Saturday, January 20, 2018

Bryans survive another three-setter in Aussie Open

Bob Bryan, left, and Mike Bryan remain alive in their
quest for a seventh Australian Open men's doubles title.
2016 photo by Paul Bauman
   Bob and Mike Bryan haven't exactly been overwhelming in the Australian Open.
   But the 39-year-old twins (Stanford, 1997-98) remain alive in their quest for a seventh men's doubles title in Melbourne.
   The sixth-seeded Bryans survived their closest call yet in the tournament, beating unseeded Frenchmen Jeremy Chardy and Fabrice Martin 6-7 (2), 7-6 (5), 6-3 today to reach the quarterfinals.
   The Bryans, who have lost the first set in all three of their matches, will face 15th-seeded Marcin Matkowski of Poland and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi of Pakistan.
   The Bryans are trying to end a Grand Slam title drought stretching to the 2014 U.S. Open. They have won a record 16 majors in men's doubles.
   In the third round of women's doubles, eighth-seeded Hsieh Su-Wei of Taiwan and Peng Shuai of China beat 12th-seeded Raquel Atawo of San Jose and Anna-Lena Groenefeld of Germany 6-4, 6-2.
   Hsieh and Peng have won two Grand Slam women's doubles titles: Wimbledon in 2013 and the French Open in 2014. Peng also reached last year's Australian Open final with Andrea Hlavackova of the Czech Republic.
   The 35-year-old Atawo (formerly Kops-Jones) has advanced to three Grand Slam semifinals in women's doubles (all with countrywoman Abigail Spears), including the 2014 Australian Open.
   Atawo won the 2003 NCAA doubles title with Cal teammate and Sacramento native Christina Fusano, who retired from professional tennis in 2011.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Sandgren reaches round of 16 in Australian Open

Tennys Sandgren defeated Maximilian Marterer in four sets
today in the third round of the Australian Open. File photo
by Paul Bauman
   Even though he's only 26, Tennys Sandgren has taken a long, hard road to success.
   A resident of Gallatin, Tenn., in the Nashville area, Sandgren has toiled for years in front of few fans for little prize money on the Challenger circuit in places like Stockton, Calif., Charlottesville, Va., and Champaign, Ill.
   In addition, Sandgren underwent left hip surgery in 2014, missing more than six months and plunging to No. 714 in the world rankings.
   Sandgren's persistence has paid off. He defeated German left-hander Maximilian Marterer 5-7, 6-3, 7-5, 7-6 (5) today to reach the round of 16 in the Australian Open in Melbourne.
   Sandgren had ousted ninth-seeded Stan Wawrinka, the 2014 champion, in straight sets in the second round. Wawrinka was playing in his first official tournament since having knee surgery five months ago.
   The last American man in singles, Sandgren will play fifth-seeded Dominic Thiem of Austria on Sunday PST for a quarterfinal berth.
   "He's a beast," Sandgren said in his on-court interview. "I'm looking forward to it."
   Even if Sandgren loses, he will take home $240,000 and jump from No. 97 in the world to about No. 67.
   As usual, Sandgren played all three stops on the Northern California Challenger circuit last fall, reaching the final in Tiburon and the quarterfinals in Stockton and Fairfield. Marterer played Fairfield, advancing to the semifinals.
   Sandgren, by the way, was not named after tennis. He was given his great grandfather's Swedish name.
   In the second round of men's doubles, Spaniards Pablo Carreno Busta and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez defeated former Stanford All-American Scott Lipsky, 36, of Irvine in the Los Angeles area and David Marrero, 37, of Spain 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-3.
   Lipsky led Stanford to the NCAA team title in 2000 and reached the 2002 NCAA doubles final with David Martin. Two of Lipsky's 16 ATP doubles titles came in San Jose (2008 with Martin and 2011 with Rajeev Ram).
   Also today, 13th-seeded Daniela Vismane of Latvia beat Stanford-bound Niluka Madurawe of Sunnyvale in the San Francisco Bay Area 6-3, 6-4 in the first round of girls singles.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Ex-Cal star McLachlan, German pull off big upset

   Former Cal standout Ben McLachlan and Jan-Lennard Struff, playing in their first tournament together, stunned ninth-seeded Feliciano Lopez and Marc Lopez of Spain 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 today in the second round of the Australian Open in Melbourne.
   The Lopezes, who are not related, won the 2016 French Open and reached the final of last year's U.S. Open.
   McLachlan, a 25-year-old New Zealand native who plays for his mother's native Japan, and Struff, a 27-year-old German, will play the winner of the match between Pablo Carreno Busta and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain and ex-Stanford star Scott Lipsky of Irvine in the Los Angeles region and David Marrero of Spain for a quarterfinal berth.
   Lipsky, 36, and Marrero, 37, ousted eighth-seeded Raven Klaasen of South Africa and Michael Venus of New Zealand in the opening round.
   Two other former Stanford stars, sixth-seeded Bob and Mike Bryan, beat 40-year-old Max Mirnyi of Belarus and Philipp Oswald of Austria 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-4.
   The 39-year-old Bryan twins seek their first Grand Slam title since the 2014 U.S. Open. They have won a record 16 major men's doubles crowns, including six in the Australian Open.
   Spaniards Pablo Andujar and Albert Ramos-Vinolas defeated Los Angeles-area residents Steve Johnson and Sam Querrey, a 30-year-old San Francisco native, 6-4, 6-4. Johnson and Querrey reached the semifinals of the 2015 U.S. Open.
   In the second round of women's doubles, 12th-seeded Raquel Atawo of San Jose and Anna-Lena Groenefeld of Germany overwhelmed Japan's Eri Hozumi and Miyu Kato 6-1,
6-1.
   The 35-year-old Atawo has advanced to three Grand Slam semifinals in women's doubles (all with countrywoman Abigail Spears), including the 2014 Australian Open. She won the 2003 NCAA doubles title with Cal teammate and Sacramento native Christina Fusano, who retired from professional tennis in 2011.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Querrey upset by Hungarian in Australian Open

   San Francisco native Sam Querrey won't have to worry about possibly facing Roger Federer in the fourth round of the Australian Open.
   Adding to the United States' woes in the tournament, the 13th-seeded Querrey lost to 80th-ranked Marton Fucsovics of Hungary 6-4, 7-6 (6), 4-6, 6-2 today in the second round in Melbourne. They met for the first time.
   Querrey, a Wimbledon semifinalist and U.S. Open quarterfinalist last year, has never advanced past the third round of the Australian Open in 12 career appearances.
   Fucsovics reached the final of last week's $75,000 Canberra (Australia) Challenger and won the 2010 Wimbledon boys singles title.
   Only two American men, Tennys Sandgren and Ryan Harrison, remain after two rounds. Sandgren took out ninth-seeded Stan Wawrinka, the 2014 champion, 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 in a late match. Wawrinka was playing in his first official tournament since undergoing knee surgery five months ago.
   Only three American women are left: 17th-seeded Madison Keys, Lauren Davis and lucky loser Bernarda Pera. In the previous major, the United States swept the women's semifinal berths in the U.S. Open.
   In the first round of men's doubles in Melbourne, 36-year-old former Stanford star Scott Lipsky of Irvine in the Los Angeles area and David Marrero of Spain ousted eighth-seeded Raven Klaasen of South Africa and Michael Venus of New Zealand 7-6 (14), 7-6 (4).

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

McDonald falls to Dimitrov in Aussie Open thriller

   Three months ago, Mackenzie McDonald won his first Challenger singles title in front of a few hundred fans at Solano Community College in the Northern California town of Fairfield.
   The 22-year-old product of Piedmont, a 45-minute drive south of Solano, played on a slightly bigger stage early today (PST).
   McDonald, a qualifier, fell to third seed and 2017 semifinalist Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 0-6, 8-6 in the featured night match at 14,820-seat Rod Laver Arena in the Australian Open. The second-round battle in Melbourne lasted 3 hours, 25 minutes.
   "I have to give him credit," Dimitrov, who won the ATP Finals last November, told reporters. "He came out there and started swinging. Played an unbelievable first set. There was honestly not much I could have done. He was serving well, close to the lines, swinging freely, coming to the net, trying to play a different game. In a way, he knew that was the only way he could actually give me trouble."
   The 5-foot-10 (1.78-meter), 145-pound (66-kilogram) McDonald, ranked No. 186, was playing in only his second Grand Slam tournament. He lost to Jan Satral of the Czech Republic in five sets in the first round of the 2016 U.S. Open after receiving an automatic wild card for winning the NCAA singles title (he also won the doubles crown) as a UCLA junior and turning pro.
   In a late women's second-round match, former Stanford star Nicole Gibbs of Santa Monica lost to 30th-seeded Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands 7-6 (3), 6-0.
   Meanwhile, Los Angeles-area residents Steve Johnson and Sam Querrey, doubles semifinalists in the 2015 U.S. Open, ousted 14th-seeded Ivan Dodig of Croatia and Fernando Verdasco of Spain 6-4, 6-3 in the first round. Querrey, 30, was born in San Francisco.
   In other doubles matches:
   --Sixth seeds and ex-Stanford stars Bob and Mike Bryan topped Marton Fucsovics of Hungary and Yoshihito Nishioka 5-7, 7-5, 6-1. The 39-year-old Bryan twins won the last of their record 16 majors in men's doubles, including six in the Australian Open, in the 2014 U.S. Open.
   --Former Cal standout Ben McLachlan, a New Zealand native who plays for his mother's native Japan, and Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany defeated Australian wild cards Thanasi Kokkinakis and Jordan Thompson 6-4, 6-3.
   --No. 12 seeds Raquel Atawo of San Jose and Anna-Lena Groenefeld of Germany eliminated Aussie wild cards Astra Sharma and Belinda Woolcock 7-6 (2), 6-3.
   --Second-seeded Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina of Russia beat Eugenie Bouchard of Canada and Sloane Stephens, who grew up in Fresno, 6-4, 6-4.
   --Ekaterina Alexandrova of Russia and Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia dismissed 18-year-olds CiCi Bellis, a San Francisco Bay Area product, and Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-2.

Monday, January 15, 2018

S.F. native Querrey dominates Lopez in Aussie Open

Sam Querrey, a 30-year-old San Francisco native, beat
Feliciano Lopez 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 today in the first round
of the Australian Open. File photo by Paul Bauman
   Sam Querrey, coming off the best year of his career, got off to a strong start in the Australian Open today.
   The 30-year-old San Francisco native, ranked and seeded 13th, dismissed Spanish left-hander Feliciano Lopez 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in Melbourne. Lopez, ranked No. 38 at age 36, had been 6-3 against Querrey.
   Querrey, 6-foot-6 (1.98 meters), blasted 28 aces against four double faults. He won 84 percent of the points on his first serve (39 of 46) and 65 percent on his second delivery (21 of 32).
   A semifinalist at Wimbledon and quarterfinalist at the U.S. Open last year, Querrey is scheduled to play 80th-ranked Marton Fucsovics of Hungary on Wednesday (PST). Fucsovics, the 2010 Wimbledon boys champion, defeated Radu Albot of Moldova 6-2, 6-3, 4-6, 7-5.
   Querrey, who now lives in Santa Monica in the Los Angeles area, has a good chance to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open for the first time in his 12th attempt. If he does, he could meet second seed and defending champion Roger Federer.
   No. 22 seed Milos Raonic loomed in the third round, but the 2016 Wimbledon runner-up lost to Lukas Lacko of Slovakia 6-7 (7), 7-5, 6-4, 7-6 (7). Raonic, who was hampered by injuries last year, fell to 0-2 in 2018.
   On the women's side, 20th-seeded Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic beat wild card and former Stanford star Kristie Ahn 6-1, 7-5.
   It was the second Grand Slam main-draw match for Ahn, who has a long history of injuries, and first in almost 10 years. She qualified for the 2008 U.S. Open at 16 and lost to Dinara Safina of Russia in the first round. Safina was ranked seventh at the time and climbed to No. 1 the following year.
   Strycova reached the fourth round at Melbourne last year, losing to eventual champion Serena Williams 7-5, 6-4.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Stephens, Bellis lose in Australian Open

   Sloane Stephens remained winless since her stunning U.S. Open title on a terrible day for Americans in the Australian Open.
   The 13th-seeded Stephens, who grew up in Fresno, lost to Zhang Shuai of China 6-2, 6-7 (2), 6-2 today in the first round in Melbourne.
   Stephens, who served for the match, fell to 0-8 since beating friend and countrywoman Madison Keys for her first Grand Slam title.
   Other U.S. seeds who lost today were No. 5 and 2017 runner-up Venus Williams, No. 10 CoCo Vandeweghe, No. 8 Jack Sock and No. 16 John Isner.
   No. 30 Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands avenged a second-round loss to CiCi Bellis in last year's French Open, eliminating the 18-year-old San Francisco Bay Area product 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-2.
   Bellis, last year's WTA Newcomer of the Year, made her Australian Open debut after missing last year's tournament with a leg injury.
   Bertens will play former Stanford star Nicole Gibbs, who thrashed lucky loser Viktoriya Tomova of Bulgaria 6-1, 6-1 in 48 minutes. Gibbs was the only winner of 10 American women in action.
   In a late men's match, Bay Area product Mackenzie McDonald beat fellow qualifier Elias Ymer of Sweden 6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 6-1 for his first Grand Slam main-draw victory.
   Next for McDonald, 22, is third-seeded Grigor Dimitrov. Gulp.