Friday, November 17, 2017

Bryans eliminated from ATP Finals

   The end of Bryan brothers' Hall of Fame career is approaching.
   It could come next year for the 39-year-old former Stanford stars. But not now with Mike Bryan and Canada's Daniel Nestor tied for the most doubles match victories with 1,056.
   Fifth-seeded Bob and Mike Bryan ended another disappointing season with a 6-4, 6-4 loss to alternates Oliver Marach of Austria and Mate Pavic of Croatia today in the ATP Finals in London. Marach and Pavic replaced Ivan Dodig of Croatia and Marcel Granollers of Spain because of an undisclosed injury.
   The Bryans, who grew up in Camarillo in the Los Angeles area and now live in the tax haven of Florida, finished 1-2 in round-robin play. They have won the title four times, most recently in 2014.
   In Saturday's semifinals, top-seeded Lukasz Kubot of Poland and Marcelo Melo of Brazil will face eighth-seeded Ryan Harrison of Austin, Texas, and Michael Venus of New Zealand, and second-seeded Henri Kontinen of Finland and John Peers of Australia will meet fourth-seeded Jamie Murray of Great Britain and Bruno Soares of Brazil.
   Each semifinal team except Murray and Soares won a Grand Slam title this year. Kontinen and Peers, the defending champions in the ATP Finals, triumphed in the Australian Open. Harrison and Venus took the French Open crown, and Kubot and Melo prevailed at Wimbledon.
   Third-seeded Jean-Julien Rojer of the Netherlands and Horia Tecau of Romania went 0-3 in the ATP Finals. They won the U.S. Open.
   The Bryans, owners of a record 16 Grand Slam men's doubles titles, failed to win one for the third consecutive year. Their number of tour-level titles has declined in each of the last five years from 11 (tying their career high) to 10 to six to three to two. They have 112 overall.
   The Bryans led Stanford to NCAA team championships in both of their years there (1997-98). Bob Bryan won a rare Triple Crown in 1998, also claiming the NCAA singles and doubles titles (with Mike).

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Bryans lose to top seeds in ATP Finals

   Top-seeded Lukasz Kubot of Poland and Marcelo Melo of Brazil beat fifth-seeded Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan 6-4, 6-3 today in a round-robin match at the ATP Finals in London.
   Kubot and the 6-foot-8 (2.03-meter) Melo, this year's Wimbledon champions, improved to 2-0 in the Woodbridge-Woodforde group to clinch a berth in Saturday's semifinals.
   The 39-year-old Bryan twins, four-time champions, fell to 1-1. To advance, the ex-Stanford stars must defeat seventh-seeded Ivan Dodig of Croatia and Marcel Granollers of Spain on Friday, and Kubot and Melo must beat fourth-seeded Jamie Murray of Great Britain and Bruno Soares of Brazil.
   Murray and Soares routed Dodig and Granollers 6-1, 6-1 to improve to 1-1 in the tournament featuring the top eight teams of the year. Dodig and Granollers are 0-2.
   French Open champs Ryan Harrison of Austin, Texas, and Michael Venus of New Zealand lead the Eltingh-Haarhuis group at 2-0. 
   The Bryans won the ATP Finals in 2003 and 2004 in Houston and 2009 and 2014 in London. They have won a record 16 Grand Slam men's doubles titles but none since the 2014 U.S. Open.
   The Bryans grew up in Camarillo in the Los Angeles area and now live in Florida.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Bryans eke out win in ATP Finals opener

   Fifth-seeded Bob and Mike Bryan edged fourth-seeded Jamie Murray of Great Britain and Bruno Soares of Brazil 7-5, 6-7 (3) [10-8] today in a round-robin opener at the ATP Finals in London.
   The 39-year-old Bryan twins, who seek their fifth title in the tournament, saved three set points in the first set. They will play top-seeded Lukasz Kubot of Poland and Marcelo Melo of Brazil on Wednesday.
   Kubot and Melo, this year's Wimbledon champions, beat seventh-seeded Ivan Dodig of Croatia and Marcel Granollers of Spain 7-6 (2), 6-4.
   The Bryans, ex-Stanford stars, won the ATP Finals in 2003 and 2004 in Houston and 2009 and 2014 in London. The owners of a record 16 Grand Slam men's doubles titles, they failed to win one for the third consecutive year in 2017.
    The doubles field in the ATP Finals consists of the top eight teams of the year. Each team plays three round-robin matches, and the top four pairs advance to Saturday's semifinals. 
    The Bryans led Stanford to NCAA team championships in both of their years there (1997-98). Bob Bryan won a rare Triple Crown in 1998, also claiming the NCAA singles and doubles titles (with Mike).

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Stephens falls again, but U.S. ends title drought

CoCo Vandeweghe exhorts the crowd during the
Bank of the West Classic final at Stanford in Aug-
ust. Photo by Mal Taam
   Despite another loss by U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens, the United States won its first Fed Cup title in 17 years today.
   With the U.S. and host Belarus tied 2-2 after singles, Shelby Rogers and CoCo Vandeweghe defeated Aryna Sabalenka and Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-3, 7-6 (3) in the deciding match in Minsk.
   It was the Americans' 18th Fed Cup title, more than any other country. Next is the Czech Republic with 10.
   Vandeweghe, who cracked the top 10 in the world for the first time in the year-end rankings at No. 10, gave the United States a 2-1 lead in the two-day competition with a 7-6 (5) 6-1 victory over Sabalenka, ranked No. 78 at 19 years old. Vandeweghe, a two-time runner-up in the Bank of the West Classic final at Stanford (2012 and this year), trailed 1-4 in the tiebreaker.
   Sasnovich, ranked 87th, then edged the 13th-ranked Stephens 4-6, 6-1, 8-6 to set up the deciding doubles match. Stephens, who grew up in Fresno, is 0-6 since defeating countrywoman Madison Keys in September for her first Grand Slam title.
   "I'm just really thrilled for all four players (including Alison Riske, who did not play)," Kathy Rinaldi, who completed her first year as the U.S. Fed Cup captain, told reporters. "CoCo came out and just played unbelievable, Shelby stepped up, and Sloane -- my heart was broken for her, but she battled the whole weekend. She battled all the way to the end. I'm so proud of all four of them."
   Vandeweghe, 25, became the first player to win eight Fed Cup matches in a year since the current format began in 2005 and the first to win the maximum six singles matches since Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic in 2011.
   "It was a lot of work and a lot of dedication to the Fed Cup in each and every round," Vandeweghe said. "I dedicated my time and energy through my season to be able to perform the best I could for Team USA."
   Both teams were missing star players this weekend. For the United States, Serena Williams is on maternity leave, 37-year-old Venus Williams skipped the Fed Cup this year, Keys cited a wrist injury, and doubles specialist Bethanie Mattek-Sands is recovering from knee surgery. Belarus' Victoria Azarenka has child custody issues that also caused her to miss the U.S. Open.

Ex-Stanford star Zhao wins $100K Shenzhen

   One week after Kristie Ahn won the biggest title of her career, her former Stanford teammate Carol Zhao did the same.
   The unseeded Zhao, a 22-year-old Canadian, beat fourth-seeded Fangzhao Liu of China 7-5, 6-2 on an outdoor hard court today for the $100,000 Shenzhen (China) title.
   "It's been a long way here since January and I owe this to a small group of people whose belief in me never wavered even when mine did," Zhao tweeted. "There are still many, many more miles to go but I'm so so grateful for you, and for this."
   Zhao soared from No. 221 in the world to a career-high No. 150 with the title. Her only previous singles crown came in a $25,000 tournament in Nanao, Japan, in early September.
   Zhao, 5-foot-5 (1.65 meters), reached the NCAA singles final as a sophomore in 2015, losing to Jamie Loeb of North Carolina. Zhao turned pro in June 2016 after helping Stanford claim its 18th NCAA women's team title. Florida is next with seven.
   Ahn, a 25-year-old American, won last week's $80,000 RBC Pro Challenger in Tyler, Texas. 

Jackson, Yeah win Fall Sectional singles titles

   Ryder Jackson and Ashley Yeah won the boys and girls 18 titles, respectively, in the NorCal Junior Fall Singles Sectional Championships last weekend at the Broadstone Racquet Club in the Sacramento suburb of Folsom.
   The second-seeded Jackson of Nicasio beat unseeded Aryan Chaudhary of Santa Clara 6-3, 6-4. The top-seeded Yeah of Los Gatos outplayed second-seeded Rachel Eason of Union City 6-4, 6-2.
   Here are the results of other finals in the singles-only Sectionals:
16s
At Broadstone Racquet Club in Folsom
Boys
   Kush Patel (2), Cupertino, def. Sidharth Jangbahadur (1), Palo Alto, 6-2, 6-2.
Girls
   Allura Zamarippa (5), Saint Helena, def. Alexis Johnson (9), Fair Oaks, 6-1, 6-4.
14s
At Fremont Tennis Center
Boys
   Alex Koong (2), Los Altos, def. Lucca Liu (5), Palo Alto, 6-3, 6-4.
Girls
   Tomi Main (1), Seaside, def. Arushi Malik (5), Cupertino, 6-1, 6-1.
12s
At UC Santa Cruz
Boys
   Mitchell Lee (2), Oakland, def. Siddharth Moturi (1), Monterey, 8-6.
Girls
   Natasha Rajaram (2), Cupertino, def. Michela Moore (9), Monte Sereno, 8-2.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Stephens upset; U.S. tied 1-1 in Fed Cup final

   The United States recorded one victory on the opening day of the Fed Cup final.
   But it didn't come from U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens.
   CoCo Vandeweghe, who cracked the top 10 for the first time in the year-end rankings at No. 10, defeated 87th-ranked Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-4, 6-4 in today's first match in Minsk, Belarus.
   But the 13th-ranked Stephens, who grew up in Fresno, lost to 19-year-old Aryna Sabalenka, ranked 78th, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4. Stephens, 24, is 0-5 since beating countrywoman Madison Keys for her first Grand Slam title.
   The best-of-five series will continue on Sunday with the reverse singles matches followed by doubles. The United States has won 17 Fed Cup titles, more than any other team, but none since 2000. The U.S. is playing in its first Fed Cup final since 2010 and Belarus its first ever.
   Vandeweghe, 25, reached her second Bank of the West Classic final at Stanford in August, losing to close friend and countrywoman Madison Keys.
   As always in the Fed Cup and Davis Cup, the series between the United States and Belarus is as noteworthy for who's missing as for who's playing. Absent are Serena Williams (maternity leave), 37-year-old Venus Williams (skipping Fed Cup this year), Keys (wrist) and Bethanie Mattek-Sands (knee surgery) for the United States and Victoria Azarenka (child custody issues) for Belarus.
   Serena Williams, Venus Williams and Azarenka are former world No. 1s in singles with multiple Grand Slam titles. The same goes for Mattek-Sands in doubles.