Thursday, February 4, 2021

Querrey, McDonald draw tough Italians in Aussie Open

Sam Querrey has never advanced past the third round
of the Australian Open in 14 appearances. Photo cour-
tesy of mvtpr.com
   San Francisco Bay Area natives Sam Querrey and Mackenzie McDonald are scheduled to play tough Italians in the first round of the Australian Open, which begins Sunday (PST) in Melbourne.
   Querrey, who has never advanced past the third round of the Australian Open in 14 appearances, will meet Lorenzo Sonego, seeded 31st, for the first time.
   Last fall, Sonego reached the fourth round of the French Open and, as a qualifier, routed top-ranked Novak Djokovic 6-2, 6-1 en route to the Vienna final. 
   McDonald will face Marco Cecchinato, who stunned Djokovic to reach the French Open semifinals in 2018, for the initial time.
   McDonald has reached the second round of the Australian Open twice in three appearances. As a qualifier in 2018, he extended third-ranked Grigor Dimitrov to 8-6 in the fifth set in the second round.
   On the women's side, Sloane Stephens, a 27-year-old Fresno, Calif., product, will take on 26th-seeded Yulia Putintseva, a Moscow native who plays for Kazakhstan. They have split four career matches, none in a Grand Slam tournament.
   Stephens reached the Australian Open semifinals in 2013 at age 19, won the 2017 U.S. Open and advanced to the 2018 French Open final. Since 2018, however, she has slumped from a career-high No. 3 to No. 40.
   Mayar Sherif (Fresno State, 2015-16) of Egypt is set to play fellow qualifier Chloe Paquet of France for the first time. 
   In her French Open debut last fall, Sherif survived qualifying and extended second-seeded Karolina Pliskova, the runner-up at Stanford in 2015, to 6-4 in the third set in the opening round.
   ATP Tour — Cameron Norrie and Jonny O'Mara of Great Britain surprised third-seeded Rajeev Ram, a volunteer assistant coach at the University of California, Berkeley, and Joe Salisbury of Great Britain 4-6, 6-3 [10-7] in the second round of the Murray River Open.
   Norrie captured back-to-back Challenger singles titles in Tiburon, across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, and Stockton in 2017. Ram and Salisbury won last year's Australian Open.
   In a second-round doubles match in the Great Ocean Road Open, sixth-seeded Marcelo Arevalo of El Salvador and Matwe Middelkoop of the Netherlands eliminated 33-year-old wild cards Querrey and Robin Haase, a Dutchman, 6-4, 6-4.
   Arevalo won the doubles title in the 2019 Aptos, Calif., Challenger with Miguel Angel Reyes-Varela of Mexico.
   In the ATP Cup, Ben McLachlan (Cal, 2011-14) and Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan edged Evgeny Donskoy and Aslan Karatsev of Russia 4-6, 6-3 [12-10] in Group D. Russia beat Japan 2-1.
   McLachlan, a New Zealand native, and Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany reached the doubles semifinals in the 2018 Australian Open.
   WTA Tour — Third-seeded Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara of Japan held off Coco Gauff, 16, and Caty McNally, 19, of the United States 6-3, 3-6 [10-7] in the quarterfinals of the Yarra River Classic.
   The 5-foot-1 (1.54-meter) Aoyama, 33, and Shibahara, a 22-year-old native of Mountain View in the San Francisco Bay Area, improved to 7-0 this year. They won the Abu Dhabi title last month.
   Gauff and McNally defeated Aoyama and Shibahara in three sets in the third round of last year's Australian Open.
   ATP Challenger Tour — Treat Huey, a Washington, D.C., native who plays for the Philippines, and Sem Verbeek, a former University of the Pacific star from the Netherlands, topped second-seeded Harri Heliovaara of Finland and Zdenek Kolar of the Czech Republic 7-6 (3), 4-6 [10-7] in the quarterfinals of the €44,820 ($53,820) MTA Open in Antalya, Turkey.
   Heliovaara and Verbeek, playing separately, reached the doubles final in the 2018 and 2019 Fairfield, Calif., Challenger, respectively.

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