Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Querrey stuns Djokovic; new TV schedule, etc.

Sam Querrey, shown at Indian Wells in March, rallied to
beat second-ranked Novak Djokovic in Paris after losing
the first eight games. Photo by Paul Bauman
   All Sam Querrey wanted was to win two games.
   He did a bit better than that, pulling off the biggest victory of his career.
   Querrey, a 25-year-old San Francisco native and part-time member of the Sacramento Capitals in World TeamTennis this season, lost the first eight games to second-ranked Novak Djokovic but recovered to win 0-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4 Wednesday in the second round of the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris.
   It was Querrey's first victory over a top-10 player in 12 months. He defeated Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, then ranked eighth, in the second round at Valencia.
   Querrey, who fell to No. 125 in September last year after undergoing surgery for bone spurs in his right elbow, has fought back to No. 23. He's threatening to surpass his career high of No. 17 in January last year.
   Three years ago, Querrey suffered a season-ending right forearm injury when he sat on a glass table at a tournament in Bangkok to tie his shoes and the table shattered. A deep cut narrowly missed damaging nerves, which could have ended his career.
   Djokovic, the 2009 Paris champion, blitzed Querrey in 20 minutes in the opening set and bolted to a 2-0 lead in the second set.
   “It was a little embarrassing," Querrey told atpworldtour.com. "I walked over to where Casey, my physio/chiropractor sits with my girlfriend and Casey's wife, and I said, ‘I hope I can get two games in this set.’ 
   “Once I got the two games, I kind of settled down. I was like, ‘OK, that's all I want.’ But then I got rolling and got more confidence and started serving better and being a little more aggressive.”
   Querrey pounded 18 aces in the match and saved six of 10 break points.
   "Sam played very well, served very well," said Djokovic, who entered Court Central wearing a Darth Vader mask on Halloween.
    Querrey, 6-foot-6, will face 14th-seeded Milos Raonic, a 6-foot-5 Canadian, on Thursday at about 5:30 p.m. Paris time (9:30 a.m. in California) on Tennis Channel. The 21-year-old Raonic, who will seek his third straight SAP Open title in San Jose in February, defeated Jeremy Chardy of France 6-7 (4), 7-6 (4), 6-3.
   Querrey beat Raonic 6-7 (3), 7-6 (7), 7-6 (8), 6-4 in the second round at Wimbledon this year in their only career meeting.
TV SCHEDULE
(All times PDT)
   Thursday -- Paris (men), early rounds, Tennis Channel, 2:30 a.m.-3 p.m. (live), 3 p.m.-3 a.m. Friday (repeat).
   Friday -- Paris (men), quarterfinals, Tennis Channel, 6-10 a.m. (live), 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. (live), 4 p.m.-midnight (repeat).
   Saturday -- Paris (men), semifinals, Tennis Channel, 6:30-11:30 a.m. (live), 3:30-8:30 p.m. (repeat). Fed Cup final, Serbia at Czech Republic, opening singles matches, Tennis Channel, 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. (delay). Sofia Tournament of Champions (women), semifinals, Tennis Channel, 8:30-11:30 p.m. (delay).
   Sunday -- Paris (men), final, Tennis Channel, 6-8:30 a.m. (live), 2:30-5 p.m. (repeat), 6-8:30 p.m. (repeat). Fed Cup final, Serbia at Czech Republic, reverse singles matches and one doubles match, Tennis Channel, 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. (delay). Sofia Tournament of Champions (women), final, 8:30-10:30 p.m. (delay). 
CALENDAR
   Saturday-Sunday -- Fed Cup Final, Serbia at Czech Republic, www.fedcup.com. 2011 champion: Czech Republic.
   Nov. 5-12 -- ATP World Tour Finals (top eight singles players and top eight doubles teams of 2012), London, www.atpworldtour.com/Finals/2012.aspx. 2011 champions: Roger Federer, Max Mirnyi-Daniel Nestor.
   Nov. 11 -- Sacramento Clay Court League final,  noon, 8582 Westin Lane, Orangevale, Calif., 95662, www.sacramentoclaycourtleague.com.
   Nov. 16 -- BILT Champions Showdown (Andre Agassi, Jim Courier, Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe), 7:30 p.m., HP Pavilion, San Jose, Calif., www.PowerSharesSeries.com.
   Nov. 16-18 -- Davis Cup Final, Spain at Czech Republic, www.daviscup.com. 2011 champion: Spain.
   Jan. 14-27, 2013 -- AUSTRALIAN OPEN, www.australianopen.org. 2012 champions: Novak Djokovic, Victoria Azarenka, Leander Paes-Radek Stepanek, Svetlana Kuznetsova-Vera Zvonareva.
   Jan. 15 -- Sacramento State men at Stanford in spring season opener for both teams, 1:30 p.m, www.hornetsports.com, www.gostanford.com.
   Jan. 18 -- Stanford women open spring season at Freeman Invitational in Las Vegas and at NCTC Classic in Indian Wells, Calif., times TBA, www.gostanford.com. UC Davis women open spring season vs. Northern Arizona in Tempe, Ariz., 1 p.m., www.ucdavisaggies.com.
   Jan. 19 -- UC Davis men at Santa Clara in spring season opener for both teams, 10 a.m., www.ucdavisaggies.com, www.santaclarabroncos.com.
   Feb. 1 -- Sacramento State women open spring season at Arizona, 12:30 p.m., www.hornetsports.com.
   Feb. 1-3, 2013 -- Davis Cup, first round, Brazil at United States, www.daviscup.com.
   Feb. 9-10, 2013 -- Fed Cup, first round, United States at Italy, www.fedcup.com.
   Feb. 11-17, 2013 -- SAP Open, HP Pavilion in San Jose, www.sapopentennis.com. 2012 champions: Milos Raonic, Mark Knowles-Xavier Malisse.
   March 4-17, 2013 -- BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells, Calif., www.bnpparibasopen.com. 2012 champions: Roger Federer, Victoria Azarenka, Marc Lopez-Rafael Nadal, Liezel Huber-Lisa Raymond.
   April 26-28 -- Big Sky Conference men's and women's tournament, Gold River Racquet Club, Gold River, Calif., www.bigskyconf.com.
PRO RANKINGS
   Following are this week's world rankings of professional players with Northern California ties (change from last week in parentheses):
Men
   Kevin Anderson, Sacramento Capitals (2012) of World TeamTennis -- No. 39 in singles (no change), career-high No. 75 in doubles (+6).
   Nick Andrews, Cal All-American in 2012, resident of Folsom in the Sacramento area -- Career-high No. 1,067 in doubles (+2), No. 1,445 in singles (-4).  
   Bob Bryan, 1998 NCAA doubles champion from Stanford -- Career-high No. 1 in doubles (no change), unranked in singles.
   Mike Bryan, 1998 NCAA doubles champion from Stanford -- Career-high No. 1 in doubles (no change), unranked in singles.
   Mardy Fish, Capitals (2012) -- No. 26 in singles (no change), No. 723 in doubles (+1).
   John Paul Fruttero, Cal All-American in 2001 and 2002 -- No. 108 in doubles (+1), unranked in singles.
   Artem Ilyushin, resident of Granite Bay in the Sacramento area -- No. 910 in singles (-1), No. 1,209 in doubles (-6).
   Bradley Klahn, 2010 NCAA singles champion and 2011 NCAA doubles runner-up from Stanford -- Career-high No. 291 in singles (+1), No. 773 in doubles (-5). 
   Mark Knowles, Capitals (2001-07, 2009-12), three-time World TeamTennis Male MVP (2001, 2005 and 2007) -- No. 129 in doubles (-1), unranked in singles.
   Alex Kuznetsov, Capitals (2012) -- No. 217 in singles (+12), No. 342 in doubles (+12).
   Scott Lipsky, 2002 NCAA doubles runner-up from Stanford -- No. 27 in doubles (+2), unranked in singles.
   Sam Querrey, San Francisco native, Capitals (2012) -- No. 23 in singles (no change), No. 47 in doubles (no change).
   Ryan Sweeting, Capitals (2012) -- No. 148 in singles (-2), unranked in doubles.
   Ryan Thacher, 2011 NCAA doubles runner-up from Stanford -- No. 781 in doubles (-4), 1,211 in singles (-7).
   Dmitry Tursunov, Folsom resident -- No. 124 in singles (-5), No. 231 in doubles (-3).
   Pedro Zerbini, All-Pacific-10 Conference first team at Cal (2009-11) -- No. 609 in singles (-1), No. 650 in doubles (-6).
Women
   Mallory Burdette, NCAA singles runner-up in 2012 and NCAA doubles champion in 2011 and 2012 from Stanford -- Career-high No. 139 in singles (+5), No. 509 in doubles (+146). 
   Vania King, Capitals (2010-12) -- No. 22 in doubles (no change), No. 70 in singles (-1).
   Raquel Kops-Jones, 2003 NCAA doubles champion from Cal -- Career-high No. 13 in doubles (no change), No. 1,114 in singles (+6).
   Asia Muhammad, Capitals (2012) -- No. 167 in doubles (+1), No. 470 in singles (no change).
   Maria Sanchez, Modesto resident -- No. 109 in doubles (-1), No. 149 in singles (+2).
   Yasmin Schnack, resident of Elk Grove in the Sacramento area, Capitals (2011-12) -- No. 149 in doubles (-1), No. 518 in singles (-3).
   Romana Tedjakusuma, Tracy resident -- No. 525 in singles (-7), No. 1,119 in doubles (+3).
   CoCo Vandeweghe, Capitals (2009, 2012) -- No. 93 in singles (-2), No. 488 in doubles (-2).

Saturday, October 27, 2012

New TV schedule, calendar, pro rankings

TV SCHEDULE
(All times PDT)
   Today -- WTA Championships, Istanbul, doubles semifinal, Tennis Channel, 3-4:30 a.m. (live); singles semifinals 5-9 a.m. (live); doubles semifinal, 9-10:30 a.m. (live); 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., singles semifinals (repeat). Basel (men), semifinals, Tennis Channel, 2:30-7:30 p.m. (delay). Valencia (men), semifinals, Tennis Channel, 7:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. Sunday (delay).
   Sunday -- WTA Championships, Istanbul, doubles final, Tennis Channel, 5:30-7 a.m. (live), 2:30-4 p.m. (repeat); singles final, ESPN2, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. (live), Tennis Channel, 5-9 p.m. (repeat). Basel (men), final, Tennis Channel, 7-9:30 a.m. (delay), noon-2:30 p.m. (repeat). Valencia (men), final, Tennis Channel, 9:30 a.m.-noon (delay). 
CALENDAR
   Through Sunday -- WTA Championships (top eight singles players and top four doubles teams of 2012), Istanbul, www.wtatennis.com/page/Tournaments/Info/0,,12781~742,00.html. 2011 champions: Petra Kvitova, Liezel Huber-Lisa Raymond.
   Nov. 3-4 -- Fed Cup Final, Serbia at Czech Republic, www.fedcup.com. 2011 champion: Czech Republic.
   Nov. 5-12 -- ATP World Tour Finals (top eight singles players and top eight doubles teams of 2012), London, www.atpworldtour.com/Finals/2012.aspx. 2011 champions: Roger Federer, Max Mirnyi-Daniel Nestor.
   Nov. 11 -- Sacramento Clay Court League final,  noon, 8582 Westin Lane, Orangevale, Calif., 95662, www.sacramentoclaycourtleague.com.
   Nov. 16 -- BILT Champions Showdown (Andre Agassi, Jim Courier, Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe), 7:30 p.m., HP Pavilion, San Jose, Calif., www.PowerSharesSeries.com.
   Nov. 16-18 -- Davis Cup Final, Spain at Czech Republic, www.daviscup.com. 2011 champion: Spain.
   Jan. 14-27, 2013 -- AUSTRALIAN OPEN, www.australianopen.org. 2012 champions: Novak Djokovic, Victoria Azarenka, Leander Paes-Radek Stepanek, Svetlana Kuznetsova-Vera Zvonareva.
   Jan. 15 -- Sacramento State men at Stanford in spring season opener for both teams, 1:30 p.m.
   Jan. 18 -- Stanford women open spring season at Freeman Invitational in Las Vegas and at NCTC Classic in Indian Wells, Calif., times TBA. UC Davis women open spring season vs. Northern Arizona in Tempe, Ariz., 1 p.m.
   Jan. 19 -- UC Davis men at Santa Clara in spring season opener for both teams, 10 a.m.
   Feb. 1 -- Sacramento State women open spring season at Arizona, 12:30 p.m.
   Feb. 1-3, 2013 -- Davis Cup, first round, Brazil at United States, www.daviscup.com.
   Feb. 9-10, 2013 -- Fed Cup, first round, United States at Italy, www.fedcup.com.
   Feb. 11-17, 2013 -- SAP Open, HP Pavilion in San Jose, www.sapopentennis.com. 2012 champions: Milos Raonic, Mark Knowles-Xavier Malisse.
   March 4-17, 2013 -- BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells, Calif., www.bnpparibasopen.com. 2012 champions: Roger Federer, Victoria Azarenka, Marc Lopez-Rafael Nadal, Liezel Huber-Lisa Raymond.
   April 26-28 -- Big Sky Conference men's and women's tournament, Gold River Racquet Club, Gold River, Calif.
PRO RANKINGS
   Following are this week's world rankings of professional players with Northern California ties (change from last week in parentheses):
Men
   Kevin Anderson, Sacramento Capitals (2012) of World TeamTennis -- No. 39 in singles (-1), career-high No. 81 in doubles (+5).
   Nick Andrews, Cal All-American in 2012, Folsom resident -- No. 1,441 in singles (+5), No. 1,069 in doubles (+1).  
   Bob Bryan, 1998 NCAA doubles champion from Stanford -- Career-high No. 1 in doubles (no change), unranked in singles.
   Mike Bryan, 1998 NCAA doubles champion from Stanford -- Career-high No. 1 in doubles (no change), unranked in singles.
   Mardy Fish, Capitals (2012) -- No. 26 in singles (no change), No. 724 in doubles (no change).
   John Paul Fruttero, Cal All-American in 2001 and 2002 -- No. 109 in doubles (no change), unranked in singles.
   Bradley Klahn, 2010 NCAA singles champion and 2011 NCAA doubles runner-up from Stanford -- Career-high No. 292 in singles (+1), No. 768 in doubles (+2). 
   Mark Knowles, Capitals (2001-07, 2009-12), three-time World TeamTennis Male MVP (2001, 2005 and 2007) -- No. 128 in doubles (no change), unranked in singles.
   Scott Lipsky, 2002 NCAA doubles runner-up from Stanford -- No. 29 in doubles (no change), unranked in singles.
   Sam Querrey, San Francisco native, Capitals (2012) -- No. 23 in singles (-1), No. 47 in doubles (-1).
   Ryan Thacher, 2011 NCAA doubles runner-up from Stanford -- Career-high No. 1,204 in singles (+6), No. 777 in doubles (no change).
   Dmitry Tursunov, Folsom resident -- No. 119 in singles (-14), No. 228 in doubles (-1).
   Pedro Zerbini, All-Pacific-10 Conference first team at Cal (2009-11) -- Career-high No. 608 in singles (no change), No. 644 in doubles (-1).
Women
   Mallory Burdette, NCAA singles runner-up in 2012 and NCAA doubles champion in 2011 and 2012 from Stanford -- No. 145 in singles (-1), No. 655 in doubles (-2). 
   Vania King, Capitals (2010-12) -- No. 22 in doubles (-4), No. 69 in singles (+3).
   Raquel Kops-Jones, 2003 NCAA doubles champion from Cal -- Career-high No. 13 in doubles (+2), No. 1,120 in singles (+3).
   Asia Muhammad, Capitals (2012) -- No. 168 in doubles (no change), No. 470 in singles (+3).
   Maria Sanchez, Modesto resident -- Career-high No. 108 in doubles (no change), No. 151 in singles (no change).
   Yasmin Schnack, Elk Grove resident, Capitals (2011-12) -- No. 148 in doubles (+1), No. 515 in singles (no change).
   Romana Tedjakusuma, Tracy resident -- No. 518 in singles (no change), No. 1,122 in doubles (+2).
   CoCo Vandeweghe, Capitals (2009, 2012) -- No. 91 in singles (+2), No. 486 in doubles (-2).

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Blake shows class while winning Sacramento title

   Notes from the recent $100,000 Challengers in Sacramento and Tiburon:
   Class act -- James Blake won more than the singles trophy in Sacramento. The former world No. 4 also won many friends with his sportsmanship and politeness.
   Most notably, the seeded-second Blake conceded a point in his 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 victory over qualifier Taro Daniel of Japan in the first round. With Daniel serving at 15-30 in the first game of the second set, Blake appeared to win the point when Daniel hit a lob long. But Blake notified the chair umpire that he had nicked the ball with his racket. Otherwise, no one would have known.
   Throughout the week, Blake said "Too good" when opponents hit passing shots and thanked ballboys and ballgirls for giving him balls.
   On the rare occasions when Blake made a bad error, he didn't yell, belt a ball into the next county or smash his racket to smithereens. He simply admonished himself by muttering "James" in a disappointed tone like a father to his son for neglecting to take out the trash.
   The oldest player in the singles draw, Blake will turn 33 on Dec. 28. He hopes to play for another year or more. Whenever he retires, it will be a sad day. 
   International intrigue -- Daniel, the youngest player in the singles draw at 19, has an unusual background. He was born in New York, grew up in Japan, lives in Spain and visits Santa Cruz in Northern California every year.
   Daniel's father, a financial manager for TRW Automotive in Spain, is from Santa Cruz, and his mother is Japanese.
   Consummate pro -- Rik de Voest, who won the singles title of the inaugural (2005) Sacramento Challenger and the doubles crown in Tiburon last week (with Chris Guccione), is a throwback. He wins with guile rather than power, volleys deftly and, like Blake, conducts himself professionally.
   Only 5-foot-11 (180 centimeters) and 150 pounds (68 kilograms), de Voest compensates for his lack of power with mental toughness, craftiness and consistency. The 32-year-old South African keeps the ball in play until 1) his opponent makes an error or 2) he can pound the ball into a corner and come to the net for a putaway volley. He is ranked No. 185 in singles (career-high No. 110 in 2006) and No. 131 in doubles (career-high No. 36 in 2009).
   De Voest had no business beating Rhyne Williams in the first round in Sacramento yet prevailed 5-7, 7-6 (3), 6-4 in 3 hours, 13 minutes. Williams served for the match at 5-4 in the second set and led 4-1 (one service break) in the third set.
   Williams, 21, is a prototypical young American. He has size -- 6-foot-1 (185 centimeters) and 177 pounds (80 kilograms) -- a big serve and forehand, and a volatile temper. While de Voest kept his cool in the match, Williams went ballistic.
   After de Voest hit a topspin lob to break for 5-4 in the third set, Williams smashed his racket on the court three times and was assessed a point penalty. Earlier, Williams had received a warning for pounding a ball over the fence.
   Fan-demonium -- Players often argue with the chair umpire. But with a spectator? It happened at the Natomas Racquet Club in Sacramento during Tennys Sandgren's 6-4, 6-3 second-round victory over Matt Reid of Australia.
   Sandgren, a 21-year-old American who won the doubles title with ex-University of Tennessee teammate Williams, complained to the chair umpire about not informing him that new balls were being used.
   "Yes, he did," spectator Bob Martinez, the junior tennis coordinator at the Gold River Racquet Club in the Sacramento area, told Sandgren. "Everybody heard him. You're complaining about everything. Just play ball."
   "Who are you?" Sandgren shot back.
   "Just a spectator," Martinez said.
   "That's all you need to say," Sandgren replied.
   After the match, Sandgren approached Martinez, and they cordially discussed the incident.
   "It wasn't just the balls," Martinez said later. "It was everything. He was yelling at the ballkids to move over faster. They were freaking out. It really bothered me because I work with kids. I would have regretted it if I hadn't said anything."
   Yankee Doodle Dandies -- Sacramento and Tiburon fans likely have witnessed the next generation of U.S. Davis Cup players.
   The front-runners to succeed John Isner, 27, and Sam Querrey, 25, in singles appear to be 62nd-ranked Ryan Harrison and No. 165 Jack Sock, both 20. Harrison reached the final of the Tiburon Challenger in 2010, and Sock won it last week. Sock already has won two U.S. Open titles, boys singles in 2010 and mixed doubles (with Melanie Oudin) last year.
   The top-ranked doubles team of Bob and Mike Bryan, 34-year-old identical twins, could play for another five years. Ironically, another pair of brothers, Ryan and Christian Harrison (18), might succeed them. In only their second pro tournament together, they stunned fourth seeds and reigning finalists Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski of Poland en route to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open last month.
   Christian lost in the first round of singles in last year's Sacramento Futures. He did not play doubles in the tournament at the Park Terrace Swim & Tennis Club.
  Also in the doubles mix are Sandgren and Williams, and the Sacramento runners-up, Devin Britton (21) and Austin Krajicek (22). After the All-American doubles final, the Tiburon title match was an all-foreign affair. De Voest and Australia's Guccione, seeded fourth, beat second-seeded Jordan Kerr of Australia and Andreas Siljestrom of Sweden 6-1, 6-4.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

New TV schedule, calendar, pro rankings

TV SCHEDULE
(All Times PDT)
   Today -- Luxembourg (women), early rounds, Tennis Channel, 1-5 p.m. (delay), 10:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. Wednesday (repeat).
   Wednesday -- Luxembourg (women), early rounds, Tennis Channel, 1-5 p.m. (delay), 10 p.m.-midnight (repeat).
   Thursday -- Luxembourg (women), early rounds, Tennis Channel, 1-5 p.m. (delay), 10 p.m.-midnight (repeat).
   Friday -- Moscow (women), quarterfinals, Tennis Channel, 2-6 a.m. (live), 7:30-9:30 a.m. (live), 9:30-11:30 a.m. (repeat). Luxembourg (women), quarterfinals, Tennis Channel, 1-5 p.m. (delay), 10 p.m.-midnight (repeat).
   Saturday -- Moscow (women), semifinals, Tennis Channel, 2-6 a.m. (live), 6 a.m.-noon (repeat). Moscow (men), semifinals, Tennis Channel, 4-8 p.m. (delay). Stockholm (men), semifinals, Tennis Channel, noon-4 p.m. (delay). Luxembourg (women), semifinals, Tennis Channel, 8 p.m.-midnight (delay).
   Sunday -- Moscow (women), final, Tennis Channel, 2-4 a.m. (live), 6-8 a.m. (repeat), 8:30-10:30 p.m. (repeat). Vienna (men), final, Tennis Channel, noon-2 p.m. (delay). Stockholm (men), final, Tennis Channel, 2-4 p.m. (delay). Moscow (men), final, Tennis Channel, 4-6 p.m. (delay), Luxembourg (women), final, Tennis Channel, 6-8 p.m. (delay).
CALENDAR
   Oct. 23-28 -- WTA Championships (top eight singles players and top four doubles teams of 2012), Istanbul, www.wtatennis.com/page/Tournaments/Info/0,,12781~742,00.html. 2011 champions: Petra Kvitova, Liezel Huber-Lisa Raymond.
   Nov. 3-4 -- Fed Cup Final, Serbia at Czech Republic, www.fedcup.com. 2011 champion: Czech Republic.
   Nov. 5-12 -- ATP World Tour Finals (top eight singles players and top eight doubles teams of 2012), London, www.atpworldtour.com/Finals/2012.aspx. 2011 champions: Roger Federer, Max Mirnyi-Daniel Nestor.
   Nov. 16-18 -- Davis Cup Final, Spain at Czech Republic, www.daviscup.com. 2011 champion: Spain.
   Jan. 14-27, 2013 -- AUSTRALIAN OPEN, www.australianopen.org. 2012 champions: Novak Djokovic, Victoria Azarenka, Leander Paes-Radek Stepanek, Svetlana Kuznetsova-Vera Zvonareva.
   Feb. 1-3, 2013 -- Davis Cup, first round, Brazil at United States, www.daviscup.com.
   Feb. 9-10, 2013 -- Fed Cup, first round, United States at Italy, www.fedcup.com.
   Feb. 11-17, 2013 -- SAP Open, HP Pavilion in San Jose, www.sapopentennis.com. 2012 champions: Milos Raonic, Mark Knowles-Xavier Malisse.
   March 4-17, 2013 -- BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells, Calif., www.bnpparibasopen.com. 2012 champions: Roger Federer, Victoria Azarenka, Marc Lopez-Rafael Nadal, Liezel Huber-Lisa Raymond.
PRO RANKINGS
   Following are this week's world rankings of professional players with Northern California ties (change from last week in parentheses):
Men
   Kevin Anderson, Sacramento Capitals (2012) of World TeamTennis -- No. 38 in singles (no change), career-high No. 86 in doubles (+5).
   Nick Andrews, Cal All-American in 2012, Folsom resident -- No. 1,446 in singles (+3), No. 1,070 in doubles (-3).  
   Bob Bryan, 1998 NCAA doubles champion from Stanford -- Career-high No. 1 in doubles (no change), unranked in singles.
   Mike Bryan, 1998 NCAA doubles champion from Stanford -- Career-high No. 1 in doubles (no change), unranked in singles.
   Mardy Fish, Capitals (2012) -- No. 26 in singles (+2), No. 724 in doubles (+2).
   John Paul Fruttero, Cal All-American in 2001 and 2002 -- No. 108 in doubles (no change), unranked in singles.
   Bradley Klahn, 2010 NCAA singles champion and 2011 NCAA doubles runner-up from Stanford -- Career-high No. 293 in singles (+23), No. 770 in doubles (+194). 
   Mark Knowles, Capitals (2001-07, 2009-12), three-time World TeamTennis Male MVP (2001, 2005 and 2007) -- No. 128 in doubles (-3), unranked in singles.
    Scott Lipsky, 2002 NCAA doubles runner-up from Stanford -- No. 29 in doubles (-2), unranked in singles.
   Sam Querrey, San Francisco native, Capitals (2012) -- No. 22 in singles (no change), No. 46 in doubles (no change).
   Ryan Thacher, 2011 NCAA doubles runner-up from Stanford -- Career-high No. 1,210 in singles (+6), No. 777 in doubles (+194).   Dmitry Tursunov, Folsom resident -- No. 105 in singles (-10), No. 227 in doubles (-44).
   Pedro Zerbini, All-Pacific-10 Conference first team at Cal (2009-11) -- Career-high No. 608 in singles (+8), No. 643 in doubles (+33).
Women
   Mallory Burdette, NCAA singles runner-up in 2012 and NCAA doubles champion in 2011 and 2012 from Stanford -- Career-high No. 144 in singles (+12), No. 653 in doubles (+7). 
   Vania King, Capitals (2010-12) -- No. 18 in doubles (no change), No. 72 in singles (-4).
   Raquel Kops-Jones, 2003 NCAA doubles champion from Cal -- Career-high No. 15 in doubles (+1), No. 1,123 in singles (+7).
   Asia Muhammad, Capitals (2012) -- No. 168 in doubles (-2), No. 473 in singles (no change).
   Maria Sanchez, Modesto resident -- Career-high No. 108 in doubles (+3), No. 151 in singles (-3).
   Yasmin Schnack, Elk Grove resident, Capitals (2011-12) -- No. 149 in doubles (no change), No. 515 in singles (-1).
   Romana Tedjakusuma, Tracy resident -- No. 518 in singles (-8), No. 1,124 in doubles (+13).
   CoCo Vandeweghe, Capitals (2009, 2012) -- No. 93 in singles (no change), No. 484 in doubles (+6).

Monday, October 15, 2012

Sock reaches another milestone

   Jack Sock reached another milestone Sunday in his promising career.
   The 20-year-old American won his first Challenger title, edging Mischa Zverev of Germany 6-1, 1-6, 7-6 (3) in the $100,000 First Republic Bank Tiburon (Calif.) Challenger at the Tiburon Peninsula Club. Both players were unseeded.
   Sock, from Lincoln., Neb., won U.S. Open titles in 2010 (boys singles) and last year (mixed doubles with Melanie Oudin).
   Sunday's score was almost identical to James Blake's 6-1, 1-6, 6-4 victory over Zverev, 25, in the final of the previous week's $100,000 RelyAid Natomas Challenger in Sacramento.
   Sock jumped 55 places in the world rankings to a career-high No. 165 and earned $14,400 for the title. Zverev improved 13 spots to No. 140 and pocketed $8,480.
   Fourth-seeded Rik de Voest and Chris Guccione won the doubles title, beating second-seeded Jordan Kerr and Andreas Siljestrom 6-1, 6-4 in a matchup of similar teams.
   De Voest and Kerr are 32. Guccione and Kerr are Australian. Guccione is 6-foot-7 and Siljestrom 6-9. Guccione, however, is the only left-hander. He won last year's crown with Carsten Ball.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Zverev reaches second straight Challenger final

   Mischa Zverev will get another crack at a Challenger title in Northern California.
   The unseeded German defeated eighth-seeded Bobby Reynolds of Acworth, Ga., 6-4, 6-3 Saturday in the semifinals of the $100,000 First Republic Bank Tiburon (Calif.) Challenger at the Tiburon Peninsula Club.
   Zverev, a 25-year-old left-hander originally from Moscow, lost to James Blake 6-1, 1-6, 6-4 in the final of last week's $100,000 RelyAid Natomas Challenger in Sacramento.
   Zverev will face unseeded Jack Sock for the first time today at 2 p.m. or later for the Tiburon title. Sock, 20, beat fellow American Steve Johnson 6-4, 7-6 (4) to gain his first Challenger singles final.
   Zverev, a veteran of the elite ATP World Tour, is ranked No. 153 in the world after reaching a career-high No. 45 in the world in 2009 and then battling injuries. He has advanced to one final on the elite ATP World Tour (Metz in 2010) and won four Challenger singles titles (most recently in 2007).
   Sock is ranked No. 220, down from his career high of No. 206 last month. He has won two U.S. Open titles, boys singles two years ago and mixed doubles last year with Melanie Oudin.
   In the Tiburon doubles semifinals, fourth-seeded Rik de Voest of South Africa and defending champion Chris Guccione of Australia edged top-seeded Robert Farah of Colombia and Johnson 6-7 (3), 6-3, 10-6 tiebreak. Farah and Johnson were teammates at USC for two years.
   De Voest and Guccione will play second-seeded Jordan Kerr of Australia and Andreas Siljestrom, 6-foot-9, of Sweden today at noon for the title. Kerr and Siljestrom topped Alex Kuznetsov of the United States and Zverev 6-3, 7-5.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Zverev avenges loss in final, crushes Blake

   The rematch was hardly a replay.
   Unseeded Mischa Zverev crushed second-seeded James Blake 6-0, 6-2 in 41 minutes Friday in the quarterfinals of the $100,000 First Republic Bank Tiburon (Calif.) Challenger at the Tiburon Peninsula Club.
   Five days earlier, Blake outlasted Zverev 6-1, 1-6, 6-4 to win the $100,000 RelyAid Natomas Challenger in Sacramento. This time, Zverev won the first 10 games and ended Blake's Northern California winning streak at seven matches.
   Blake, the oldest player in the singles draw at almost 33, had dispatched fellow American Daniel Kosakowski, an unseeded 20-year-old who reached the Sacramento semifinals, 6-2, 6-3 earlier Friday. The match had been postponed from Thursday by rain.
   Zverev, a 25-year-old Moscow native who has lived in Germany since he was 4, will meet eighth-seeded Bobby Reynolds, 30, of Acworth, Ga., today at 11 a.m.
   Reynolds, also a semifinalist in Sacramento, edged Bradley Klahn, a 22-year-old wild card from Poway in the San Diego area, 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (4). Klahn, who lost to Blake in the Sacramento quarterfinals, won the 2010 NCAA singles title as a Stanford sophomore but had surgery lat October for a herniated disc.
   Zverev is 1-0 against Reynolds, breezing 6-0, 6-1 on a hardcourt in the second round of qualifying at Delray Beach, Fla., on the ATP World Tour in February.
   After the Zverev-Reynolds encounter, Steve Johnson will face Jack Sock in a matchup of two of the United States' top prospects.
    Johnson, 22, routed seventh-seeded Denis Kudla, a 20-year-old American, 6-1, 6-2. Sock, 20, outplayed Rhyne Williams, 21, of the United States 7-6 (5), 3-6, 6-1.
   Johnson and Sock have split two career meetings.
   In the doubles quarterfinals, fourth-seeded Rik de Voest of South Africa and Chris Guccione of Australia nipped wild cards and Sacramento champions Tennys Sandgren and Williams 7-6 (5), 5-7, 10-4.
   Guccione won last year's doubles title at Tiburon with Carsten Ball, a U.S. native who plays for Australia. The longtime partners broke up at the end of last year, and Ball did not return to Tiburon.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Top-seeded Becker defaults in Tiburon

   Top-seeded Benjamin Becker defaulted from his second-round match against Jack Sock on Thursday in the $100,000 First Republic Bank Tiburon (Calif.) Challenger.
   Becker had aggravated a torn groin muscle suffered four weeks ago while playing for Germany in a Davis Cup doubles match. He lost in the first round of last week's $100,000 RelyAid Natomas Challenger in Sacramento to Daniel Kosakowski, a 20-year-old wild card, but said he had no pain.
   Meanwhile, second-seeded James Blake suffered a blow in his quest to pull off a Sacramento-Tiburon double, which 6-foot-10 Ivo Karlovic accomplished last year. Blake's scheduled second-round match against Kosakowski at the Tiburon Peninsula Club was postponed by rain until today at 11 a.m. The winner will play Mischa Zverev, a Moscow native who plays for Germany, at 4 p.m. or later.
   Surviving both matches in one day against two players who reached the semifinals or better last week would be difficult for Blake, the oldest player in the singles draw at almost 33. Blake edged the 25-year-old Zverev 6-1, 1-6, 6-4 in the Sacramento final.
   Becker and Blake are the only top-100 players in the singles draw at No. 84 and No. 87, respectively.
   The Blake-Kosakowski winner will give the United States seven of the eight quarterfinalists. Sock (20 years old) will face Rhyne Williams (21) in a matchup of unseeded players at 11 a.m., followed by eighth-seeded Bobby Reynolds (30) against wild card Bradley Klahn (22). Seventh-seeded Denis Kudla (20) will meet unseeded Johnson (22) after the Blake-Kosakowski match.     
   Kudla qualified for the SAP Open on the ATP World Tour in San Jose, 64 miles south of Tiburon at the other end of the San Francisco Bay Area, in February and extended No. 2 seed Andy Roddick to 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5), 6-4 in the second round. Roddick twisted his right ankle late in the second set.
   Karlovic is back on the ATP World Tour after his ranking dropped last year because of Achilles' tendon-related surgery.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Klahn gains another Challenger quarterfinal

   Bradley Klahn and Jeff Dadamo are beginning a spirited rivalry.
   Klahn, a wild card, edged Dadamo, a qualifier, 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 Wednesday in a battle of young, talented American left-handers in the second round of the $100,000 First Republic Bank Tiburon (Calif.) Challenger at the Tiburon Peninsula Club.
   They met for the first time as professionals, but Dadamo and Austin Krajicek of Texas A&M defeated Klahn and Ryan Thacher of Stanford 7-6 (4), 6-3 in the 2011 NCAA doubles final at Stanford, 50 miles south of Tiburon in the San Francisco Bay Area.
   Klahn, a 22-year-old resident of Poway in the San Diego area, reached a Challenger quarterfinal for the second consecutive week. He lost to eventual champion James Blake in that round 7-6 (5), 7-6 (4) in the $100,000 RelyAid Natomas Challenger in Sacramento.
   Dadamo, 23, of Tampa, Fla., fell to Thacher in the first round of qualifying in Sacramento.
   Steve Johnson of Orange, Calif., dismissed former USC teammate Robert Farah of Colombia  6-3, 6-3 in a rematch of the Aptos (Calif.) Challenger in July. Johnson, who also won that encounter, captured the last two NCAA singles titles before completing his eligibility. Farah won the 2008 NCAA doubles title with Kaes Van't Hof.   
   Also reaching the Tiburon quarterfinals were third-seeded Bobby Reynolds, a semifinalist last week in Sacramento, and seventh-seeded Denis Kudla of Arlington, Va. Reynolds will play Klahn, and Kudla will face Johnson.
   The second round will be completed Thursday. Top-seeded Benjamin Becker and the second-seeded Blake will meet 20-year-old U.S. prospects Jack Sock and Daniel Kosakowski, respectively. Kosakowski reached the Sacramento semifinals.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

No. 4 seed Odesnik ousted in Tiburon

   Jeff Dadamo continued his Northern California success Tuesday.
   Dadamo, a 23-year-old qualifier, surprised fourth-seeded Wayne Odesnik 6-4, 6-3 in a first-round matchup of left-handed Floridians in the $100,000 First Republic Bank Tiburon Challenger at the Tiburon (Calif.) Peninsula Club. Dadamo is from Tampa, and Odesnik, 26, lives in Weston, near Fort Lauderdale.
   Dadamo won the 2011 NCAA doubles title with Texas A&M teammate Austin Krajicek at Stanford, 50 miles south of Tiburon in the San Francisco Bay Area, and reached the final of a $15,000 Futures tournament in Sacramento in June.
   Odesnik also has excelled in Northern California, winning the 2007 Sacramento Challenger.
   James Blake and Mischa Zverev, Sunday's finalists in the $100,000 RelyAid Natomas Challenger, won their first-round matches in Tiburon and could meet in the quarterfinals.
   Blake, the No. 2 seed and Sacramento champion, defeated fellow American Alex Kuznetsov, a quarterfinalist the last two years in Tiburon, 6-4, 6-4. Zverev, a Moscow-born German, beat American wild card Michael McClune 3-6, 6-2, 6-1.
   Top-seeded Benjamin Becker, a German who lost in the first round of the Sacramento Challenger, topped U.S. qualifier Steve Meister 7-6 (4), 2-6, 6-1.       
   
   

Tiburon Challenger, TV schedule, calendar, rankings

   All three singles seeds in action Monday lost in straight sets in the first round of the $100,000 First Republic Bank Tiburon Challenger at the Tiburon (Calif.) Peninsula Club.
   Robert Farah of Colombia routed No. 3 Ryan Sweeting of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., 6-1, 6-2. Sweeting withdrew from last week's $100,000 RelyAid Natomas Challenger in Sacramento, Calif., with food poisoning.
   Two South Africans, Izak Van der Merwe and Rik de Voest, also scored upsets. Van der Merwe ousted No. 5 Matteo Viola of Italy 6-3, 6-4, and the 32-year-old de Voest took out No. 6 Tim Smyczek of Milwaukee 6-4, 6-1. Viola reached the quarterfinals in Sacramento.
   Wild card Bradley Klahn, also a Sacramento quarterfinalist, dispatched unseeded Samuel Groth 6-3, 6-3. Klahn graduated from Stanford, 50 miles south of Tiburon in the San Francisco Bay Area, in March. Groth blasted a record 163-mph (263-kph) serve in a South Korea Challenger in May.
   Ranking moves -- Sacramento champion James Blake rose 10 spots to No. 87 in this week's world rankings, released Monday.
   Other improvements of players in the Sacramento Challenger: runner-up Mischa Zverev of Germany 15 places to No. 153,  semifinalist Daniel Kosakowski 41 notches to No. 263, quarterfinalist Tennys Sandgren 21 spots to No. 257 and Klahn 30 places to No. 316.
TV SCHEDULE
(All Times PDT)
   Today -- Shanghai (men), early rounds, Tennis Channel, 7 a.m.-3 p.m. (repeat), 3-11 p.m. (repeat), 11 p.m.-7 a.m. Wednesday (live).
   Wednesday -- Shanghai (men), early rounds, Tennis Channel, 7 a.m.-3 p.m. (repeat), 3-11 p.m. (repeat), 11 p.m.-7 a.m. Thursday (live).
   Thursday -- Shanghai (men), early rounds, Tennis Channel, 7 a.m.-3 p.m. (repeat), 3-11 p.m. (repeat); quarterfinals, 11 p.m.-7 a.m. Friday (live).
   Friday -- Shanghai (men), quarterfinals, Tennis Channel, 7 a.m.-3 p.m. (repeat), 3:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m. Saturday (repeat).
   Saturday -- Shanghai (men), semifinals, Tennis Channel, 1:30-4 a.m. (live) and 5-7:30 a.m. (live), 7:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (repeat), 2 p.m.-1:30 a.m. Sunday (repeat).
   Sunday -- Shanghai (men), final, Tennis Channel, 1:30-4 a.m. (live), 5:30-8 a.m. (repeat), 9-11:30 a.m. (repeat), 1-3:30 p.m. (repeat), 6-8:30 p.m. (repeat). 
CALENDAR
   Through Sunday -- $100,000 First Republic Bank Men's Challenger, Tiburon Peninsula Club, 1600 Mar West St., Tiburon, Calif., 94920, www.tiburonchallenger.com, (415) 789-7900. 2011 champions: Ivo Karlovic, Carsten Ball-Chris Guccione.
   Oct. 23-28 -- WTA Championships (top eight singles players and top four doubles teams of 2012), Istanbul, www.wtatennis.com/page/Tournaments/Info/0,,12781~742,00.html. 2011 champions: Petra Kvitova, Liezel Huber-Lisa Raymond.
   Nov. 3-4 -- Fed Cup Final, Serbia at Czech Republic, www.fedcup.com. 2011 champion: Czech Republic.
   Nov. 5-12 -- ATP World Tour Finals (top eight singles players and top eight doubles teams of 2012), London, www.atpworldtour.com/Finals/2012.aspx. 2011 champions: Roger Federer, Max Mirnyi-Daniel Nestor.
   Nov. 16-18 -- Davis Cup Final, Spain at Czech Republic, www.daviscup.com. 2011 champion: Spain.
   Jan. 14-27, 2013 -- AUSTRALIAN OPEN, www.australianopen.org. 2012 champions: Novak Djokovic, Victoria Azarenka, Leander Paes-Radek Stepanek, Svetlana Kuznetsova-Vera Zvonareva.
   Feb. 1-3, 2013 -- Davis Cup, first round, Brazil at United States, www.daviscup.com.
   Feb. 9-10, 2013 -- Fed Cup, first round, United States at Italy, www.fedcup.com.
   Feb. 11-17, 2013 -- SAP Open, HP Pavilion in San Jose, www.sapopentennis.com. 2012 champions: Milos Raonic, Mark Knowles-Xavier Malisse.
   March 4-17, 2013 -- BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells, Calif., www.bnpparibasopen.com. 2012 champions: Roger Federer, Victoria Azarenka, Marc Lopez-Rafael Nadal, Liezel Huber-Lisa Raymond.
PRO RANKINGS
   Following are this week's world rankings of professional players with Northern California ties (change from last week in parentheses):
Men
   Kevin Anderson, Sacramento Capitals (2012) of World TeamTennis -- No. 38 in singles (-2), No. 91 in doubles (+3).
   Nick Andrews, Cal All-American in 2012 -- No. 1,449 in singles (+11), career-high No. 1,067 in doubles (+4).  
   Bob Bryan, 1998 NCAA doubles champion from Stanford -- Career-high No. 1 in doubles (no change), unranked in singles.
   Mike Bryan, 1998 NCAA doubles champion from Stanford -- Career-high No. 1 in doubles (no change), unranked in singles.
   Mardy Fish, Capitals (2012) -- No. 28 in singles (-6), No. 726 in doubles (+5).
   John Paul Fruttero, Cal All-American in 2001 and 2002 -- No. 108 in doubles (no change), unranked in singles.
   Artem Ilyushin, Granite Bay resident -- No. 918 in singles (+11), No. 1,217 in doubles (+3).
   Bradley Klahn, 2010 NCAA singles champion and 2011 NCAA doubles runner-up from Stanford -- Career-high No. 316 in singles (+3), No. 964 in doubles (+56). 
   Mark Knowles, Capitals (2001-07, 2009-12), three-time World TeamTennis Male MVP (2001, 2005 and 2007) -- No. 125 in doubles (no change), unranked in singles.
   Alex Kuznetsov, Capitals (2012) -- No. 211 (-20) in singles, No. 356 in doubles (+71) in doubles.
   Scott Lipsky, 2002 NCAA doubles runner-up from Stanford -- No. 27 in doubles (-1), unranked in singles.
   Sam Querrey, San Francisco native, Capitals (2012) -- No. 22 in singles (+4), No. 46 in doubles (no change).
   Ryan Sweeting, Capitals (2012) -- No. 136 in singles (no change), No. 836 in doubles (+3).
   Ryan Thacher, 2011 NCAA doubles runner-up from Stanford -- Career-high No. 1,216 in singles (+4), No. 1,466 in doubles (-33).
   Dmitry Tursunov, Folsom resident -- No. 95 in singles (+22), No. 183 in doubles (-1).
   Jimmy Wang, trains part-time in Granite Bay -- No. 148 in singles (-1), No. 342 in doubles (-7).
   Pedro Zerbini, All-Pacific-10 Conference first team at Cal (2009-11) -- Career-high No. 616 in singles (no change), No. 676 in doubles (+2).
Women
   Mallory Burdette, NCAA singles runner-up in 2012 and NCAA doubles champion in 2011 and 2012 from Stanford -- Career-high No. 156 in singles (+4), No. 660 in doubles (no change). 
   Vania King, Capitals (2010-12) -- No. 18 in doubles (-5), No. 68 in singles (-5).    Raquel Kops-Jones, 2003 NCAA doubles champion from Cal -- Career-high No. 16 in doubles (no change), No. 1,130 in singles (-2).
   Asia Muhammad, Capitals (2012) -- No. 166 in doubles (no change), No. 473 in singles (-17, quarterfinalist in $75,000 Albuquerque Challenger).
   Maria Sanchez, Modesto resident -- No. 111 in doubles (+1), career-high No. 148 in singles (+5).
   Yasmin Schnack, Elk Grove resident, Capitals (2011-12) -- No. 149 in doubles (-8), No. 514 in singles (-1).
   Romana Tedjakusuma, Tracy resident -- No. 510 in singles (-12), No. 1,137 in doubles (+2).
   CoCo Vandeweghe, Capitals (2009, 2012) -- No. 93 in singles (+2), No. 490 in doubles (-3)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Blake shows he can still play at 32

James Blake (second from left) beat Mischa Zverev (third from left) Sunday
in the Sacramento Challenger final. Emcee Brad Gilbert is at far left and
tournament director Brian Martinez at far right. Photo by Paul Bauman   
   SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- James Blake isn't quite ready to get another job or be a stay-at-home father.
   The American veteran, who will turn 33 in December, showed in the $100,000 RelyAid Natomas Challenger that he still has some tennis left in him. Blake, seeded second, fought off unseeded Mischa Zverev of Germany 6-1, 1-6, 6-4 Sunday at the Natomas Racquet Club for the title.
   "It's nice to still be able to move around at 32 and do this for a living," Blake told the crowd afterward.
Doubles champions Rhyne Williams (far left) and Tennys Sandgren (holding
the trophy) pose with Gilbert and Martinez. Photo by Paul Bauman
   In an All-American doubles final, former University of Tennessee teammates Tennys Sandgren and Rhyne Williams saved four match points to defeat Devin Britton and Austin Krajicek 4-6, 6-4, 12-10 tiebreak for their first Challenger doubles crown. Both teams were unseeded.     
   Blake, ranked No. 97 entering the tournament after reaching a career-high No. 4 in 2006, underwent surgery on his right knee last November and earlier this year seriously considered retiring.
   "Without my legs, I'm a below-average player," he told ESPN.com in August at the U.S. Open. "To be honest, I was worried that my knee wasn't coming around. I was going to give it this summer. I was thinking that might be it."
   Love of the game brought him back, and his knee responded.
   Blake's life off the court also is looking up. He became a father when his fiancee, Emily Snyder, gave birth to a daughter, Riley, on June 10. The wedding is scheduled for November in California.       
   "Winning here is great," said Blake, who narrowly lost to 6-foot-10 Ivo Karlovic in last year's Sacramento final, "but nothing puts a smile on my face like seeing my daughter."
   Zverev had plenty of reason to smile, too.
   "I went to the Golden Gate Bridge and got to the final, so it was a good week," said the private pilot, who twice rented a plane and went for a spin during the week.
   Zverev, a 25-year-old left-hander, was born in Moscow but moved to Germany at 4. His father, who played Davis Cup for the Soviet from 1982 to 1987, received an attractive coaching offer there. Mischa climbed to No. 45 in the world in 2009 before injuries derailed his career. He was No. 168 entering the Natomas Challenger.      
   Blake and Zverev enthralled the crowd with vicious groundstrokes, amazing gets and outstanding athleticism. Zverev also volleyed crisply.
   The first two sets were almost exact opposites. There were two service breaks in each set, and both provided leads of 3-1 and 5-1.
   The only break of the third set came in the last game. From 15-15, Blake ripped a forehand winner off Zverev's second serve and a backhand cross-court passing shot off Zverev's first delivery for 15-40. After Zverev missed his first serve, Blake slugged a deep forehand, and Zverev sent a forehand long to end the battle. 
   Blake committed no double-faults in the match and won 20 of 23 points (87 percent) on his serve in the third set, including all 11 on his first serve.
   Looking ahead, Blake isn't eyeing a return to the top 20.
   "I never make ranking goals," he said. "I just want to get better and play as long as I can."

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Blake, Zverev reach Sacramento Challenger final

Second-seeded James Blake held off unseeded Bobby
Reynolds 6-2, 7-6 (3) in a semifinal matchup of Americans
in their 30s. Photos by Paul Bauman
   SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- James Blake won't have to face 6-foot-10 Ivo Karlovic's booming serve this time.
   But Mischa Zverev is no picnic, either.
   Blake and Zverev, veterans of the elite ATP World Tour who have rebounded from injuries, reached the final of the $100,000 RelyAid Natomas Challenger with straight-set victories Saturday at the Natomas Racquet Club.
   The second-seeded Blake held off unseeded Bobby Reynolds 6-2, 7-6 (3) in a matchup of Americans in their 30s. Blake, the oldest player in the singles draw at almost 33, won the first three points of the tiebreaker. Reynolds, who turned 30 in July, took the next three before surrendering the last four, including two on double faults (one on match point).
   The unseeded Zverev, a 25-year-old Moscow-born German, dismissed Daniel Kosakowski, a 20-year-old wild card from Downey in the Los Angeles area, 6-2, 6-2. The final game of the first set lasted 30 points and about 20 minutes. Zverev saved seven break points and finally held serve on his sixth game point.
   Zverev ended Kosakowski's winning streak at 13 matches, including a first-round upset of top-seeded Benjamin Becker and titles in two $10,000 Futures tournaments in consecutive weeks.
Unseeded Mischa Zverev ended 20-year-old wild card
Daniel Kosakowski's winning streak at 13 matches.
   Kosakowski, who was playing in his first Challenger semifinal, turned pro in June 2011 after winning a $15,000 Futures tournament 10 minutes down the freeway from Natomas at the Park Terrace Swim & Tennis Club in south Sacramento.
   Blake lost to Karlovic 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 in last year's Natomas final. Karlovic fired 23 aces in the match, faced only one break point and won all 20 points on his serve in the last set, including 12 aces.
   Karlovic played in the Japan Open in Tokyo on the ATP World Tour this week, falling to top-seeded Andy Murray in the first round. Blake shed no tears over Karlovic's absence.
   "He's never fun to play," Blake said earlier this week. "He takes the racket out of your hands. Any guy who  can make it all about them and not about you is not fun to play. But he's a good guy, and I hope he does well overseas."
   Blake, ranked 97th after reaching a career-high No. 4 in 2006, combines blazing speed and explosive shotmaking. Zverev, who's 168th after climbing to a career-best No. 45 in 2009, has an excellent all-around game. The left-hander is one of the few serve-and-volleyers left in professional tennis and a steady baseline player.
   Both players are fit after long battles with injuries. Blake was plagued by tendinitis in his right knee last year and early this year. Zverev broke his right wrist in 2009 and two ribs in 2010 in falls on the court and developed a hernia later in 2010.          
   They often practice together at Saddlebrook Resort in Tampa, Fla., but have met only once in an official match. Zverev won 6-3, 6-3 in the second round of the Guadeloupe Challenger on a hardcourt in March.
    "Maybe he wasn't playing his best, but that week I just played incredible tennis up to the final," said Zverev, who won all four of his matches in straight sets before losing to David Goffin of Belgium 6-2, 6-2 in the final. "That was one of those weeks where you just close your eyes and everything goes well.
   "It doesn't mean anything. (Today) is going to be a different day. I don't think it's going to be that easy again."
   Blake agreed.
   "I definitely think I've improved since then," he said. "I'm moving a lot better. Back then, my knee was still bothering me. I wasn't able to move the way I know I need to to get in position to be aggressive.
   "He was really dictating play that match, so this time I need to be the one dictating. I need to be the one being a little more aggressive and taking it to him and not letting him set up and take his rips."
   The Blake-Zverev match will follow the All-American doubles final. Devin Britton and Austin Krajicek, a distant relative of 1996 Wimbledon champion Richard Krajicek, will take on former University of Tennessee teammates Tennys Sandgren and Rhyne Williams at 1 p.m. Both teams are unseeded.         

$100,000 RELYAID NATOMAS CHALLENGER - SACRAMENTO, CA, USA
SEPT. 29 - OCT. 7, 2012
RESULTS - SATURDAY, OCT. 6, 2012
Singles - Semifinals
[2] [WC] J Blake (USA) d B Reynolds (USA) 62 76(3)
M Zverev (GER) d [WC] D Kosakowski (USA) 62 62

Doubles - Semifinals
[WC] T Sandgren (USA) / R Williams (USA) d A Kuznetsov (USA) / M Zverev (GER) 64 64


ORDER OF PLAY - SUNDAY, OCT. 7, 2012
STADIUM start 1:00 pm
[WC] T Sandgren (USA) / R Williams (USA) vs D Britton (USA) / A Krajicek (USA)
M Zverev (GER) vs [2] [WC] J Blake (USA)

Friday, October 5, 2012

Pilot Zverev hopes his career is taking off again

Germany's Mischa Zverev, a private pilot, beat Tennys
Sandgren 6-2, 6-4 in the quarterfinals of the $100,000
RelyAid Natomas Challenger. Photo by Paul Bauman
   SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- After encountering much turbulence during the past three years, Mischa Zverev is cruising this week at the $100,000 RelyAid Natomas Challenger.
   Zverev, who received a pilot's license in August, soared past 21-year-old American Tennys Sandgren  6-2, 6-4 Friday in a quarterfinal matchup of unseeded players at the Natomas Racquet Club.
    On Thursday evening, the 25-year-old Moscow-born German rented a plane at Sacramento Executive Airport with two guests and stopped in Placer- ville, Rancho Murieta and Cameron Park before returning to Sacramento.
   "Wherever I go, I try to rent a plane and fly around a little bit," Zverev, who speaks English like a native, said enthusiastic- ally. "That's a really nice airport in Placerville. It's right on top of a hill, and it drops right in front of the runway and right behind it, so you feel like you take off into the horizon. There are no trees, nothing in front of you.
   "Right after you pass the runway, you go down a little bit because there's a huge drop, and then you take off. It reminded me of the James Bond movie ("The Spy Who Loved Me"). I'm planning on doing something again tonight, like go to Napa Valley and get some wine for my girlfriend."
   Zverev -- a veteran of the ATP World Tour, the major leagues of men's tennis -- will face Daniel Kosakowski in Saturday's first semifinal at noon.
   Kosakowski, a 20-year-old wild card from Downey in the Los Angeles area, downed fifth-seeded Matteo Viola of Italy 6-4, 6-4 for his 13th consecutive victory and 15th in his last 16 matches. Kosakowski's streak includes a win over Germany's Benjamin Becker, the top seed at No. 85 in the world, in the first round at Natomas and two Futures titles.
   Kosakowski is ranked far lower than Zverev, No. 304 to No. 168, but won their only previous meeting 3-6, 6-4, 3-0, retired on clay in Houston last April. 
   The second semifinal features two Americans in their 30s, second-seeded James Blake and unseeded Bobby Reynolds.
   Blake, 32, edged 22-year-old wild card Bradley Klahn of Poway in the San Diego area 7-6 (5), 7-6 (4), and Reynolds, 30, outlasted unseeded Luca Vanni of Italy 5-7, 6-2, 6-3. Klahn, a left-hander who won the 2010 NCAA singles title as a Stanford sophomore and graduated this year, served for each set.
   Blake is ranked No. 97 after reaching a career-high No. 4 in 2006. He dominated Reynolds, who's No. 162 after peaking at No. 63 in 2009, 6-3, 6-1 in the final of last year's Winnetka (Ill.) Challenger in their only other meeting.
   Zverev moved to Germany with his family at 4 because his father, who played Davis Cup for the Soviet Union from 1982 to 1987, received an attractive coaching offer there.
   Mischa isn't overpowering, although he's listed at 6-foot-3. But he's a rarity on two counts: he's left-handed, and he serves-and-volleys. He also has consistent, pinpoint groundstrokes.
   Zverev climbed to a career-high No. 45 in 2009 before injuries struck. He broke his right wrist when he fell while hitting an overhead in Shanghai in late 2009, broke two ribs falling on his elbow or racket on a wet clay court in Munich in the summer of 2010 and developed a hernia at the end of 2010.   
   "Basically, I could not serve or play without pain for almost a year," said Zverev, who's staying with Sergei Bubka of Ukraine at Dmitry Tursunov's Folsom townhouse while the fellow Moscow native plays in Tokyo. "I would play a match, and I would have to rest for three days. Or I would play two sets, and the third set I could not move anymore.
   "I had times where after the match I could not take off my own shoes. I had to call my coach or trainer to help me out. It was pretty bad at some points, but luckily I think that's over now, knock on wood."
   And maybe Zverev will reach new heights.  

$100,000 RELYAID NATOMAS CHALLENGER - SACRAMENTO, CA, USA
SEPT. 29 - OCT. 7, 2012
RESULTS - FRIDAY, OCT. 5, 2012
Singles - Quarterfinals

[2] [WC] J Blake (USA) d [WC] B Klahn (USA) 76(5) 76(4)
[WC] D Kosakowski (USA) d [5] M Viola (ITA) 64 64
M Zverev (GER) d T Sandgren (USA) 62 64
B Reynolds (USA) d L Vanni (ITA) 57 62 63
Doubles - Semifinals
D Britton (USA) / A Krajicek (USA) d S Groth (AUS) / C Guccione (AUS) 76(2) 26 10-8
Doubles - Quarterfinals
[WC] T Sandgren (USA) / R Williams (USA) d W Odesnik (USA) / L Vanni (ITA) 63 61


ORDER OF PLAY - SATURDAY, OCT. 6, 2012
STADIUM start noon
[WC] D Kosakowski (USA) vs M Zverev (GER) 
B Reynolds (USA) vs [2] [WC] J Blake (USA) 
[WC] T Sandgren (USA) / R Williams (USA) vs A Kuznetsov (USA) / M Zverev(GER)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Ex-Stanford star to face Blake in Sac quarterfinals

Wild card Bradley Klahn, the 2010 NCAA singles champion from Stanford,
winds up to slug a forehand against qualifier Greg Jones of Australia on
Thursday in the $100,000 Sacramento Challenger. Photo by Paul Bauman
   SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Bradley Klahn is happy just to be playing tennis, let alone facing James Blake on Friday in the quarterfinals of the $100,000 RelyAid Natomas Challenger.
   Almost one year ago, the former NCAA singles champion from Stanford underwent surgery for a herniated disc. He missed 5 1/2 months and returned with a greater appreciation for his sport.
      "One of the biggest things about going through back surgery, or any surgery, is that I'm very fortunate to play tennis," the 22-year-old wild card from the San Diego suburb of Poway said after beating qualifier Greg Jones of Australia 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 Thursday at the Natomas Racquet Club. "There's a lot of people out there who never get the opportunity, and I'm very grateful to be able to play professionally and travel to a lot of great places.
   "It certainly hasn't come without a lot of hard work, but I guess I've been trying to enjoy it a little bit more and soak it in a little bit more because at this time last year, I was in a lot of pain. I had my surgery in mid-October last year, and you never really know if you're going to get back to the same level. I'm very happy that my back has held up."
   The second-seeded Blake, who dispatched fellow 32-year-old and inaugural (2005) Sacramento champion Rik de Voest of South Africa 6-4, 6-4, endured an even more harrowing experience. He broke his neck in 2004 while practicing in Rome.
   Blake slipped on a wet clay court while racing to return a drop shot and struck the net post. Had he not moved his head at the last moment, doctors said he could have been paralyzed. Two months later, he lost his father to cancer and developed zoster (shingles), a viral disease often caused by stress.
   But in the following three years, Blake was named the ATP Comeback Player of the Year, reached a career-high No. 4 in the world and helped the United States end its longest Davis Cup title drought, 12 years.
   Blake and Klahn have practiced together but never met in a match.
   "He's extremely fast and a very offensive player," said Klahn, who qualified for the recent U.S. Open and beat former top-10 player Jurgen Melzer in the first round before losing to No. 14 Richard Gasquet of France in straight sets. "You really have to be focused and diligent and just be ready for another ball to come back and ready for it to come back fast because he's going to get over there, and he's going to take his cuts. He's going to hit his winners by you. He attacks, just like (Jones) today."  
   Klahn, who won the 2010 NCAA title and graduated this year in economics, rallied from a set and a break down against Jones, the boys singles runner-up in the 2007 French Open.
   "He's a good player," Klahn, a diminutive left-hander with a devastating forehand, said after evening his career record to 1-1 against the 6-foot-3 Jones. "He hits the ball big, attacks well and has a good serve. The real key was I thought I started making him play more on his service games. In the first set, I didn't get many returns in. I started getting a better read on it, and that helped me out."
   Another young American wild card, Daniel Kosakowski, outlasted fellow Los Angeles-area resident Michael McClune 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-2. McClune twisted his right ankle at 6-4, 5-5 but saved three break points in the game to hold serve and was two points from winning three times with Kosakowski serving at 5-6.
   But the 20-year-old Kosakowski, who had ousted top-seeded Benjamin Becker in the first round, prevailed for his 12th straight victory (including two Futures titles in consecutive weeks) and 14th in his last 15 matches.
   Only two singles seeds, Blake and No. 5 Matteo Viola of Italy, reached the quarterfinals, and no seeded teams advanced to the doubles semifinals. American Wayne Odesnik, the 2007 Sacramento singles champion, and Luca Vanni of Italy stunned No. 1 Jordan Kerr of Australia and Andreas Siljestrom of Sweden 6-3, 6-4 Thursday. Vanni also remains alive in singles. 

$100,000 RELYAID NATOMAS CHALLENGER - SACRAMENTO, CA, USA
SEPT. 29 - OCT. 7, 2012

RESULTS - OCT. 4, 2012 
Singles - Second Round
[2] [WC] J Blake (USA) d R De Voest (RSA) 64 64
[5] M Viola (ITA) d R Farah (COL) 63 60
[WC] D Kosakowski (USA) d M McClune (USA) 46 76(5) 62
[WC] B Klahn (USA) d [Q] G Jones (AUS) 36 64 63
Doubles - Quarterfinals
A Kuznetsov (USA) / M Zverev (GER) d [3] B Reynolds (USA) / I Van der Merwe(RSA) 75 57 10-3
D Britton (USA) / A Krajicek (USA) d A Courtney (USA) / P Raja (IND) 76(4) 67(5) 10-5
First Round
W Odesnik (USA) / L Vanni (ITA) d [1] J Kerr (AUS) / A Siljestrom (SWE) 63 64

ORDER OF PLAY - FRIDAY, OCT. 5, 2012
STADIUM start 12:00 noon
T Sandgren (USA) vs M Zverev (GER) 
S Groth (AUS) / C Guccione (AUS) vs D Britton (USA) / A Krajicek (USA) 
Not Before 4:00 PM
[WC] B Klahn (USA) vs [2] [WC] J Blake (USA)
COURT 1 start 12:00 noon
B Reynolds (USA) vs L Vanni (ITA) 
[WC] D Kosakowski (USA) vs [5] M Viola (ITA) 
W Odesnik (USA) / L Vanni (ITA) vs [WC] T Sandgren (USA) / R Williams (USA)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

World's fastest server downplays his feat

Samuel Groth of Australia blasts a serve Tuesday
in the $100,000 RelyAid Natomas Challenger
in Sacramento. He set the record with a 163.4-mph
(263-kph) serve in May. Photo by Paul Bauman
   SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Ivo Karlovic might want to work on that cream-puff serve of his.
   Sure, the 6-foot-10 Croat set the record with a 156-mph (251-kph) effort in a Davis Cup match 18 months ago. But Samuel Groth of Australia shattered it with a 163.4-mph (263-kph) missile in a Challenger tournament in Busan, South Korea, in May.
   Groth also pounded serves clocked at 158.9 mph (255.7 kph) and 157.5 mph (253.5 kph) in the second-round match but lost 6-4, 6-3 to Belarus' Uladzimir Ignatik.
   Karlovic is not playing in this week's $100,000 RelyAid Natomas Challenger after winning last year's title. Nor is Ignatik, a 2011 quarterfinalist. But Groth is, for the first time.  
   Groth's feat has made him something of a celebrity in tennis circles. He was featured in a New York Times story in June during Wimbledon, although he was not ranked high enough to play there, on the questionable accuracy of serve speeds because different systems are used around the world. The article noted, however, that the company used in Busan, FlightScope, is one of the most prominent in the field.  
   Groth stands by the record but downplays it.
   "I guess people write a lot about it," he said Tuesday after losing to fifth-seeded Matteo Viola of Italy 6-2, 6-3 in the first round at the Natomas Racquet Club. "For me, the focus is still on trying to get my ranking up and playing tennis. One serve doesn't make a career or get you inside the top 100. It draws attention, and it's good for promoting yourself, I guess, but in terms of getting where I want to be, I've got to play a lot better tennis than I did today, that's for sure."
   Groth remains alive in doubles, though, with countryman Chris Guccione. They reached the semifinals with a 6-1, 6-4 victory Wednesday over fourth-seeded Andrei Daescu of Romania and Adam Hubble of Australia.
   Guccione, a 6-foot-7 (2.0-meter) left-hander with a formidable serve of his own, won last year's title with American-born Aussie Carsten Ball. The longtime partners split up at the end of last year, though, and Ball did not return to Sacramento.
   Hubble said Groth's serve is the toughest he has faced "in terms of pure pace coming at you. ... Sometimes you can get lucky and hit it back for a winner. Some of the other guys who spin it are equally tricky because the ball isn't in the hitting zone."
   Hubble, 26, and Groth, who will turn 25 on Oct. 19, are both from Melbourne. They have known each other for 10 years. Groth and Andrew Kennaugh of Great Britain reached the Wimbledon boys doubles final in 2005.
   "(Groth) has always had a big serve," Hubble said. "It was always in the cards that he was going to set the fastest serve in the world eventually. It was a just a matter of time until he got on a court that had a radar gun clocking him."
   At 6-foot-4 (1.94 meters) and 210 pounds (95.3 kilograms), Groth looks more like a linebacker or rugby competitor than tennis player. In fact, he played Australian rules football last year after recovering from shoulder surgery. He has blond, spiked hair and wears an elaborate tattoo on his upper left arm.
   Groth said he is separated from women's pro Jarmila Gajdosova but would not confirm numerous reports that they are divorced. Gajdosova has tumbled from a career-high No. 25 in the world in May 2011 to No. 149. 
   Groth's service motion is similar to that of another powerful server, recently retired Andy Roddick. Groth has a low ball toss and whips his right arm in a seemingly effortless motion as the ball explodes off his racket.
   "I'm a big guy," reasoned Groth, who has improved his singles ranking from No. 786 at the beginning of the year to No. 237. "I've got a loose arm. I think you'll find a lot of the big servers can throw a ball far. I think it's quite a natural sort of thing. I've tampered with my legs on my serve, but I've never really touched my throwing motion."
   Groth trailed 3-5, 30-0 in the first set when he hammered his record-setting serve down the middle with the aid of a light wind. Ignatik barely moved, and a display registered the eye-popping speed.
   "I knew when I turned around," Groth recalled. "I hit an ace. I was down a break and a bit frustrated and had new balls. I hit it and heard a few people murmuring. My first reaction was 'Wow.' My second reaction was, What am I going to do on the next point?
   "At the time, I didn't know how accurate the radar was, as well. When I came off the court and spoke to the guy from the company, that was my first question. He said he was going to have to go through all the data.
   "I hit that serve great, but I'm down a break. I have to win the next point. I'm not stepping up to the line every point going, Let's try to break a record. It's, How am I going to win this point?"  
   Hubble played doubles with Groth that week -- they lost in the first round to Rik de Voest and soon-to-be Wimbledon men's doubles champion Frederik Nielsen -- and watched some of his partner's match against Ignatik but missed the record-setting serve.
   "He was definitely hitting big serves throughout the match," Hubble said. "A few people questioned whether it was actually that speed. I think, sitting there, it definitely was, judging by the rest of the match."
   Groth topped out at a mere 140 mph (225.3 kph) against Viola in the Natomas Challenger. 
   "I made (39) percent of first serves today," Groth lamented. "Just by that stat alone, you can tell my serve wasn't on at all. When you're making one in five serves in the first set, I don't think it's a day when you're going to come out and (hit) your best serves.
   "This is the worst I've served this year by far. I think I was around 50 percent in the second set (actually 57 percent). I tried to take a little off it to make some."
   That was fine with Viola.
   "Maybe he wasn't so confident with his serve, so better for me," he said with a chuckle.  
   Wednesday's singles -- Luca Vanni of Italy defeated American Alex Kuznetsov, who reached the semifinals of the Sacramento Challenger in 2006 and last year, 6-4, 6-4 in the second round.
   Americans Bobby Reynolds, 30, and Tennys Sandgren, 21, joined Vanni in the quarterfinals with straight-set victories. Reynolds also was a quarterfinalist last year at Natomas.

RELYAID NATOMAS CHALLENGER - SACRAMENTO, CA, USA
$100,000
SEPT. 29 - OCT. 7, 2012

RESULTS - WEDNESDAY, OCT. 3, 2012

Second-round singles
T Sandgren (USA) d M Reid (AUS) 64 63
M Zverev (GER) d I Van der Merwe (RSA) 76 (5) 63
B Reynolds (USA) d A El Mihdawy (USA) 63 61
L Vanni (ITA) d A Kuznetsov (USA) 64 64
First-round doubles
D Courtney  (USA) / P Raja (IND) d D Kudla  (USA) / T Smyczek (USA) 61 67(5) 13-11
B Reynolds (USA) / I Van der Merwe (RSA) d [Q] J Dadamo (USA) / B Klahn (USA) 63 26 10-8 
Doubles quarterfinals
S Groth (AUS) / C Guccione (AUS) d [4] A Daescu (ROM) / A Hubble (AUS) 61 64
 
ORDER OF PLAY - THURSDAY, OCT. 4, 2012
STADIUM start 11:00 am
[1] J Kerr (AUS) / A Siljestrom (SWE) vs W Odesnik (USA) / L Vanni (ITA)
R Farah (COL) vs [5] M Viola (ITA)
[3] B Reynolds (USA) / I Van der Merwe (RSA) or [Q] J Dadamo (USA) / B Klahn (USA) vs A Kuznetsov (USA) / M Zverev (GER)

Not Before 4:00 PM
R De Voest (RSA) vs [2] [WC] J Blake (USA)

COURT 1 start 11:00 am
[Q] G Jones (AUS) vs [WC] B Klahn (USA)
[WC] D Kosakowski (USA) vs M McClune (USA)
A Courtney (USA) / P Raja (IND) vs D Britton (USA) / A Krajicek (USA)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Top seed Becker ousted in Sacramento Challenger

Daniel Kosakowski, a 20-year-old wild card, upset No. 1 seed
Benjamin Becker, below, 7-5, 6-3 Tuesday in the first round
of the $100,000 RelyAid Natomas Challenger in Sacramento.
Photos by Paul Bauman
   SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- On paper, it was a stunning upset.
   Daniel Kosakowski, a 20-year-old wild card who turned pro last year in Sacramento, ousted Benjamin Becker, a 31-year-old veteran seeded first, 7-5, 6-3 Tuesday in the first round of the $100,000 RelyAid Natomas Challenger at the Natomas Racquet Club.
   Becker is ranked No. 85 in the world after reaching a career-high No. 38 five years ago. Kosakowski, meanwhile, is No. 304.
   Most glaring of all, Becker has won 97 matches on the ATP World Tour, the major leagues of men's professional tennis, to Kosakowski's one.
   But considering recent history, Kosakowski's victory wasn't all that surprising on a day featuring the exits of three more seeds, the world's fastest server, a former Sacramento champion and several U.S. prospects. Kosakowski's triumph might have even been predictable. He has been on fire while Becker has been recovering from his latest injury.
   Kosakowski, a Los Angeles-area native whose parents are Polish, has won 11 straight matches and 13 of his last 14. He reached the final round of qualifying at the U.S. Open in August, beating 82nd-ranked Aljaz Bedene of Slovenia in the second round. Becker was the second top-100 win of Kosakowski's career.
   Last month, Kosakowski won $10,000 Futures tournaments in the Los Angeles suburbs of Claremont and Costa Mesa in consecutive weeks.
   "I was working on a lot of things in the summer, and things are starting to click now," said Kosakowski, who turned pro after winning the $15,000 Futures tournament in Sacramento in June 2011. "I got a lot of confidence from the Open. I know what I'm doing on the court and executing my game plan."
   Kosakowski, who won 24 of 25 points on his first serve against Becker and displayed a sensational one-handed backhand, added that he worked on his "serve and trying to be more aggressive with the backhand, trying not to give up too many freebies or short balls."     
Second-seeded James Blake, 32, wore down 19-year-old
qualifier Taro Daniel of Japan 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 in a match featur-
ing the oldest and youngest players in the singles draw.
   Becker, meanwhile, tore a groin muscle three weeks ago playing in a Davis Cup doubles match for his native Germany. He lost with Philipp Petzschner, but host Germany beat Australia 3-2 on clay to qualify for the elite World Group next year.
  "When I came here, I didn't know if I could play," said Becker, a right-hander with a two-handed backhand who underwent two operations on his left elbow last year and missed seven months. "I'm happy I didn't have any pain today, but I'm not happy with the way I played. I expected not to play my best, obviously. That's how it goes when you have a tough first round.
   "I saw he won a few tournaments (recently)," added Becker, who's best known for ending Andre Agassi's career in the third round of the 2006 U.S. Open. "He had a lot of confidence, and he could see that my confidence was not very high. I'm trying to get it back and hopefully have a better week next week (in the Tiburon Challenger in the San Francisco Bay Area)."
   Despite their age difference and nationalities, Becker and Kosakowski have a few things in common. Both are undersized former college stars.
   Becker, who's listed at 5-foot-10 and 158 pounds, is one of the few pros who played for four years in college. As a junior at Baylor in Waco, Texas, he won the 2004 NCAA singles crown and helped the Bears capture their only NCAA team title.
   Kosakowski said he's 6-foot and 180, but he appears smaller. He turned pro after one year at UCLA, where he was named first-team All-Pacific-10 Conference and the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year.
   After the first round of the Natomas Challenger, the only seeds left are No. 2 James Blake of Tampa, Fla., and No. 5 Matteo Viola of Italy. No. 3 Ryan Sweeting, the 2005 U.S. Open boys champion, withdrew with food poisoning, and No. 8 Denis Kudla, a 20-year-old American born in Ukraine, lost to qualifier Greg Jones of Australia 6-3, 6-0.
   Blake, a 32-year-old wild card and last year's runner-up to 6-foot-10 Ivo Karlovic, wore down 19-year-old qualifier Taro Daniel of Japan 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 on a 99-degree day in a match featuring the oldest and youngest players in the singles draw.
   "I got my legs moving a little better in the second and third sets, and I think his legs kind of went out on him  in the third set," said Blake, ranked No. 97 after reaching a career-high No. 4 in 2006. "He's already played three matches here.
   "I'm not a spring chicken anymore. Sometimes it takes a little longer to warm up. Those things are going to happen sometimes, but I'm happy I got through it."
   Blake, plagued by tendinitis in his right knee last year and earlier this year, pronounced himself fit but said he's taking his career "one match at a time at this point." He hopes to play all next year, "but you never know. One more bad injury, and that can change real quick."
   Eight years ago, Blake broke his neck while practicing in Rome. He slipped on a wet clay court while racing to return a drop shot and struck the net post. Had he not moved his head at the last moment, doctors said he could have been paralyzed.
   Viola dismissed Samuel Groth of Australia 6-2, 6-3. Groth, who blasted a 163-mph (263-kph) serve in a Challenger tournament in South Korea in May, converted only 20 percent of his first serves in the first set and 39 percent overall.
   "I felt really flat on court," said Groth, who has battled a head cold for two days. "I probably had my worst serving day for a year, and I was pretty slow in my movement. I don't think there was actually too much I did well out there. Matteo doesn't give you much, and I knew I was going to have to play a lot better than I did today, that's for sure."
   Bradley Klahn, a San Diego-area resident, and John Millman of Australia had big years in 2010. Klahn won the NCAA singles title as a Stanford sophomore, and John Millman captured the Sacramento Challenger. They met for the first time Tuesday, with wild card Klahn prevailing 7-6 (0), 6-4.
   The day ended with two 30-something veterans knocking out young Americans.
   Rik de Voest, a 32-year-old South African who won the 2005 (inaugural) Sacramento Challenger at the Sutter Lawn Tennis Club, outlasted 21-year-old Rhyne Williams of Knoxville, Tenn., 5-7, 7-6 (3), 6-4 in 3 hours, 13 minutes.
   Williams, who turned pro shortly after reaching the NCAA singles final in 2011 as a Tennessee sophomore, served for the match at 5-4 in the second set and led 4-1 (one service break) in the third set.
   Bobby Reynolds, 30, of Acworth, Ga., outslugged Jack Sock, 20, of Lincoln, Neb., 7-6 (6), 7-6 (4) in a matchup of 2011 Sacramento Challenger quarterfinalists. Sock, last year's doubles runner-up with Nicholas Monroe, already is out of this year's tournament. He and Phillip Simmonds of Reston, Va., narrowly lost in  the first round of doubles to Groth and Chris Guccione, the defending champion with Carsten Ball, on Monday.
   
RELYAID NATOMAS CHALLENGER - SACRAMENTO, CA, USA
$ 100,000
SEPT. 29 - OCT. 7, 2012
RESULTS - TUESDAY, OCT. 2, 2012Singles - First Round
[WC] D Kosakowski (USA) d [1] B Becker (GER) 75 63
[2] [WC] J Blake (USA) d [Q] T Daniel (JPN) 46 63 61
M Reid (AUS) d [LL] F Wolmarans (RSA) 64 64
[5] M Viola (ITA) d S Groth (AUS) 62 63
[Q] G Jones (AUS) d [8] D Kudla (USA) 63 60
M McClune (USA) d [Q] P Simmonds (USA) 16 63 61
R Farah (COL) d A Bogdanovic (GBR) 61 62
B Reynolds (USA) d J Sock (USA) 76(6) 76(4)
L Vanni (ITA) d [Q] L Gregorc (SLO) 46 64 76(3)
[WC] B Klahn (USA) d J Millman (AUS) 76(0) 64
R De Voest (RSA) d R Williams (USA) 57 76(3) 64

Doubles - First Round
[4] A Daescu (ROU) / A Hubble (AUS) d [LL] L Gregorc (SLO) / A Pavic (CRO) 63 64
A Kuznetsov (USA) / M Zverev (GER) d S Ianni (ITA) / M Viola (ITA) 63 64


ORDER OF PLAY - WEDNESDAY, OCT. 3, 2012
STADIUM start 11:00 am
D Kudla (USA) / T Smyczek (USA) vs A Courtney (USA) / P Raja (IND)
Not Before 12:30 PM
A El Mihdawy (USA) vs B Reynolds (USA)
S Groth (AUS) / C Guccione (AUS) vs [4] A Daescu (ROU) / A Hubble (AUS)
Not Before 4:00 PM
L Vanni (ITA) vs A Kuznetsov (USA)

COURT 1 start 11:00 am
M Reid (AUS) vs T Sandgren (USA)
M Zverev (GER) vs I Van der Merwe (RSA)
Not Before 3:30 PM
[3] B Reynolds (USA) / I Van der Merwe (RSA) vs [Q] J Dadamo (USA) / B Klahn (USA) - After suitable rest