Thursday, August 26, 2021

Stephens, Keys to meet in rematch of '17 U.S. Open final

Sloane Stephens, who grew up in Fresno, Calif., is 2-0 against Madison Keys
this year and 4-2 overall in the head-to-head series. 2021 photo by Mal Taam 
   Four years ago, Sloane Stephens routed a nervous Madison Keys 6-3, 6-0 in the U.S. Open for her only Grand Slam title. It was the first major final for both players.
   The Americans are scheduled to meet in the opening round of this year's tournament, which begins Monday in Flushing Meadows, N.Y. Formerly ranked in the top 10, they are unseeded this time.
   The winner will play either No. 21 seed Coco Gauff, 17, of Delray Beach, Fla., or Poland's Magda Linette, a quarterfinalist in this month's Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose, Calif.
   Stephens, a 28-year-old product of Fresno, Calif., now based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., has plunged from a career-high No. 3 in July 2018 to No. 64. Keys, 26, of Orlando, Fla., has tumbled from a career-high No. 7 in 2016 to No. 41. 
   Stephens, who leads the head-to-head series 4-2, will face Keys for the third time this year. Stephens won on clay in the second round in Charleston in April and the first round in Rome in May. 
   Katie Volynets, a 19-year-old wild card from Walnut Creek in the San Francisco Bay Area, drew Ajla Tomljanovic, a Croatia-born Australian who reached her first Grand Slam quarterfinal at Wimbledon in July and the final of the last (2017) Sacramento (Calif.) Challenger
   In the U.S. Open men's draw, San Francisco Bay Area natives Sam Querrey and Mackenzie McDonald and Sacramento native Sam Riffice are slated to face seeds.
   Querrey, a 2017 quarterfinalist at Flushing Meadows, drew No. 4 seed Alexander Zverev of Germany in a matchup of 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) veterans.
   Querrey is 0-4 since advancing to the second round at Wimbledon. He has plummeted from a career-high No. 11 in 2018 to No. 77.
   Zverev reached the final of last year's U.S. Open, losing to Dominic Thiem after leading two sets to none, and won the gold medal in men's singles in the Tokyo Olympics last month, ending Novak Djokovic's bid for a Golden Slam in the semifinals. 
   McDonald is scheduled to take on No. 27 seed David Goffin of Belgium in a clash of undersized players.
   McDonald reached the round of 16 in the Australian Open in February and at Wimbledon in 2018 but is 0-3 in the main draw of the U.S. Open.
   Goffin has advanced to the round of 16 in the U.S. Open for four consecutive years. It's the only Grand Slam tournament in which he hasn't reached the quarterfinals.
   Riffice, who received an automatic wild card after winning the NCAA singles title as a Florida junior in May, is set to play No. 15 seed Grigor Dimitrov, a 2019 U.S. Open semifinalist from Bulgaria.
   Jenson Brooksby, a 20-year-old wild card from Carmichael, Calif., in the Sacramento area, drew Mikael Ymer of Sweden. As an 18-year-old qualifier, Brooksby shocked 2010 Wimbledon runner-up Tomas Berdych in the first round of the 2019 U.S. Open.
   U.S. Open qualifying — No. 4 seed Mayar "Who Shot The" Sherif (Fresno State, 2015-16) of Egypt defeated Yuliya Hatouka of Belarus 6-4, 6-4 in the second round. 
   Sherif, 25, is scheduled to play No. 31 seed Emma Raducanu, 18, of Great Britain on Friday for a main-draw berth.
   Raducanu, who recently became the youngest British woman to reach the round of 16 at Wimbledon in the Open Era (since 1968), beat Mariam Bolkvadze of Georgia 6-3, 7-5. 

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