Monday, May 25, 2015

Stanford, Cal women fall in NCAA individual finals

   This is getting a bit old for Stanford and Cal women.
   Today in Waco, Texas, they fell to 0-3 in NCAA singles or doubles finals in the past two years.
   In an all-sophomore singles match, second-seeded Carol Zhao of Stanford lost to seventh-seeded Jamie Loeb of North Carolina 6-2, 4-6, 6-1.
   Then  No. 5-8 seeds Klara Fabikova and Zsofi Susanyi of Cal dropped a 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-3 decision to top seeds and defending champions Maya Jansen and Erin Routliffe of Alabama.
   In last year's singles final in Athens, Ga., Cal's Lynn Chi lost to Danielle Collins of Virginia. Until then, Stanford or Cal women had won the NCAA singles or doubles title for five straight years. In fact, in 2011 and 2012, they swept the crowns.  
   Zhao, whose winning streak was snapped at 15 matches, attempted to become the third Cardinal in four years to earn the NCAA women's singles title. Nicole Gibbs, who lost in her French Open debut today, triumphed in 2012 and 2013. Danielle Collins of Virginia prevailed in 2014.
   Both Zhao and Loeb have had success playing as amateurs in professional tournaments. The 5-foot-5 (1.65-meter) Zhao, from Canada, is ranked No. 289 in the world. The 5-foot-6 (1.68-meter) Loeb, from Ossining, N.Y., reached the quarterfinals in the $50,000 Sacramento Challenger last July.
    Fabikova, a junior from the Czech Republic, and Susanyi, a senior from Hungary, tried to become the first Bears to win the doubles title since Mari Andersson and Jana Juricova in 2009. Juricova also won the 2011 singles crown at Stanford.
   In today's men's singles final, eighth-seeded Ryan Shane of NCAA champion Virginia used his massive power to beat No. 7 Noah Rubin of Wake Forest 3-6, 7-6 (4), 6-1.
   Shane, a 6-foot-4 (1.94-meter) junior from Falls Church, Va., avenged a 7-6 (5), 6-3 loss to the 5-foot-9 (1.75-meter) Rubin in last month's Atlantic Coast Conference final.
   Rubin would have been just the second player to win the Wimbledon juniors, USTA Boys 18 National Championships and NCAAs, and he would have been the first freshman to accomplish the feat. Only UCLA men's coach Billy Martin has won all three titles.
   Both singles finals were moved indoors because of rain.
   As American NCAA champs, Loeb and Shane will receive wild cards into the main draw of the U.S. Open in August. Loeb, like Rubin a product of the Manhattan-based John McEnroe Tennis Academy, lives only 30 minutes from the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.  
   In an all-Big 12 Conference men's doubles final, Lloyd Glasspool and Soren Hess-Olesen of Texas defeated Hugo Dojas and Felipe Soares of Texas Tech 6-1, 3-6, 6-3. Both teams were unseeded.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Stanford's Zhao rallies to gain NCAA final

   It turns out that Carol Zhao plays pretty well from behind, too.
   The Stanford star, seeded second, reeled off the last nine games in her 2-6, 6-4, 6-0 victory over No. 9-16 Josie Kuhlman of Florida today in Waco, Texas, to reach the NCAA singles final.
   Zhao lost only two games in each of her first three matches and won her quarterfinal in straight sets.
   Zhao, a 5-foot-5 (1.65-meter) sophomore from Canada, will play seventh-seeded Jamie Loeb of North Carolina on Monday at 10 a.m. PDT. Loeb, a 5-foot-6 (1.68-meter) sophomore from Ossining, N.Y., beat No. 9-16 Stephanie Wagner of Miami 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.
   Zhao, ranked No. 289 in the world, will attempt to become the third Cardinal in four years to win the NCAA women's singles title. Nicole Gibbs triumphed in 2012 and 2013; Danielle Collins of Virginia prevailed in 2014.
   Loeb, who eliminated Collins in this year's quarterfinals, reached the quarters in the $50,000 Sacramento Challenger last July.
   San Francisco Bay Area schools could sweep the singles and doubles titles. No. 5-8 seeds Klara Fabikova and Zsofi Susanyi of Cal topped No. 5-8 Brooke Austin and Kourtney Keegan of Florida 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 to reach the final.
   It's the second straight year that a Cal woman has reached an NCAA final. Lynn Chi lost to Collins last year.
   Fabikova, a junior from the Czech Republic, and Susanyi, a senior from Hungary, will face No. 1 seeds and defending champions Maya Jansen and Erin Routliffe of Alabama following the women's singles final.
   Jansen and Routliffe eliminated unseeded Caroline Doyle and Ellen Tsay of Stanford 5-7, 6-3, 6-0. Like Zhao, Routliffe lives in Ontario, Canada. Doyle is from San Francisco and Tsay from Pleasanton.
   Fabikova and Susanyi will attempt to become the first Bears to win the doubles title since Mari Andersson and Jana Juricova in 2009. Juricova also won the 2011 singles crown at Stanford.
   In the men's singles final, seventh-seeded Noah Rubin of Wake Forest will meet eighth-seeded Ryan Shane of NCAA champion Virginia in a rematch of last month's Atlantic Coast Conference final.
   Rubin, a freshman who won the Wimbledon junior boys title last year, beat unseeded Thai-Son Kwiatkowski of Virginia 6-4, 6-4. Shane, a junior, outclassed No. 9-16 Quentin Monaghan of Notre Dame 6-4, 6-1.     
   Rubin, a product of the Manhattan-based John McEnroe Tennis Academy along with Loeb, defeated Shane 7-6 (5), 6-3 in the ACC final.
   In an all-Big 12 Conference men's doubles final, Lloyd Glasspool and Soren Hess-Olesen of Texas will face Hugo Dojas and Felipe Soares of Texas Tech. Both teams are unseeded.

French Open Day 1: Johnson ousts seed in five sets

Steve Johnson beat 26th-seeded Guillermo Garcia-Lopez
in five sets in the first round of the French Open.
2013 photo by Paul Bauman
   Match of the day -- Steve Johnson of Redondo Beach in the Los Angeles area ousted 26th-seeded Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain 6-3, 6-3, 6-7 (1), 3-6, 6-3.
   Upset of the day -- No. 24 Peng Shuai, a semifinalist at last year's U.S. Open, retired with a back injury while trailing Polona Hercog of Slovenia 6-0, 2-0.
   Notable -- No. 5 Kei Nishikori and No. 8 Stan Wawrinka, both of whom fell in the opening round last year, won in straight sets.
   Men's seeded winners -- No. 2 Roger Federer, No. 5 Kei Nishikori, No. 8 Stan Wawrinka, No. 14 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, No. 19 Roberto Bautista Agut, No. 22 Philipp Kohlschreiber, No. 24 Ernests Gulbis.
   Men's seeded losers -- No. 25 Ivo Karlovic, No. 26 Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.
   Women's seeded winners -- No. 3 Simona Halep, No. 7 Ana Ivanovic, No. 9 Ekaterina Makarova, No. 13 Lucie Safarova, No. 21 Garbine Muguruza, No. 28 Flavia Pennetta.
   Women's seeded losers -- No. 24 Peng Shuai, No. 31 Caroline Garcia.
   Stars and stripes -- Americans went 1-2. In addition to Johnson's victory, 19-year-old wild card Louisa Chirico lost to ninth-seeded Ekaterina Makarova of Russia 6-4, 6-2, and 5-foot-2 (1.57-meter) Lauren Davis fell to Mirjana Lucic-Baroni of Croatia 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.
   Fast fact -- Six-foot-11 (2.11-meter) Ivo Karlovic, 36, of Croatia lost in the first round at Roland Garros for the fifth time in his last six appearances. He fell to Cyprus' Marcos Baghdatis, the 2006 Australian Open runner-up, 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-4.
   Northern California connection -- Two Aptos Challenger champions won: Johnson (2012) and Baghdatis (2014).
   Quote -- Federer, on a spectator who got on Center Court to snap selfies with him: "That should never happen on the Philippe Chatrier Court. I'm not happy about it. Obviously not (for) one second (am I) happy about it."

Players to watch in the French Open

Novak Djokovic, playing at Indian Wells in March, will try
to complete a career Grand Slam. Photo by Paul Bauman
    The French Open began today in Paris and continues through June 7. Seedings are in parentheses. 
MEN
 Novak Djokovic (1)
   Why he'll win -- Djokovic has won 22 straight matches and is in his prime. The Serb turned 28 on Friday.
   Why he won't -- He's 0-6 against Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros.
   NorCal connection -- None.
Roger Federer (2)
   Why he'll win -- Federer has won a record 17 Grand Slam singles titles, including the 2009 French Open, and he has a favorable draw.
   Why he won't -- At almost 34 years old, the Swiss star no longer has the stamina to win seven best-of-five-set matches.
   NorCal connection -- None.
Andy Murray (3)
   Why he'll win -- The two-time Grand Slam champion is 10-0 since marrying longtime girlfriend Kim Sears, including his first two ATP titles on clay (Munich and Madrid). He beat three top-10 players -- No. 6 Milos Raonic, No. 5 Kei Nishikori and No. 4 Nadal in straight sets -- in the last three rounds in Madrid.
   Why he won't -- The 28-year-old Scot has never reached the final at Roland Garros.
   NorCal connection -- Murray won the now-defunct SAP Open in San Jose in 2006 at 18 years old and repeated in 2007. He also won the Aptos Challenger in 2005.
Tomas Berdych (4)
   Why he'll win -- The 29-year-old Czech took Djokovic to 6-3 in the third set of the Monte Carlo final on clay in April.
   Why he won't -- Clay is Berdych's worst surface; his best showing at Roland Garros is the semifinals in 2010.
   NorCal connection -- Berdych made the quarterfinals of the 2009 SAP Open as the fifth seed in his only appearance in San Jose.
Kei Nishikori (5)
   Why he'll win -- The 25-year-old Japanese reached his first Grand Slam final last September in the U.S. Open on hardcourts and won Barcelona on clay in April. His coach, Michael Chang, became the youngest man to win a Grand Slam singles title when he captured the 1989 French Open at 17. Like Nishikori, Chang was undersized.
   Why he won't -- Nishikori hasn't advanced past the fourth round in four appearances at Roland Garros.
   NorCal connection -- Nishikori played in the SAP Open three times, losing in the second round in 2008, 2009 and 2011. Brad Gilbert of San Rafael coached Nishikori in 2011.
  Rafael Nadal (6)
   Why he'll win -- Nadal has won nine French Open titles, including the last five.
   Why he won't -- The 28-year-old Spaniard has struggled -- by his lofty standards -- after having health problems in the last six months of 2014. Also, he has a brutal draw. 
   NorCal connection -- None.
Prediction
   Djokovic will become the eighth man to complete a career Grand Slam and continue his bid for the first calendar-year Grand Slam since Rod Laver accomplished the feat for the second time in 1969.
Serena Williams, shown in last summer's Bank of the West
Classic at Stanford, seeks her 20th Grand Slam singles crown.
Photo by Tri Nguyen/TriNguyenPhotography.com
WOMEN
Serena Williams (1)
   Why she'll win -- Williams' has won 19 Grand Slam singles titles, including two in the French Open  (2002 and 2013), and she has plenty of motivation. Time is short as she tries to move up from third on the Grand Slam career list behind Margaret Court (24) and Steffi Graf (22), and she lost to Spanish upstart Garbine Muguruza 6-2, 6-2 in the second round at Roland Garros last year.
   Why she won't -- Clay reduces Williams' power, she'll be 34 in September, and the right-hander withdrew from her second-round match in the Italian Open two weeks ago with a right elbow injury (although she says it feels much better). 
   NorCal connection -- Williams won her third Bank of the West title at Stanford last year.
Maria Sharapova (2)
   Why she'll win -- The 28-year-old Russian has reached the last three finals at Roland Garros, winning last year and in 2012, and she's coming off her third Italian Open crown.
   Why she won't -- Sharapova has a tough draw, and she's 2-17 lifetime against Williams (0-4 on clay).
   NorCal connection -- Sharapova was the runner-up to Victoria Azarenka in the 2010 Bank of the West Classic.
  Simona Halep (3)
   Why she'll win -- The 23-year-old Romanian reached her first Grand Slam final in last year's French Open, losing 6-4 in the third set to Sharapova, and is ready to take the next step. 
   Why she won't -- Halep will fold under the pressure of defending her ranking points from last year's runner-up finish.
   NorCal connection -- Halep lost to Sabine Lisicki in the first round of the 2011 Bank of the West Classic in her only appearance.
Petra Kvitova (4)
   Why she'll win -- If the 6-foot-2 (1.88-meter) Sharapova can do it (twice), why not the 6-foot (1.82-meter) left-hander and two-time Wimbledon champion? The 25-year-old Czech won Madrid on clay this month, routing Williams 6-2, 6-3 in the semifinals.
   Why she won't -- Kvitova has lost in the third round of the French Open the past two years. 
   NorCal connection -- None. 
Caroline Wozniacki (5) 
   Why she'll win -- The 24-year-old Dane reached her first Grand Slam final in five years at the U.S. Open last September, losing to close friend Williams, and her consistency is well-suited to clay. 
   Why she won't -- Wozniacki has advanced to the quarterfinals at Roland Garros only once, in 2010, in eight appearances. She lost to Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium in the first round last year. 
   NorCal connection -- None. 
Carla Suarez Navarro (8) 
   Why she'll win -- The 26-year-old Spaniard beat top-five players Kvitova and Halep to reach the Italian Open final, in which she extended Sharapova to three sets. 
   Why she won't -- Suarez Navarro is 0-3 in finals this year and has never reached a Grand Slam semifinal. 
   NorCal connection -- She won the doubles title in last year's Bank of the West Classic with Muguruza.
Prediction
   Provided her elbow holds up, Williams will win her third straight Grand Slam singles title and 20th overall.

Stanford's Zhao reaches NCAA semis on wild day

   Suddenly, Stanford's Carol Zhao is favored to win the NCAA women's singles title.
   On a day when top-seeded Robin Anderson of UCLA and defending champion Danielle Collins of Virginia lost, the second-seeded Zhao reached the semifinals with another straight-set victory.
   Unlike in her first three matches, Zhao was tested. The 5-foot-5 (1.65-meter) sophomore from Canada topped unseeded Chanelle Van Nguyen of UCLA 6-4, 7-5 on Saturday in Waco, Texas, after dropping only two games in each of her previous contests.
   Zhao, ranked No. 289 in the world, will meet No. 9-16 seed Josie Kuhlman of Florida. Kuhlman beat unseeded Sinead Lohan of Miami 6-3, 6-4.
   In the top half of the draw, No. 9-16 Stephanie Wagner of Miami ousted Anderson 3-6, 6-4, 6-2, and seventh-seeded Jamie Loeb of North Carolina eliminated No. 9-16 Collins, the defending champ, 6-3, 1-6, 6-4.
   Stanford and Cal each have one team in the doubles semifinals, even though second-seeded Taylor Davidson and Zhao lost to No. 5-8 Brooke Austin and Kourtney Keegan of Florida 6-0, 1-6, 6-4.
   Austin and Keegan will face Cal's Klara Fabikova and Zsofi Susanyi, a No. 5-8 team that dismissed unseeded Ashleigh Antal and Astra Sharma of NCAA champion Vanderbilt 6-2, 6-2.
   In the other semifinal, unseeded Caroline Doyle and Ellen Tsay of Stanford will play No. 1 seeds and defending champions Maya Jansen and Erin Routliffe of Alabama.  Like Zhao, Routliffe is from Ontario, Canada.
   Doyle, a sophomore from San Francisco, and Tsay, a senior from Pleasanton, upset fourth-seeded Beatrice Gumulya and Jessy Rompies of Clemson 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.
   Meanwhile, two men from NCAA champion Virginia reached the singles semifinals. Eighth-seeded Ryan Shane will play No. 9-16 Quentin Monaghan of Notre Dame, and unseeded Thai-Son Kwiatkowski will take on seventh-seeded Noah Rubin of Wake Forest.
   Rubin, last year's Wimbledon junior boys singles champion, and Loeb, a Wimbledon junior girls quarterfinalist in 2013, are products of the Manhattan-based John McEnroe Tennis Academy.
   As in women's singles, the top seeds and defending champions lost in separate men's doubles quarterfinals.
   No. 1 Austin Smith and Ben Wagland of Georgia fell to unseeded Hugo Dojas and Felipe Soares of Texas Tech 6-2, 6-3. Fourth-seeded Mikelis Libietis and Hunter Reese, the 2014 winners from Tennessee, succumbed to No. 5-8 Diego Galeano and Julian Lenz of host Baylor 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-4.
   Three teams in the men's doubles semifinals are from Texas schools, although none of the six players are American.
   Galeano (Paraguay) and Lenz (Germany) will face unseeded Lloyd Glasspool (England) and Soren Hess-Olesen (Denmark) of Texas, and unseeded Dojas and Soares (both Brazil) will meet unseeded Harry Jadun and John Patrick Mullane of Michigan State.
   Oddly enough, Jadun and Mullane are from Michigan.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

French Open TV schedule

(All times in California)
Sunday
   First round (men/women), ESPN2, 2-7 a.m. (live).
   First round (men/women), Tennis Channel, 7 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (live).
   First round (men/women), NBC, 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (live).
   Highlights, Tennis Channel, 4-7 p.m., 7-10 p.m. (repeat), 10 p.m.-1 a.m. Monday (repeat). 
Monday
   First round (men/women), ESPN2, 2-7 a.m. (live).
   First round (men/women), Tennis Channel, 7 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (live).
   First round (men/women), NBC, 9 a.m.-noon (live).
   Highlights, Tennis Channel, 4-7 p.m., 7-10 p.m. (repeat), 10 p.m.-1 a.m. Tuesday (repeat). 
Tuesday
   First round (men/women), ESPN2, 2-7 a.m. (live).
   First round (men/women), Tennis Channel, 7 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (live).
   Highlights, Tennis Channel, 4-7 p.m., 7-10 p.m. (repeat), 10 p.m.-1 a.m. Wednesday (repeat). 
Wednesday
   Second round (men/women), ESPN2, 2-7 a.m. (live).
   Second round (men/women), Tennis Channel, 7 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (live).
   Highlights, Tennis Channel, 4-7 p.m., 7-10 p.m. (repeat), 10 p.m.-1 a.m. Thursday (repeat).
Thursday
   Second round (men/women), ESPN2, 2-7 a.m. (live).
   Second round (men/women), Tennis Channel, 7 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (live).
   Highlights, Tennis Channel, 4-7 p.m., 7-10 p.m. (repeat), 10 p.m.-1 a.m. Friday (repeat).
Friday
   Third round (men/women), ESPN2, 2-7 a.m. (live).
   Third round (men/women), Tennis Channel, 7 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (live).
   Highlights, Tennis Channel, 4-7 p.m., 7-10 p.m. (repeat), 10 p.m.-1 a.m. Saturday (repeat).
Saturday
   Third round (men/women),Tennis Channel, 2-9 a.m. (live).
   Third round (men/women), NBC, 9 a.m.-noon (live).
   Highlights, Tennis Channel, noon-3 p.m., 3-6 p.m. (repeat), 6-9 p.m. (repeat), 9 p.m.-midnight.
Sunday, May 31
   Fourth round (men/women), Tennis Channel, 2-10 a.m. (live).
   Fourth round (men/women), NBC, 9 a.m.-noon (live).
   Highlights, Tennis Channel, noon-3 p.m., 3-6 p.m. (repeat), 6-9 p.m. (repeat), 9 p.m.-midnight. 
Monday, June 1
   Fourth round (men/women), ESPN2, 2-10 a.m. (live).
   Fourth round (men/women), Tennis Channel, 7 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (live).
   Highlights, Tennis Channel, 4-7 p.m., 7-10 p.m. (repeat), 10 p.m.-1 a.m. Tuesday (repeat).
Tuesday, June 2
   Quarterfinals (men/women), Tennis Channel, 5-10 a.m. (live). 
   Quarterfinals (men/women), ESPN2, 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (live).
   Highlights, Tennis Channel, 4-7 p.m., 7-10 p.m. (repeat), 10 p.m.-1 a.m. Wednesday (repeat).
Wednesday, June 3
   Quarterfinals (men/women), ESPN2, 5-10 a.m. (live).
   Highlights, Tennis Channel, 4-7 p.m., 7-10 p.m. (repeat), 10 p.m.-1 a.m. Thursday (repeat).
Thursday, June 4
   Mixed doubles final, Tennis Channel, 3-6 a.m. (live).
   Semifinals (women), ESPN2, 6-11 a.m. (live).
   Semifinals (men/women), NBC, 8-11 a.m. (live). 
   Highlights, Tennis Channel, 4-8:30 p.m., 8:30 p.m.-1 a.m. Friday (repeat).
Friday, June 5
   Semifinals (men), Tennis Channel, 4-8 a.m. (live).
   Semifinals (men), NBC, 8-11 a.m. (live).
   Highlights, Tennis Channel, 2 p.m.-4 a.m. Saturday (repeat). 
Saturday, June 6
   Final (women), NBC, 6-10 a.m. (live).
   Final (women), Tennis Channel, 6-8 p.m. (repeat).
   Doubles final (men), Tennis Channel, 8-9:30 p.m. (delay).     
Sunday, June 7
   Final (men), NBC, 6-11 a.m. (live).
   Final (men), Tennis Channel, time TBA (repeat).
   Doubles final (women), Tennis Channel, time TBA (delay).

Stanford's Zhao gains NCAA quarters; Cal star upset

   The Stanford women had a great day in the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships.
   The Cal women, not so much.
   Stanford's Carol Zhao, seeded second in singles, reached the singles quarterfinals with another dominating victory on Friday in Waco, Texas, and the Cardinal has two of the remaining eight doubles teams.
   Meanwhile, Cal's only remaining representatives are No. 5-8 doubles seeds Klara Fabikova and Zsofi Susanyi. Most notably, No. 4 singles seed Maegan Manasse lost to No. 9-16 seed Josie Kuhlman of Florida 4-6, 6-0, 6-1.
   Zhao, a sophomore from Canada, lost only two games in singles for the third consecutive match. She whipped Susanyi, a senior from Hungary who advanced to the NCAA singles semifinals as a freshman, 6-2, 6-0.
   Zhao will face unseeded Chanelle Van Nguyen, a UCLA senior who reached the quarterfinals for the second consecutive year.
   The other quarterfinal matchups are top-seeded Robin Anderson of UCLA against No. 9-16 Stephanie Wagner of Miami,  No. 7 Jamie Loeb of North Carolina vs. No. 9-16 and defending champion Danielle Collins of Virginia, and Kuhlman against unseeded Sinead Lohan of Miami.
   Collins, who won a set against world No. 2 Simona Halep in the first round of the U.S. Open last August, defeated UCLA's Jennifer Brady, ranked No. 209 in the world, 6-1, 7-5.
   Advancing to the doubles quarterfinals were Stanford's Taylor Davidson and Zhao, the second seeds, and Caroline Doyle and Ellen Tsay. Doyle, a sophomore from San Francisco, and Tsay, a senior from Pleasanton, outlasted No. 5-8 seeds Manasse and Denise Starr 6-4, 1-6, 6-4.
   Three more seeds fell in men's singles: No. 5 Sebastian Stiefelmeyer of Louisville and No. 9-16s Mikelis Libietis of Tennessee and Yannick Hanfmann of USC. The highest remaining seed is No. 7 Noah Rubin, a Wake Forest freshman who won the Wimbledon junior boys singles title last year.
   Columbia's Winston Lin, who upset Stiefelmeyer 7-5, 6-4, will meet Thai-Son Kwiatkowski of Virginia in the quarterfinals. Also, Rubin will face unseeded Jared Hiltzik of Illinois, No. 9-16 Quentin Monaghan of Notre Dame will play unseeded Cameron Norrie of Texas Christian, and No. 8 Ryan Shane of Virginia will take on Felipe Soares of Texas Tech.