Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Arconada extends streak to reach BNP main draw

Usue Arconada won 12 of the last 13 games against Beatriz Haddad Maia
of Brazil today in Indian Wells. Photo by Paul Bauman
   INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — Nobody is saying that Usue Arconada is going to win a Grand Slam tournament anytime soon, if ever.
   But Arconada is reminiscent of Sofia Kenin, the 2020 Australian Open champion now ranked No. 8.
   Both are 22-year-old Americans born 17 days apart (Arconada is older) in other countries (Arconada in Argentina, Kenin in Russia).
   Both have tremendous groundstrokes and fighting spirit.
   And both won the $60,000 Berkeley (Calif.) Challenger, Kenin three years ago and Arconada last week.
   Kenin, however, is three inches (7.6 centimeters) taller at 5-foot-7 (1.70 meters) in an era of power.
   Arconada, a qualifying wild card playing in the BNP Paribas Open for the first time, surprised ninth-seeded Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil 4-6, 6-4, 6-0 today in 91-degree (33 Celsius) heat to reach the main draw of the tournament, considered the "fifth Grand Slam.'
   "It means a lot," Arconada, ranked No. 182, said in an on-court interview after her seventh consecutive victory. "I had a quick turnaround from my last tournament. I just left it out there every match and did everything I could. I told myself, no matter what, you've got to keep fighting."
   It didn't hurt that the first serve of Haddad Maia, a 6-foot (1.85-meter) left-hander, dropped from over 120 mph (193 kph) in the first set to under 100 mph (161 kph).
   Arconada, who has a Basque first name (pronounced EW-sway) because her father's side of the family is from Spain, double-faulted to trail 1-2 in the second set after "Game, Haddad Maia" was erroneously announced following Arconada's first serve. Haddad Maia, ranked No. 115 after reaching a career-high No. 58 in 2017, won one game the rest of the match. 
   "I was just kind of looking at my brother (Jordi, a former Texas A&M player), and he was giving me a lot of confidence and cheering me on," Arconada said. "It helped me be strong, and I was able to turn it up."
   Arconada is scheduled to play Ajla Tomljanovic, a 28-year-old Australia citizen from Croatia, on Thursday in the first round. The 5-foot-11 (1.80-meter) Tomljanovic (pronounced Tom-yon-o-vich), ranked No. 47, reached her first Grand Slam quarterfinal at Wimbledon in July and the final of the 2017 (last) Sacramento (Calif.) Challenger.
   Arconada defeated Tomljanovic 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the first round of a $100,000 hardcourt tournament in Tampico, Mexico in 2017 in their only previous meeting.
   The winner will face fifth-seeded Garbine Muguruza, a two-time Grand Slam singles champion and two-time BNP quarterfinalist. All 32 seeds in each the women's and men's draws receive first-round byes.
   Liang En-Shuo, 21, of Chinese Taipei also advanced to the main draw in her first BNP Paribas Open. Liang, who lost to Arconada in the Berkeley quarterfinals and reached the doubles final with Lu Jia-Jing of China, beat American Caroline Dolehide, a two-time Grand Slam doubles semifinalist, 6-4, 6-7 (2), 6-3.
   Liang is set to play Alison Riske of Nashville, Tenn., on Thursday, with the survivor taking on 16th-seeded Bianca Andreescu, the 2019 BNP and U.S. Open champion
   ITF Pro Circuit — No. 10 seed Maria Kozyreva of Russia and Saint Mary's College in the San Francisco Bay Area edged No. 7 seed Vivian Wolff, a former UCLA star from Germany, 3-6, 6-4 [11-9] in the second (final) round of qualifying for the $25,000 Pro Women's Open in Redding, Calif.
   No. 13 seed Hind Abdelouahid, an ex-Saint Mary's standout from Manteca, Calif., advanced with a 6-1, 6-7 (2) [10-2] victory over No. 5 seed Bianca Jolie Fernandez of Canada.
   College — Tristan Boyer of Stanford and Eric Hadigian (Sacramento) of Pepperdine each won two qualifying matches to reach the main draw of the ITA Men's All-American Championship in Tulsa, Okla.
   Falling were Yuta Kikuchi of the University of California, Berkeley and Max Basing of Stanford in the third (final) round of qualifying and No. 17-32 seed Alexandre Rotsaert of Stanford and Carl Emil Overbeck of Cal in the second round.

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