Sunday, February 28, 2021

McDonald routs Rodionov for third Challenger title

Mackenzie McDonald has won eight of his last nine matches.
The 25-year-old San Francisco Bay Area product reached the
fourth round of the recent Australian Open. 2016 photo by
Paul Bauman
   It didn't take long for Mackenzie McDonald to defeat Jurij Rodionov for a third Challenger singles title.
   The unseeded McDonald, a 25-year-old product of Piedmont in the San Francisco Bay Area, routed the sixth-seeded Rodionov of Austria 6-2, 6-1 in 56 minutes today in the $104,160 Forte 100 Challenger in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan.
   McDonald, only 5-foot-10 (1.78 meters) and 160 pounds (73 kilograms), pounded seven aces to none for Rodionov, a 6-foot-3 (1.91-meter) left-hander, on an indoor hardcourt and saved all four break points against him. The players met for the first time. 
   It was the eighth victory in nine matches for McDonald, now based in Orlando, Fla. As the last remaining American man in the recent Australian Open, he lost to eventual champion Daniil Medvedev in straight sets in the fourth round.
   McDonald, who ousted top-seeded Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan in the first round in Nur-Sultan, also lost only three games in the semifinals against fifth-seeded Henri Laaksonen of Switzerland. 
   The champion's closest call in the tournament came in a 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (3) victory over left-hander Frederico Ferreira Silva, also 25 years old and 5-foot-10 (1.78 meters), of Portugal in the quarterfinals.
   McDonald earned $14,400 for winning the Kazakhstan title, a pittance compared to the $248,800 he pocketed at the Australian Open. More importantly, he will rise 21 more places in the world rankings to No. 118 on Monday. Entering the Australian Open, McDonald was ranked No. 192.
   McDonald climbed to a career-high No. 57 in April 2019 but underwent right hamstring surgery the following June and missed seven months. 
   The Kazakhstan crown was McDonald's first since the 2018 Seoul Challenger. His maiden title came in Fairfield, Calif., 40 miles (64.4 kilometers) north of Piedmont, in 2017. 
   Rodionov, a 21-year-old native of Germany, collected $8,480 after falling to 3-1 in Challenger singles finals. He will improve 13 spots to No. 139.
   McDonald is scheduled to play Brayden Schnur of Canada in the first round of next week's $156,240 Forte 125 Challenger in Nur-Sultan. Both players are unseeded. 


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