Friday, February 26, 2021

McDonald ekes out victory in Kazakhstan quarterfinals

Mackenzie McDonald has won six of his last
seven matches. 2018 photo by Paul Bauman
   Mackenzie McDonald remained hot early today, edging Frederico Ferreira Silva of Portugal 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (3) in a quarterfinal matchup of unseeded players in the $104,160 Forte 100 Challenger in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan. 
   McDonald, who was born and raised in Piedmont in the San Francisco Bay Area, has won six of his last seven matches. The 25-year-old resident of Orlando, Fla., lost to eventual runner-up Daniil Medvedev in straight sets in the fourth round of the Australian Open.
   McDonald, ranked No. 139, is scheduled to meet fifth-seeded Henri Laaksonen of Switzerland tonight at 9 (PST) in the indoor hardcourt tournament. Laaksonen, ranked No. 134, defeated Kacper Zuk of Poland 6-4, 6-3.
   Laaksonen beat McDonald 6-3, 6-4 in the first round of the 2019 U.S. Clay Court Championships in Houston in their only previous meeting.
   McDonald won his first Challenger in Fairfield, Calif., 40 miles (64.4 kilometers) north of Piedmont, in 2017. He climbed to a career-high No. 57 in 2019, shortly before undergoing right hamstring surgery and missing seven months. 
   Laaksonen, who has a Finnish mother and Swiss father, reached the doubles final in Fairfield in 2018 with Harri Heliovaara of Finland. 
   In the other Kazakhstan semifinal, fourth-seeded Prajnesh Gunneswaran, 31, of India, will face sixth-seeded Jurij Rodionov, 21, of Austria in a clash of left-handers. Rodionov won their only previous encounter 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 in the opening round of the 2018 Kaohsiung Challenger in Chinese Taipei. 
   Gunneswaran advanced to the Tiburon semifinals in 2017 and Aptos quarterfinals the following year in Northern California Challengers.

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