Monday, September 27, 2021

Volynets, 19, could play top seed in Berkeley quarters

Katie Volynets is seeded fifth in Berkeley, Calif., 15.5 miles (25 kilometers) from her
home in Walnut Creek. 2019 photo by Paul Bauman
   No. 5 seed Katie Volynets, 19, of Walnut Creek in the San Francisco Bay Area, could face No. 1 seed Zheng Saisai of China for the first time on Friday in the quarterfinals of the $60,000 Berkeley Challenger at the venerable Berkeley Tennis Club.
   The tournament draw was held today.
   Zheng, 27, won her only WTA singles title two years ago in nearby San Jose and reached the semifinals of last week's $115,000 tournament in Columbus, Ohio. Ranked No. 75 (No. 2 in China behind Zhang Shuai), she is scheduled to play a qualifier in the first round on Wednesday.
   The 182nd-ranked Volynets, playing 15.5 miles (25 kilometers) west of home, is set to meet No. 306 Marcela Zacarias, 27, of Mexico for the third time in the first round on Wednesday at a time to be determined. Volynets won a 10-6 match tiebreaker against Zacarias in the second (last) round of qualifying in Boca Raton, Fla., in February, and Zacarias dominated 17-year-old Volynets 6-3, 6-1 in the second round in Sumter, S.C., in 2019. Both were $25,000 hardcourt tournaments.
   Also Wednesday, No. 2 seed Wang Xinyu of China is set to play Sachia Vickery of Miramar, Fla., and No. 7 seed Mayo Hibi, a longtime resident of Irvine, Calif., who represents her native Japan, is slated to meet a qualifier.
   Wang advanced to the Columbus final on Sunday, and Hibi routed Vickery in the semifinals of the last (2019) Berkeley Challenger before losing to Madison Brengle. Vickery and Brengle won the doubles title.
   Main-draw play is set to begin on Tuesday not before 1 p.m. after final-round qualifying matches. Highlighting the schedule, No. 3 seed Panna Udvardy of Hungary is slated to meet Louisa Chirico of Westchester, N.Y., not before 1 p.m.
   In today's first round of qualifying, Haley Giavara, a University of California, Berkeley junior from San Diego, edged No. 15 seed Alexandra Osborne of Australia 6-3, 2-6 [10-8]. Also advancing were Maegan Manasse, a Cal assistant coach and former Bears All-American, and Maria Kozyreva, a Saint Mary's fifth-year senior from Russia.
   Here are the Berkeley singles, doubles and qualifying draws and Tuesday's schedule.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Wang, entered in Berkeley, falls in $115K Columbus final

   No. 2 seed Nuria Parrizas Diaz of Spain defeated No. 2 seed Wang Xinyu of China 7-6 (2), 6-3 today to win the $115,000 Tennis Ohio Championships in Columbus.
   Wang, who turned 20 today, is entered in next week's $60,000 Berkeley Challenger
   Parrizas Diaz, 30, claimed her seventh singles title of the year, including three straight in $25,000 tournaments in February and March. Wang fell to 0-2 in singles finals in 2021.
   Parrizas Diaz jumped 14 places to a career-high No. 72 with the title. Wang improved 13 spots to a career-high No. 116.
   Berkeley Women's Challenger — Qualifying in the $60,000 tournament at the Berkeley Tennis Club will begin Monday at 10 a.m.
   The draw features current University of California, Berkeley players Haley Giavara and Valentina Ivanov, former Bears All-American Maegan Manasse, Saint Mary's standout Mariia Kozyreva and ex-Gael Hind Abdelouahid.
   Here are the qualifying draw and Monday's schedule.   
   College — The Cal women won three titles in the Cal Fall Invitational at the Hellman Tennis Complex.  Jessica Alsola of Fresno, Calif., claimed the top-flight singles championship. In doubles, Giavara and Ivanov took the top-flight crown, and Erin Richardson and Makenna Thiel, from Piedmont in the East Bay, captured the Gold title.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Wang, entered in Berkeley, reaches $115K Columbus final

   No. 8 seed Wang Xinyu, who's entered in next week's $60,000 Berkeley (Calif.) Women's Challenger, beat unseeded CoCo Vandeweghe of Rancho Santa Fe in the San Diego area 7-6 (3), 6-2 today in the semifinals of the $115,000 Tennis Ohio Championships in Columbus.
   Vandeweghe, a former top-15 player, is rebounding from an ankle injury. She reached the final of the 2012 and 2017 Bank of the West Classic at Stanford on the WTA Tour.
   China's Wang, who will turn 20 on Sunday, is scheduled to meet No. 2 seed Nuria Parrizas Diaz, 30, of Spain on Sunday. Parrizas Diaz outlasted No. 4 seed Zheng Saisai of China 5-7, 6-3, 6-4. 
   Zheng, who won her only WTA singles title in San Jose, Calif., in 2019, also is set to play in Berkeley.
   In the Columbus doubles final, Wang and Zheng routed Dalila Jakupovic of Slovenia and Parrizas Diaz 6-1, 6-1 in a matchup of unseeded teams.
   ATP Tour — Unseeded Hubert Hurkacz and Jan Zielinski of Poland ousted top-seeded Henri Kontinen of Finland and Ben McLachlan (University of California, Berkeley, 2011-14) of Japan 6-4, 6-4 in the semifinals of the Moselle Open in Metz, France.
   Hurkacz, 24, reached his first Grand Slam singles semifinal at Wimbledon in July. Kontinen, 31, became the first Finnish player to be ranked No. 1 in doubles in 2017. He is now No. 46.
   College — Cal senior Yuta Kikuchi, ranked No.124, edged No. 4 Duarte Vale of Florida 4-6, 6-4 [11-9] on Friday, the first day of the Chowderfest, Harvard's annual invitational, in Cambridge, Mass.
   Three young Cal women reached the top-flight singles quarterfinals on the first day of the Cal Fall Invitational at the Hellman Tennis Complex on Friday. Advancing were freshmen Jessica Alsola of Fresno, Calif., and Makenna Thiel of Piedmont, which neighbors Berkeley, and sophomore Hannah Viller Moeller of Denmark.
   The Bears also placed two pairs, Haley Giavara/Valentina Ivanov and Alsola/Viller Moeller, in the doubles quarters.

Friday, September 24, 2021

Top Berkeley entrants reach $115K Columbus semis

Zheng Saisai, shown en route to the San Jose title on the WTA Tour in 2019,
has lost the first set in all three of her victories this week. Photo by Paul Bauman  
   Zheng Saisai and Wang Xinyu, who head the field in next week's $60,000 Berkeley (Calif.) Challenger, won today in the quarterfinals of the $115,000 Tennis Ohio Championships in Columbus.
   The fourth-seeded Zheng (pronounced Jung), 27, beat fifth-seeded Lauren Davis of Boca Raton, Fla., 1-6, 6-2, 6-2. Zheng, who won her only WTA singles title in the 2019 Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose, Calif., has lost the first set in all three of her victories this week.
   The eighth-seeded Wang, who will turn 20 on Sunday, eliminated third-seeded Madison Brengle of Dover, Del., 6-3, 6-3. Brengle won the last (2019) Berkeley Challenger and the 2018 Stockton (Calif.) Challenger.
   Zheng is scheduled to face second-seeded Nuria Parrizas Diaz, a 30-year-old Spaniard who beat seventh-seeded Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-2. Haddad Maia, a 25-year-old left-hander, also is entered in Berkeley.
   Wang is set to play unseeded American Coco Vandeweghe, a former top-15 player rebounding from an ankle injury. Vandeweghe, the runner-up in the WTA Bank of the West Classic at Stanford in 2012 and 2017, ousted top-seeded Ann Li of Orlando, Fla., 6-4, 6-4.
   ATP Tour — No. 1 seeds Henri Kontinen of Finland and Ben McLachlan (University of California, Berkeley, 2011-14) topped French wild cards Gregoire Barrere and Lucas Pouille 1-6, 7-5 [10-7] in the quarterfinals of the Moselle Open in Metz, France.
   In 2017, Kontinen became the first Finnish player to be ranked No. 1 in doubles. He is now No. 46.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Former Cal star loses in Kazakhstan doubles quarters

Andre Goransson, above, and Andrea Vavassori lost a match tiebreaker
today in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan. 2015 photo by Paul Bauman
   Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania and Artem Sitak, a Russia native who represents New Zealand, topped No. 4 seeds Andre Goransson (University of California, Berkeley, 2014-17) of Sweden and Andrea Vavassori of Italy 7-5, 3-6 [10-7] today in the quarterfinals of the Astana Open in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, on the ATP Tour.
   Berankis reached the singles quarterfinals of the now-defunct SAP Open in San Jose, Calif., in 2010 and 2011. Sitak won the doubles title in the 2015 Aptos (Calif.) Challenger with since-retired Chris Guccione of Australia.
   In Metz, France, on the ATP Tour, No. 2 seeds Tomislav Brkic of Bosnia & Herzegovina and Nikola Cacic of Serbia dismissed alternates Hunter Reese of Knoxville, Tenn., and Sem Verbeek (University of the Pacific, 2013-16) of the Netherlands 6-3, 6-3 in the quarterfinals of the Moselle Open. 
   No. 1 seeds Henri Kontinen of Finland and Ben McLachlan (Cal, 2011-14), a New Zealand product who plays for his mother's native Japan, are scheduled to play French wild cards Gregoire Barrere and Lucas Pouille on Friday in the quarterfinals.
   In 2017, Kontinen became the first Finnish player to be ranked No. 1 in doubles. He is now No. 46.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Zheng, 2019 San Jose champ, heads $60K Berkeley field

Zheng Saisai plays in the semifinals of the 2019 Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic
in San Jose, Calif. She went on to win the title. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Zheng Saisai, who won her only WTA singles title in San Jose in 2019, heads the field in next week's Women's $60,000 Challenge at the Berkeley (Calif.) Tennis Club.
   Zheng (pronounced Jung), 27, of China is ranked No. 83 after reaching a career-high No. 34 in March 2020. She has won four WTA doubles titles, including Stanford in 2015 with countrywoman Xu Yifan. A French Open finalist in 2019 with compatriot Duan Yingying, Zheng has been ranked as high as No. 15 in doubles.
   The top-ranked Berkeley entries behind Zheng are No. 135 Wang Xinyu, 19, of China and No. 157 Arina Rodionova, 31, of Australia. Rodionova, a Russia native, advanced to the quarterfinals of the last (2019) Berkeley Challenger.
   Entries also include:
   —2019 Berkeley runner-up Mayo Hibi, a longtime resident of Irvine, Calif., who represents Japan.
   —Katie Volynets, 19, of Walnut Creek in the San Francisco Bay Area. The USTA Girls 18 national champion in 2019, Volynets qualified for Wimbledon this year before losing to Romanian veteran Irina-Camelia Begu in the first round.
   —Alycia Parks, 20, of Port St. Lucie, Fla., whose 129-mph (208-kph) serve in the recent U.S. Open tied Venus Williams' women's record in a Grand Slam tournament.
   All Berkeley players must have proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test. They will be screened daily. Spectators are not required to be vaccinated or wear masks but must maintain social distancing. 
   Admission is free until Tuesday at noon, $15 from then through Friday and $20 on Saturday and Sunday. Play will start at 10 a.m. through Saturday and 11 a.m. for the finals on Sunday, Oct. 3.
   The Berkeley Tennis Club has a rich history. Nestled in the hills, it was founded in 1906. Past members include International Tennis Hall of Famers Don Budge, Helen Wills Moody, Helen Jacobs and Hazel Wightman. Plaques in their honor line the interior and exterior of the clubhouse. 
   Hall of Famers Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall, Stan Smith and Billie Jean King have played at the BTC, and King is an honorary lifetime member. The USTA Girls 18 National Championships were held at the BTC until the tournament moved to its current site in San Diego in 2010. 
   Sofia Kenin won the 2018 Berkeley Challenger and hoisted the Australian Open trophy 18 months later. Ranked as high as No. 4, the 22-year-old American is now No. 7.
   WTA Tour — No. 5 seed Lauren Davis of Boca Raton, Fla., defeated Volynets 6-2, 7-6 (6) to reach the quarterfinals of the $115,000 Tennis Ohio Championships in Columbus. The 27-year-old Davis, only 5-foot-2 (1.57 meters), has been ranked as high as No. 26. 
   ATP Tour — No. 1 seeds Henri Kontinen of Finland and Ben McLachlan (University of California, Berkeley, 2011-14) of Japan beat Matt Reid of Australia and Ken Skupski of Great Britain 7-6 (3), 7-5 in the first round of the Moselle Open in Metz, France.
   Reid, 31, has won four Northern California doubles titles, three with countryman John-Patrick Smith and one with compatriot Thanasi Kokkinakis.
   Alternates Hunter Reese of Knoxville, Tenn., and "Yosemite" Sem Verbeek (University of the Pacific, 2013-16) of the Netherlands edged Jonny O'Mara of Great Britain and Divij Sharan of India 6-3, 3-6 [10-8]. 
   O'Mara and fellow Briton Joe Salisbury advanced to the final of the 2018 Aptos (Calif.) Challenger, losing to Reid and Kokkinakis.
   In Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, No. 4 seeds Andre Goransson (Cal, 2014-17) of Sweden and Andrea Vavassori of Italy nipped Andre Begemann of Germany and Nathaniel Lammons of Dallas 6-4, 4-6 [11-9] in the opening round.
   Goransson and Lammons reached the final of last week's €132,280 ($155.700) Szczecin (Poland) Challenger, falling to Santiago Gonzalez of Mexico and Andres Molteni of Argentina 2-6, 6-2 [15-13].
   ATP Challenger Tour — Chung Yunseong and Hong Seong-chan of South Korea topped No. 3 seeds Christian Harrison of Bradenton, Fla., and Dennis Novikov of San Jose, Calif., 5-7, 7-5 [15-13] in the first round of the $52,080 Tennis Ohio Championships in Columbus.
   Chung and Hong survived three match points at 6-9 in the match tiebreaker and one more at 10-11. They converted their fourth match point.

Monday, September 20, 2021

Bay Area native to make WTA Finals debut in doubles

Katie Volynets, 19, of Walnut Creek in the San Fran-
cisco Bay Area, snapped a six-match skid today
in Columbus, Ohio. 2019 photo by Paul Bauman
   Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara of Japan have qualified for the WTA Finals for the first time, the WTA announced today.
   Aoyama, 33, and Shibahara, a 23-year-old native of Mountain View in the San Francisco Bay Area, have won a tour-leading five titles this year, including the biggest one of their careers in the Miami Open. They also reached the Wimbledon semifinals and Australian Open quarterfinals.
   Aoyama, only 5-foot-1 (1.54 meters), and Shibahara became the first Japanese players to qualify for the WTA Finals in doubles since Ai Sugiyama advanced to the 2008 semifinals with Katarina Srebotnik of Slovenia.
   The WTA Finals, the week of Nov. 8 in Guadalajara, features the top eight singles players and doubles teams of the year.
    WTA Tour — In a battle of California teenagers, Katie "Serve And" Volynets edged wild card Katrina Scott 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (5) in 2 hours, 55 minutes in the first round of a $125,000 tournament in Columbus, Ohio. Volynets, 19, of Walnut Creek in the Bay Area, snapped a six-match losing streak and improved to 2-0 against Scott, 17, of Woodland Hills in the Los Angeles region.
   Volynets qualified for Wimbledon this year and lost to Romanian veteran Irina-Camelia "Ain't Too Proud To" Begu in the first round. Scott reached the second round of last year's U.S. Open as a wild card in her senior Grand Slam debut.
   Volynets, ranked No. 185, is set to play Lauren Davis, seeded fifth and ranked No. 98, of Boca Raton, Fla., for the first time. The 27-year-old Davis, only 5-foot-2 (1.57 meters), beat Usue Arconada of Naples, Fla., 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-3 on Sunday. 

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Ex-Cal star loses heartbreaker in Poland doubles final

Andre Goransson will improve to No. 66 in the doubles
rankings, one spot off his career high. 2015 photo by
Paul Bauman
    No. 1 seeds Santiago Gonzalez of Mexico and Andres Molteni of Argentina edged No. 2 seeds Andre Goransson (University of California, Berkeley, 2014-17) of Sweden and Nathaniel Lammons of Dallas 2-6, 6-2 [15-13] today in the final of the €132,280 ($155,700) Szczecin (Poland) Open on clay.
   Gonzalez and Molteni, who were coming off an appearance in the U.S. Open round of 16, survived three championship points and converted their third one when a Goransson overhead sailed long.
   Goransson, a Wimbledon quarterfinalist in July with Casper Ruud of Norway, fell to 2-3 in doubles finals this year. He has lost his last three with three different partners.
   Goransson will improve three places to No. 66 in the doubles rankings, one spot off his career high last month.

Friday, September 17, 2021

Former Cal star reaches Challenger doubles final

Andre Goransson, left, plays with former University of California, Berkeley
teammate Florian Lakat in the 2015 Tiburon Challenger in the San Francisco
Bay Area. Goransson and Lakat won the title in 2017. Photo by Paul Bauman 
   No. 2 seeds Andre Goransson (University of California, Berkeley, 2014-17) and Nathaniel Lammons of Dallas defeated No. 3 seeds Ivan Sabanov and Matej Sabanov, 29-year-old twins from Croatia, 7-5, 6-2 today in the semifinals of the €132,280 ($155,700) Szczecin (Poland) Open on clay.
   Goransson, 27, and Lammons, 28, are scheduled to meet No. 1 seeds Santiago Gonzalez of Mexico and Andres Molteni of Argentina on Saturday. Gonzalez, 38, and Molteni, 33, beat No. 4 seeds Roman Jebavy and Zdenek Kolar of the Czech Republic 6-2, 7-5.
    Goransson, ranked No. 69, seeks his third Challenger doubles title of the year and second with Lammons. Goransson and Casper Ruud of Norway reached the Wimbledon quarterfinals in July.
   Gonzalez and Molteni are coming off an appearance in the U.S. Open round of 16.
   In the doubles semifinals of the $52,080 Atlantic Tire Championships II on hardcourts in Cary, N.C., unseeded William Blumberg of Greenwich, Conn., and Max Schnur of New York topped No. 4 seeds Christian Harrison of Bradenton, Fla., and Dennis Novikov of San Jose, Calif., 3-6, 6-1 [10-5].
   Novikov, 27, has won three Challenger crowns in Cary: singles in 2015, doubles last year with Teymuraz Gabashvili of Russia and doubles in July with Harrison.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Fairfield joins list of canceled NorCal men's Challengers

Christopher O'Connell, left, of Australia poses with his coach at the time,
David Moore, at the 2017 Fairfield (Calif.) Challenger. O'Connell won
the last edition of the tournament in 2019. Photo by Paul Bauman 
   The $100,000 NorthBay Healthcare Men's Pro Championship, which had been scheduled for Oct. 11-17 in Fairfield, Calif., recently became the latest Northern California Challenger to be canceled. 
   Tournament director Phil Cello cited several reasons for the cancellation of the event for the second consecutive year:
   —Solano Community College, the tournament site, was unsure if students would be back on campus for the fall semester. One reason the college hosts the tournament is exposure, and having students on campus creates a positive impression.
   —NorthBay Healthcare was unable to participate this year because of financial losses caused by COVID.
   —The ATP's new policy that all players must be provided five days at a hotel, win or lose, adds to the cost.
   —The BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells moved from March to Oct. 4-17 this year because of COVID. Many of the Fairfield Challenger's sponsors and volunteers go to Indian Wells for the tournament.
   The Aptos and Tiburon men's Challengers — normally held in August and September, respectively — previously were canceled for the second straight year because of COVID. Both, along with Fairfield, are scheduled to return in 2022, according to the tournament directors.
   The $60,000 Berkeley and $25,000 Redding women's Challengers in NorCal remain scheduled for the weeks of Sept. 27 and Oct. 4, respectively.
   ATP Challenger Tour — In the doubles quarterfinals of the €132,280 ($155,700) Szczecin (Poland) Open on clay, No. 2 seeds Andre Goransson (University of California, Berkeley, 2014-17) of Sweden and Nathaniel Lammons of Dallas defeated Szymon Walkow and Jan Zielinski of Poland 6-7 (4), 6-1 [10-0].
   No. 4 seeds Roman Jebavy and Zdenek Kolar of the Czech Republic eliminated Hunter Reese of Knoxville, Tenn., and Sem Verbeek (University of the Pacific, 2013-16) of the Netherlands 6-4, 6-3.
   In the doubles quarterfinals of the $52,080 Atlantic Tire Championships II on hardcourts in Cary, N.C., No. 4 seeds Christian Harrison of Bradenton, Fla., and Dennis Novikov of San Jose, Calif., topped alternates Strong Kirchheimer of Cary and Shintaro Mochizuki of Japan 4-6, 6-3 [10-4].
   USTA Pro Circuit — Gabi Adrian Boitan of Romania beat Connor Farren, a 26-year-old native of Redwood City in the San Francisco Bay Area, 7-6 (0), 6-3 on Wednesday in the first round of the $15,000 Atkins Group Open on hardcourts in Champaign, Ill. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Bryan Brothers Weekend set for San Francisco

The Bryan brothers celebrate a victory in
the 2016 U.S. Open with their trademark
chest bump. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Bryan Brothers Showdown Weekend is scheduled for Oct. 2-3 at the Lisa and Douglas Goldman Tennis Center at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.
   The festivities kick off with Breakfast at Wimbledon on Oct. 2 at 9 a.m., followed by a clinic and chalk talk with Bob and Mike Bryan (Stanford, 1997-98), lunch, a doubles challenge with flight winners facing the Bryans, and an afternoon barbecue. Dinner and a performance by the Bryan Brothers Band are set for 6:30 p.m. 
   The Grand Slam Clinic, Oct. 3 from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., includes Breakfast at Wimbledon, a two-hour clinic with the Bryans, a buffet lunch, photos and autographs.
   Proceeds from the event benefit the Tennis Coalition SF, which led the campaign to renovate the Goldman Tennis Center (GTC) and now supports the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department's Tennis and Learning Center program and works to create access to GTC for all San Francisco youth and families.
   The Bryan brothers retired last year at 42 after winning a record 16 Grand Slam men's doubles titles in their 22-year career.
   To register for Bryan Brothers Showdown Weekend, go here
   KPSF Open — A $50,000 non-sanctioned tournament for men and women is scheduled for Sept. 22-26 at the Goldman Tennis Center. All matches are free for spectators. 
   ATP Challenger Tour — In the first round of doubles, No. 4 seeds Christian Harrison of Bradenton, Fla., and Dennis Novikov of San Jose, Calif., beat wild cards Robin Catry and Damien Salvestre, North Carolina State teammates from France, 6-3, 6-4 in the $52,080 Atlantic Tire Championships II in Cary, N.C.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Daniil denies Djokovic's bid for calendar-year Slam

   A formidable opponent, fatigue and pressure were too much for Novak Djokovic.
   No. 2 seed Daniil Medvedev outclassed the top-ranked Djokovic 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 today in the U.S. Open for his first Grand Slam title.
   Djokovic fell one victory short of becoming the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to earn a calendar-year Grand Slam. Laver, 83, attended the final in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
   Djokovic, 34, also remained tied with Roger Federer, 40, and Rafael Nadal, 35, with a record 20 major singles titles.
   Medvedev, a 25-year-old Russian, had been 0-2 in Grand Slam finals and 0-2 against Djokovic in majors. 
   "You never know if you're going to achieve (winning a major) in your career," Medvedev, who improved to 4-5 against Djokovic with four wins in their last six meetings, told reporters. "I was always saying, if I don't, I just want to know that I did my best to do it."
   Djokovic was coming off a draining, five-set victory over No. 4 seed Alexander Zverev, who ended Djokovic's bid for a Golden Slam in the semifinals of the Tokyo Olympics en route to the gold medal, on Friday and lost the first set for the fifth consecutive match. 
   Medvedev, meanwhile, lost only one set in his seven matches, to qualifier Botic Van De Zandschulp of the Netherlands in the quarterfinals.
   Medvedev has a tremendous combination of size (6-foot-6 or 1.98 meters) and quickness. He pounded 16 aces to Djokovic's six and saved five of six break points. Djokovic ripped 27 winners and committed 38 unforced errors.
   Djokovic told the crowd that, despite the loss, "I'm the happiest man alive because you guys made me feel very special. You guys touched my soul. I've never felt like this in New York."
   Medvedev broke serve twice to lead 3-0 in the third set and held for 4-0. Serving for the title at 5-2, he double-faulted twice in a row, once on championship point, and was broken on an error.
   After Djokovic held for 4-5, Medvedev double-faulted on his second championship point but converted his third with a service winner.
   In the opening set, Medvedev won all 15 points on his first serve. Early in the second set, Djokovic smashed his racket on the court in frustration.
   In the women's doubles final, No. 14 seeds Samantha Stosur, 37, of Australia and Zhang Shuai, 32, of China beat No. 11 seeds Coco Gauff, 17, of Delray Beach, Fla., and Catherine McNally, 19, of Cincinnati,  6-3, 3-6, 6-3 for their 11th consecutive victory.
   Stosur claimed the first of her four Grand Slam women's doubles titles in the 2005 U.S. Open with since-retired Lisa Raymond. Zhang won her only other major women's doubles crown with Stosur in the 2019 Australian Open.
   Zhang reached the singles quarterfinals in San Jose last month, defeating Emma Raducanu 6-3, 6-2 in the first round. 
   WTA Tour — No. 3 seed Mayar Sherif (Fresno State, 2015-16) of Egypt defeated No. 4 seed Martina Trevisan of Italy 6-3, 6-2 to win the $125,000 Liqy Moly Open on clay in Karlsruhe, Germany. 
   In the doubles final, No. 4 seeds Irina Bara of Romania and Ekaterine Gorgodze of Georgia topped No. 3 seeds Katarzyna Piter of Poland and Sherif 6-3, 2-6 [10-7].

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Qualifier Raducanu, 18, beats Fernandez for Open title

Emma Raducanu, shown in San Jose last month, did not lose a set in 10 matches
at Flushing Meadows. Only once, in the second round of qualifying, did she drop
as many as five games in a set. Photo by Mal Taam
   Emma Raducanu burst onto the scene at Wimbledon in July. Only two months later, she became a Grand Slam singles champion.
   The first qualifier in tennis history to reach a major final, the 18-year-old Briton beat unseeded Leylah Fernandez, a Canadian who turned 19 on Monday, 6-4, 6-3 today to win the U.S. Open. Neither finalist had been born on 9/11, which occurred exactly 20 years ago.
   It was the first all-teenage final in a Grand Slam tournament since Serena Williams, 17, defeated Martina Hingis, 18, in the 1999 U.S. Open.
   "Everything came together today," Raducanu told reporters. "To pull off some of the shots I did in the big moments was just an accumulation of everything I've learned in the past five weeks."
   Fernandez said the loss "definitely stings, but it will just make me want to work harder."
   Raducanu, ranked No. 338 before Wimbledon, skyrocketed 127 places to No. 23 with the title. She became the first British woman to win a major singles crown since Virginia Wade in 1977 and the first to capture the U.S. Open since Wade in 1968, the first year of Open tennis. Wade, 76, attended today's final. 
   Raducanu, the youngest Grand Slam champion since Maria Sharapova won Wimbledon at 17 in 2004, did not lose a set in 10 matches at Flushing Meadows. Only once, in the second round of qualifying, did she surrender as many as five games in a set.
   Raducanu was born in, ironically, Toronto to a Romanian father and Chinese mother and moved to England when she was 2. In July, she became the youngest British woman to advance to the round of 16 at Wimbledon in the Open Era. Under massive pressure in her home country, Raducanu retired because of an anxiety attack while trailing Ajla Tomljanovic 4-6, 0-3.
   In Raducanu's first match after Wimbledon, she lost to Zhang Shuai of China 6-3, 6-2 in the opening round of the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose as a wild card.
   Fernandez, who soared from No. 73 to No. 28, was trying to become the second 19-year-old Canadian in three years to win the U.S. Open. Bianca Andreescu stunned Serena Williams for the 2019 title.
   Fernandez advanced to the final with four consecutive three-set victories over seeds. She ousted No. 3 seed Naomi Osaka, who won her second U.S. Open title last year, in the third round, No. 16 seed Angelique Kerber, the 2016 U.S. Open champion, in the round of 16, No. 5 seed Elina Svitolina in the quarterfinals and No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka in the semifinals.
   Raducanu saved eight of 10 break points in the first set, winning it on a forehand passing shot down the line on her fourth break point of the game. She broke for 4-2 in the second set with a forehand passing shot down the line and held for 5-2. Fernandez then saved two championship points and held for 3-5. 
   Raducano took a medical timeout for a cut below her left knee while serving at 5-3, 30-40. She escaped two break points and converted her third championship point with an ace.
   Mixed doubles — No. 2 seeds Desirae Krawczyk of Palm Desert, Calif., and Joe Salisbury of Great Britain defeated unseeded Giuliana Olmos, an Austria native who grew up in Fremont in the San Francisco Bay Area and represents Mexico, and Marcelo Arevalo of El Salvador 7-5, 6-2 in the final.
   Krawczyk, a 27-year-old left-hander, won her third consecutive Grand Slam mixed doubles title. She captured the French Open with Salisbury and Wimbledon with Neal Skupski of Great Britain this year.
   Salisbury became the first player to win the men's doubles and mixed doubles titles in the same year at the U.S. Open since Bob Bryan (Stanford, 1997-98) in 2010.
   Boys doubles — No. 8 seeds Viatcheslav Bielinskyi of Ukraine and Petr Nesterov of Bulgaria defeated wild cards Nicholas Godsick of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, and Ethan Quinn of Fresno, Calif., 7-6 (2), 6-3 on Friday in the semifinals.
   Godsick's parents are Mary Joe Fernandez, a former top-five player in singles and doubles who now works as an ESPN commentator, and Tony Godsick, Roger Federer's agent.

Friday, September 10, 2021

Djokovic tops Zverev, eyes history vs. Medvedev in final

Novak Djokovic needs one more victory to earn the first calendar-
year Grand Slam in 52 years and a record 21st major singles title.
2015 photo by Paul Bauman
  Only Daniil Medvedev stands in the way of history for Novak Djokovic.
  In a match filled with breathtaking rallies, the top-ranked Djokovic defeated No. 4 seed Alexander Zverev of Germany 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 tonight in the U.S. Open to move within one victory of becoming the first man to earn a calendar-year Grand Slam since Rod Laver in 1969.
   Djokovic, who lost the first set for the fourth consecutive match, also can break the record of 20 Grand Slam men's singles titles he shares with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, both of whom missed the U.S. Open with injuries. 
   Djokovic ended the 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Zverev's winning streak at 16 matches, including the gold medal in men's singles in the Tokyo Olympics. Zverev, who has denied domestic abuse allegations, ended Djokovic's bid for a Golden Slam in the Olympic semifinals.
   Zverev advanced to last year's U.S. Open final, losing to Dominic Thiem after leading two sets to none.
   In tonight's fifth set, Zverev blew an overhead to trail by two service breaks at 0-4, and Djokovic held for 5-0. Zverev then held serve and converted his fifth break point on Djokovic's double fault for 2-5, but Djokovic broke back for the match.
   On Djokovic's first set point in the third set, Zverev ended a 53-ball rally with an inside-out forehand passing shot. Djokovic put away an overhead on the next point to take the set. 
   Djokovic won the fourth set when he finished a 30-ball rally with a forehand cross-court passing shot.
   Djokovic is scheduled to play the second-seeded Medvedev of Russia on Sunday at 1 p.m. (ESPN).
   The 6-foot-6 Medvedev, 25, eliminated No. 12 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime, the first Canadian man to reach the U.S. Open semis, 6-4, 7-5, 6-2 to advance to his third Grand Slam singles final. Medvedev rallied from 2-5 in the second set and saved two set points at 4-5.
  Djokovic is 5-3 against Medvedev, who has won three of the last five meetings.
   Men's doubles — No. 4 seeds Rajeev Ram, a 37-year-old volunteer assistant coach at the University of California, Berkeley from Carmel, Ind., and Joe Salisbury of Great Britain beat No. 7 seeds Jamie Murray of Great Britain and Bruno Soares of Brazil 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 for their second Grand Slam men's doubles crown.
   Ram and Salisbury, who also won the 2020 Australian Open, saved four match points against unseeded Matthew Ebden and Max Purcell of Australia in the quarterfinals.
   Ram also owns two Australian Open mixed doubles titles (with Barbora Krejcikova in 2019 and 2021) and an Olympic silver medal in mixed doubles (with Venus Williams in 2016.)
   Salisbury, 29, also advanced to the U.S. Open mixed doubles final with Desirae Krawczyk of Palm Desert, Calif. Seeded second, they are set to play unseeded Giuliana Olmos, an Austria native who grew up in Fremont in the San Francisco Bay Area and represents Mexico, and Marcelo Arevalo of El Salvador on Saturday. 
   Salisbury is trying to become the first player to win the men's doubles and mixed doubles titles in the same year at the U.S. Open since Bob Bryan (Stanford, 1997-98) in 2010.
   Krawczyk, a 27-year-old left-hander, seeks her third consecutive Grand Slam mixed doubles crown. She won the French Open with Salisbury and Wimbledon with Neal Skupski of Great Britain this year.
   Soares, 39, was playing in his first tournament since Wimbledon. He had an appendectomy upon arriving in Tokyo for the Olympics.
   Murray, Andy's older brother, and Soares won the Australian Open and U.S. Open in 2016. Soares also prevailed at Flushing Meadows last year with Mate Pavic of Croatia.
   Boys doubles — Wild cards Nicholas Godsick of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, and Ethan Quinn of Fresno, Calif., surprised No. 3 seeds Sean Cuenin and Sascha Gueymard Wayenburg of France 6-2, 7-5 in the quarterfinals.
   Godsick's parents are Mary Joe Fernandez, a former top-five player in singles and doubles who now works as an ESPN commentator, and Tony Godsick, Federer's agent.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Teens Raducanu, Fernandez advance to U.S. Open final

Emma Raducanu lost in the first round of last month's Mubadala Silicon Valley
Classic in San Jose. Photo by Mal Taam
   Emma Raducanu, 18, of Great Britain became the first qualifier in tennis history to reach a Grand Slam final, outslugging No. 17 seed Maria Sakkari of Greece 6-1, 6-4 tonight in the U.S. Open.
   Raducanu, ranked No. 150, has not lost a set in her nine matches at Flushing Meadows. Only once, in the second round of qualifying, has she dropped as many as five games in a set.
   Raducanu is scheduled to face unseeded Leylah Fernandez, a Canadian left-hander who turned 19 on Monday, for the first time as professionals on Saturday at 1 p.m. PDT (ESPN). It will be the first all-teenage major final since Serena Williams, 17, defeated Martina Hingis, 18, in the 1999 U.S. Open.
   Fernandez, ranked No. 73, topped No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-4 for her fourth consecutive three-set victory over a seed. Fernandez ousted No. 3 seed Naomi Osaka, who won her second U.S. Open title last year, in the third round, No. 16 seed Angelique Kerber, the 2016 U.S. Open champion, in the round of 16 and No. 5 seed Elina Svitolina in the quarterfinals.
   The steady Fernandez broke at love for the match with the help of two consecutive double faults. Sabalenka, powerful but mercurial, led 3-0 and 4-1 in the first set and had a set point with Fernandez serving at 5-6 but netted a forehand. 
   Fernandez will try to become the second 19-year-old Canadian in three years to win the U.S. Open. Bianca Andreescu stunned Serena Williams in 2019.
   Raducanu beat Fernandez 6-2, 6-4 in the second round of the Wimbledon juniors in 2018.
   Neither Raducanu nor Fernandez has come out of nowhere.
   In July, Raducanu became the youngest British woman to advance to the round of 16 at Wimbledon in the Open Era, which began in 1968. Under massive pressure in her home country, she retired while trailing Ajla Tomljanovic 4-6, 0-3 because of difficulty breathing.
   In her first match after Wimbledon, Raducanu lost to Zhang Shuai of China 6-3, 6-2 in the opening round of the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic as a wild card.
   Fernandez reached a WTA final at 17 and won one at 18.
   Sakkari and Sabalenka —San Jose runners-up in 2018 and 2019, respectively — fell to 0-2 in Grand Slam semifinals. Sakkari had a match point in a marathon loss to eventual champion Barbora Krejcikova in the French Open in June, and Sabalenka also lost 6-4 in the third set to Karolina Pliskova at Wimbledon in July.
   Men's doubles — Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury reached their third Grand Slam final but first outside of Australia.
   The fourth-seeded Ram, a 37-year-old volunteer assistant coach at the University of California, Berkeley from Carmel, Ind., and Salisbury, 28, of Great Britain beat wild cards Steve Johnson of Redondo Beach in the Los Angeles region and Sam Querrey, a 33-year-old San Francisco native, 7-6 (5), 6-4.
   Ram and Salisbury, the Australian Open champions in 2020 and runners-up this year, won their previous two matches in third-set tiebreakers. They saved four match points against unseeded Matthew Ebden and Max Purcell of Australia in the quarterfinals.
    Ram and Salisbury are set to play No. 7 seeds Jamie Murray of Great Britain and Bruno Soares of Brazil on Friday at 9 a.m. PDT (ESPN2). Murray, Andy's older brother, and Soares topped No. 8 seeds John Peers of Australia and Filip Polasek of Slovakia 6-3, 3-6, 6-4.
   Soares is playing in his first tournament since Wimbledon. He underwent an appendectomy upon arriving at the Tokyo Olympics.
   Murray and Soares won the Australian Open and U.S. Open in 2016. Soares also prevailed at Flushing Meadows last year with Mate Pavic of Croatia.
   Ram and Salisbury beat Murray and Soares 6-4, 7-6 (2) in the semifinals of this year's Australian Open in their only previous meeting.
   Salisbury is trying to become the first man to win the men's doubles and mixed doubles titles in the same year at the U.S. Open since Bob Bryan (Stanford, 1997-98) in 2010, according to atptour.com. 
   Boys doubles —Wild cards Nicholas Godsick of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, and Ethan Quinn of Fresno, Calif., will have to wait one day to play their quarterfinal against No. 3 seeds Sean Cuenin and Sascha Gueymard Wayenburg of France. The match was postponed by rain.
   Godsick's parents are Mary Joe Fernandez, a former top-five player in singles and doubles who now works as an ESPN commentator, and Tony Godsick, Roger Federer's agent.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Raducanu, 18, beats gold medalist to make Open history

Emma Raducanu, 18, of Great Britain plays in last month's Mubadala Silicon
Valley Classic in San Jose, Calif. Photo by Mal Taam
   Emma Raducanu, 18, of Great Britain defeated No. 11 seed Belinda Bencic of Switzerland 6-3, 6-4 today to become the first qualifier, female or male, to reach the U.S. Open semifinals.
   Bencic, 24, won the gold medal in women's singles in the Tokyo Olympics last month.
   Raducanu has not lost a set in her eight matches in the tournament. Only once, in the second round of qualifying, has she dropped as many as five games in a set. 
   In July, Raducanu became the youngest British woman to advance to the round of 16 at Wimbledon in the Open Era, which began in 1968. Under massive pressure in her home country, she retired while trailing Ajla Tomljanovic 4-6, 0-3 because of difficulty breathing.
   As a wild card in San Jose last month, Raducanu lost to Zhang Shuai of China in the opening round.
   Raducanu, ranked No. 150, is scheduled to face No. 17 seed Maria Sakkari of Greece for the first time on Thursday. Sakkari, who reached her first Grand Slam semifinal in the French Open in June, beat No. 4 seed Karolina Pliskova, the runner-up in the 2016 U.S. Open and at Wimbledon in July, 6-4, 6-4.
   The 5-foot-8 (1.73-meter) Sakkari, a finalist in the inaugural (2018) Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose, won 24 of 26 points (92 percent) on her serve, including 22 in a row.
   Pliskova advanced to the final of the 2015 Bank of the West Classic at Stanford.
   In Thursday's first semifinal at 4 p.m. PDT (ESPN), No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka, the San Jose runner-up in 2019, is set to meet Leylah Fernandez, an 18-year-old left-hander from Canada, for the first time.
   On the men's side, No. 4 seed Alexander Zverev of Germany extended his winning streak to 16 matches with a 7-6 (6), 6-3, 6-4 victory over unseeded Lloyd Harris of South Africa.
   Zverev earned the gold medal in men's singles in the Tokyo Olympics, ending Novak Djokovic's bid for a Golden Slam in the semifinals, and won Cincinnati last month. Zverev also advanced to last year's U.S. Open final, losing to Dominic Thiem after leading two sets to none.
   Zverev, who has denied allegations of domestic abuse, is set to play the top-ranked Djokovic in Friday's semifinals. Djokovic defeated No. 6 seed Matteo Berrettini of Italy 5-7, 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 in a rematch of this year's Wimbledon final, which the 34-year-old Serb won 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-4, 6-3.
   For the third consecutive match in the U.S. Open, Djokovic lost the first set and surrendered no more than three games in a set the rest of the way.
   Djokovic needs two more victories to complete the first calendar-year Grand Slam since 1969 and break the record of 20 Grand Slam men's singles titles he shares with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Djokovic is 6-3 against Zverev, 24.
   In Friday's other men's semifinal, No. 2 seed and 2019 runner-up Daniil Medvedev, 25, of Russia is scheduled to meet No. 12 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime, a 21-year-old Canadian.
   Medvedev edged Auger-Aliassime 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7) in the second round in Montreal in 2018 in their only previous meeting.
   Mixed doubles — Giuliana Olmos, an Austria native who grew up in Fremont in the San Francisco Bay Area and represents Mexico, and Marcelo Arevalo of El Salvador topped Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine and Max Purcell of Australia 4-6, 6-4 [10-6] in a battle of unseeded teams to reach the final.
   Olmos and Arevalo, who have survived three consecutive match tiebreakers, are slated to play either No. 2 seeds Desirae Krawczyk, a native of Palm Desert, Calif., and Joe Salisbury of Great Britain or unseeded Americans Jessica Pegula and Austin Krajicek
   Boys doubles — Wild cards Nicholas Godsick of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, and Ethan Quinn of Fresno, Calif., surprised No. 5 seeds Gonzalo Bueno of Peru and Adolfo Daniel Vallejo of Paraguay 6-3, 6-3 to reach the quarterfinals.
   Godsick's parents are Mary Joe Fernandez, a former top-five player in singles and doubles who now works as an ESPN commentator, and Tony Godsick, Federer's agent.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Fernandez, 19, edges Svitolina to reach U.S. Open semis

   Teenager Leylah Fernandez continued her stunning run in the U.S. Open today with a 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (5) victory over No. 5 seed Elina Svitolina in the quarterfinals.
   It was the third consecutive three-set victory over a seed for Fernandez. The left-hander, who turned 19 on Monday, ousted No. 3 seed Naomi Osaka, who won her second U.S. Open title last year, in the third round and Angelique Kerber, the 2016 champion, in the round of 16.
   Fernandez became the youngest U.S. Open semifinalist since 18-year-old Maria Sharapova in 2005 and joined Carling Bassett Seguso (1984) and Bianca Andreescu (2019) as the only Canadian women to reach the semis at Flushing Meadows in the Open Era, which began in 1968. Andreescu won the title two years ago at 19.
   Fernandez avenged a 6-4, 7-5 loss to Svitolina in the 2020 Monterrey quarterfinals in their only previous meeting. Svitolina reached the U.S. Open semifinals and San Jose quarterfinals in 2019 and the Stanford semis in 2015.
   Fernandez is scheduled to face No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus for the first time on Thursday. Sabalenka, the San Jose runner-up in 2019, defeated No. 8 seed Barbora Krejcikova, the reigning French Open champion, 6-1, 6-4 to reach her second consecutive Grand Slam semifinal.
   Meanwhile, No. 2 seed Daniil Medvedev of Russia reached the U.S. Open semifinals for the third consecutive year. Medvedev, who lost an epic final to Rafael Nadal two years ago, eliminated qualifier Botic Van De Zandschulp of the Netherlands 6-3, 6-0, 4-6, 7-5. 
   Medvedev, 25, is set to meet No. 12 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime, 21, of Canada on Thursday. Auger-Aliassime led Carlos Alcaraz 6-3, 3-1 when the 18-year-old Spaniard retired with an undisclosed injury.
   Alcaraz had played two straight five-set matches, including a 4-hour, 7-minute victory over No. 3 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in the third round.
   Medvedev nipped Auger-Aliassime 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7) in the second round in Montreal in 2018 in their only previous encounter. 
   Men's doubles — No. 4 seeds Rajeev Ram, a volunteer assistant coach at the University of California, Berkeley from Carmel, Ind., and Joe Salisbury of Great Britain edged unseeded Matthew Ebden and Max Purcell of Australia 7-6 (7), 6-7 (6), 7-6 (10) in a 2-hour, 58-minute quarterfinal.
   Ram and Salisbury won a third-set tiebreaker for the second consecutive match and reached the U.S. Open semifinals for the second straight year. They are scheduled to play unseeded Steve Johnson of Redondo Beach in the Los Angeles area and Sam Querrey, a 33-year-old San Francisco native. Both teams are trying to reach their first U.S. Open final.
   Johnson and Querrey, U.S. Open semifinalists in 2015, surprised No. 6 seeds Kevin Krawietz of Germany and Horia Tecau of Romania 6-2, 7-6 (5).  
   Mixed doubles Giuliana Olmos, a 28-year-old Austria native who grew up in Fremont in the San Francisco Bay Area and represents Mexico, and Marcelo Arevalo of El Salvador topped Ellen Perez of Australia and Marcelo Demoliner of Brazil 3-6, 6-3 [10-4] in the quarterfinals.
   Boys singles — Top-seeded Shang Juncheng of China defeated wild card Aidan Mayo, a Sacramento-area product, 7-6 (5), 6-3 in the second round. Also, No. 15 seed Maks Kasnikowski of Poland edged Ethan Quinn of Fresno, Calif., 4-6, 6-0, 7-6 (4). 
   Boys doubles — Wild cards Nicholas Godsick of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, and Quinn beat Philip Florig and Max Hans Rehberg of Germany 6-2, 7-6 (5) in the opening round.
   Godsick's parents are Mary Joe Fernandez, a former top-five player in singles and doubles who now works as an ESPN commentator, and Tony Godsick, Roger Federer's agent.

Monday, September 6, 2021

Djokovic overcomes slow start to beat Brooksby, 20

Novak Djokovic moved one step closer to completing the first calendar-
year Grand Slam in 52 years. 2015 photo by Paul Bauman
   Well, it was a good start for Jenson Brooksby.
   Then reality hit.
   Top-ranked Novak Djokovic defeated Brooksby, a 20-year-old wild card from the Sacramento, Calif., suburb of Carmichael, 1-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 tonight to reach the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
   Djokovic, who committed 10 unforced errors in the first set to Brooksby's one, moved one step closer to becoming the first player since Rod Laver in 1969 to earn a calendar-year Grand Slam.
   Djokovic, 34, also aims to break the record of 20 major singles titles that he shares with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, both of whom missed the U.S. Open with injuries.
   Brooksby faced a top-10 player for the first time and played his first match in 23,771-seat Arthur Ashe Stadium, the biggest tennis facility in the world. Ranked No. 307 when he turned pro in late December, Brooksby will jump 20 places to a career-high No. 79 after the U.S. Open.
   "Brooksby is very talented and intelligent," Djokovic said in an on-court interview. "America has a bright future."
   ESPN commentator Brad Gilbert, who was born in Oakland, Calif., and grew up in nearby Piedmont, predicted that the 6-foot-4 (1.93-meter) Brooksby eventually will crack the top 10 and, if he develops a big serve, the top five. 
   No American men or women reached the U.S. Open quarterfinals. The top three U.S. women — Sofia Kenin (positive COVID test), Jennifer Brady (unspecified injury) and Serena Williams (hamstring injury) — missed the tournament.
   No American man has won a Grand Slam singles title since Andy Roddick in the 2003 U.S. Open, but there's hope with Brooksby, 6-foot-11 (2.11-meter) Reilly Opelka (24) and Sebastian Korda (21).   
   Next for Djokovic is No. 6 seed Matteo Berrettini of Italy in a rematch of this year's Wimbledon final, which Djokovic won in four sets. Berrettini beat qualifier Oscar Otte of Germany 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.
   In the other men's quarterfinal in the top half of the draw, No. 4 seed Alexander Zverev of Germany is set to meet unseeded Lloyd Harris of South Africa.
   Zverev, last year's U.S. Open runner-up, extended his winning streak to 15 matches, including an Olympic gold medal, with a 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (7) victory over No. 13 seed Jannik Sinner, a 20-year-old Italian.
   Harris, who won a Northern California Challenger and reached the final of another in 2018, outplayed No. 22 seed Opelka of Delray Beach, Fla., 6-7 (6), 6-4, 6-1, 6-3 to reach his first Grand Slam quarterfinal. The 6-foot-4 (1.93-meter) Harris blasted 36 aces and Opelka 24.
   Emma Raducanu also advanced to her first major quarterfinal, as the 18-year-old qualifier from Great Britain routed Shelby Rogers of Charleston, S.C., 6-2, 6-1 in 66 minutes. Rogers was coming off a 6-1, 1-6, 7-6 (5) win over top-ranked Ashleigh Barty.
   Raducanu is slated to face No. 11 seed Belinda Bencic of Switzerland on Wednesday. Bencic, the gold medalist in women's singles in the Tokyo Olympics, beat No. 7 seed Iga Swiatek, last year's French Open champion at 19, 7-6, (12), 6-3. 
   No. 4 seed Karolina Pliskova, the runner-up to Angelique Kerber in the 2016 U.S. Open and 2015 Bank of the West Classic at Stanford, is scheduled to play No. 17 seed Maria Sakkari of Greece on Wednesday.
   Sakkari, the runner-up in the inaugural (2018) Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose, Calif., outslugged No. 6 seed Bianca Andreescu, the 2019 U.S. Open champion at 19, 6-7 (2), 7-6 (6), 6-3 in a 3-hour, 30-minute battle that ended at 2:15 a.m. EDT. Andreescu had her left thigh taped during the third set.  
   Sakkari's victory ensures a first-time U.S. Open champion. 
   Women's doubles — No. 14 seeds Samantha Stosur of Australia and Zhang Shuai of China eliminated No. 3 seeds Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara (a native of Mountain View in the San Francisco Bay Area) of Japan 7-5, 7-5 in the third round. Stosur and Zhang won the 2019 Australian Open, and Stosur captured the 2005 U.S. Open with Lisa Raymond.
   Men's doubles — No. 4 seeds Rajeev Ram, a volunteer assistant coach at the University of California, Berkeley from Carmel, Ind., and Joe Salisbury of Great Britain edged No. 12 seeded Rohan Bopanna, 41, of India and Ivan Dodig of Croatia 6-7 (4), 6-4, 7-6 (3) to reach the quarterfinals.
   Boys singles — Wild card Aidan Mayo, a Sacramento-area product, and Ethan Quinn of Fresno, Calif., won their first-round matches. Mayo is set to face top-seeded Shang Juncheng of China on Tuesday.

Sunday, September 5, 2021

18-year-olds Fernandez, Alcaraz reach Open quarters

   Those victories by Leylah Fernandez and Carlos Alcaraz over the No. 3 seeds on Friday were no flukes.
   The 18-year-olds have reached their first Grand Slam quarterfinals in the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
   Fernandez, a Canadian, defeated No. 16 seed Angelique Kerber 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-2 today in a battle of left-handers after stunning Naomi Osaka. It was the second consecutive match in which Fernandez, who will turn 19 on Monday, came within a tiebreaker of losing in straight sets to a U.S. Open champion and former world No. 1.
   As it is, Fernandez's victory assures a first-time U.S. Open finalist.
   Alcaraz, from Spain, outlasted qualifier Peter Gojowczyk of Germany 5-7, 6-1, 5-7, 6-2, 6-0 after ousting Stefanos Tsitsipas in five sets. Alcaraz became the youngest U.S. Open men's quarterfinalist in the Open Era, which began in 1968.
   Fernandez is scheduled to play No. 5 seed Elina Svitolina, a Ukrainian who dismissed No. 12 seed Simona Halep 6-3, 6-3. Halep, who won the French Open in 2018 and Wimbledon in 2019, was playing in her third tournament since missing three months with a calf tear.
   In the other quarterfinal in the bottom half of the women's draw, No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka is set to play No. 8 seed Barbora Krejcikova, who defeated No. 9 seed GarbiƱe Muguruza 6-3, 7-6 (4). Krejcikova, the reigning French Open champion, left the court for a nine-minute medical timeout late in the second set.
   Alcaraz is slated to face No. 12 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime, a 21-year-old Canadian who topped Frances Tiafoe of Boynton Beach, Fla., 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (6), 6-4.
   Botic Van De Zandschulp of the Netherlands shocked No. 11 seed Diego Schwartzman of Argentina 6-3, 6-4, 5-7, 5-7, 6-1 in 4 hours, 20 minutes to become only the third men's qualifier to reach the U.S. Open quarterfinals in the Open Era.
   Van De Zandschulp is set to face No. 2 seed Daniil Medvedev, who dominated No. 24 Daniel Evans of Great Britain 6-3, 6-4, 6-3. Medvedev, the 2019 runner-up, has not lost more than four games in a set in his four matches. 
   Men's doubles — Wild cards Steve Johnson of Redondo Beach in the Los Angeles region and Sam Querrey, a 33-year-old San Francisco native, outplayed Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania and Benoit Paire of France 6-3, 6-4 to reach the quarterfinals.
   Johnson and Querrey advanced to the semifinals of the 2015 U.S. Open but had not won a doubles match in the tournament, together or separately, since then until this week. 
   Mixed doublesJessica Pegula of Boca Raton, Fla., and Austin Krajicek of Plano, Texas, surprised No. 6 seeds Ena Shibahara (a San Francisco Bay Area native) and Ben McLachlan (University of California, Berkeley, 2011-14) of Japan 7-6 (1), 6-3 in the second round.

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Brooksby, 20, to face Djokovic; Rogers stuns No. 1 Barty

Jenson Brooksby, a 20-year-old wild card from the Sacra-
mento area, beat Aslan Karatsev, seeded 21st and ranked
25th, in five sets today in the third round of the U.S. Open.
2021 photo courtesy of USTA 
   The Carmichael Kid will have his work cut out for him on Labor Day.
   Jenson Brooksby, a 20-year-old wild card from Carmichael, Calif., in the Sacramento area, is scheduled to face top-ranked Novak Djokovic on Monday in the U.S. Open round of 16. It will be Brooksby's first match against a top-10 player.
  Brooksby advanced with a 6-2, 3-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory over Aslan Karatsev, seeded 21st and ranked 25th, today in Flushing Meadows, N.Y. Brooksby broke for 3-1 in the fifth set on a double fault and held serve for 4-1.
   Djokovic defeated Kei Nishikori, the U.S. Open runner-up in 2014, 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 to improve to 20-2 in the head-to-head series with an 18-match winning streak.
   Djokovic seeks to become the first player since Rod Laver in 1969 to earn a calendar-year Grand Slam. The 34-year-old Serb also aims to break the record of 20 major singles titles that he shares with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. 
   Meanwhile, unseeded Shelby Rogers, a 28-year-old American, shocked top-ranked Ashleigh Barty 6-2, 1-6, 7-6 (5) in the round of 16. Barty, who won Wimbledon in July for her second Grand Slam singles crown, led 5-2 with two service breaks in the third set.
   Rogers, a U.S. Open quarterfinalist last year, had been 0-4 this year against Barty, although two of the matches were close, and 0-5 overall against the 25-year-old Australian.
   Brooksby avenged a 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 loss to Karatsev, a 27-year-old Russian, in the first round of the French Open in May in their only previous meeting to become the youngest American man to reach the fourth round of the U.S. Open since 20-year-old Andy Roddick in 2002. 
   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, ranked No. 307 when he turned pro in late December, will jump at least 20 spots to No. 79 after the U.S. Open.
   Men's doubles — U.S. wild cards Steve Johnson and Sam Querrey, a 33-year-old San Francisco native now living in Las Vegas, surprised No. 14 seeds Simone Bolelli of Italy and Maximo Gonzalez of Argentina 7-6 (5), 6-4 in the second round. 
   Also, Santiago Gonzalez of Mexico and Andres Molteni of Argentina edged No. 11 seeds Raven Klaasen of South Africa and Ben McLachlan (University of California, Berkeley, 2011-14) of Japan 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (7).
   Mixed doubles — Giuliana Olmos, a Bay Area product who represents Mexico, and Marcelo Arevalo of El Salvador ousted top-seeded Nicole Melichar-Martinez, a Czech-born American, and Ivan Dodig of Croatia 7-5, 3-6 [10-5] in the second round. 
   Melichar (pronounced Mel-i-car)-Martinez and then-44-year-old Kveta Peschke of the Czech Republic won the 2019 Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose, Calif.
   In the opening round today, No. 6 seeds Ena Shibahara (a San Francisco Bay Area native) and McLachlan beat U.S. alternates Hayley Carter and Hunter Reese 7-5, 6-2.

Friday, September 3, 2021

Kerber finally stops Stephens; Osaka, Tsitsipas fall

Angelique Kerber had not won a set in her last
five matches against Sloane Stephens. 2017
photo by Paul Bauman
   In a matchup of former U.S. Open champions, No. 16 seed Angelique Kerber defeated Sloane Stephens 5-7, 6-2, 6-3 today in the third round of the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
   Kerber, a 33-year-old left-hander from Germany, reeled off the last three games. She broke for 4-3 and for the match on errors by Stephens, a 28-year-old product of Fresno, Calif.
   Kerber, who won the 2016 U.S. Open and the 2015 Bank of the West Classic at Stanford, had not won a set in her last five matches against Stephens, the 2017 U.S. Open champion. They met for the first time since 2018 and the first time ever in a Grand Slam tournament.
   Kerber, who was two points from losing in the first round against Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine, is set to face Leylah Fernandez of Canada on Sunday for a quarterfinal berth. Fernandez, an 18-year-old left-hander, stunned No. 3 seed Naomi Osaka, the defending and two-time champion, 5-7, 7-6 (2), 6-4.
   Osaka, 23, of Japan announced afterward that she will take an indefinite break from tennis. 
   "When I win, I don't feel happy," Osaka, who withdrew from her second-round match in the French Open and skipped Wimbledon because of mental health issues, told a Japanese reporter. "I feel more like a relief. And then when I lose, I feel very sad. I don't think that's normal."
    An 18-year-old also knocked out the men's No. 3 seed as Carlos Alcaraz of Spain edged Stefanos Tsitsipas, the French Open runner-up in June, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (2), 0-6, 7-6 (5) in 4 hours, 7 minutes.
   In a late third-round match, No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus dismissed No. 26 seed Danielle Collins of St. Petersburg, Fla., 6-3, 6-3.
   Sabalenka reached the final of the 2019 Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose, Calif., losing to Zheng Saisai, and Collins won the Mubadala title last month, defeating Daria Kasatkina
   Men's doubles — No. 4 seeds Rajeev Ram, a volunteer assistant coach at the University of California, Berkeley from Carmel, Ind., and Joe Salisbury of Great Britain dispatched John Millman of Australia and Thiago Monteiro of Brazil 6-3, 6-4 in the second round.
   In the first round:
   — Wild cards Steve Johnson of Redondo Beach in the Los Angeles region and Sam Querrey, a 33-year-old San Francisco native, edged Marcelo Arevalo of El Salvador and Matwe Middelkoop of the Netherlands 6-7 (4), 6-4, 7-6 (3).
   — Denmark's Frederik Nielsen and Canada's Vasek Pospisil, former Wimbledon men's doubles champions with different partners, beat Marcos Giron of Thousand Oaks in the L.A. area and Andre Goransson (Cal, 2014-17) of Sweden 6-3, 7-6 (3).
   — Santiago Gonzalez of Mexico and Andres Molteni of Argentina eliminated Robin Haase of the Netherlands and Mackenzie McDonald, a 26-year-old product of Piedmont in the San Francisco Bay Area, 5-7, 6-3, 6-2.
   Women's doubles — No. 3 seeds Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara (a Bay Area native) of Japan beat Eri Hozumi of Japan and Alicja Rosolska of Poland 7-6 (5), 6-2 in the second round.
   Mixed doubles — Giuliana Olmos, a product of Fremont in the Bay Area who represents Mexico, and Arevalo defeated Asia Muhammad of Las Vegas and Jackson Withrow of Omaha, Neb., 7-6 (5), 6-3.
   — Alternates Yastremska and Max Purcell of Australia topped Sania Mirza of India and Ram 6-3, 3-6 [10-7]. Mirza and Ram have won a combined five Grand Slam mixed doubles crowns but none together.

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Brooksby frustrates Fritz to reach third round of Open

Jenson Brooksby needed more than four hours to subdue fellow
Californian Taylor Fritz today. 2021 photo courtesy of USTA
   Jenson Brooksby reached the third round of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time today, gutting out a victory over fellow Californian Taylor Fritz.
   Brooksby, a 20-year-old wild card from Carmichael, Calif., in the Sacramento area, outlasted Fritz, 23, of Rancho Palos Verdes in the Los Angeles region, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (10), 7-5, 6-2 in 4 hours, 6 minutes in the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows, N.Y. Brooksby converted his seventh match point. 
   Less than nine months after turning pro, Brooksby will rise at least 11 places to a career-high No. 88 after the U.S. Open.
   Fritz will improve five spots to No. 37, 13 notches off his career high in March 2020. He won Northern California Challengers in Sacramento and Fairfield in consecutive weeks in 2015 at 17. 
   Brooksby is set to face No. 21 seed Aslan Karatsev of Russia on Saturday. The 27-year-old Karatsev, ranked 25th, saved two match points in a 3-6, 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (9), 6-1 victory over Jordan Thompson of Australia. The match lasted 4 hours, 40 minutes.
   Karatsev defeated Brooksby 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 in the first round of the French Open in May in their only previous meeting. The winner of the rematch likely will play top-ranked Novak Djokovic, seeking to become the first man to complete a calendar-year Grand Slam since Rod Laver in 1969, for a quarterfinal berth.
   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.
   Also today, 2014 U.S. Open runner-up Kei Nishikori, 7-6 (3), 6-3, 6-7 (5), 2-6, 6-3 outlasted Mackenzie McDonald, a 26-year-old product of Piedmont in the San Francisco Bay Area, in 3:57 in a matchup of undersized veterans.
   Nishikori, 31, served for the match at 5-4 in the third set but was broken at love. He avenged a 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 loss to McDonald four weeks ago in the Washington semifinals to earn a meeting with Djokovic.
   In a late match, No. 4 seed Karolina Pliskova, the runner-up in the 2016 U.S. Open and 2015 Bank of the West Classic at Stanford, edged 20-year-old American Amanda Anisimova 7-5, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (7) in 2:21.
   Anisimova, who won her first professional title in the last (2017) Sacramento Challenger and reached the semifinals of the 2019 French Open, had a match point at 7-6 in the third-set tiebreaker.   
   In the first round of doubles:
   —No. 3 seeds Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara (a Bay Area native) of Japan dismissed Americans Madison Brengle and Claire Liu 6-2, 6-3. Brengle won NorCal Challenger singles titles in 2018 and 2019 and reached a NorCal singles final in 2013.
   —Leylah Fernandez of Canada and Erin Routliffe of New Zealand beat Christina McHale of Englewood Cliffs, N.J., and Giuliana Olmos, a Bay Area product who represents Mexico, 6-4, 6-2.
   —No. 11 seeds Raven Klaasen of South Africa and Ben McLachlan (University of California, Berkeley, 2011-14) of Japan topped U.S. wild cards Mitchell Krueger and Michael Mmoh 6-4, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (5). Mmoh won the singles crown in the 2018 Tiburon Challenger in the Bay Area.
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