Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Struggling Kenin, Andreescu upset at Wimbledon

Madison Brengle ousted No. 4 seed Sofia Kenin today in the
second round at Wimbledon. 2019 photo by Paul Bauman
   Two of the top five women's seeds, both Grand Slam champions who have struggled this year, lost at Wimbledon today.
   In an all-American matchup, Madison Brengle ousted No. 4 seed Sofia Kenin 6-2, 6-4 in the second round. Kenin has won three Challenger singles titles in Northern California and Brengle two.
   Also, Alize Cornet of France routed No. 5 seed Bianca Andreescu of Canada 6-2, 6-1 in the first round. Cornet, who stunned Serena Williams in the third round at Wimbledon in 2014, ended a three-match losing streak at the All England Club.
   Neither Kenin, who won the 2020 Australian Open at 21, nor Andreescu, the 2019 U.S. Open champion at 19, has reached the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam tournament this year. In fact, Andreescu hasn't survived the second round in a 2021 major. The last Grand Slam tourney of the year, the U.S. Open, is scheduled for Aug. 30 to Sept. 12.
   Another major champion, 28-year-old Fresno, Calif., product Sloane Stephens, defeated Kristie Ahn, a 29-year-old Stanford graduate from Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 7-5, 6-3 in the second round.
   In a rematch of the 2018 Wimbledon men's final, top-ranked Novak Djokovic dismissed Kevin Anderson of South Africa 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 in the second round. The 6-foot-8 (2.03-meter) Anderson, 35, had right knee surgery in September 2019 and February 2020.
   Sam Querrey, a 33-year-old San Francisco native, eliminated No. 11 seed Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain, 7-6 (6), 6-4, 7-5.
   The 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Querrey, a Wimbledon semifinalist in 2017 and quarterfinalist in 2016 and 2019, clubbed 22 aces and won 90 percent of the points on his first serve (56 of 62). Carreno Busta, a two-time U.S. Open semifinalist, fell to 0-6 at Wimbledon.
   Wild card Andy Murray, the Wimbledon champion in 2013 and 2016, outlasted qualifier Oscar Otte of Germany 6-3, 4-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 in the second round.
   Murray won the first of his 46 tour-level singles titles in San Jose in 2006 at 18 and repeated the following year. He also won the Challenger in Aptos, Calif., a 45-minute drive south of San Jose, in 2005 at 18.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Serena retires from Wimbledon opener with leg injury

Serena Williams retired in a Grand Slam match for only the
second time. 2018 photo by Mal Taam
   Sixth-seeded Serena Williams retired from her first-round match against Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus at Wimbledon today with a right leg injury.
   Williams, who won the last of her seven Wimbledon singles titles five years ago, slipped on the grass while hitting a forehand at 3-1 in the first set. The match ended two games later at 3-3. 
   It's only the second time that Williams — who won the now-defunct Bank of the West Classic at Stanford in 2011, 2012 and 2014 — has retired from a Grand Slam match. The first occurred in the third round at Wimbledon in 1998.
   In the preceding match on Centre Court, Adrian Mannarino of France retired against eight-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer at two sets apiece after a similar fall. The roof had been closed because of rain. 
   Williams, who will turn 40 in September, failed for the 13th time since becoming a mother to tie Margaret Court's record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles.
   Williams' last major crown came in the 2017 Australian Open. She has reached four Grand Slam finals since then, including two at Wimbledon, but none since the 2019 U.S. Open.
   Sam Querrey's first-round match against 11th-seeded Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain was postponed until Wednesday.
   Querrey, a 33-year-old San Francisco native, reached the Wimbledon semifinals in 2017 and quarterfinals in 2016 and 2019. Carreno Busta, a two-time U.S. Open semifinalist, is 0-5 at Wimbledon.

Monday, June 28, 2021

Stephens, Tiafoe stage big upsets as Wimbledon begins

Sloane Stephens, a Fresno, Calif., product, ousted two-time Wimbledon champion
Petra Kvitova today. 2018 photo by Mal Taam
   Two players with Northern California ties, one woman and one man, scored major upsets on the first day of Wimbledon.
   In a matchup of Grand Slam singles champions, Fresno, Calif., product Sloane Stephens ousted No. 10 seed Petra Kvitova 6-3, 6-4 today. Also, Frances Tiafoe, who won the 2016 Stockton, Calif., Challenger at 18, dispatched No. 3 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, the French Open runner-up two weeks ago, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3.
   Stephens, the 2017 U.S. Open champion now based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., had not played on grass in two years. She withdrew from Bad Homburg, Germany, last week because of a foot injury.
   Since Kvitova won her second Wimbledon title in 2014, the Czech has not advanced past the fourth round at the All England Club in five attempts.
   Stephens, a Wimbledon quarterfinalist in 2013, has tumbled from a career-high No. 3 in 2018 to No. 73. She is set to play lucky loser Kristie Ahn, a 29-year-old Stanford graduate from Englewood Cliffs, N.J., on Wednesday.
   Ahn, who has dropped from a career-high No. 87 in 2019 to No. 117, rallied from a break down twice in the third set and saved a match point in a 2-6, 7-6 (3), 8-6 victory over Heather Watson of Great Britain.
   Ahn, who advanced to the fourth round of the 2019 U.S. Open, prevailed in 3 hours, 3 minutes for her first Wimbledon main-draw victory. She and Stephens will meet for the first time at the tour level and the first time overall since 2009. Ahn has not lost a set in two minor-league matches against Stephens.
   Watson won the Wimbledon mixed doubles title in 2016 with Henri Kontinen of Finland and the doubles crown of the 2012 Bank of the West Classic at Stanford with Marina Erakovic of New Zealand.
   Tiafoe, ranked No. 57, earned his first victory over a top-five player in 12 attempts. Tsitsipas had not played on grass since losing to Thomas Fabbiano of Italy in the first round at Wimbledon two years ago.
   Two qualifiers who grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area fell in the opening round.
   Mackenzie McDonald, who reached the fourth round at Wimbledon in 2018, lost to No. 25 seed Karen Khachanov of Russia 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (3). 
   Katie Volynets, making her Wimbledon main-draw at 19, bowed out against Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania 6-4, 7-5.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Querrey falls to Medvedev in Mallorca final

Sam Querrey, a 33-year-old San Francisco native,
 played in his first final since Eastbourne two years
ago. 2017 photo by Paul Bauman
   Daniil Medvedev won his first grass-court title today, defeating Sam Querrey 6-4, 6-2 in the inaugural Mallorca (Spain) Championships.
   Medvedev, seeded first and ranked second, claimed his second crown of the year and 11th on the ATP Tour. 
   The unseeded Querrey, a 33-year-old San Francisco native now living in Las Vegas, played in his first final on any surface since losing to countryman Taylor Fritz on grass in Eastbourne in 2019. Querrey was seeking his 11th career title and first since 2017 in Los Cabos. 
   Medvedev, a 25-year-old Russian, has not lost a set in two career matches, both on grass, against Querrey, a Wimbledon semifinalist in 2017 and quarterfinalist in 2016 and 2019.
   Medvedev is seeded second at Wimbledon, which begins Monday. 
   WTA Tour — In the Eastbourne doubles final, second-seeded Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara of Japan upended top-seeded Nicole Melichar, a Czech-born American, and Demi Schuurs of the Netherlands 6-1, 6-4.  
   Aoyama, 33, and Shibahara, a 23-year-old native of Mountain View in the San Francisco Bay Area, won their fourth title of the year. 
   Melichar and Kveta Peschke beat Aoyama and Shibahara for the title in the 2019 Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose, Calif. Peschke was 44 at the time.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Ahn advances to Wimbledon main draw as lucky loser

Stanford graduate Kristie Ahn seeks her first
main-draw win at Wimbledon. 2018 photo
by Paul Bauman
   Monica Niculescu, 33, of Romania defeated No. 13 seed Kristie Ahn, a 29-year-old Stanford graduate from Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 7-5, 6-1 today in the final round of Wimbledon qualifying at Roehampton in London.
   However, Ahn advanced to the main draw when defending champion Simona Halep withdrew because of a calf injury. Halep won the title in 2019; Wimbledon was canceled last year because of the pandemic.
   Ahn, who reached the fourth round of the 2019 U.S. Open, is scheduled to play Heather Watson, also 29, of Great Britain on Monday or Tuesday. In the players' only previous meeting, Watson won 6-3, 2-2, retired in the Fukuoka semifinals in 2019. 
   Ahn seeks her first main-draw victory at Wimbledon. In her only other main-draw appearance, she lost to No. 12 seed Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia in the first round as a qualifier in 2019.
   Meanwhile, Sloane Stephens, a 28-year-old Fresno, Calif., product, drew No. 10 seed Petra Kvitova, the Wimbledon champion in 2011 and 2014. Katie Volynets, 19, of Walnut Creek in the San Francisco Bay Area will make her Wimbledon women's main-draw debut against Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania.
   On the men's side, Bay Area natives Sam Querrey and Mackenzie McDonald drew seeds.
   Querrey, 33, is set to meet No. 11 seed Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain in a matchup of Grand Slam semifinalists. But Carreno Busta, who will turn 30 on July 12, is 0-5 at Wimbledon.  
   McDonald, 26, is slated to take on No. 25 seed Karen Khachanov of Russia. Both players reached the fourth round at Wimbledon in 2018.
   ATP Tour — In a clash of unseeded players, Querrey defeated Adrian Mannarino of France 6-4, 6-3 on grass in Mallorca, Spain, to reach his first final since losing to compatriot Taylor Fritz on grass in Eastbourne in 2019. 
   Querrey is scheduled to face top-seeded Daniil Medvedev of Russia on Saturday at 7 a.m. PDT (Tennis Channel). Medvedev, who's seeded second at Wimbledon, beat the fourth-seeded Carreno Busta 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 to gain his first grass-court final at the tour level.
   In the Eastbourne doubles final, top-seeded Nikova Mektic and Mate Pavic of Croatia outclassed third-seeded Rajeev Ram, a volunteer assistant coach at the University of California, Berkeley from Carmel, Ind., and Joe Salisbury of Great Britain 6-4, 6-3 for their seventh title of the year.
   Mektic and Pavic have not lost a set in three matches against Ram and Salisbury in 2021.
   WTA Tour — Second-seeded Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara of Japan eliminated unseeded Lyudmyla Kichenok of Ukraine and Makoto Ninomiya of Japan 7-5, 6-1 in the Eastbourne semifinals.
   Aoyama, 33, and Shibahara, a 23-year-old native of Mountain View in the Bay Area, are set to play top-seeded Nicole Melichar, a Czech-born American, and Demi Schuurs of the Netherlands on Saturday. 
   Melichar and Kveta Peschke beat Aoyama and Shibahara for the title in the 2019 Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose, Calif. Peschke was 44 at the time.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

McDonald, Volynets qualify for Wimbledon; Fery falls

Mackenzie McDonald rallied from two sets down to defeat
former UCLA teammate Maxime Cressy in the final round
of Wimbledon qualifying, 2016 photo by Paul Bauman
   Mackenzie McDonald made a big comeback today to return to the Wimbledon main draw for the first time since reaching the fourth round at the All England Club in 2018. 
   Seeded No. 2, the 26-year-old product of Piedmont in the San Francisco Bay Area outlasted former UCLA teammate Maxime Cressy, a 24-year-old Paris native who represents the United States, 3-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 in the final round of qualifying at Roehampton in London.
   McDonald missed Wimbledon in 2019 after undergoing right hamstring surgery, and last year's tournament was canceled because of the pandemic. The 2021 draw will be held Friday, and the first round begins Monday.
   Also today, No. 8 seed Tallon Griekspoor of the Netherlands topped British wild card Arthur Fery, a rising sophomore at Stanford, 4-6, 3-6, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5), 6-2. 
   Katie Volynets, 19, of Walnut Creek in the Bay Area will make her Wimbledon main-draw debut after beating Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil 7-5, 6-4. Volynets lost only four total games in her other two qualifying matches.
   No. 13 seed Kristie Ahn, a 29-year-old Stanford graduate from Englewood Cliffs, N.J., dispatched Ekaterine Gorgodze of Georgia 6-2, 6-3 in the second round of qualifying.
   Ahn will seek her second main-draw berth at Wimbledon when she meets Monica Niculescu, 33, of Romania for the first time on Friday. Ahn also qualified for Wimbledon in 2019, losing to No. 12 seed Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia in the first round.
   ATP Tour — In a matchup of 33-year-old former Wimbledon semifinalists, San Francisco native Sam Querrey defeated No. 3 seed Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain 6-3, 7-6 (4) in the quarterfinals of the inaugural Mallorca (Spain) Championships on grass.
   In Eastbourne, England, No. 3 seeds Rajeev Ram, a volunteer assistant coach at the University of California, Berkeley from Carmel, Ind., and Joe Salisbury of Great Britain won twice to reach the grass-court final. 
   In the semifinals, Ram and Salisbury beat No. 2 seeds, defending champions and reigning Wimbledon champions Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah of Colombia 6-0, 6-7 (0) [10-6].
   Ram and Salisbury are set to face top seeds Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic of Croatia on Friday. Mektic and Pavic have not lost a set in two matches against Ram and Salisbury this year.
   WTA Tour — No. 2 seeds Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara of Japan eliminated unseeded Sharon Fichman of Canada and Giuliana Olmos, a product of Fremont in the Bay Area who plays for Mexico, 6-3, 6-3 in the Eastbourne quarterfinals. Shibahara, 23, was born in Mountain View in the Bay Area and starred at UCLA.
   ITF Men's Circuit — Christian Langmo, 25, of Boca Raton, Fla., beat qualifier Connor Farren, a 26-year-old native of Redwood City in the Bay Area, 6-4, 6-4 in the second round of the $15,000 Fighting Illini Open on hardcourts in Urbana, Ill.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Stanford's Fery wins again in Wimbledon qualifying

   British wild card Arthur Fery, a rising sophomore at Stanford, outlasted Matthew Ebden, a former top-40 player from Australia, 6-3, 6-7 (3), 7-5 in 2 hours, 55 minutes today in the second round of Wimbledon qualifying at Roehampton in London.
   Fery, who will turn 19 on July 12, is scheduled to face No. 8 seed Tallon Griekspoor of the Netherlands on Thursday for a main-draw berth. The 24-year-old Griekspoor, ranked No. 124, crushed 18-year-old Shintaro Mochizuki of Japan 6-0, 6-1 in 44 minutes. Mochizuki won the Wimbledon boys singles title in 2019.
   Meanwhile, No. 2 seed Mackenzie McDonald, a San Francisco Bay Area product now based in Orlando, Fla., topped Illya Marchenko of Ukraine 6-1, 3-6, 6-4.
   Katie Volynets breezed again in women's qualifying. The 19-year-old resident of Walnut Creek in the Bay Area dismissed British wild card Eden Silva 6-1, 6-2 in 63 minutes after routing Tereza Mrdeza of Croatia 6-1, 6-0 in 55 minutes in the first round.
   Jule Niemeier of Germany defeated No. 11 seed Mayar Sherif (Fresno State, 2015-16) of Egypt 6-4, 6-3.
   Kristie Ahn, a 29-year-old Stanford graduate from Englewood Cliff, N.J., is set to play her second-round qualifying match against Ekaterine Gorgodze of Georgia on Thursday.
   ATP TourSam Querrey, a 33-year-old San Francisco native now living in Las Vegas, beat No. 7 seed Ugo Humbert of France by walkover to reach the quarterfinals of the inaugural Mallorca (Spain) Championships on grass. 
   Humbert, a 22-year-old left-hander, edged Querrey 4-6, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5) in the first round in Halle, Germany, on grass last week en route to his third career ATP singles title.
   In the first round of doubles in Eastbourne, England, on grass, No. 3 seeds Rajeev Ram, a volunteer assistant coach at the University of California, Berkeley from Carmel, Ind., and Joe Salisbury of Great Britain beat Frederik Nielsen of Denmark and Franko Skugor of Croatia 7-5, 6-3. 
   No. 2 seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah of Colombia eliminated Raven Klaasen of South Africa and Ben McLachlan (Cal, 2011-14) of Japan 6-7 (3), 7-6 (2) [10-3]. 
   WTA Tour — In Eastbourne, No. 2 seeds Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara of Japan are slated to play Sharon Fichman of Canada and Giuliana Olmos, a product of Fremont in the Bay Area who represents Mexico, in the doubles quarterfinals on Thursday. Shibahara was born in Mountain View in the Bay Area and starred at UCLA.
   ITF Women's Circuit — No. 6 seed Gabriela Ce of Brazil overwhelmed qualifier Maria Sanchez, a 31-year-old Modesto, Calif., product, 6-0, 6-2 in the first round of the LTP 60K on clay in Charleston, S.C.
   In the opening round of doubles, Maria Mateas of the United States and Despina Papamichail of Greece ousted No. 2 seeds Quinn Gleason of the U.S. and Sanchez 6-3, 6-4. 
   No. 4 seeds Kyoka Okamura of Japan and Conny Perrin of Switzerland beat 18-year-old identical twins Allura and Maribella Zamarripa of St. Helena in the Napa Valley 6-3, 0-6 [10-6].
   ITF Men's Circuit — Qualifier Connor Farren, a 26-year-old native of Redwood City in the Bay Area, beat Strong Kirchheimer, originally from Highland Park, Ill., in the Chicago area, 6-3, 6-4 in the first round of the $15,000 Fighting Illini Open on hardcourts in Urbana, Ill. 

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

French Open quarterfinalists enter San Jose tourney

   Surprise French Open quarterfinalists Elena Rybakina and Paula Badosa have entered the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic at San Jose State University, tournament officials announced today.
   The Aug. 2-8 tournament will mark 50 years of women's tour tennis in the San Francisco Bay Area.
   Rybakina, a 22-year-old Moscow native who represents Kazakhstan, ousted Serena Williams before losing to eventual runner-up Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 9-7 in the third set at Roland Garros two weeks ago.
   Badosa, a 23-year-old New York native who plays for Spain, eliminated 2019 runner-up Marketa Vondrousova before falling to Tamara Zidansek 8-6 in the third set in the French Open.
   Also entered in San Jose are Karolina Muchova, a 24-year-old Czech who reached the Australian Open semifinals in February, and 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, 24, of Latvia.
   Tournament officials will announce two more direct entries and three additional wild cards in the next few weeks. Rounding out the 28-player singles draw will be four survivors of the July 31-Aug. 1 qualifying event, which is open to the public.
SAN JOSE ACCEPTANCE LIST
(With world ranking)
6. Sofia Kenin, United States
16. Elise Mertens, Belgium
21. Elena Rybakina, Kazakhstan
22. Karolina Muchova, Czech Republic
26. Madison Keys, United States
29. Petra Martic, Croatia
31. Alison Riske, United States
32. Veronika Kudermetova, Russia
33. Paula Badosa, Spain
34. Daria Kasatkina, Russia
35. Ekaterina Alexandrova, Russia
36. Zhang Shuai, China
37. Dayana Yastremska, Ukraine
42. Yulia Putintseva, Kazakhstan
43. Jelena Ostapenko, Latvia
44. Magda Linette, Poland
47. Shelby Rogers, United States
48. Danielle Collins, United States
69. Sloane Stephens (wild card), United States 

Stanford soph Fery stuns seed in Wimbledon qualifying

   British wild card Arthur Fery, a Stanford rising sophomore, shocked No. 29 seed Prajnesh Gunneswaran of India 6-1, 7-6 (5) today in the first round of Wimbledon qualifying at Roehampton in London.
   Fery, who will turn 19 on July 12, won 88 percent of the points on his first serve (36 of 41) and converted all three of his break-point opportunities. 
   Gunneswaran, a 31-year-old left-hander ranked No. 148, won only 33 percent of the points on his second serve (6 of 18). He reached the semifinals of the 2017 Tiburon Challenger in the San Francisco Bay Area.
   No. 2 seed Mackenzie McDonald, a Bay Area product now based in Orlando, Fla., defeated Kimmer Coppejans of Belgium 6-7 (5), 7-5, 6-2. McDonald advanced to the fourth round of the main draw at Wimbledon in 2018.
   Advancing in the women's draw were No. 11 seed Mayar Sherif (Fresno State, 2015-16) of Egypt, No. 13 seed and Stanford graduate Kristie Ahn and Bay Area resident Katie Volynets. Sherif, 25, and Volynets, 19, made their Wimbledon women's debut. 
   Sherif dismissed Irina Fetecau of Romania 6-3, 6-1 in 57 minutes, and Ahn topped fellow American Caroline Dolehide 1-6, 7-5, 6-2. Volynets crushed Tereza Mrdeza of Croatia 6-1, 6-0 in 55 minutes.
   ATP Tour — Sam Querrey, a 33-year-old San Francisco native now living in Las Vegas, edged qualifier Roberto Carballes Baena of Spain 5-7, 6-4, 7-6 (3) in the opening round of the inaugural Mallorca (Spain) Championships on grass. 
   The 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Querrey, a Wimbledon semifinalist in 2017, blasted 22 aces and saved seven of eight break points against him.
   Querrey is scheduled to face No. 7 seed Ugo Humbert of France for the second consecutive week. Humbert, a 22-year-old left-hander, nipped Querrey 4-6, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5) in the first round on grass in Halle, Germany, en route to his third career singles title.
   ITF Women's Circuit — No. 7 seed Maria Sanchez, a 31-year-old Modesto, Calif., product, defeated No. 14 seed Gabriella Price, 18, of Montebello, N.Y., 6-3, 4-6 [10-6] in the final round of qualifying for the LTP 60K on clay in Charleston, S.C.
   ITF Men's Circuit — No. 3 seed Connor Farren, a former USC standout from Foster City in the Bay Area, defeated ex-Bucknell star Nicholas Bybel in the final round of qualifying for the $15,000 Fighting Illini Open on hardcourts in Urbana, Ill.
   Frenchman Olivier Stuart, a graduate transfer from Mercer to Illinois, beat Ryan Haviland, a 40-year-old former Stanford All-American, 7-5, 6-2.

Monday, June 21, 2021

Wimbledon qualifying postponed by rain

Mackenzie McDonald is seeded second in Wimbledon qualifying.
The Berkeley, Calif., native, reached the fourth round of the main
draw in 2018. 2016 photo by Paul Bauman  
   Rain wiped out the opening day of Wimbledon qualifying today at Roehampton in London. 
   Among those scheduled to play on Tuesday are:
   —Second-seeded Mackenzie McDonald, who was born in Berkeley, Calif., and grew up in nearby Piedmont.
   —British wild card Arthur Fery, a rising sophomore at Stanford.
   —No. 11 seed Mayar Sherif (Fresno State, 2015-16) of Egypt.
   —No. 13 seed Kristie Ahn, a 29-year-old Stanford graduate.
   —Katie Volynets, 19, of Walnut Creek in the San Francisco Bay Area.
   McDonald reached the fourth round of the main draw at Wimbledon in 2018 and at the Australian Open this year. He had right hamstring surgery in June 2019 and missed the rest of the year.
   Ahn advanced to the fourth round of the 2019 U.S. Open, two miles from her birthplace in Flushing N.Y.
   ATP Tour Sam Querrey, a 33-year-old San Francisco native, is tied with qualifier Roberto Carballes Baena of Spain 5-7, 6-4 in a suspended first-round match in the inaugural Mallorca (Spain) Championships on grass.
   ITF Women's Circuit — No. 7 seed Maria Sanchez, a 31-year-old Modesto, Calif., product, defeated 17-year-old Lia Karatancheva of Bulgaria 6-0, 6-4 in the opening round of qualifying for the LTP 60K on clay in Charleston, S.C.
   Karatancheva's sister, Sesil, reached the 2005 French Open quarterfinals at 15 but later was suspended for two years after testing positive twice for a banned drug.
   No. 14 seed Gabriella Price of Montebello, N.Y., dismissed Allura Zamarripa, 18, of St. Helena in the Napa Valley 6-1, 6-2. 
   ITF Men's Circuit — No. 3 seed Connor Farren, a native of Redwood City in the Bay Area, beat Joshua Sheehy of Arlington, Texas, 6-3, 6-4 in the first round of qualifying for the $15,000 Fighting Illini Open on hardcourts in Urbana, Ill.
   Ryan Haviland, a 40-year-old former Stanford All-American, downed No. 8 seed Ronan Jachuck, an ex-Harvard standout from Boca Raton, Fla., 7-5, 2-0, retired.  

Saturday, June 19, 2021

McDonald loses to Aussie in $160K Nottingham semis

Alex Bolt of Australia beat Mackenzie McDonald, a Berkeley,
Calif., native, 6-3, 6-4 today in Nottingham, England. 2018
photo by Paul Bauman
   Qualifier Alex Bolt of Australia defeated Mackenzie McDonald, a 26-year-old Berkeley, Calif., native, 6-3, 6-4 today in the semifinals of the rain-delayed €132,280 ($160,315) Nottingham Trophy on grass in Nottingham, England.
   Bolt, a 28-year-old left-hander, improved to 3-1 (2-1 on grass) against McDonald, now based in Orlando, Fla.
   Entering this week, Bolt had gone 0-8 since reaching the second round of the Australian Open in February. The first seven of those matches were on clay.
   In the quarterfinals earlier today, McDonald dismissed 20-year-old wild card Anton Matusevich of Great Britain 6-2, 6-3, and Bolt ousted top seed and a former top-10 player Richard Gasquet, a 34-year-old Frenchman, 6-3, 6-7 (9), 1-0, retired.
   Both McDonald and Bolt have starred in the Fairfield Challenger in Northern California. McDonald won his first ATP Challenger title in Fairfield, a 45-minute drive north of Berkeley, in 2017. Bolt reached the final there the following year, falling to Bjorn Fratangelo
   WTA Tour — Fourth-seeded Victoria Azarenka and Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus topped unseeded Sharon Fichman of Canada and Giuliana Olmos, a product of Fremont in the San Francisco Bay Area who represents Mexico, 7-5, 3-6 [10-6] in the semifinals of the bett1open on grass in Berlin. 
   Azarenka won the singles (2010) and doubles (2011) titles in the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford.  Sabalenka reached the singles final in the 2019 Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in nearby San Jose, Calif., losing to Zheng Saisai.
    ITF Men's Circuit — Genaro Olivieri of Argentina beat wild card Sam Riffice, a 22-year-old Sacramento, Calif., native, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (2) in a semifinal battle of 22-year-olds in the $25,000 Tulsa (Okla.) Pro Championships on hardcourts. 
   Olivieri, competing in his first tournament since late February, had played only four games in his previous two matches. He received a walkover in the second round and won 4-0, retired in the quarterfinals.
   Riffice won NCAA team and singles titles as a Florida junior last month in his adopted hometown of Orlando, Fla. The singles crown gave him an automatic wild card in the U.S. Open, Aug. 30-Sept. 12 in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.

Friday, June 18, 2021

NCAA champion Riffice reaches another semifinal

   Sam Riffice, a Sacramento, Calif., native, reached his second semifinal in two weeks today.
   The 22-year-old wild card, now based in Orlando, Fla., eliminated lucky loser Gage Brymer of Irvine, Calif., 6-0, 7-6 (5) in the $25,000 Tulsa (Okla.) Pro Championships on hardcourts. 
   Riffice has not lost a set in three matches this week. He improved to 6-1 since helping the University of Florida win its first NCAA men's team title and adding the singles crown last month in Orlando. 
   Riffice is scheduled to play unseeded Genaro Olivieri of Argentina on Saturday.
   Olivieri, competing in his first tournament since late February, has played only four games in his last two matches. He received a walkover against Sekou Bangoura of Bradenton, Fla., in the second round and defeated wild card Govind Nanda, a UCLA rising senior from nearby Redlands, Calif., 4-0, retired in the quarters.
   In the other semifinal, unseeded Nicolas Kicker, 28, of Argentina is set to play 34-year-old qualifier Nicolas Barrientos of Colombia in a matchup of former top-80 players.
   Kicker, who returned in February after a suspension of almost three years for match-fixing, has reached the final in his last three tournaments.
   Barrientos is playing in only his second tournament of the year. He lost in the first-round of a $25,000 clay-court tourney in Pensacola, Fla., last month.
   ATP Tour — Fifth-seeded Tim Puetz of Germany and Michael Venus of New Zealand beat unseeded Austin Krajicek of Plano, Texas, and Sam Querrey, a 33-year-old San Francisco native, in the quarterfinals on grass in Halle, Germany. 
   ITF Men's Tour — All singles matches in the €132,280 ($160,315) Nottingham Trophy in England were — surprise! — rained out.
   Mackenzie McDonald, a 26-year-old product of Piedmont in the San Francisco Bay Area, is slated to meet Anton Matusevic, a 20-year-old wild card from Great Britain, on Saturday. The semifinals are scheduled for later in the day.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Riffice hot; San Jose tickets on sale; Bryans to play WTT

   Sam Riffice continued his hot streak today.
   The 22-year-old wild card and Sacramento, Calif., native surprised No. 2 seed Jason Kubler, a former top-100 player from Australia, 6-1, 6-4 to reach the quarterfinals of the $25,000 Tulsa (Okla.) Pro Championships.
   All seeds have been eliminated from the hardcourt tournament. Riffice, now based in Orlando, Fla., will try to advance to his second semifinal in two weeks when he meets lucky loser Gage Brymer of Irvine, Calif., on Friday.  
   Last month, Riffice helped the University of Florida men win their first NCAA team championship and added the singles title. The individual crown gave him an automatic wild card into the U.S. Open, Aug. 30-Sept. 12. 
   WTA Tour — Individual session tickets for the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic, Aug. 2-8 at San Jose State University, are available at mubadalasvc.com.
   Early entries include 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin, 2017 U.S. Open champion and Fresno, Calif., product Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys, the champion of the last Bank of the West Classic at Stanford in 2017 and runner-up in the U.S. Open one month later. The full field will be announced on Tuesday.
   The Silicon Valley Classic, which was canceled last year because of the pandemic, will mark 50 years of women's tour tennis in the San Francisco Bay Area.
   World TeamTennis — Bob and Mike Bryan (Stanford, 1997-98), who retired from the regular tour last August, announced they will play for the San Diego Aviators.
   The season, normally held in league cities in July, is set for Nov. 13-28 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, the site of the popular BNP Paribas Open.
   ITF Women's Tour — Fernanda Contreras Gomez and Marcela Zacarias of Mexico overwhelmed Allura and Maribella Zamarripa, 18-year-old identical twins from St. Helena in the Napa Valley, 6-3, 6-0 in 55 minutes in the quarterfinals of the $25,000 Palmetto Pro Open on hardcourts in Sumter, S.C.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

McDonald advances to $160K Nottingham quarterfinals

Mackenzie McDonald beat lucky loser Zhang Zhizhen of China
in three tough sets in the second round on grass in Nottingham,
England. 2018 photo by Paul Bauman
   Mackenzie McDonald, a 26-year-old product of Piedmont in the San Francisco Bay Area, outlasted lucky loser Zhang Zhizhen of China 6-4, 6-7 (3), 6-4 today to reach the quarterfinals of the €132,280 ($160,315) Nottingham Trophy on grass in Nottingham, England.
   Zhang surprised No. 3 seed Andreas Seppi, a former top-20 player from Italy, in the first round on Tuesday. 
   McDonald, who reached the fourth round at Wimbledon in 2018, is scheduled to play Anton Matusevich, a 20-year-old wild card from Great Britain, for the first time on Friday. Matusevich beat alternate Thomas Fabbiano of Italy 7-6 (10), 6-4. 
   ATP Tour — Sam Querrey, a 33-year-old San Francisco native now based in Las Vegas, and Austin Krajicek of Plano, Texas, ousted top seeds and reigning Australian Open champions Ivan Dodig of Croatia and Filip Polasek of Slovakia 5-7, 6-1 [10-6] to reach the quarterfinals of the Noventi Open, an ATP 500 tournament on grass in Halle, Germany.
   Andres Molteni and Guido Pella of Argentina topped seventh-seeded Raven Klaasen of South Africa and Ben McLachlan (University of California, Berkeley, 2011-14) of Japan 7-6 (4), 7-6 (6).
   In London, Alex De Minaur of Australia and Cameron Norrie of Great Britain edged third-seeded Rajeev Ram, a volunteer assistant coach at Cal from Carmel, Ind., and Joe Salisbury of Great Britain 5-7, 6-1 [12-10] in the second round of the cinch Championships, an ATP 500 tournament on grass.
   ITF Men's Tour Sam Riffice, a 22-year-old wild card who grew up in the Sacramento, Calif., suburb of Roseville, defeated qualifier Nathan Ponwith of Scottsdale, Ariz., 7-4, 6-4 in the first round of the $25,000 Tulsa (Okla.) Pro Championships on hardcourts.
   WTA Tour — Sharon Fichman of Canada and Giuliana Olmos, a product of Fremont in the Bay Area who represents Mexico, beat Asia Muhammad of Las Vegas and Jessica Pegula of Boca Raton, Fla., 6-4, 1-6 [10-5] to reach the semifinals of the bett1open, a WTA 500 tournament on grass in Berlin.
   ITF Women's Tour — Katarzyna Kawa of Poland downed Kristie Ahn, a 29-year-old Stanford graduate, 6-4, 6-4 in the opening round of the $100,000 Nottingham Trophy. Ahn fell to 1-8 since March.
   In Sumter, S.C., fifth-seeded Marcela Zacarias of Mexico eliminated 18-year-old wild card Alexandra Yepifanova, a Stanford signee from Lake Worth, Fla., 6-4, 6-0 in the opening round of the $25,000 Palmetto Pro Open on hardcourts.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

France's Humbert edges Querrey in Halle opener

Sam Querrey fell to Ugo Humbert of France in three
close sets today. 2017 photo by Paul Bauman
   Ugo Humbert of France nipped Sam Querrey of Las Vegas 4-6, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5) in 2 hours, 26 minutes today in the first round of the Noventi Open, an ATP 500 tournament on grass in Halle, Germany. 
   The 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Querrey, a 33-year-old San Francisco native, slugged 14 aces, and Humbert, a 22-year-old left-hander, had 12.
   Querrey reached the Wimbledon semifinals in 2017 and quarterfinals in 2016, stunning two-time defending champion Novak Djokovic in the third round, and 2019.
   ATP Challenger Tour — In the first round of doubles in the €88,520 ($107,340) Moneta Czech Open on red clay in Prostejov, Czech Republic, Alexander Erler and Tristan-Samuel Weissborn of Austria topped No. 4 seeds Max Schnur of New York and Sem Verbeek (University of the Pacific, 2013-16) of the Netherlands 6-4, 4-6 [10-5].
   ITF Women's Tour — In the opening round of doubles in the $100,000 Nottingham (England) Trophy, No. 4 seeds Monica Niculescu and Elena Gabriela Ruse of Romania routed Kristie Ahn, a Stanford graduate playing on her 29th birthday, and Lizette Cabrera of Australia 6-3, 6-0 in 52 minutes.
   In a first-round doubles match in the $25,000 Palmetto Pro Open on hardcourts in Sumter, S.C., 18-year-old identical twins Allura and Maribella Zamarripa of St. Helena in the Napa Valley edged U.S. wild cards Emma Davis and Amy Zhu 6-4, 4-6 [10-8]. 

Monday, June 14, 2021

McDonald advances in Nottingham Challenger

Mackenzie McDonald did not face a break
point in his 6-4, 6-2 win over Antoine Hoang
of France. 2016 photo by Paul Bauman
   Mackenzie McDonald, who was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, defeated Antoine Hoang of France 6-4, 6-2 today in the first round of the €132,280 ($160,315) Nottingham Trophy on grass in England.
   McDonald, only 5-foot-10 (1.78 meters) and 160 pounds (73 kilograms) did not face a break point in the match. The 26-year-old Orlando, Fla., resident, who reached the fourth round at Wimbledon in 2018, is scheduled to play the winner of Tuesday's match between No. 3 seed Andreas Seppi of Italy and lucky loser Zhang Zhizhen of China. 
   ATP Tour — Another Bay Area native, Sam Querrey, teamed with Austin Krajicek of Plano, Texas, to beat German qualifiers Daniel Masur and Rudolf Molleker 6-3, 7-5 in the opening round on grass in Halle, Germany.
   Krajicek and Querrey are set to face No. 1 seeds and reigning Australian Open champions Ivan Dodig of Croatia and Filip Polasek of Slovakia. 
   WTA Tour — Sharon Fichman of Canada and Giuliana Olmos, a 28-year-old product of Fremont in the Bay Area who represents Mexico, ousted No. 2 seeds Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara of Japan 6-4, 6-4 in the first round on grass in Berlin. 
   Fichman and Olmos also defeated Aoyama and Shibahara, a 23-year-old native of Mountain View in the Bay Area, in straight sets in the Italian Open semifinals last month en route to the biggest title of their career. 

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Djokovic overcomes big deficit for French Open crown

Novak Djokovic joined Rod Laver and Roy Emerson as the only men
to win each major tournament at least twice. 2015 photo by Paul Bauman
   As incredible as Novak Djokovic's physical skills are, his mental toughness is at least as impressive.
   The combination has produced probably the greatest player ever.
   Coming off a grueling victory over 13-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal, the top-ranked Djokovic defeated upstart Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-7 (6), 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 today in 4 hours, 11 minutes in the final at Roland Garros in Paris.
   Djokovic, 34, came back from two sets down in a Grand Slam final for the first time and became the first man to win a French Open final after losing the first two sets since Gaston Gaudio of Argentina in 2004. Dominic Thiem also accomplished the feat in the U.S. Open last September.
   "I'm very proud, very happy," Djokovic, who joined Rod Laver and Roy Emerson as the only men to win each major tournament at least twice, told reporters. "I don't want to stop here. Hopefully, I can keep on (winning) here at Roland Garros, at least one or two more times."
   Djokovic claimed his 19th Grand Slam singles title, one short of the record held by Roger Federer, who will turn 40 in August, and Nadal, 35, and moved halfway to the first calendar-year Grand Slam since Laver in 1969. Djokovic defeated Daniil Medvedev in straight sets to win the Australian Open in February.
   Djokovic is 27-23 against Federer and 30-28 against Nadal.
   Djokovic also lost the first two sets against rising star Lorenzo Musetti in the fourth round, making him the first man in the professional era to win a Grand Slam tournament after twice trailing two sets to none, according to the International Tennis Federation. The third set of his 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-2 victory over Nadal was perhaps the most electrifying ever played. 
   The fifth-seeded Tsitsipas, 22, was trying to become the first Greek to win a major singles title. He showed no sign of nerves in the first two sets and fought valiantly until the end.
   "I'd like to thank the Greek fans and my team, who are constantly behind me, for my dreams," Tsitsipas said. "This is a long journey."
   In the fifth set today, Djokovic broke serve to lead 2-1, and Tsitsipas saved two break points to hold for 3-4. Djokovic, serving at 5-4, converted his second championship point. 
   In the opening set, Djokovic saved a set point while serving at 4-5 and broke serve at 15 for 6-5. Tsitsipas broke back at 15 and led 4-0 in the tiebreaker. Djokovic fought back to earn a set point at 6-5, but Tsitsipas reeled off the next three points for the set. 
   Tsitsipas broke serve in the opening game of the second set, went up a double break at 5-2 and closed out the set with an ace. Djokovic then took one of his two allotted locker room breaks and had a talk with himself.
   "There's always two voices inside," he said. "There is one telling you that you can't do it, that it's done, it's finished. That voice was pretty strong after that second set. So I felt that that was a time for me to actually vocalize the other voice and try to suppress the first one that was saying I can't make it. I told myself I can do it. Encouraged myself. I strongly started to repeat that inside of my mind, tried to live it with my entire being."
   Djokovic took a 3-1 lead in the third set on his fifth break point of the game and served out the set. Tsitsipas then took a medical timeout to receive back treatment.
   Djokovic led 4-0 with two service breaks in the fourth set and held on for the victory. 
   Earlier today, Barbora Krejcikova became the first woman to sweep the French Open singles and doubles titles since Mary Pierce in 2000. Krejcikova and fellow Czech Katerina Siniakova, seeded second, beat 14th-seeded Bethanie Mattek-Sands of Phoenix and Iga Swiatek, last year's singles champion at 19, of Poland 6-4, 6-2.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Krejcikova tops ailing ex-Capital for French Open title

   Formerly considered a doubles specialist, Barbora Krejcikova has a new title.
   Grand Slam singles champion.
   The unseeded Czech capped her stunning run in the French Open with a 6-1, 2-6, 6-4 victory over ailing Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova today in Paris. Afterward, Krejcikova (pronounced Kray-chee-ko-va) looked at the sky in honor of her former coach, countrywoman Jana Novotna, an International Tennis Hall of Famer who died of ovarian cancer at 49 in 2017.
   It was the first Grand Slam singles final for both players. Pavlyuchenkova (the "y" is silent), who will turn 30 on July 2, needed a record 52 attempts to get that far in a major and Krejcikova, 25, only five.
   "I'm just really happy that I was able to handle it mentally," Krejcikova told reporters. "I think that was the biggest key."
  Krejcikova, who saved a match point in her marathon semifinal against Maria Sakkari, became the:
   —Sixth consecutive first-time Grand Slam women's champion at Roland Garros, following (in order) Garbiñe Muguruza, Jelena Ostapenko, Simona Halep, Ashleigh Barty and Iga Swiatek.
   —Third unseeded winner in Paris in five years, joining Ostapenko and Swiatek.
   —First Czech woman to earn the title since Hana Mandlikova 40 years ago. Czech-born Martina Navratilova, representing the United States, won the last of her two French Open singles crowns in 1984. Navratilova presented Krejcikova with the Coupe Suzanne-Lenglen.
   Krejcikova also extended her winning streak to 12 matches. She won her first WTA singles title in Strasbourg the week before the French Open.
   Krejcikova, who ascended to No. 1 in doubles in 2018, jumped 18 places to a career-high No. 15 in singles and pocketed $1.69 million. The 31st-seeded Pavlyuchenkova, who played for the Sacramento Capitals of World TeamTennis as the world's top junior at 15 in 2006, rose 13 spots to No. 19 and collected $907,880. 
   Pavlyuchenkova, serving for the second set at 5-1, hurt her left leg and lost the game. After having her upper thigh wrapped, she broke back for the set.
   In the third set, Krejcikova broke at love to lead 4-3 and held for 5-3. Pavlyuchenkova then saved two championship points to hold for 4-5.
   Krejcikova earned two more championship points in the next game at 40-15. She double-faulted on the first one, but Pavlyuchenkova then slugged a backhand barely long.
   "I didn't expect that this tournament, this Roland Garros, I'll be in the final," said Pavlyuchenkova, the first Russian Grand Slam finalist in six years. "Physically, I wasn't feeling super great, like ready, 100 percent. Still, because of fighting and believing, you can achieve it. That's probably the most important."
   On Sunday, Krejcikova will try to become the first woman to sweep the singles and doubles crowns at Roland Garros since Mary Pierce in 2000. Krejcikova and countrywoman Katerina Siniakova, the second seeds, will face 14th-seeded Bethanie Mattek-Sands of Phoenix and Swiatek of Poland.
   Krejcikova and Siniakova captured the French Open and Wimbledon in 2018, propelling them to No. 1.
   ATP Tour — No. 3 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime, 20, of Canada defeated Sam Querrey, a 33-year-old San Francisco native, 6-4, 7-5 to reach his second consecutive Mercedes Cup final on grass in Stuttgart, Germany. Auger-Aliassime lost to Matteo Berrettini in the 2019 title match.
   ATP Challenger Tour — Unseeded Christopher Eubanks of Atlanta beat wild card Sam Riffice, a 22-year-old native of Sacramento, Calif., playing in his adopted hometown, 6-3, 7-6 (3) in the semifinals of the $52,080 Orlando (Fla.) Open on hardcourts.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Djokovic outduels Nadal in French Open classic

Novak Djokovic became the first player to beat Rafael Nadal twice in the French
Open. 2017 photo by Mal Taam
   In a match featuring perhaps the most breathtaking set ever played, Novak Djokovic overcame a terrible start to achieve the toughest feat in tennis.
   Beating Rafael Nadal in the French Open.
   The top-ranked Djokovic subdued the third-seeded Rafael Nadal 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-2 in a 4-hour, 11-minute semifinal today in Paris.
   "It was for sure the most beautiful match I've played here in Paris," Djokovic said on court in French after ending Nadal's four-year reign at Roland Garros.
   Nadal, attempting to become the oldest man to win the French Open at 35, fell to 105-3 at Roland Garros. Djokovic, 34, became the first player to beat him twice there. Now-retired Robin Soderling of Sweden is the other.
   Nadal has won the French Open 13 times, the most by anyone in a Grand Slam tournament. He remains tied with Roger Federer with a record 20 Grand Slam singles titles.
   Djokovic will try to win his 19th major and second French Open crown on Sunday against Stefanos Tsitsipas, a first-time Grand Slam finalist, on Sunday at 6 a.m. PDT (NBC).
   Nadal won the first five games of today's match in what looked like a replay of his 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 victory over Djokovic in last October's French Open final. Suddenly, however, the Serb found his game.
   The third set, in particular, was filled with spectacular shotmaking by both players. Djokovic served for the set at 5-4, Nadal saved a break point to hold for 6-5, and Djokovic survived a set point in the next game with a gutsy backhand drop shot. 
   Nadal led 2-0 in the fourth set before his left ankle apparently started bothering him. After Djokovic held for 3-2, Nadal had the tape sliced off the ankle. It didn't help.
   Djokovic improved to 30-28 overall, 8-19 on clay and 2-7 in the French Open against Nadal.
   The all-time greats "never should have met in the semifinals," bellowed NBC commentator Mary Carillo. 
   The French Open seeded players strictly by rankings. Therefore, No. 2 Daniil Medvedev, who had been 0-4 at Roland Garros, was placed at the bottom of the draw instead of Nadal or Djokovic.
   Tsitsipas, 22, outlasted No. 6 seed Alexander Zverev of Germany 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3 in 3 hours, 37 minutes to become the first Greek to reach a Grand Slam final and the youngest man to do so since Andy Murray in the 2010 Australian Open.
   Tsitsipas, who had been 0-3 in major semifinals, overcame a 0-40 deficit in the opening game of the fifth set. Zverev, 24, escaped four match points serving at 2-5, but Tsitsipas converted his fifth match point with an ace out wide.
   Last November, Zverev denied domestic abuse allegations.
   Djokovic is 5-2 (3-0 on clay) against Tsitsipas. They will meet for the third consecutive time on clay. Djokovic prevailed 4-6, 7-5, 7-5 in the Italian Open quarterfinals last month and 6-3, 6-2, 5-7, 4-6, 6-1 in the French Open semifinals eight months ago.
   Meanwhile, Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic could become the first woman since Mary Pierce in 2000 to sweep the singles and doubles titles. Krejcikova and countrywoman Katerina Siniakova, the second seeds and 2018 champions, routed unseeded Magda Linette of Poland and Bernarda Pera, a Croatia-born American, 6-1, 6-2 in the semifinals.
   Krejcikova, unseeded in singles, is scheduled to meet 31st-seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia on Saturday at 6 a.m. (NBC). Both will play in their first Grand Slam singles final.
   ATP Tour — Unseeded Sam Querrey continued to take advantage of a favorable draw, topping promising Dominic Stephan Stricker, an 18-year-old wild card from Switzerland, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (4), 6-3 in the quarterfinals of the Mercedes Cup on grass in Stuttgart, Germany.
   Querrey, a 33-year-old San Francisco native, played qualifiers in the first two rounds. He reached his first semifinal since Eastbourne on grass in June 2019, going on to lose to Taylor Fritz in the final.
   ATP Challenger Tour — Wild card Sam Riffice, a 22-year-old native of Sacramento, Calif., beat Ulises Blanch 6-1, 7-5 in the quarterfinals of the $52,080 Orlando (Fla.) Open on hardcourts. Both players are based in Orlando.
   As a junior at the University of Florida, Riffice helped the Gators win their first NCAA men's team title and added the singles crown last month.
   Another Sacramento native, third-seeded Jenson Brooksby, withdrew from his quarterfinal against qualifier Nicolas Mejia of Colombia because of a right arm injury.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Krejcikova saves MP, will face ex-Capital for title in Paris

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who played for the
Sacramento Capitals of World TeamTennis at 15
in 2006, reached a Grand Slam final in a record
 52 attempts. 2017 photo by Paul Bauman
   Saving a match point, unseeded Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic outlasted No. 17 seed Maria Sakkari of Greece 7-5, 4-6, 9-7 in 3 hours, 18 minutes today in the French Open semifinals in Paris.
   Krejcikova (pronounced Kray-chee-ko-va) survived a match point serving at 3-5 in the third set and needed five match points over two games to subdue Sakkari, the runner-up in the inaugural Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose, Calif., in 2018.
   Krejcikova, who won her first WTA singles title in Strasbourg the week before the French Open, extended her winning streak to 11 matches. She will face No. 31 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia for the first time on Saturday at 6 a.m. PDT (NBC). Both are first-time Grand Slam singles finalists.
   "I just think it's going to be a lot of fun," Krejcikova, ranked No. 33 in singles and No. 7 (formerly No. 1) in doubles, told reporters. "I'm just really going to enjoy it because I was never expecting to actually be this far during the tournament. I'm just going to have fun and enjoy and fight until the end."
   Pavlyuchenkova (pronounced Pav-loo-chen-ko-va), who played for the Sacramento Capitals of World TeamTennis as the world's top junior at 15 in 2006, beat unseeded Tamara Zidansek of Slovenia 7-5, 6-3.
   It took Pavlyuchenkova, who will turn 30 on July 2, 52 attempts to reach her first Grand Slam final and Krejcikova, 25, only five.
   "I had my own long special road," said Pavlyuchenkova, the first woman to play more than 50 majors before reaching her first final. "Everybody has different ways. I'm just happy I'm in the final. Trying to enjoy.
   "I think about (winning a Grand Slam tournament) all the time. Been thinking about it since I was a junior, since I was a little kid, since I started playing tennis. That's what you're playing for. That's what you want. It's been there in my head forever."
  Krejcikova also will play in the doubles semifinals with countrywoman Katerina Siniakova on Friday. They won the French Open and Wimbledon in 2018.
   ATP Tour — Taking advantage of a creampuff draw, Sam Querrey reached his first quarterfinal since October 2019. The 33-year-old San Francisco native, playing a qualifier for the second straight match, beat James Duckworth of Australia 6-4, 7-6 (7) in the Mercedes Cup on grass in Stuttgart, Germany.
   In the first round of doubles, German wild cards Andre Begemann and Dustin Brown edged third-seeded Raven Klaasen of South Africa and Ben McLachlan (University of California, Berkeley, 2011-14) of Japan 6-4, 3-6 [10-8].
   ATP Challenger Tour — In the doubles quarterfinals of the $52,080 Orlando (Fla.) Open on hardcourts, Darian King of Barbados and Jason Kubler of Australia downed 22-year-old wild cards Oliver Crawford of Spartanburg, S.C., and Sam Riffice, a native of Sacramento, Calif., 6-4, 7-6 (4).

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Sakkari stuns defending champ; Nadal, Djokovic to meet

Maria Sakkari ousted defending champion Iga Swiatek today in the
French Open quarterfinals. Sakkari reached the final of the inaugural
Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose, Calif., three years ago.
2019 photo by Paul Bauman
   Not only will the French Open women's singles draw produce a first-time Grand Slam champion for the sixth consecutive year, it will have two first-time major finalists. 
   Both oddities were assured when No. 17 seed Maria Sakkari, 25, of Greece ousted No. 8 seed and defending champion Iga Swiatek, 20, of Poland 6-4, 6-4 today in Paris. 
   "I don't want to get too excited because I don't have a day off tomorrow," said Sakkari, the runner-up in the inaugural Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose, Calif., in 2018. "I still have to play, stay focused. But it's a big achievement, for sure. I'm enjoying, as I said on court, my tennis and myself.
   "I have people around me saying it was going to come. You know, they were right. I was impatient, telling them, 'When and when and when?' It actually came this week, so I'm happy about it."
   Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal, 35, and Novak Djokovic, 34, are scheduled to renew their storied rivarly on Friday at about 9 a.m. PDT (Tennis Channel) in a rematch of last year's French Open final, which the Spaniard won 6-0, 6-2, 7-5.
   Sakkari, the highest remaining seed, is set to meet unseeded Barbora Krejcikova, also 25, of the Czech Republic on Thursday at 6 a.m. (Tennis Channel). Krejcikova (pronounced Kray-chee-ko-va) saved five set points in the first set of her 7-6 (6), 6-3 victory over 17-year-old Coco Gauff of Delray Beach, Fla. 
   Krejcikova is 2-0 (1-0 on clay) against Sakkari. 
   The coronavirus pandemic changed Krejcikova's perspective.
   "Just seeing that there are also other things in the world that actually are happening, are just tougher and more difficult than just me playing tennis and losing, or me just playing tennis," said Krejcikova, ranked No. 33 in singles and No. 7 (formerly No. 1) in doubles. "I go and I play tennis, and I lose, but there are actually people that are losing their lives. I just felt more like, 'Well, just relax because you are healthy. Just appreciate this and enjoy the game.'"
   Krejcikova also is set to play in the women's doubles semifinals with countrywoman Katerina Siniakova on Friday. They won Roland Garros in 2018.
   In Thursday's first semifinal at 6 a.m. (Tennis Channel), No. 31 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, 29, of Russia is slated to play unseeded Tamara Zidansek, 23, of Slovenia for the first time. Pavlyuchenkova (pronounced Pav-loo-chen-ko-va) played for the now-defunct Sacramento Capitals of World TeamTennis at 15 in 2006.
   The third-seeded Nadal subdued 10th-seeded Diego Schwartzman of Argentina 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-0, and the top-seeded Djokovic held off ninth-seeded Matteo Berrettini of Italy 6-3, 6-2, 6-7 (5), 7-5.
   Djokovic is 29-28 overall against Nadal, who leads 19-7 on clay with a five-match winning streak and 3-0 in French Open finals.
   Nadal has won Roland Garros 13 times, the most by anyone in a Grand Slam tournament. Djokovic earned his only French Open crown five years ago over Andy Murray.
   If Nadal claims his fifth French Open championship in a row (for the second time), he will break the record of 20 Grand Slam men's singles titles he shares with Roger Federer.
   In Friday's first men's semifinal at 6 a.m. (Tennis Channel), No. 5 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, 22, of Greece is set to play No. 6 seed Alexander Zverev, 24, of Germany. Tsitsipas leads the head-to-head series 5-2 (1-0 on clay), but Zverev won the last meeting 6-4, 7-6 (3) in the Acapulco final on a hardcourt in March.
   Last November, Zverev denied domestic abuse allegations.
   ATP TourSam Querrey, a 33-year-old San Francisco native, defeated qualifier Altug Celikbilek of Turkey 6-4, 6-1 in the first round of the Mercedes Cup on grass in Stuttgart, Germany.
   Querrey, now based in Las Vegas, had been 0-3 since early February. He has plunged from a career-high No. 11 in February 2018 to No. 67.
   ATP Challenger Tour — Sacramento, Calif., natives Jenson Brooksby and Sam Riffice reached the quarterfinals of the $52,080 Orlando (Fla.) Open on hardcourts.
   Brooksby, 20, dismantled Jason Kubler of Australia 6-3, 6-1 to improve to 21-2 in Challengers since turning pro in December.
   Riffice, a 22-year-old wild card playing in his adopted hometown, dispatched Roberto Cid Subervi of the Dominican Republic 6-2, 6-2 to reach his first Challenger singles quarterfinal.
   Riffice also advanced to the doubles quarterfinals with former University of Florida teammate Oliver Crawford, 22, of Spartanburg, S.C. The wild cards topped second-seeded Dennis Novikov of San Jose, Calif., and Goncalo Oliveira of Portugal 6-2, 4-6 [10-4] in the opening round.
   Last month as a junior at Florida, Riffice helped the Gators win their first NCAA men's team title and added the singles crown.
   In the first round of doubles on red clay in the €66,640 ($81,157) Bratislava (Slovakia) Open, Malek Jaziri of Tunisia and Blaz Rola of Slovenia eliminated Max Schnur of New York and Sem Verbeek (University of the Pacific, 2013-16) of the Netherlands 6-3, 7-5.

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Ex-Capital Pavlyuchenkova finally reaches major semi

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova had been 0-11 in Grand Slam singles and
doubles quarterfinals. 2017 photo by Paul Bauman
   Until now, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova has been known primarily for two things:
   —Having one of the longest names, first and last, in tennis history. It must take her half an hour to sign her name. For autographs, I'd go with "AP."
   —Losing Grand Slam quarterfinals.
   Eleven times, Pavlyuchenkova (the "y" is silent) reached the last eight in a major in singles (six) and doubles. Eleven times, she lost. 
   It appeared that streak would continue today in the French Open when Pavlyuchenkova, seeded No. 31, lost the first set against No. 21 seed Elena Rybakina.
   Pavlyuchenkova, however, prevailed 6-7 (2), 6-2, 9-7 in Paris to become the first Russian to reach a Grand Slam semifinal since Elena Vesnina five years ago at Wimbledon.
   Pavlyuchenkova played for the now-defunct Sacramento Capitals of World TeamTennis at 15 in 2006 and made her first major quarterfinal appearance 10 years ago at 19 in the French Open. At Roland Garros that year, she led defending champion and eventual runner-up Francesca Schiavone 6-1, 4-1. 
   Rybakina, a Moscow native who represents Kazakhstan, ousted No. 7 seed Serena Williams in the fourth round to reach her maiden Grand Slam quarterfinal.
   Pavlyuchenkova, who will turn 30 on July 2, is scheduled to face unseeded Tamara Zidansek for the first time on Thursday. In a battle of first-time Grand Slam quarterfinalists, Zidansek, 23, outlasted No. 33 seed Paula Badosa, a New York-born Spaniard, 7-5, 4-6, 8-6 to become the first Slovenian to reach a major semifinal.
   In the men's semifinals on Friday, No. 5 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece is set to meet No. 6 seed Alexander Zverev of Germany. 
   Tsitsipas, 22, beat No. 2 seed Daniil Medvedev of Russia 6-3, 7-6 (3), 7-5 to reach his third consecutive Grand Slam semifinal, including Roland Garros last October.  
   Zverev, 24, advanced to the French Open semis for the first time with a 6-4, 6-1, 6-1 victory over unseeded Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, 22, of Spain. 
   Tsitsipas is 5-2 (1-0 on clay) against Zverev. 
   In the mixed doubles semifinals, Desirae Krawczyk of the United States and Joe Salisbury of Great Britain defeated Giuliana Olmos, a 28-year-old product of Fremont in the San Francisco Bay Area who represents Mexico, and Juan Sebastian Cabal of Colombia by walkover.
   In the second round of boys doubles, Victor Lilov of Raleigh, N.C., and Peter Benjamin Privara of Slovakia topped Ethan Quinn of Fresno, Calif., and Chak Lam Coleman Wong of Hong Kong 3-6, 6-4 [10-6]. 
   WTA Tour —No. 10 seed Viktorija Golubic of Switzerland defeated Kristie Ahn, a 28-year-old Stanford graduate, 6-1, retired in the second round of the Nottingham (England) Open. Ahn, who reached the round of 16 in the 2019 U.S. Open, fell to 2-8 this year.
   ATP Challenger Tour — In the first round of doubles in the €132,280 ($161,250) Nottingham Open,  No. 3 seeds Matt Reid of Australia and Ken Skupski of Great Britain edged Mackenzie McDonald, a 26-year-old product of Piedmont in the Bay Area, and Brandon Nakashima of San Diego 6-4, 2-6 [11-9].

Monday, June 7, 2021

Women set mark for first-time major quarterfinalists

Maria Sakkari, the runner-up in San Jose, Calif., in 2018, upset Sofia Kenin
today in Paris to reach her first Grand Slam quarterfinal. 2018 photo by Mal Taam 
   Grand Slam women's tournaments have been wide open for years, but never like this.
   Six French Open quarterfinalists have reached the last eight in a major for the first time. That's unprecedented in the Open Era, which began in 1968.
   No. 17 seed Maria Sakkari of Greece drubbed No. 4 seed Sofia Kenin of Pembroke Pines, Fla., 6-1, 6-3 in 68 minutes today in Paris, leaving 20-year-old Iga Swiatek of Poland as the heavy favorite to win the title for the second consecutive year. 
   The eighth-seeded Swiatek dispatched unseeded Marta Kostyuk, 18, of Ukraine 6-3, 6-4 to extend her Roland Garros winning streaks to 11 matches and 22 sets. She beat an ailing Kenin in last year's final
   Sakkari reached the final of the inaugural (2018) Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose, Calif. Kenin won Northern California Challenger singles titles as a teenager in 2016, 2017 and 2018, laying the foundation for her Australian Open crown last year.
   Swiatek and Sakkari, 25, are scheduled to meet for the first time on Wednesday.
   Also in the top half of the draw, No. 24 seed Coco Gauff, 17, of Delray Beach, Fla., is set to play unseeded Barbora Krejcikova, a 25-year-old Czech. 
   Gauff dismissed No. 25 seed Ons Jabeur, a 26-year-old Tunisian who won the French Open girls singles title 10 years ago, 6-3, 6-1 in 53 minutes. Krejcikova coasted to a 6-2, 6-0 victory over unseeded Sloane Stephens, who grew up in Fresno, Calif., and reached the 2018 French Open final, in 67 minutes.
   Krejcikova, the women's doubles champion at Roland Garros in 2018 with countrywoman Katerina Siniakova, also has advanced to the quarterfinals in that event. But top seeds Krejcikova and Filip Polasek of Slovakia fell to unseeded Giuliana Olmos, a product of Fremont in the San Francisco Bay Area, and Juan Sebastian Cabal of Colombia 6-2, 5-7 [12-10] in the mixed doubles quarterfinals.
   In the bottom half of the draw, No. 21 seed Elena Rybakina, a Moscow native who plays for Kazakhstan, is slated to face No. 31 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia. Also, No. 33 seed Paula Badosa, a New York-born Spaniard, will take on unseeded Tamara Zidansek of Slovenia.
   Neither Gauff nor Rybakina, who ousted Serena Williams in the third round, has lost a set in the tournament. Pavlyuchenkova, who played for the now-defunct Sacramento Capitals of World TeamTennis at age 15 in 2006, is 0-6 in Grand Slam quarterfinals.
   The men's singles draw has been much more predictable. The quarterfinal matchups, with seedings in parentheses: Novak Djokovic (1) against Matteo Berrettini (9), Rafael Nadal (3) versus Diego Schwartzman (10), Alexander Zverev (6) against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (none), and Daniil Medvedev (2) vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas (5).
   Nadal, 35, seeks his mind-boggling 14th French Open singles title and fifth in a row.
   In other matches today:
   —Unseeded Petra Martic of Croatia and Shelby Rogers of Charleston, S.C., defeated No. 9 seeds Sharon Fichman of Canada and Olmos 3-6, 6-1, 6-3 in the third round of women's doubles. Fichman and Olmos won last month's Italian Open for the biggest title of their careers.
   —Elena Vesnina, who ended a three-year maternity leave in March, and Aslan Karatsev of Russia nipped No. 2 seeds Nicole Melichar, a Czech-born American, and Rajeev Ram, a volunteer assistant coach at the University of California, Berkeley from Carmel, Ind., 6-7 (3), 6-2 [10-8] in the mixed doubles quarterfinals.
   In women's doubles at Roland Garros, Vesnina has one title (2013) and three runner-up finishes (2009, 2011 and 2016).
   —No. 13 seed Luca Van Assche of France beat Aidan Mayo of Roseville, Calif., in the Sacramento area 6-2, 6-3 in the second round of boys singles.
   —Ethan Quinn of Fresno and Chak Lam Coleman Wong of Hong Kong topped French wild cards Paul Inchauspe and Théo Papamalamis 6-7 (4), 6-4 [12-10] in the first round of boys doubles.
   ATP Challenger Tour — Sacramento-area products Jenson Brooksby and Sam Riffice won their first-round matches in the $52,080 Orlando (Fla.) Open.
   The 20-year-old Brooksby, seeded third, eliminated Darian King of Barbados 7-6 (5), 6-3. King won the 2016 Tiburon Challenger and advanced to the final of the 2017 Stockton Challenger in Northern California.
   Riffice, a 22-year-old wild card playing in his adopted hometown, ousted fourth-seeded Paolo Lorenzi, a 39-year-old Italian, 6-2, 6-4. In last month's NCAA Championships in Orlando, Riffice helped Florida win its first men's team title and added the singles crown
   In the €132,280 ($161,250) Nottingham (England) Open on grass, Evgeny Donskoy of Russia surprised fifth-seeded Mackenzie McDonald, a 26-year-old product of Piedmont in the Bay Area, 6-3, 7-5 in the opening round. 
   McDonald reached the second round of the French Open for the second consecutive year last week. As a qualifier, he twice came within a point of ousting No. 22 seed Cristian Garin of Chile in straight sets before losing 8-6 in the fifth set.

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Serena, Federer say au revoir to 2021 French Open

SERENA WILLIAMS
File photo by Paul Bauman
   Serena Williams and Roger Federer, who have combined for 43 Grand Slam singles titles, exited the French Open today.
   No. 21 seed Elena Rybakina, a hard-hitting 21-year-old Moscow native who represents Kazakhstan, eliminated the erratic Williams, seeded seventh, 6-3, 7-5 in Paris to reach her first Grand Slam quarterfinal.
   Williams failed to tie Margaret Court's record of 24 major singles crowns for the 12th time and has not reached a final in her last seven Grand Slam tournaments.
   The eighth-seeded Federer, who won Roland Garros in 2009, was scheduled to play ninth-seeded Matteo Berrettini of Italy on Monday.
   "After two knee surgeries and over a year of rehabilitation, it's important that I listen to my body and make sure I don't push myself too quickly on my road to recovery," Federer tweeted. "I am thrilled to have gotten three matches under my belt. There is no greater feeling than being back on court."
ROGER FEDERER
File photo by Paul Bauman
   Federer and Williams will turn 40 in August and September, respectively. It's uncertain whether either will return to the French Open next year.
   "I'm definitely not thinking about it at all," the three-time champion of the French Open and Bank of the West Classic at Stanford told reporters. "I'm definitely thinking just about other things but not about that."
   Rybakina's victory assures a first-time Grand Slam semifinalist. In the bottom half of the draw, Rybakina will face No. 31 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia, and No. 33 seed Paula Badosa, a New York native who plays for Spain, will meet unseeded Tamara Zidansek of Slovenia. 
   Pavlyuchenkova, who played for the Sacramento Capitals of World TeamTennis in 2006 at age 15, also reached the French Open quarterfinals 10 years ago at 19. 
   The quarters in the top half of the draw, featuring defending champion Iga Swiatek and 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin, will be determined Monday.
   In the first round of boys singles:
   —Aidan Mayo of Roseville, Calif., in the Sacramento area defeated Matthew William Donald of the Czech Republic 6-7 (1), 6-4, 6-2.
   —No. 16 seed Viacheslav Bielinskyi of Ukraine beat Ethan Quinn of Fresno, Calif., 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.
   WTA TourKristie Ahn, a 28-year-old Stanford graduate, topped British wild card Jodie Burrage 1-6, 6-3, 6-2 on grass in the first round of the Viking Open Nottingham. Ahn had been 0-5, including three ITF (minor-league) matches, since March.
   Lucky loser Marina Melnikova of Russia edged qualifier Katie Volynets, 19, of Walnut Creek in the San Francisco Bay Area 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (6).
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