149. Bambridge will remain No. 62, and Lammons will improve four notches to No. 99. All of the finalists have been ranked higher in doubles.
   Novikov played junior hockey for six years and tennis at UCLA for two years, helping the Bruins reach the 2013 NCAA final. Lammons played at Southern Methodist University in Dallas from 2013 to 2016 while earning a degree in mechanical engineering.


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