Monday, February 8, 2021

McDonald tops Italian, Querrey falls in Australian Open

Mackenzie McDonald practices his serve during the
2017 Fairfield, Calif., Challenger. The product of nearby
Piedmont won the title. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Mackenzie McDonald, a 25-year-old product of Piedmont in the San Francisco Bay Area, defeated Italian Marco Cecchinato, a semifinalist in the 2018 French Open, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 today in the first round of the Australian Open in Melbourne.
   McDonald, only 5-foot-10 (1.78 meters) and 160 pounds (73 kilograms), pounded 14 aces and committed just three double faults. Cecchinato, who stunned Novak Djokovic to reach the semis at Roland Garros in 2018, had three aces and eight double faults.
   McDonald, now based in Orlando, Fla., has tumbled from a career-high No. 57 in 2019, shortly before undergoing right hamstring surgery, to No. 192. He is scheduled to face Croatia's Borna Coric, seeded 22nd and ranked 25th, for the first time on Wednesday (PST). 
   Coric, who reached his first Grand Slam quarterfinal in the U.S. Open last September, eliminated Guido Pella of Argentina 6-3, 7-6 (5), 7-5. 
   Italy's Lorenzo Sonego, seeded 31st, beat Sam Querrey, a 33-year-old San Francisco native, 7-5, 6-4, 6-4. Querrey has never advanced past the third round of the Australian Open in 15 appearances. 
   Last fall, Sonego reached the fourth round of the French Open and, as a qualifier, routed Djokovic 6-2, 6-1 en route to the Vienna final, which he lost to Andrey Rublev of Russia.
   On the women's side, Jessica Pegula of Boca Raton, Fla., ousted 12th-seeded Victoria Azarenka, a two-time Australian Open champion (2012 and 2013) and the U.S. Open runner-up last fall, 7-5, 6-4. 
   Pegula, the 26-year-old daughter of Buffalo Bills and Sabres owners Terry and Kim Pegula, reached the final of the 2012 Sacramento, Calif., Challenger at 18, the semifinals of the 2018 Stockton, Calif., Challenger and the third round of last year's U.S. Open.
   Mayar Sherif (Fresno State, 2015-16) became the first Egyptian woman to win a main-draw match in a Grand Slam tournament, defeating fellow qualifier Chloe Paquet of France 7-5, 7-5.
   Sherif is slated to play another qualifier, Kaja Juvan of Slovenia, on Wednesday. Juvan beat 13th-seeded Johanna Konta, a Briton who won the Stanford title in 2016, 4-6, 2-0, retired (pulled abdominal muscle). 
   Sherif also qualified for the French Open last fall in her tournament debut and extended second-seeded Karolina Pliskova, the runner-up at Stanford in 2015, to 6-4 in the third set in the opening round.
   Struggling Sloane Stephens, a 27-year-old Fresno, Calif., product, lost to 26th-seeded Yulia Putintseva, a 26-year-old Moscow native who plays for Kazakhstan, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3. There were seven deuces in the last game of the first set.

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