Tuesday, February 23, 2021

McDonald ousts top seed in Kazakhstan Challenger

Mackenzie McDonald, coming off a fourth-round appearance
in the Australian Open, knocked off top-seeded Mikhail Ku-
kushkin in Kazakhstan. 2018 photo by Paul Bauman 
   Mackenzie McDonald, a 25-year-old product of Piedmont in the San Francisco Bay Area, beat top-seeded Mikhail Kukushkin, playing in his home country, 7-5, 7-5 on Monday in the first round of the $104,160 Forte 100 Challenger in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan.
   McDonald, who has fought his way back to No. 139 in the world after undergoing right hamstring surgery in 2019, is coming off a fourth-round appearance in the Australian Open. That equals his furthest run in the Grand Slam tournament.
   Kukushkin, now ranked No. 94, reached the final of the 2014 Aptos (Calif.) Challenger, losing to former top-10 player Marcos Baghdatis
   McDonald, based in Orlando, Fla., is scheduled to play Denis Istomin, a 34-year-old Russia native who plays for Uzbekistan, on Wednesday. Istomin, who stunned Novak Djokovic in the second round of the 2017 Australian Open, defeated wild card Denis Yevseyev of Kazakhstan 6-7 (6), 6-3, 6-3. 
   Istomin advanced to the final of the 2012 SAP Open in San Jose, Calif., falling to Milos Raonic, and climbed to a career-high No. 33 later that year. McDonald was ranked as high as No. 57 before having surgery.
   ATP Tour — Luis David Martinez of Venezuela and David Vega Hernandez of Spain eliminated second-seeded Rohan Bopanna, 40, of India and Ben McLachlan (University of California, Berkeley, 2011-14), a New Zealand native who plays for his mother's native Japan, 6-4, 6-2 in the opening round of the Singapore Tennis Open.
   ITF Women's Tour — No. 13 seed Katie Volynets, a 19-year-old professional from Walnut Creek in the Bay Area, topped No. 8 seed Marcela Zacarias of Mexico 3-6, 7-5 [12-10] in the final round of qualifying for a $25,000 hardcourt tournament in Boca Raton, Fla.
   Volynets is slated to play U.S. wild card Elizabeth Mandlik, the 19-year-old daughter of International Tennis Hall of Famer Hana Mandlikova, on Wednesday.
   ITF Men's Tour — Dennis Novikov, 27, of San Jose edged No. 13 seed Benjamin Dhoe of Belgium 6-2, 2-6 [10-7] to qualify for a $25,000 clay-court tournament in Naples, Fla.
   Novikov is set to meet Cristian Rodriguez, 30, of Colombia on Wednesday. 
   In the first round of doubles, Strong Kirchheimer of the United States and Novikov dominated Sathi Reddy Chirala of India and Ryan Shane of the U.S. 6-3, 6-2. 

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