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.

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