Friday, November 5, 2021

U.S. falls to Russians in Billie Jean King Cup semis

Danielle Collins, shown en route to the San Jose title in August, won all three
of her singles matches in the Billie Jean King Cup. She did not play doubles.
Photo by Mal Taam
   The Russian Tennis Federation defeated the United States 2-1 today to reach the final of the Billie Jean King Cup, formerly Fed Cup, in Prague.
   In the decisive doubles match, Veronika Kudermetova and Liudmila Samsonova outclassed Shelby Rogers and CoCo Vandeweghe 6-3, 6-3.
   With Samsonova serving for the match at 5-3, the Russians trailed 0-40 but reeled off the next four points to advance. They will face Switzerland, which beat Australia 2-0, on Saturday at 8 a.m. PDT (Tennis Channel).
   Vandeweghe reached the final of the now-defunct Bank of the West Classic at Stanford in 2012 and 2017.
   Samsonova gave the Russians a 1-0 lead with a 1-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory over Sloane Stephens, a Fresno, Calif., product who has tumbled from a career-high No. 3 in 2018 to No. 63.
   Danielle Collins, the San Jose champion in August, then outlasted Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who advanced to the French Open final in June, 6-7 (9), 7-6 (2), 6-2.
   Collins won all three of her singles matches this week. She did not play doubles. Pavlyuchenkova played for the now-defunct Sacramento Capitals of World Team Tennis as the world's top junior at 15 in 2006.
   The United States, which has won a record 18 Billie Jean King Cup titles, was missing its top four singles players — No. 15 Sofia Kenin, No. 20 Jessica Pegula, No. 23 Coco Gauff and No. 25 Jennifer Brady — and top five doubles competitors — No. 14 Nicole Melichar-Martinez, No. 16 Bethanie Mattek-Sands, No. 17 Caty McNally, No. 19 Gauff and No. 23 Desirae Krawczyk.
   The Russian Tennis Federation has its top five singles players — No. 12 Pavlyuchenkova, No. 28 Daria Kasatkina, No. 31 Kudermetova, No. 32 Ekaterina Alexandrova and No. 40 Samsonova — and its top doubles competitor, No. 11 Kudermetova. Kasatkina fell to Collins in the San Jose final.
   The World Anti-Doping Agency banned Russia from international competition for four years in August, but athletes not implicated in doping are allowed to compete under a neutral flag.
   WTA Tour — No. 1 seed Mayar Sherif (Fresno State, 2015-16) of Egypt beat No. 6 seed Ekaterine Gorgodze of Georgia 6-1, 6-4 in the quarterfinals of the Argentina Open on clay in Buenos Aires. It's the first WTA tournament in Argentina in 34 years.
   College — No. 2 seed Arthur Fery of Stanford won two three-set matches to reach the semifinals of the ITA National Fall Championships in San Diego.
   Fery also reached the doubles quarterfinals with Alexandre Rotsaert. Seeded fourth, they advanced by walkover. 
   No. 3 seeds Andres Martin and Marcus McDaniel, from Vacaville, Calif., of Georgia Tech eliminated Timothy Sah, playing in his hometown, and Max Basing of Stanford 6-4, 7-6 (4).
   In the women's singles quarterfinals, No. 5 seed Eryn Cayetano of USC beat unseeded Mariia Kozyreva of Saint Mary's in the San Francisco Bay Area 6-2, 6-2. Earlier today, Kozyreva ousted No. 1 seed Abigail Forges of UCLA in three sets.
   No. 2 seed Daria Frayman, a Princeton junior from Russia, eliminated Connie Ma, a Stanford freshman from Dublin in the Bay Area, 6-4, 6-4.    
   No. 4 doubles seeds Fiona Crawley and Elizabeth Scotty of North Carolina downed Angelica Blake and Ma 6-2, 6-4 to reach the quarterfinals. Scotty won the NCAA doubles title with Makenna Jones in May.
   In a late match, No. 5 seeds Victoria Flores and Lisa Zaar of Pepperdine beat Jessica Alsola, from Fresno, Calif., and Erin Richardson of the University of California, Berkeley 6-4, 6-2.

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