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).

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Czech it out: Stephens reaches round of 16 in Paris

Unseeded Sloane Stephens, who grew up in Fresno, Calif., defeated No. 18 seed
Karolina Muchova 6-3, 7-5 today in the third round of the French Open. 2019
photo by Mal Taam
   Resurgent Sloane Stephens is set to face her third consecutive Czech on Monday in the fourth round of the French Open.
   The unseeded Stephens, the 2018 runner-up at Roland Garros who grew up in Fresno, Calif., defeated No. 18 seed Karolina Muchova, an Australian Open semifinalist in February and Wimbledon quarterfinalist in 2019, 6-3, 7-5 today in Paris. 
   Stephens, who eliminated No. 9 seed Karolina Pliskova in the second round, is scheduled to meet unseeded Barbora Krejcikova for the first time.
   Krejcikova, who won her first WTA title in Strasbourg last week and reached the Dubai final in March, ousted fifth-seeded Elina Svitolina, a three-time French Open quarterfinalist from Ukraine, 6-3, 6-2. 
   Of the top six seeds, the only one remaining is No. 4 Sofia Kenin, the Australian Open champion and French Open runner-up last year.
   Krejcikova, 25, also remains alive in women's doubles, in which she won the 2018 title with compatriot Katerina Siniakova, and mixed doubles.
   On the men's side, No. 8 seed Roger Federer, playing in the French Open for only the second time since 2015, topped German left-hander Dominik Koepfer 7-6 (5), 6-7 (3), 7-6 (4), 7-5. Koepfer, the runner-up in the 2019 Aptos (Calif.) Challenger, led 4-2 in the third set.
   Next for Federer, who will turn 40 on Aug. 8, is No. 9 seed Matteo Berrettini. The 25-year-old Italian beat Kwon Soonwoo of South Korea 7-6 (6), 6-3, 6-4 to reach the round of 16 at Roland Garros for the first time.
   Federer is 2-0 against Berrettini, a 2019 U.S. Open semifinalist. They will meet on clay for the first time. 
   In the second round of women's doubles, unseeded Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania and Nadia Podoroska of Argentina surprised No. 4 seeds Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara of Japan 7-5, 3-6, 6-3. Shibahara was born in Mountain View in the San Francisco Bay Area and starred at UCLA.
   In the first round of mixed doubles:
   —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., defeated French wild cards Caroline Garcia and Nicolas Mahut 7-6 (4), 6-4.
   —Giuliana Olmos, a product of Fremont in the Bay Area who plays for Mexico, and Juan Sebastian Cabal of Colombia edged Bethanie Mattek-Sands of Phoenix and Jamie Murray, Andy's older brother, of Great Britain 7-6 (4) 6-7 (3) [10-6].
   ATP Challenger Tour — In a late doubles semifinal in the rain-delayed $52,080 Little Rock (Ark.) Open, unseeded Christopher Eubanks of Atlanta and Roberto Quiroz of Ecuador outplayed No. 2 seeds Dennis Novikov of San Jose, Calif., and Goncalo Oliveira of Portugal 6-3, 6-3.

Friday, June 4, 2021

Russian surprises Sabalenka, further opening draw

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who played for
the Sacramento Capitals of World Team-
Tennis at 15, has reached the quarterfinals
of every Grand Slam tournament. 2017
photo by Paul Bauman  
   The women's draw in the French Open continued to open up today as Aryna Sabalenka continued to struggle in Grand Slam tournaments.
   No. 31 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia stunned the third-seeded Sabalenka of Belarus 6-4, 2-6, 6-0 to reach the fourth round at Roland Garros in Paris for the second time.
   The 6-foot (1.82-meter) Sabalenka, a potential Grand Slam champion, has never reached the fourth round in the French Open or the quarterfinals of a major. She's still young, however, at 23.
   The highest remaining seed in this year's tournament is No. 4 Sofia Kenin, and No. 7 seed Serena Williams is the only top-10 player left in the bottom half of the draw. Kenin won the Australian Open and reached the French Open final last year. Williams, 39, is making her 12th attempt to tie Margaret Court's record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles. 
   The 29-year-old Pavlyuchenkova, who has reached the quarterfinals at every Grand Slam tournament (three times in the Australian Open), attributed her success this week to enjoying tennis more than in the past.
   "I know it's a cliché," she told reporters. "I was the first one to laugh at this — players would say, 'I'm going to go and enjoy out there.' I'm like, 'Yeah, right. Go enjoy, of course, good luck.'
   "Now I actually do that. Even today on the court, apart from having pain in my knee and my leg, I was enjoying. I'm trying to embrace this. I'm enjoying much more now every point the tough matches than I used to. I guess that's also why I'm still here in the second week.
   "Also, I feel like I'm fitter. Because I'm enjoying playing tennis, I work harder. You work hard, you enjoy the hard work. I think that's the best combination."
   Both Pavlyuchenkova and Sabalenka have Northern California connections. Pavlyuchenkova played for the Sacramento Capitals of World TeamTennis in 2006 at age 15. Sabalenka reached the final of the 2019 Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose, Calif.
   Pavlyuchenkova is scheduled to play another Belarusian, No. 15 seed Victoria Azarenka, on Sunday for a quarterfinal berth. Azarenka, who ascended to No. 1 in 2012, dismissed No. 23 seed Madison Keys 6-2, 6-2 in a matchup of players who have reached the U.S. Open final and won the now-defunct Bank of the West Classic at Stanford.
   Azarenka is 5-1 against Pavlyuchenkova, whose victory came by retirement.
   All four remaining U.S. men — No. 31 seed John Isner, No. 32 seed Reilly Opelka, Steve Johnson and Marcos Giron — lost to seeds in the bottom quarter of the draw. 
   In the second round of doubles:
   —Hugo Nys of Monaco and Tim Puetz of Germany ousted No. 3 seeds Rajeev Ram, a volunteer assistant coach at the University of California, Berkeley from Carmel, Ind., and Joe Salisbury of Great Britain 6-4, 6-4. Nys and Puetz won ATP 250 tournaments two weeks apart in Estoril and Lyon last month.
   —No. 9 seeds Sharon Fichman of Canada and Giuliana Olmos, a product of Fremont in the San Francisco Bay Area who plays for Mexico, defeated Lara Arruabarena of Spain and Caroline Dolehide of the United States 6-4, 6-1. Fichman, 30, and Olmos, 28, are coming off the biggest title of their careers three weeks ago in the Italian Open.
   ATP Challenger Tour — In the doubles quarterfinals of the $52,080 Little Rock (Ark.) Open, No. 2 seeds Dennis Novikov of San Jose and Goncalo Oliveira of Portugal dispatched U.S. wild cards Jackson Allen and Maks Silagy 6-2, 6-3.

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Barty quits with injury; Stephens bounces Czech

Top-ranked Ashleigh Barty, the 2019 French Open champion, had a strong
clay-court season. 2019 photo by Harjanto Sumali  
   No. 1 seed and 2019 champion Ashleigh Barty of Australia retired because of a left hip injury with Magda Linette of Poland leading 6-1, 2-2 today in the second round of the French Open in Paris.
   After her three-set victory over American Bernarda Pera on Tuesday in the first round, the top-ranked Barty revealed that she had suffered an "acute episode" with her left hip over the weekend. She played that match with her left thigh wrapped and took a medical timeout between the second and third sets.
   Barty bypassed the U.S. Open and French Open last year because of travel concerns during the pandemic and reached the quarterfinals of the Australian Open in February. She won the titles in Miami (hardcourts) and Stuttgart (clay) in April and advanced to the final in Madrid (clay) last month.
   Also exiting today was No. 9 seed and former world No. 1 Karolina Pliskova, who fell to Sloane Stephens, the 2017 U.S. Open champion and 2018 French Open runner-up, 7-5, 6-1.
   Pliskova reached the final of the 2015 Bank of the West Classic at Stanford and the semifinals of the 2017 French Open.
   Stephens, a 28-year-old product of Fresno, Calif., now based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., has plunged from a career-high No. 3 in 2018 to No. 59. She lost her first four matches of the year.
   "I had COVID," Stephens told reporters in Charleston in April. "I lost three people that were very close to me. I'm in Australia, I literally had to go to my grandparents' funeral on Zoom, and I just was not ready to play."
   Stephens is set to face another Czech, No. 18 seed Karolina Muchova, on Saturday. Muchova, an Australian Open semifinalist in February and Wimbledon quarterfinalist in 2019, defeated U.S. qualifier Varvara Lepchenko, a 35-year-old left-hander originally from Uzbekistan, 6-3, 6-4. 
   Stephens and Muchova have never met.
   In doubles:
   —Mel Purcell and Luke Saville of Australia surprised No. 15 seeds Raven Klaasen of South Africa and Ben McLachlan (University of California, Berkeley, 2011-14) of Japan 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 in the second round.
   —No. 4 seeds Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara of Japan edged Paula Badosa and Aliona Bolsova of Spain 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (1) in the first round. Shibahara was born in Mountain View in the San Francisco Bay Area and starred at UCLA.
   —No. 3 seeds Rajeev Ram, a volunteer assistant coach at Cal from Carmel, Ind., and Joe Salisbury of Great Britain defeated Salvatore Caruso of Italy and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain 7-5, 6-3 in the opening round.
   —French wild cards Arthur Cazaux and Hugo Gaston beat Americans Steve Johnson and Sam Querrey, a 33-year-old San Francisco native, 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-1 in the first round.
   ATP Challenger Tour — In the opening round of doubles in the $52,080 Little Rock (Ark.) Open, No. 2 seeds Dennis Novikov of San Jose, Calif., and Goncalo Oliveira of Portugal defeated alternates Tristan Schoolkate and Dane Sweeny of Australia 6-4, 7-5.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

McDonald squanders two match points, falls in French

Qualifier Mackenzie McDonald, a 26-year-old San Francisco Bay Area
product, lost to No. 22 seed Cristian Garin of Chile today in a marathon
in the second round of the French Open. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Qualifier Mackenzie McDonald twice was within a point of beating a seed in straight sets today and reaching the third round of the French Open for the first time.
   But No. 22 seed Cristian Garin of Chile survived 4-6, 4-6, 7-6 (7), 6-3, 8-6 in 4 hours, 14 minutes to reach the third round at Roland Garros in Paris for the second consecutive year.
   McDonald, a 26-year-old product of Piedmont in the San Francisco Bay Area who advanced to the round of 16 at Wimbledon in 2018 and in the Australian Open in February, escaped a match point at 5-6 in the fifth set. 
   Garin, who won his fifth career singles title (all on clay) in his hometown of Santiago in March, saved 14 of 18 break points against him as he equaled his best result in a Grand Slam tournament.
   McDonald, now based in Orlando, Fla., continues to fight his way back up the world rankings after undergoing right hamstring surgery in June 2019. He will rise six spots to No. 113 after reaching a career-high No. 57 in April 2019.
   Another Bay Area product, Giuliana Olmos, won in the first round of women's doubles with Sharon Fichman of Canada. The No. 9 seeds, coming off the biggest title of their careers three weeks ago in the Italian Open, dispatched Anna Blinkova of Russia and Heather Watson of Great Britain 6-3, 6-2. 
   Olmos was born in Austria and represents Mexico. 
   In the opening round of men's doubles, No. 15 seeds Raven Klaasen of South Africa and Ben McLachlan (University of California, Berkeley, 2011-14) of Japan defeated French wild cards Mathias Bourgue and Lucas Pouille 6-3, 6-2.  
   WTA Tour — Grand Slam singles champions Sofia Kenin and Sloane Stephens and runner-up Madison Keys have entered the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic, Aug. 2-8 at San Jose State University.
   Kenin won Northern California Challengers as a teenager in 2016, 2017 and 2018, laying the foundation for her shocking 2020 Australian Open title.
   Stephens, who grew up in Fresno, Calif., routed Keys for the 2017 U.S. Open crown one month after Keys won the last Bank of the West Classic at Stanford.
   The full player field for the Silicon Valley Classic, which was canceled last year because of the pandemic, will be announced on June 22. This year's tournament will mark 50 years of women's tour tennis in the Bay Area.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Kvitova pulls out after freak mishap; Stephens advances

Petra Kvitova wrote that she fell during her
post-match news conference on Sunday and
hurt her ankle. File photo by Paul Bauman
   Apparently, post-match news conferences are dangerous not only mentally but physically.
   No. 11 seed Petra Kvitova, a two-time Wimbledon champion, withdrew from the French Open today because of an ankle injury suffered not on the court but, she said, during her media session after her first-round victory over Greet Minnen on Sunday.
   "During my post-match press requirements on Sunday I fell and hurt my ankle," Kvitova wrote in a statement posted on social media.
    No. 2 seed Naomi Osaka pulled out of the tournament on Monday amid controversy following her announcement last week that she would skip her mandatory post-match news conferences because of mental health issues. The four-time Grand Slam singles champion wrote on social media that she experiences "huge waves of anxiety" before meeting with the media and revealed that she has "suffered long bouts of depression" since the turbulent 2018 U.S. Open final.
   Meanwhile, Sloane Stephens, a 28-year-old Fresno, Calif., product who reached the 2018 French Open final who grew up in Fresno, Calif., defeated Carla Suarez Navarro, a 32-year-old Spaniard making her comeback from Hodgkin's lymphoma, 3-6, 7-6 (4), 6-4 in a first-round matchup of former top-10 players.
   Suarez Navarro, who won the doubles title in the 2014 Bank of the West Classic at Stanford with compatriot Garbiñe Muguruza, served for the match at 5-4 in the second set.
   Stephens is scheduled to face No. 9 seed Karolina Pliskova, who advanced to the French Open semifinals and climbed to No. 1 in 2017, on Thursday. Pliskova, the Bank of the West runner-up in 2015, eliminated Croatia's Donna Vekic, a semifinalist in San Jose, Calif., in 2019, 7-5, 6-4. 
   Stephens is 3-1 against Pliskova, but the Czech won their only clay-court encounter 6-2, 6-3 in the third round at altitude in Madrid in May 2018. The pair are set to meet for the first time since October 2018.
   In a first-round men's match, No. 24 seed Aslan Karatsev of Russia dispatched Jenson Brooksby, a 20-year-old qualifier from Carmichael, Calif., in the Sacramento area, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.    
   In the Australian Open in February, the 114th-ranked Karatsev became the first player in the Open Era to reach the semifinals in his Grand Slam main-draw debut, the first qualifier to advance to a major semifinal since Vladimir Voltchkov at Wimbledon in 2000 and the lowest-ranked Grand Slam semifinalist since No. 125 Goran Ivanisevic at Wimbledon in 2001.
   Brooksby, who was making his French Open main-draw debut, will improve 11 places in the world rankings to No. 152 only five months after turning pro. He was ranked No. 310 at the beginning of the year.
   Germany's Jan-Lennard Struff, the runner-up in Munich on clay five weeks ago, took out No. 7 seed Andrey Rublev 6-3, 7-6 (6), 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, breaking the 23-year-old Russian's streak of three consecutive Grand Slam quarterfinals.
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