Friday, July 30, 2021

Zverev ends Djokovic's bid for Golden Slam

Alexander Zverev of Germany ended Novak Djokovic's winning streak
at 22 matches. 2016 photo by Paul Bauman
   No. 4 seed Alexander Zverev of Germany surprised top-ranked Novak Djokovic 1-6, 6-3, 6-1 today in the semifinals of the Tokyo Olympics, ending the Serb's bid for the first men's Golden Slam.
   Zverev battled back from a service break down in the second set to end Djokovic's winning streak at 22 matches and improve to 3-6 in the head-to-head series.
   Djokovic, who fell to 38-4 this year, was trying to win all four Grand Slam tournaments and an Olympic gold medal in a calendar year. Steffi Graf accomplished the feat in 1988. The Olympics dropped tennis from 1924 until 1988.
   Djokovic still would earn the first men's calendar-year Grand Slam since 1969 (Rod Laver) by winning the U.S. Open, Aug. 30-Sept. 12 in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
   Zverev is scheduled to face No. 12 seed Karen Khachanov of Russia on Sunday for the gold medal in a matchup of 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) players. Khachanov beat No. 6 seed Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain 6-3, 6-3.
   Zverev, 24, and Khachanov, 25, have split four career matches, but Khachanov has won the last two. Djokovic and Carreno Busta are set to meet for the bronze medal on Saturday. 
   In women's singles on Saturday, No. 9 seed Belinda Bencic of Switzerland is slated to play unseeded Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic for the gold medal, and No. 4 seed Elina Svitolina of Ukraine is set to meet No. 15 seed Elena Rybakina, a Moscow native who represents Kazakhstan, for the bronze medal.
   The left-handed Vondrousova, the runner-up in the 2019 French Open at 19, outlasted Bencic 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 in the third round in Miami last March in their only previous meeting.
   Svitolina reached the semifinals of the 2015 Bank of the West Classic at Stanford. Rybakina is entered in next week's Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose, Calif.
   WTA Tour — Former Stanford stars Carol Zhao of Canada and Kristie Ahn of Englewood Cliffs, N.J., are scheduled to play back-to-back on Saturday beginning at 10 a.m. PDT in the first round of qualifying for the Silicon Valley Classic at San Jose State University. Then Katie Volynets, 19, of nearby Walnut Creek, Calif., is set to play.
   The main draw will begin Monday as the tournament celebrates 50 years of women's tour tennis in the San Francisco Bay Area. In featured 7 p.m. matches, 18-year-old British sensation Emma Raducanu will meet Zhang Shuai of China on Monday, Fresno, Calif., product Sloane Stephens will face compatriot Alison Riske on Tuesday, and No. 3 seed Madison Keys will play Raducanu or Zhang on Wednesday. Keys won the last Bank of the West Classic at Stanford in 2017.
   Elise Mertens of Belgium and Rybakina are seeded first and second, respectively, in San Jose. 
   ATP Challenger Tour — Eighth-seeded Thanasi Kokkinakis of Australia outlasted top-seeded Jenson Brooksby, 20, of Carmichael, Calif., in the Sacramento area 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 in 2 hours, 56 minutes in the quarterfinals of the $52,080 Lexington (Ky.) Challenger. 
   Kokkinakis, 25, pounded 15 aces and converted four of 19 break-point opportunities. Brooksby capitalized on four of eight break-point chances.
   Injuries have derailed Kokkinakis' promising career. In 2018, he stunned Roger Federer in the second round in Miami and won the Aptos (Calif.) Challenger. Kokkinakis also reached the final of the 2019 Tiburon (Calif.) Challenger, losing to American Tommy Paul.
   Brooksby was coming off an appearance in the final of the Hall of Fame Open in Newport, R.I., two weeks ago. It was his first tournament ever on grass and first in the main draw on the ATP Tour.
   In the Lexington doubles semifinals, wild cards Alex Rybakov of Fort Worth, Texas, and Reese Stalder of Costa Mesa in the Los Angeles region beat third-seeded Christian Harrison of Bradenton, Fla., and Dennis Novikov of San Jose 7-6 (4), 7-6 (3). Harrison and Novikov won the doubles crown in last week's $52,080 Cary, N.C., Challenger.

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