Sunday, August 31, 2014

U.S. Open Day 6 highlights: Kvitova, last U.S. men gone

Third-seeded Petra Kvitova lost to qualifier
Aleksandra Krunic 6-4, 6-4 in the third round.
2014 photo by Paul Bauman
   Upset of the day -- Aleksandra Krunic, a 21-year-old Serbian qualifier ranked No. 145, stunned third-seeded Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic 6-4, 6-4 to reach the round of 16.
   Kvitova, who won her second Wimbledon title last month, has never advanced past the fourth round in seven trips to the U.S. Open.
   Of the top eight women, only three remain: No. 1 Serena Williams, No. 5 Maria Sharapova and No. 7 Eugenie Bouchard.
   Match of the day -- No. 22 seed Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany topped No. 13 John Isner of Tampa, Fla., 7-6 (4), 4-6, 7-6 (2), 7-6 (4). Isner, 6-foot-10 (2.08 meters), blasted 42 aces and saved all five break points he faced.
   It's the third straight year that Kohlschreiber has eliminated Isner in the third round at Flushing Meadows.
   U.S. report -- Now it's up to Williams, the two-time defending champion. All other U.S. men and women are gone in singles.
   It's the second year in a row that no American man has reached the round of 16. Until last year, that had never happened since the tournament began in 1881.
   Notable -- Italians Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci, the top seeds in women's doubles, lost to Jarmila Gajdosova and Ajla Tomljanovic of Australia 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 in the second round. Gajdosova and Tomljanovic are from Slovakia and Croatia originally.
Men's seeded winners -- No. 1 Novak Djokovic, No. 3 Stan Wawrinka, No. 5 Milos Raonic, No. 8 Andy Murray, No. 9 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, No. 10 Kei Nishikori, No. 16 Tommy Robredo and Kohlschreiber.
   Men's seeded losers -- Isner and No. 23 Leonardo Mayer.
   Women's seeded winners -- Williams, Bouchard, No. 11 Flavia Pennetta, No. 16 Victoria Azarenka, No. 17 Ekaterina Makarova and No. 20 Casey Dellacqua.
   Women's seeded losers -- No. 3 Petra Kvitova, No. 15 Carla Suarez Navarro and No. 30 Barbora Zahlavova Strycova.
   Northern California connection -- Sam Querrey, a San Francisco native and former Sacramento Capital in World TeamTennis, was outclassed by Djokovic 6-3, 6-2, 6-2.  
   Nicole Gibbs, the 2012 and 2013 NCAA singles champion from Stanford, lost to Pennetta of Italy 6-4, 6-0.
   Top-seeded Bob and Mike Bryan, seeking their fifth U.S. Open men's doubles title and 100th overall, will meet Bradley Klahn and Tim Smyczek (pronounced SMEE-check) in an all-American third-round match. All except Smyczek played at Stanford, but only Klahn, who's 12 years younger than the Bryans, graduated.
   Scott Lipsky, another former Stanford star, lost in the first round of mixed doubles with fellow American Lisa Raymond.
   Fast fact -- Isner, ranked No. 15, is the only U.S. man in the top 45.
   Quote -- Krunic, on beating Kvitova: “It was an honor for me to be in the same court with Petra. Of course, I didn’t expect to win. I was hoping (to) at least to win a set, but I managed to win a match somehow."

Saturday, August 30, 2014

U.S. Open Day 5 highlights: No. 2 Halep stunned

Second-seeded Simona Halep lost to Mirjana Lucic-
Baroni, a 32-year-old qualifier, 7-6 (6), 6-2 in the
third round. 2014 photo by Paul Bauman
   Upset of the day -- Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, a 32-year-old qualifier from Croatia and former prodigy, shocked second-seeded Simona Halep of Romania 7-6 (6), 6-2 to reach the round of 16.
   The 5-foot-11 (1.81-meter) Lucic-Baroni saved three set points at 2-5 in the first set against the 2014 French Open runner-up and Wimbledon semifinalist.
   Entering the U.S. Open, Lucic-Baroni was winless in six tournaments since May. One of the losses came against San Jose resident Raquel Kops-Jones, a doubles specialist then ranked No. 1,055 in singles, in the first round of qualifying for the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford last month.
   Lucic-Baroni once appeared destined for stardom. She became the youngest player to win an Australian Open title when she took the 1998 women's doubles crown at 15 years, 10 months with Martina Hingis.
   At 17, Lucic-Baroni upset world No. 4 Monica Seles to reach the Wimbledon singles semifinals in 1999. She was the lowest-ranked player (No. 134) at the time to reach a Grand Slam semifinal but has been surpassed.
   Lucic-Baroni's career was derailed by problems with her father, who she has said physically abused her and tampered with her prize money.
   "There have been more beatings than anyone can imagine," Lucic-Baroni once said.
   Marinko Lucic countered: “I never used excessive force, and if I did give her the occasional slap, it was because of her behavior. I did what I believed what was best for the child.”   
No. 19 seed Venus Williams fell to No. 13 Sara Errani
6-0, 0-6, 7-6 (5). 2014 photo by Paul Bauman
   Match of the day -- No. 13 seed Sara Errani of Italy edged No. 19 Venus Williams, the 2000 and 2001 U.S. Open champion, 6-0, 0-6, 7-6 (5). Williams, 34, served for the match at 5-3 in the third set and came within two points of victory four times.
   Errani, only 5-foot-4 1/2 (1.64 meters), had never won more than three games in a set in three matches against the 6-foot-1 (1.85-meter) Williams.
   Notable -- Belinda Bencic, 17, of Switzerland knocked off No. 6 Angelique Kerber of Germany 6-1, 7-5. Bencic, formerly ranked No. 1 in the juniors, is playing in the U.S. Open for the first time. Kerber, a 26-year-old left-hander, reached the semifinals at the U.S. Open in 2011 and Wimbledon in 2012.
   Men's seeded winners -- No. 2 Roger Federer, No. 4 David Ferrer, No. 6 Tomas Berdych, No. 7 Grigor Dimitrov, No. 12 Richard Gasquet, No. 14 Marin Cilic, No. 17 Roberto Bautista Agut, No. 18 Kevin Anderson, No. 19 Feliciano Lopez, No. 20 Gael Monfils and No. 26 Gilles Simon.
   Men's seeded losers -- No. 11 Ernests Gulbis, No. 15 Fabio Fognini, No. 25 Ivo Karlovic and No. 32 Joao Sousa.
   Women's seeded winners -- No. 5 Maria Sharapova, No. 9 Jelena Jankovic, No. 10 Caroline Wozniacki, Errani and No. 14 Lucie Safarova.
   Women's seeded losers -- Halep, Kerber, No. 18 Andrea Petkovic, Williams, No. 22 Alize Cornet, No. 26 Sabine Lisicki and No. 28 Roberta Vinci.
   U.S. report -- Remaining are three American women (No. 1 Serena Williams, Uzbekistan native Varvara Lepchenko and wild card Nicole Gibbs) and two U.S. men (No. 13 John Isner and Sam Querrey).
   All play in the third round today. Williams meets Lepchenko, Gibbs faces No. 11 Flavia Pennetta of Italy, Querrey takes on No. 1 Novak Djokovic of Serbia, and Isner goes against No. 22 Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany.
   Northern California connection -- Eighth-seeded Kops-Jones and Juan Sebastian Cabal of Colombia lost to Anastasia Rodionova of Australia and Robert Farah of Colombia 4-6, 6-3 [10-5] in the first round of mixed doubles. Cabal and Farah, seeded 16th in men's doubles, lost to Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski of Poland in the second round.
   In an all-American encounter, ex-Stanford star Scott Lipsky, 33, and Rajeev Ram, 30, topped 16-year-old wild cards Michael Mmoh and Francis Tiafoe 6-1, 6-4 in the second round of men's doubles.
   Sam Riffice, a 15-year-old product of Roseville in the Sacramento area, lost to 15th-seeded Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia 7-6 (4), 6-4 in the first round of boys qualifying. Here's a link to my recent profile of Riffice and fellow Roseville juniors Keenan and Aidan Mayo: http://norcaltennisczar.blogspot.com/2014/08/neighborly-advice-keep-eye-on-roseville.html
   Fast fact -- Three record holders for the world's fastest serve played, and all lost. Sam Groth (163.7 mph, or 263.4 kph, in the 2012 Busan, South Korea, Challenger for the unofficial men's record) succumbed to Federer 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. Karlovic (156 mph, or 251 kph, in the 2011 Davis Cup for the official men's record) lost to Marcel Granollers 7-6 (6), 6-7 (3), 7-6 (5), 3-6, 6-4. And Sabine Lisicki (131 mph, or 210.8 kph, in last month's Bank of the West Classic for the women's mark) fell to Sharapova 6-2, 6-4.
   Quote -- A tearful Lucic-Baroni on her triumph: "This is incredible. I believed the whole time. After so many years, my God, this is just incredible. Every painful moment was worth it.”

Friday, August 29, 2014

U.S. Open Day 4 highlights: No. 8 Ivanovic, Bellis fall

Karolina Pliskova, shown in last month's Bank of
the West Classic at Stanford, upset eighth-seeded
Ana Ivanovic in the second round of the U.S. Open.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   Upset of the day -- Karolina Pliskova, a 22-year-old Czech who stands 6-foot-1 (1.86 meters), knocked off eighth-seeded Ana Ivanovic of Serbia 7-5, 6-4 in the second round.
   Ivanovic ascended to No. 1 in the world after winning the 2008 French Open for her only Grand Slam title. After dropping out of the top 20, she has rebounded this year. Ivanovic upset Serena Williams to reach the quarterfinals of the Australian Open in January and returned to the top 10 for the first time since 2009 on Aug. 4.
   Pliskova, ranked 42nd, advanced to the third round of a major for the first time. She lost to Williams 7-5, 6-2 in the second round of the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford last month.
   Northern California connection --  CiCi Bellis, a 15-year-old wild card from Atherton in the San Francisco Bay Area, lost to Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan 6-3, 0-6, 6-2. Diyas, 20, reached the fourth round of Wimbledon this summer.
   Bellis had stunned 12th-seeded Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia in the first round to become the youngest player to win a match in the U.S. Open since Anna Kournikova, also 15, in 1996.
   Wild card Nicole Gibbs, a two-time NCAA singles champion from Stanford, surprised 23rd-seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia 6-4, 6-7 (6), 6-3.
Ana Ivanovic returned to the top 10 for the first
time since 2009 on Aug. 4. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Sam Querrey, a San Francisco native and former Sacramento Capital in World TeamTennis, outclassed 28th-seeded Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 to set up a third-round matchup with top-ranked Novak Djokovic.  
   In the first round of men's doubles, former Stanford stars Scott Lipsky and Bradley Klahn won separately, but Querrey and Steve Johnson lost to fourth-seeded Ivan Dodig of Croatia and Marcelo Melo of Brazil 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (5).
   Lipsky and fellow American Rajeev Ram edged 16th-seeded Jamie Murray of Great Britain and John Peers of Australia 4-6, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (4). Murray is Andy's older brother. 
   Klahn and Smyzcek outlasted Austin Krajicek of Bradenton, Fla., and John-Patrick Smith of Australia 2-6, 7-5, 6-4.
   Match of the day -- Estonia's Kaia Kanepi, a five-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist, saved two match points in a 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (8) victory over 24th-seeded Sam Stosur, the 2011 U.S. Open champion. 
   Men's seeded winners -- Djokovic, No. 5 Milos Raonic, No. 8 Andy Murray, No. 9 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, No. 10 Kei Nishikori, No. 13 John Isner, No. 16 Tommy Robredo, No. 22 Philipp Kohlschreiber and No. 23 Leonardo Mayer.
   Men's seeded losers -- Garcia-Lopez and No. 31 Fernando Verdasco.
   Women's seeded winners -- No. 1 Williams, No. 3 Petra Kvitova, No. 7 Eugenie Bouchard, No. 11 Flavia Pennetta, No. 15 Carla Suarez Navarro, No. 16 Victoria Azarenka, No. 17 Ekaterina Makarova, No. 29 Casey Dellacqua and No. 30 Barbora Zahlavova Strycova.
   Women's seeded losers -- Ivanovic, Pavyluchenkova, Stosur and No. 27 Madison Keys.
   Notable -- Victor Estrella Burgos, a Dominican playing in the U.S. Open for the first time at 34, defated Borna Coric, 17, of Croatia 7-6 (2), 4-6, 6-4, 6-2. Estrella Burgos, only 5-foot-8 (1.73 meters), won a $15,000 Futures tournament in the Sacramento suburb of Loomis in 2008.
   U.S. report -- The men went 2-0 in singles, but the women went 3-6 (including one all-American match). Four U.S. women lost to seeds.
   Through two rounds, four U.S. ladies remain: Williams, No. 19 Venus Williams, Uzbekistan native Varvara Lepchenko and Gibbs. With half of the men's second round to be played, the only Americans left are Isner, Querrey and wild card Tim Smyczek (pronounced SMEE-check).
   Fast facts -- Isner will face Kohlschreiber in the third round of the U.S. Open for the third straight year. Kohlschreiber won in five sets in 2012 and in four sets last year.
   Vania King, who lost to Serena Williams 6-1, 6-0, sang "America the Beautiful" in Arthur Ashe Stadium before a U.S. Open night session in 2006.
   King and Pavlyuchenkova also are former Capitals.
   Quote -- Bellis, after her loss: “This whole experience has been unbelievable, like mind-blowing. It's been crazy. It's been the best couple days of my life.”

Thursday, August 28, 2014

U.S. Open Day 3 highlights: No. 4 Radwanska ousted

Agnieszka Radwanska became the first top-10 seed, male or
female, to lose in the U.S. Open. 2013 photo by Paul Bauman
   Upset of the day -- No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland became the first top-10 seed, male or female, to fall in the tournament. The 2012 Wimbledon runner-up succumbed to 39th-ranked Peng Shuai, a Chinese veteran who uses two hands on both sides, 6-3, 6-4 in the second round.
   Radwanska has failed to advance past the fourth round in nine trips to the U.S. Open. Seeded second in the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford last month, the 2013 runner-up lost in the second round to Varvara Lepchenko of the United States after receiving a bye.
   Radwanska rebounded, though, to win the Montreal title the following week.
   Matches of the day -- No. 18 Kevin Anderson of South Africa and No. 32 Joao Sousa of Portugal pulled out fifth-set tiebreakers, and No. 18 Andrea Petkovic of Germany reeled off four straight points to win a third-set tiebreaker against Monica Puig of Puerto Rico.
   Notable -- No. 7 Grigor Dimitrov earned his first U.S. Open victory after three losses, beating U.S. wild card Ryan Harrison 6-2, 7-6 (4), 6-2. No. 6 Tomas Berdych eliminated 33-year-old Lleyton Hewitt, the 2001 champion, 6-3, 6-4, 6-3.
   U.S. report -- American men and women went 1-4 combined in singles. No. 19 Venus Williams, 34, downed Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland 6-1, 6-4 in the first match of the night session in Arthur Ashe Stadium. Losing were No. 21 Sloane Stephens, wild card Madison Brengle, Steve Johnson and Harrison.
   The 21-year-old Stephens, who has dropped from a career-high No. 11 in the world last October to No. 24, lost to Johanna Larsson of Sweden 5-7, 6-4, 6-2. Johnson, a 24-year-old former USC star, retired with severe leg and arm cramps while leading Tatsuma Ito of Japan 2-6, 6-3, 7-5, 1-4.
   Northern California connection -- After the first round of men's singles, only three Americans remain: No. 13 John Isner (6-foot-10/2.08 meters), Sam Querrey (6-foot-6/1.98 meters) and Tim Smyczek (5-foot-9/1.75 meters). With half of the second round in women's singles completed, 10 U.S. players are left. Nine are scheduled to play today in the top half. Only Williams remains in the bottom half.
   Marcos Baghdatis, the Australian Open runner-up in 2006 and Aptos Challenger champion three weeks ago, retired with an ankle injury with No. 14 Marin Cilic of Croatia leading 6-3, 3-1, 0-15.
   Top-seeded Bob and Mike Bryan, former Stanford All-Americans seeking their fifth U.S. Open men's doubles title and 100th overall, coasted in the first round.
   In women's doubles, sixth-seeded Raquel Kops-Jones of San Jose and Abigail Spears of San Diego were upset by Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan and Yi-Fan Xu of China 6-4, 2-6, 6-1. Also, ex-Stanford star Nicole Gibbs, from Marina del Rey in the Los Angeles area, and Maria Sanchez, originally from Modesto, lost to Lauren Davis of Boca Raton, Fla., and Renata Voracova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 4-6, 6-1.
   Bradley Klahn, who graduated from Stanford in 2012, lost in the first round of mixed doubles with Shelby Rogers of Charleston, S.C.
   Fast fact -- No. 5 Maria Sharapova improved to 17-6 (.739) in three-set matches this year after beating Alexandra Dulgheru of Romania 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.
   Quote -- No. 10 Caroline Wozniacki, after her hair got caught in her racket during her victory over qualifier Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus: “Actually, it used to happen when I didn't braid my hair. That's why I started braiding it. Once it gets to a certain length, sometimes it can get stuck in the arm of the racket. It's a first, when it's braided that it's been stuck that good in my racket. I still tried to hit the ball. Almost took my head off.”

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

U.S. Open Day 2 highlights: Bellis, 15, stuns 12th seed

CiCi Bellis earned a wild card in the U.S. Open by winning
the USTA Girls 18 National Championships in San Diego
three weeks ago. Photo courtesy of JFS Communications
   Match and upset of the day -- Catherine (CiCi) Bellis, a 15-year-old wild card from Atherton in the San Francisco Bay Area, shocked 12th-seeded Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia 6-1, 4-6, 6-4 in the first round.
   Bellis, the second-ranked junior in the world, overcame a 3-1 deficit in the third set to become the youngest player to win a main-draw match in the U.S. Open since Anna Kournikova, also 15, in 1996.
   Cibulkova, only 5-foot-3 (1.61 meters), was the runner-up to Li Na in the Australian Open in January and won last year's Bank of the West Classic at Stanford. Atherton is adjacent to Stanford, and Bellis grew up attending the tournament.
   Cibulkova, however, has won one match in four tournaments since Wimbledon, including a first-round loss to Garbine Muguruza at Stanford. Cibulkova's victory was over 17-year-old wild card Francoise Abanda in Montreal three weeks ago.
   Bellis will face Zarina Diyas, a 20-year-old Kazakh who reached the fourth round at Wimbledon this year. She is ranked 48th.
   Here's a link to my 2012 profile of Bellis: http://norcaltennisczar.blogspot.com/2012/06/little-bellis-gets-big-results.html
   Notable -- Marina Erakovic, a veteran from New Zealand, upset 20th-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia 3-6, 6-2, 7-6 (3). Kuznetsova, 29, won the U.S. Open 10 years ago for her first Grand Slam title. She also captured the French Open in 2009.
   Borna Coric, a 17-year-old qualifier from Croatia, ousted 29th-seeded Lukas Rosol of the Czech Republic 6-4, 6-1, 6-2. Rosol, 29, won his second career ATP title last week in Winston-Salem and stunned Rafael Nadal in the second round at Wimbledon in 2012.
   U.S. report -- The women went 9-4 in singles and the men 3-5. Those figures include two all-American encounters. With the women's first round complete, 12 U.S. players remain. With some of the men's opening round still to be played, only five Americans are left.
   Northern California connection -- Sam Querrey, a San Francisco native and former Sacramento Capital in World TeamTennis, subdued Maximo Gonzalez of Argentina 6-2, 4-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3. The 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Querrey could meet top-seeded Novak Djokovic in the third round.
   Dmitry Tursunov, a Russian veteran based in the Sacramento suburb of Granite Bay, lost to Alejandro Gonzalez of Colombia 6-4, 6-4, 7-5. Tursunov, 31, had been sidelined since Wimbledon with a left ankle injury.
   Former Stanford star Nicole Gibbs, 21, outlasted 41st-ranked Caroline Garcia of France 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 for her first Grand Slam main-draw victory. 
   Fast fact -- Roger Federer and Serena Williams each have captured 17 Grand Slam singles titles, including five in the U.S. Open. They headlined the night session and won in straight sets.
   Quote -- Bellis on her victory: “Believing was the number one thing that I had to do today. Just go out there and believe that you can win. If you do believe, there's two options. You can either believe and lose or believe and win, but if you don't believe you're going to lose anyway.”

U.S. Open Day 1 highlights: Venus wins match for ages

Venus Williams, 34, shown in last month's Bank of the
West Classic at Stanford, beat 43-year-old Kimiko
Date-Krumm in the first round of the U.S. Open.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   Match of the day --No. 19 seed Venus Williams, 34, defeated 43-year-old Kimiko-Date Krumm 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 in Arthur Ashe Stadium. The combined age of 77 is believed to be a women's Grand Slam record.
   Biggest upset -- Nick Kyrgios is at it again. The 19-year-old Australian, who upended top-ranked Rafael Nadal to reach the Wimbledon quarterfinals last month, ousted No. 21 seed Mikhail Youzhny of Russia 7-5, 7-6 (4), 2-6, 7-6 (1). Kyrgios (pronounced KEER-ee-ose) incurred three code violations, one short of being defaulted. Youzhny, 32, reached the U.S. Open semifinals in 2006 and 2010 and quarterfinals last year.  
   Notable -- Andy Murray, the eighth seed and 2012 champion, overcame head-to-toe cramps to beat Robin Haase of the Netherlands 6-3, 7-6 (6), 1-6, 7-5. Haase also cramped, but less severely. ... Past U.S. Open champions Novak Djokovic, seeded first, and Maria Sharapova, seeded fifth, won in straight sets.
   U.S. report -- The women went 3-1 and the men 0-2. Advancing were Williams, No. 21 Sloane Stephens and wild card Madison Brengle. Losing were wild card Danielle Collins, Donald Young and Bradley Klahn.
   Northern California connection -- Klahn, a 24-year-old Stanford graduate coming back from a foot injury, fell to Andrey Kuznetsov of Russia 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5.
   Fast fact -- Sharapova won the final 10 games in her 6-4, 6-0 victory over Maria Kirilenko in a matchup of 27-year-old Russians and close friends.
   Quote -- The volatile Kyrgios, on the vocal support he received during his match: "I was really, really happy with that. It was awesome. I'm going to get scorched in Melbourne for saying it, but this is my favorite Grand Slam. Suits my personality a bit."

Monday, August 25, 2014

Players to watch in the U.S. Open

   The U.S. Open is scheduled for today through Sept. 8 (seedings in parentheses):
MEN
      Novak Djokovic (1)
   Why he'll win -- Djokovic won Wimbledon last month, and he has reached the last four U.S. Open finals, triumphing in 2011.
   Why he won't -- The Serb got married after Wimbledon and lost in the third round of his two U.S. Open tuneup tournaments. He admitted he was "flat."
   NorCal connection -- None.
Roger Federer is interviewed by Mark Knowles of Tennis Channel
at Indian Wells in March. Photo by Paul Bauman
Roger Federer (2)
   Why he'll win -- Federer won the U.S. Open five straight times (2004-08) and has had a good summer, winning the Cincinnati title and reaching the final at Toronto.
   Why he won't -- The Swiss hasn't won a Grand Slam crown in more than two years (2012 Wimbledon). At 33, he eventually will wilt in the best-of-five-set format on unforgiving hardcourts in possible high heat and humidity.
   NorCal connection -- None.
Stan Wawrinka (3)
   Why he'll win -- Wawrinka won the Australian Open, also on a hardcourt, in January for his first Grand Slam title.
   Why he won't -- The Swiss has been unimpressive this summer, losing to Kevin Anderson in the third round at Toronto and Julien Benneteau in the quarterfinals at Cincinnati.
   NorCal connection -- None.
  Andy Murray (8)
   Why he'll win -- Murray won the U.S. Open two years ago and last year became the first British man to win Wimbledon in 77 years.
   Why he won't -- He underwent back surgery last September and hasn't reached a final since capturing Wimbledon
   NorCal connection -- Murray won the SAP Open in San Jose in 2006 at 18 years old and repeated in 2007. He also won the Aptos Challenger in 2005.
Others
   David Ferrer (4) -- The 5-foot-9 (1.75-meter) Spaniard reached the U.S. Open semifinals in 2007 and 2012, but he's 32.
   Milos Raonic (5) -- The 23-year-old Canadian, 6-foot-5 (1.96 meters) with a devastating serve, reached his first Grand Slam semifinal last month at Wimbledon.
   Tomas Berdych (6) -- The Czech advanced to the Wimbledon final in 2010 and the U.S. Open semifinals in 2012, but he has struggled this summer.
   Grigor Dimitrov (7) -- Like Raonic, the 23-year-old Bulgarian advanced to his first Grand Slam semifinal at Wimbledon. However, he is 0-3 in the main draw at the U.S. Open.
   Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (9) -- The French veteran knocked off Federer to win the Toronto title this month. 
   John Isner (13) -- The United States' top hope defaulted his Winston-Salem quarterfinal on Thursday with a sprained ankle. Isner, 6-foot-10 (2.08 meters), could face Djokovic in the fourth round. 
   Marin Cilic (14) -- A two-time U.S. Open quarterfinalist, the 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Croat led Djokovic two sets to one in the Wimbledon quarters last month before falling.
    Champion
   It's all lining up for Federer. Rafael Nadal, last year's champion, is out with a right wrist injury. Djokovic might not be focused enough after getting married. And this is not Murray's year.
Serena Williams won her third Bank of the West title last month
at Stanford. Tri Nguyen/TriNguyenPhotography.com
WOMEN
Serena Williams (1)
   Why she'll win -- Williams is the two-time defending champion, and she has won two of her three tournaments since Wimbledon. Her loss to older sister Venus in the Montreal semifinals was a fluke.
   Why she won't -- The 17-time Grand Slam singles champion has failed to reach the quarterfinals in a major this year. 
   NorCal connection -- Williams won her third Bank of the West title last month at Stanford.
  Simona Halep (2)
   Why she'll win -- The 22-year-old Romanian reached her first Grand Slam final in this year's  French Open and followed up with a semifinal appearance at Wimbledon.
   Why she won't -- Halep has never advanced past the fourth round at the U.S. Open in four attempts.
   NorCal connection -- She lost to Sabine Lisicki in the first round of the 2011 Bank of the West Classic in her only appearance at Stanford.
Petra Kvitova (3)
   Why she'll win -- Kvitova won her second Wimbledon championship last month and captured the New Haven title last week.
   Why she won't -- The Czech has never been past the fourth round at the U.S. Open in six tries.
   NorCal connection -- None.
  Maria Sharapova (5)
   Why she'll win -- Sharapova has won five Grand Slam singles titles, including the 2006 U.S. Open.
   Why she won't -- She has slumped since capturing her second French Open title in early June.
   NorCal connection -- Sharapova was the runner-up to Victoria Azarenka in the 2010 Bank of the West Classic.
  Others
   Agnieszka Radwanska (4) -- The Polish veteran reached the Wimbledon final in 2012 and won the Montreal title this month.
   Angelique Kerber (6) -- A 2012 U.S. Open semifinalist, she fell to Williams in the Bank of the West final last month.    
   Eugenie Bouchard (7) -- The 20-year-old Canadian is the only woman to reach the semifinals or better in all three majors this year.
   Ana Ivanovic (8) -- The former world No. 1 advanced to the Cincinnati final recently, losing to Williams.
   Venus Williams (19) -- A two-time U.S. Open champion (2000 and 2001), she beat Serena to reach the Montreal final. 
   Sloane Stephens (21) -- A first-round loss at Wimbledon ended the 21-year-old American's streak of six appearances in the second week at majors.
   Madison Keys (27) -- The 19-year-old American won her first WTA title in June at Eastbourne on grass. 
Champion
   Serena Williams will salvage her year and tie Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova for fourth place in career Grand Slam singles titles (second in the Open era to Steffi Graf with 22).

U.S. Open TV schedule

(All times in California; all coverage live)
Today
   First round, Tennis Channel, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
   First round, ESPN, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
   First round, ESPN2, 3-8 p.m. 
Tuesday
   First round, Tennis Channel, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
   First round, ESPN, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. 
Wednesday
   First round (men), second round (women), Tennis Channel, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
   First round (men), second round (women), ESPN, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
   First round (men), second round (women), ESPN2, 3-8 p.m.
Thursday
   Second round, Tennis Channel, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
   Second round, ESPN, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
   Second round, ESPN2, 3-8 p.m. 
Friday
   Second round (men), third round (women), Tennis Channel, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
   Second round (men), third round (women), ESPN, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
   Second round (men), third round (women), ESPN2, 3-8 p.m.
Saturday
   Third round, CBS, 8 a.m.-3 p.m.
   Third round, CBS Sports Network, 8-9 a.m.
   Third round, CBS Sports Network, 12:30-3 p.m.         
   Third round, Tennis Channel, 4-8 p.m.
Sunday   
   Third round (men), fourth round (women), CBS and CBS Sports Network, 8 a.m.-3 p.m.
   Third round (men), fourth round (women), Tennis Channel, 4-8 p.m.
Monday, Sept. 1
   Fourth round, CBS and CBS Sports Network, 8 a.m.-3 p.m.
   Fourth round, ESPN2, 4-8 p.m.
Tuesday, Sept. 2
   Fourth round (men), quarterfinals (women), ESPN, 8 a.m.-8 p.m.
   Fourth round (men), doubles, Tennis Channel, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
Wednesday, Sept. 3
   Doubles, juniors, Tennis Channel, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
   Quarterfinals, ESPN, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
   Quarterfinals, ESPN2, 3-8 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 4
   Doubles, juniors, Tennis Channel, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
   Men's quarterfinals, doubles, ESPN, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
   Doubles exhibition, Tennis Channel, 4-5 p.m. 
   Men's quarterfinals, ESPN, 5-8 p.m. 
Friday, Sept. 5
   Women's semifinals, mixed doubles final, CBS, 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 6
   Men's semifinals, women's doubles final, CBS, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 7 
   Men's doubles final, ESPN2, 9:30-11:30 a.m.
   Women's final, CBS, 1:30-4 p.m.
Monday, Sept. 8
   Men's final, CBS, 2-5 p.m.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Neighborly advice: Keep an eye on Roseville trio

Roger Federer posed with Sam Riffice, far left, three years
ago at the La Quinta resort in the Palm Springs area. Riffice,
12 at the time, is now 6 feet tall. Also shown are Riffice's
coach, Amine Khaldi, second from left, and Khaldi's friend
Steve Mohibi. Photo courtesy of Amine Khaldi.
   Sam Riffice grew up in the same Sacramento-area development as brothers Keenan and Aidan Mayo.
   Now the focus is on the tennis development of the promising juniors, splintering both Roseville families.
   Riffice (pronounced RIFF-iss), ranked No. 6 nationally in the 16-and-unders, has been based at the USTA Training Center Headquarters in Boca Raton, Fla., for almost two years.
   The 15-year-old, who has hit with young American pros Denis Kudla and Ryan Harrison at the center, received a wild card into U.S. Open boys qualifying next week in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
   Keenan Mayo, ranked No. 1 in the 14s, and Aidan, No. 4 in the 12s, are situated at the USTA Training Center West in Carson.   
   Keenan, 14, has been compared to world No. 7 Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic. Aidan, 11, has dazzled U.S. pros Steve Johnson, Sam Querrey and Mardy Fish in Carson with his quickness, clean strokes and pro-like comportment.
   "Keenan has great natural power," observed Vahe Assadourian, the Mayos' coach at the USTA center and previously at the Gorin Tennis Academy in the Sacramento suburb of Granite Bay. "Aidan is just a great athlete. He's talented in more ways than probably I've ever seen. He's capable of things most pros on the tour can't do now -- the way he positions himself on the court and transitions from offense to defense and into the net. He has every shot. He volleys great, can hit topspin and slice and has great movement. He's built to be a professional athlete in multiple sports.
   "Johnson, Querrey, Fish and other male and female pros ranked 60 to 200 see him hit, and they're amazed. They start asking questions about him, and they don't do that with any other player."
   Amine Khaldi, one of Riffice's coaches, cited "mental (toughness) and love of the game" as his pupil's greatest strengths.
   "He takes that extra step, working harder than anybody," said Khaldi, a teaching pro at the Gold River Racquet Club in the Sacramento region. "That's his mentality. He really pushes the envelope. He wakes up early for conditioning and does what it takes to get better. He doesn't just work on his strengths; he works on his weaknesses so he can close the gap.
   "He also watches tennis (on television); you don't see kids doing that. He spends long hours watching the top pros."
   Riffice's mother, Lori, recently quit her job as a teaching pro at the Johnson Ranch Racquet Club in Roseville after 23 years and moved to Boca Raton. Sam's father, Eric, remains in Roseville. An air traffic controller, he's a year and a half from retirement. Sam's two siblings, older brothers who do not play tennis, are in college. 
   The Mayos moved to Southern California with their father, Jim, four months ago. The boys' mother, Brigitte, stayed in Roseville. Both parents are attorneys, and they have no other children.
Keenan, right, and Aidan Mayo display their
medals at the USTA National Selection Tour-
nament in Austin, Texas, in February. Aidan
won the boys 12 singles, and Keenan was the
runner-up in boys 14 singles. Photo courtesy
of Jim Mayo.
   Sam Riffice and Keenan Mayo have far more in common than growing up a few houses apart and training at the USTA centers. The parallels, in fact, are eerie:
   -- Both are already 6 feet (1.82 meters) tall with classic American games featuring big serves and forehands.
   -- In last month's USTA National Clay Court Championships, Mayo won the boys 14 singles title in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., while Riffice took the boys 16 doubles crown (with Vasil Kirkov) in Delray Beach, Fla.
   -- Riffice reached the round of 16 in the prestigious Les Petits As (The Small Champions), for players 12 to 14, in Tarbes, France, last year. Mayo advanced to the quarterfinals of the tournament this year. Past champions include Rafael Nadal, Michael Chang, Martina Hingis, Kim Clijsters and Lindsay Davenport.
   Riffice and Mayo shouldn't feel too bad about not winning the title. Neither did Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic when they played in Tarbes.
   -- Riffice was one of three boys on the U.S. team in last year's ITF World Junior Finals, for players 14 and under, on clay in the Czech Republic. Mayo played on this year's team. The United States finished second among 16 teams last year and seventh this year as Mayo went 2-0 in singles and 3-2 in doubles.
   -- Like Lori Riffice, Brigitte Mayo has the tennis background in the family. She played Northern California junior tournaments while growing up in San Jose before focusing on academics at UCLA.
   Jim Mayo, who's 6-foot-7 1/2, comes from a basketball family. He played on the junior varsity at Colgate, near Syracuse, N.Y., and his 6-foot-4 sister Suzanne played with Rebecca Lobo for powerhouse Connecticut in the early 1990s. 
   The similarities between Riffice and Keenan Mayo provide an irresistible angle for the media, irking Keenan's parents.
   "We'd like to see Keenan stand on his own and not always be in Sam's shadow," Jim Mayo admitted. "Sam probably doesn't want to be linked to Keenan all the time, either. It almost detracts from their individual achievements."
The Mayos pose in Pensacola, Fla., in March after the
USTA National Spring Team Championships in Mo-
bile, Ala. Keenan won a silver ball for second place.
Photo courtesy of Jim Mayo
   But even Jim Mayo admits "it's almost a carbon copy" and that he and Brigitte "have used Sam's success as a template for Keenan and Aidan in terms of the way he's navigating through the tennis world."
   Added Keenan Mayo: "I know what (Riffice) has done the year before when he was my age. He's a guideline."
   Riffice and Keenan Mayo met eight or nine years ago when they played on opposing basketball teams in a youth league. Predictably, they describe each other in similar terms.
   "He was the best player on his team," Riffice recalled. "They won by one or two points. He was pretty wild and energetic. He was always running around."
   Mayo remembered that Riffice was "definitely competitive, pretty hard core."
   Because Riffice has always been one age group ahead of Mayo, they have rarely faced each other in tennis tournaments.
   "I've never lost to him in a match or practice," said Riffice, a singles quarterfinalist in the USTA Boys 16 National Championships in Kalamazoo, Mich., earlier this month. "It gets pretty intense in practice. It's no different than in a match. We really want to beat each other. We're both really competitive. We don't want to lose in anything."
   Six months ago, "Sam was probably four inches taller than Keenan," Jim Mayo said. Keenan is projected to be 6-foot-4 (1.94 meters) or, like Berdych, 6-foot-5 (1.96 meters).
   "I'm a little more consistent and stronger (than Mayo) right now," said Riffice, whose father is 6-foot-2 (1.88 meters). "I can handle his pace. But if he keeps growing, he's going to be a lot tougher."
   Aidan, under 5 feet (1.52 meters), is considerably smaller than Keenan was at 11.
   "Keenan is going to be bigger, but Aidan is going to be faster," Brigitte Mayo said.
   Aidan won the Little Mo Nationals three years ago in Austin, Texas. Past champions include Andy Roddick and Harrison.
    This year in the boys 12s, Aidan reached the semifinals of the USTA National Clay Courts in Winston-Salem, N.C., and the quarterfinals of the USTA Nationals in Little Rock, Ark.
   Brigitte Mayo could tell Keenan and Aidan -- whose names were chosen from among 10,000 in a book, not because of Irish heritage -- were natural athletes when they were infants.
   "Before Keenan could walk on his 10-month birthday," she recalled, "he would go into the closet and hit Ping-Pong balls in the air with a metal hanger. It was unbelievable. I have pretty good hand-eye coordination, and I could hit one out of 10 balls. He could hit nine out of 10. It was insane."
   When did Brigitte know Aidan was athletically gifted?
   "When he came out of the womb," she asserted.
Riffice and Khaldi relax after a tough workout.
Photo courtesy of Amine Khaldi
   Like Keenan, Aidan excelled in baseball, basketball and soccer before settling on tennis.
   "He was the best one (in the league) in all the sports he played," Brigitte said of her ambidextrous younger son. "He was an incredible athlete from the get-go.
   "His feet when he played soccer were as if he was dribbling the ball with his hands. His first soccer coach played in college. He said, 'I've never seen anything like this kid.' "
   Aidan attended public school through the fourth grade but now -- like Keenan and Riffice, both high school freshmen -- studies independently.
   "At regular school, you get to see your friends every day, but with homeschool, you get to focus on tennis," said Aidan, who will begin the sixth grade next month. "I like homeschool more. You don't have to sit at your desk all day listening to the teacher."
   Riffice began playing tennis at 5 on a racquetball court because at the time he lived in Graeagle, a mountain town northeast of Sacramento where it often snowed.
  "He always had good hand-eye coordination," Lori Riffice said. "You could tell early that he had good hands. He had good touch on volleys. He was a catcher in baseball."
   Sam was 11 the first time he defeated his mother in tennis.
   "It's a moment you always want as a parent and coach," Lori said. "I was pretty upset but proud."
   All three juniors hope to play professionally.
   "I want to become the best pro I can, hopefully top five," Keenan Mayo said. "Those are my dreams. I hope if I keep working hard, it will work out."

Saturday, August 23, 2014

No Americans qualify for U.S. Open

Modesto product Maria Sanchez lost in the
final round of qualifying for the U.S. Open.
2013 photo by Paul Bauman

  The U.S. Open hasn't even started, and Americans already are struggling.
   Of the 32 male and female qualifiers, none are from the United States.
   Only three Americans even reached Friday's final round of qualifying in Flushing Meadows, N.Y. Take a bow, Rajeev Ram, Maria Sanchez and Melanie Oudin.
   Sanchez, a 24-year-old Modesto product, lost to 16th-seeded Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus 6-3, 6-2.
   Sanchez has tumbled from a career-high No. 107 last summer to No. 303. She graduated from USC in 201.
   Sasnovich, 20, will make her first appearance in the singles main draw of a Grand Slam tournament. Ranked No. 125, she will face No. 66 Anna Schmiedlova of Slovakia in the first round. The winner likely will play 10th-seeded Caroline Wozniacki, formerly ranked No. 1.
   Schmiedlova, who will turn 20 on Sept. 13, reached the third round of this year's French Open after knocking off Venus Williams.
   The U.S. Open is scheduled for Monday through Sept. 8.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Querrey could face Djokovic early in U.S. Open

Sam Querrey could meet top seed Novak Djokovic
in the third round of the U.S. Open. 2014 photo
by Paul Bauman
   Sam Querrey has a good chance to reach the third round of the U.S. Open.
   But then the San Francisco native could face top seed Novak Djokovic. The Serbian star has reached the last four finals at Flushing Meadows, winning in 2011.
   The U.S. Open draw was held Thursday, and play is scheduled for Monday through Sept. 8.
   Querrey, a former Sacramento Capital in World TeamTennis, will meet Maximo Gonzalez of Argentina for the first time in the opening round.
   The 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Querrey is ranked 56th after reaching a career-high No. 17 in 2011. Gonzalez, only 5-foot-9 (1.75 meters), is ranked 83rd.  
   The winner likely will play 28th-seeded Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain in the second round. Querrey improved to 4-0 lifetime against Garcia-Lopez with a 6-7 (3), 6-2, 6-4 victory on Thursday in the quarterfinals at Winston-Salem, N.C. Their last three meetings, however, have gone to 6-4 in the third set.
   Querrey, 26, has never advanced past the fourth round of singles in a Grand Slam tournament. He got that far at the U.S. Open in 2008 and 2010 and at Wimbledon in 2010.
   Two players coming off injuries, Dmitry Tursunov and Bradley Klahn, also drew unseeded opponents in the first round.
   Tursunov, a Russian veteran based in the Sacramento suburb of Granite Bay, will take on Alejandro Gonzalez of Colombia. Klahn, who graduated from Stanford in 2012, will play Andrey Kuznetsov of Russia.
   On the women's side, wild card and former Stanford star Nicole Gibbs will go against Caroline Garcia of France. Catherine Bellis, a 15-year-old wild card from Atherton (near Stanford), will face 12th-seeded Dominika Cibulkova, the runner-up to Li Na in this year's Australian Open.
   Modesto product Maria Sanchez advanced to the last round of qualifying with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over 20th-seeded Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan. Sanchez, 24, will meet 16th-seeded Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus today.
   Collin Altamirano, an 18-year-old wild card from Sacramento, lost in the second round of men's qualifying to eighth-seeded Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania 2-6, 6-1, 6-1.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Altamirano tops Italian in U.S. Open qualifying

   Collin Altamirano, an 18-year-old wild card from Sacramento, defeated Luca Vanni of Italy 6-4, 6-2 today in the first round of qualifying for the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
   Altamirano will face eight-seeded Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania for the first time in the second round. Berankis beat Mackenzie McDonald, 19, of Piedmont in the San Francisco Bay Area, 6-3, 6-2.
   On the women's side, sixth-seeded Olivia Rogowska of Australia downed Kristina Barrois of Germany 6-3, 6-2. Rogowska, the champion of last month's Sacramento Challenger, will meet another German, Laura Siegemund, for the first time in the second round.
   Altamirano earned a wild card into the main draw of last year's U.S. Open by winning the USTA Boys 18 National Championships in Kalamazoo, Mich., and lost in the first round to 22nd-seeded Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany 6-1, 6-3, 6-1.
   Altamirano fell to Noah Rubin, who won the boys singles title at Wimbledon last month, in the final of the USTA 18 Nationals earlier this month.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sanchez advances in U.S. Open qualifying

Maria Sanchez, right, and Zoe Scandalis reached
the doubles final in last month's Sacramento
Challenger.
   Modesto product Maria Sanchez defeated Erika Sema of Japan 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 today in the first round of qualifying for the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
   Also, Julia Boserup, the runner-up to Olivia Rogowska in last month's Sacramento Challenger, lost to Tatjana Maria of Germany 6-7 (10), 6-3, 6-3. 
   Sanchez, a 24-year-old USC graduate whose residence is listed as Los Angeles, will meet 20th-seeded Yulia Putintseva, a 19-year-old Moscow native who plays for Kazakhstan, in the second round on Thursday.
   Players must win three qualifying matches to advance to the main draw.
   Putintseva, the girls singles runner-up to Russia's Daria Gavrilova in the 2010 U.S. Open, topped Montserrat Gonzalez of Paraguay 6-0, 4-6, 6-2.
   The 5-foot-4 (1.63-meter) Putintseva is ranked No. 129 in the world. Sanchez, 5-foot-10 (1.78 meters), is No. 303 after reaching a career-high No. 107 last year in July.
   Putintseva is 1-0 against Sanchez, winning 6-3, 6-4 in the second round of a $50,000 Challenger in  Indian Harbour Beach (Fla.) on clay in late April.
   This is Sanchez's third appearance at Flushing Meadows. She lost in the final round of qualifying in 2012 and, after receiving a wild card into the main draw last year, fell to veteran Daniela Hantuchova 7-5, 6-2 of Slovakia in the first round.

Rankings mover of the week: Dmitry Tursunov (down)

Dmitry Tursunov has been sidelined since Wimbledon with
a left ankle injury. File photo by Paul Bauman
   Dmitry Tursunov, a Russian veteran based in the Sacramento area, continues to fall in the rankings while sitting out with a left ankle injury.
   Tursunov, who trains at the Gorin Tennis Academy in Granite Bay, dropped 17 places to No. 57 in the world. His ranking points from reaching the quarterfinals at Cincinnati last year dropped off the computer. He was No. 30 three weeks ago, 10 spots below his career high in 2006.  
   The 31-year-old Tursunov, who has battled injuries throughout his career, has not played since losing to Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan in the first round at Wimbledon in late June.
   Tursunov "will try" to play in the U.S. Open, his manager, Michael Gorin, wrote in an e-mail. Gorin is the father of academy owner Vitaly Gorin, who coaches Tursunov.
   The year's last Grand Slam tournament is scheduled for Monday through Sept. 8 in Flushing Meadows, N.Y. The draw will be held Thursday.
   There's more bad news for Tursunov.
   He will fall to about No. 68 on Monday because he's not playing this week after advancing to the quarterfinals at Winston-Salem last year.
   And if he doesn't play in the U.S. Open, where he gained the third round last year before -- surprise -- retiring against eighth-seeded Richard Gasquet with a pulled thigh muscle and cramps, he'll plunge to around No. 78. 
   Even if Tursunov does play in the U.S. Open, he will be unseeded, so he could face a seed in the first or second round. He was seeded No. 32 last year.      
   Meanwhile, Sam Querrey, a San Francisco native and former member of the now-defunct Sacramento Capitals in World TeamTennis, jumped 38 notches in doubles to No. 62 after reaching the semifinals at Cincinnati with Steve Johnson.
   Johnson and Querrey lost to top seeds and defending champions Bob and Mike Bryan 6-3, 6-7 (5) [10-8]. The 36-year-old Bryan twins, former Stanford All-Americans, went on to win their 99th career title. 
PRO RANKINGS
    Following are this week's world rankings of professional players with Northern California ties (change from last week in parentheses):
Men
   Bob Bryan, 36 years old, 1998 NCAA doubles champion from Stanford -- Career-high No. 1 in doubles (no change), unranked in singles.
   Mike Bryan, 36 years old, 1998 NCAA doubles champion from Stanford -- Career-high No. 1 in doubles (no change), unranked in singles.
   Bradley Klahn, 23 years old, 2010 NCAA singles champion and 2011 NCAA doubles runner-up from Stanford -- No. 117 in singles (-1), No. 247 in doubles (+1).
   Scott Lipsky, 33 years old, 2002 NCAA doubles runner-up from Stanford -- No. 48 in doubles (-6), unranked in singles.
   Sam Querrey, 26 years old, San Francisco native, Sacramento Capitals (2012-13) -- No. 56 in singles (+5), No. 62 in doubles (+38).
   Dmitry Tursunov, 31 years old, trains at Gorin Tennis Academy in Sacramento suburb of Granite Bay -- No. 57 in singles (-17), No. 119 in doubles (-2).
Women
   Mallory Burdette, 23 years old, NCAA singles runner-up in 2012 and NCAA doubles champion in 2011 and 2012 from Stanford -- Unranked in singles and doubles.
   Nicole Gibbs, 21 years old, NCAA singles champion in 2012 and 2013 and NCAA doubles champion in 2012 from Stanford -- Career-high No. 136 in singles (+5), No. 597 in doubles (+5).
   Macall Harkins, 28 years old, Concord resident -- No. 412 in doubles (+5), No. 689 in singles (+4).
   Raquel Kops-Jones, 31 years old, San Jose resident, 2003 NCAA doubles champion from Cal -- No. 14 in doubles (+2), No. 773 in singles (+6).
   Maria Sanchez, 24 years old, born and raised in Modesto -- No. 91 in doubles (no change), No. 303 in singles (+17).
   Allie Will, 23 years old, born in San Mateo -- No. 134 in doubles (+3), No. 480 in singles (+2).

TV schedule, calendar

TV SCHEDULE
(All times in California)
Wednesday
   New Haven (women), round of 16, Tennis Channel, 10 a.m.-noon (live).
   Winston-Salem (men)/New Haven (women), round of 16, Tennis Channel, noon-2 p.m. (live).
   Winston-Salem (men), round of 16, Tennis Channel, 2-4 p.m. (live), 6 p.m.-midnight (repeat).
   New Haven (women), round of 16, Tennis Channel, 4-6 p.m. (live). 
Thursday
   New Haven (women), quarterfinals, ESPN2, 10 a.m.-noon (live).
   Winston-Salem (men), quarterfinals, ESPN2, noon-4 p.m. (live).
   New Haven (women), quarterfinals, Tennis Channel, 4-6 p.m. (live), 8-10 p.m. (repeat). 
   Winston-Salem (men), quarterfinals, Tennis Channel, 6-8 p.m. (live), 10 p.m.-midnight (repeat).
Friday
   New Haven (women), semifinal, ESPN2, 10 a.m.-noon (live).
   Winston-Salem (men), semifinal, ESPN2, noon-2 p.m. (live).
   New Haven (women), semifinal, ESPNews, 4-6 p.m. (live).
   Winston-Salem (men), semifinal, Tennis Channel, 6-8 p.m. (live).  
Saturday
   Winston-Salem (men), final, CBS, 9:30 a.m.-noon (live).
   New Haven (women), final, ESPN2, noon-2 p.m. (live).
CALENDAR
   Monday-Sept. 8 -- U.S. OPEN, Flushing Meadows, N.Y. 2013 champions: Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams, Leander Paes/Radek Stepanek, Andrea Hlavackova/Lucie Hradecka, Hlavackova/Max Mirnyi.
   Sept. 8-14 -- $25,000 Redding Challenger (women), Sun Oaks Tennis & Fitness, Redding, Calif. 2013 champions: Adriana Perez, Robin Anderson/Lauren Embree.
   Sept. 22-28 -- $50,000 Napa Valley Challenger (men), Napa Valley Country Club, Napa, Calif. 2013 champions: Donald Young, Bobby Reynolds/John-Patrick Smith.
   Sept. 29-Oct. 5 -- $100,000 Sacramento Pro Circuit Challenger (men), Natomas Racquet Club, Sacramento, Calif. 2013 champions: Donald Young, Matt Reid/John-Patrick Smith.
   Oct. 6-12 -- $100,000 Tiburon Challenger (men), Tiburon Peninsula Club, Tiburon, Calif. 2013 champions: Peter Polansky, Austin Krajicek/Rhyne Williams.
   Nov. 1-2 -- Sacramento Clay Court League finals, 8582 Westin Lane, Orangevale, Calif.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Ex-Capitals owner fires lawyer; sentencing delayed

Then-Capitals owner Deepal Wannakuwatte and his wife, Betsy,
pose with Mike, left, and Bob Bryan of the visiting Texas Wild
after a match last summer. Photo by Paul Bauman
   The Deepal Wannakuwatte saga continues.
   After pleading guilty in May to wire fraud in one of the biggest Ponzi schemes in Sacramento history, the former owner of the defunct Sacramento Capitals of World TeamTennis was scheduled to be sentenced to prison last Thursday.
   But with many of his investment victims present, Wannakuwatte fired his lawyer, The Sacramento Bee reported. Wannakuwatte claimed that his lawyer, Donald Heller, had coerced the guilty plea.
   U.S. District Judge Troy Nunley then postponed sentencing indefinitely.
   Wannakuwatte, a 63-year-old native of Sri Lanka, was arrested on Feb. 20 after allegedly defrauding investors of millions in his medical supply businesses.
   According to the FBI, investment brochures for Wannakuwatte's International Manufacturing Group Inc. and RelyAid said sales reached $110 million in 2012, mostly from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
   In reality, the FBI said, sales to the VA totaled just $25,000 a year. Agents said Wannakuwatte usually repaid investors with funds from new investors.

Mayo, U.S. finish seventh in World Junior Finals

Keenan Mayo went 2-0 in singles and 3-2 in doubles in
the ITF World Junior Tennis Finals in the Czech Republic.
Photo by Giorgio Maiozzi/itftennis.com
   Keenan Mayo of Roseville in the Sacramento area helped the United States finish seventh among 16 teams in last week's ITF World Junior Tennis Finals on clay in Prostejov, Czech Republic.
   Mayo, 14, went 2-0 in singles and 3-2 in doubles in the 14-and-under tournament. Ranked No. 1 nationally in the boys 14s, the 6-foot (1.83-meter) Mayo won the singles title in last month's USTA National Clay Court Champion- ships in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
   Also on the third-seeded U.S. boys team in the World Juniors were Roscoe Bellamy of Pacific Palisades, a suburb of Los Angeles, and Steven Sun from Glen Cove, N.Y., on Long Island in the New York area.
   Nations advanced by winning at least two of three matches (two singles and one doubles).
   Top-seeded Germany beat No. 2 Canada 2-1 for the boys title, and No. 6 Russia topped No. 2 Ukraine for the girls crown.
   The U.S. girls finished fifth with Rachel Lim of Briarcliff Manor, N.Y., Claire Liu of Thousand Oaks in the L.A. area and Elysia Bolton of Lake Forest, Ill.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Rankings mover of the week: Bradley Klahn (down)

Ex-Stanford star Bradley Klahn poses with tournament player
coordinator Brian Cory, left, and Comerica Bank executive
Michael Fulton after winning the 2013 Aptos Challenger.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   Former Stanford star Bradley Klahn dropped 24 spots to No. 116 in the world on Monday after sitting out last week.
   Klahn won his first Challenger singles title in Aptos during the corresponding week last year, and his ranking points fell off the computer. The rankings are based on a revolving 52-week system. 
   Klahn, a 23-year-old left-hander from the San Diego suburb of Poway, has not played since defaulting his singles quarterfinal and doubles semifinal with a foot injury on July 19 in the Binghamton (N.Y.) Challenger.
   But Klahn, who reached a career-high No. 63 in March, tweeted that he's "good to go" for the upcoming U.S. Open.
   At Stanford, Klahn captured the 2010 NCAA singles title as a sophomore, underwent surgery for a herniated disc as a junior and graduated in economics in 2012.
   Here's a link to my story on Klahn winning the Aptos title last year: http://norcaltennisczar.blogspot.com/2013/08/klahn-cashes-in-this-time-for-first.html
PRO RANKINGS
    Following are this week's world rankings of professional players with Northern California ties (change from last week in parentheses):
Men
   Bob Bryan, 36 years old, 1998 NCAA doubles champion from Stanford -- Career-high No. 1 in doubles (no change), unranked in singles.
   Mike Bryan, 36 years old, 1998 NCAA doubles champion from Stanford -- Career-high No. 1 in doubles (no change), unranked in singles.
   Bradley Klahn, 23 years old, 2010 NCAA singles champion and 2011 NCAA doubles runner-up from Stanford -- No. 116 in singles (-24), No. 248 in doubles (+1).
   Scott Lipsky, 32 years old, 2002 NCAA doubles runner-up from Stanford -- No. 42 in doubles (+2), unranked in singles.
   Sam Querrey, 26 years old, San Francisco native, Sacramento Capitals (2012-13) -- No. 61 in singles (+7), No. 100 in doubles (+2).
   Dmitry Tursunov, 31 years old, trains at Gorin Tennis Academy in Sacramento suburb of Granite Bay -- No. 40 in singles (-2), No. 117 in doubles (no change).
Women
   Mallory Burdette, 23 years old, NCAA singles runner-up in 2012 and NCAA doubles champion in 2011 and 2012 from Stanford -- No. 1,084 in singles (-5), unranked in doubles.
   Nicole Gibbs, 21 years old, NCAA singles champion in 2012 and 2013 and NCAA doubles champion in 2012 from Stanford -- Career-high No. 141 in singles (+1), No. 602 in doubles (+2).
   Macall Harkins, 28 years old, Concord resident -- No. 417 in doubles (no change), No. 693 in singles (-4).
   Raquel Kops-Jones, 31 years old, San Jose resident, 2003 NCAA doubles champion from Cal -- No. 16 in doubles (+2), No. 779 in singles (no change).
   Maria Sanchez, 24 years old, born and raised in Modesto -- No. 91 in doubles (-1), No. 320 in singles (+1).
   Allie Will, 23 years old, born in San Mateo -- No. 137 in doubles (+3), No. 482 in singles (+3).

TV schedule, calendar

TV SCHEDULE
(All times in California)
Wednesday
   Cincinnati (men and women), early rounds, Tennis Channel, 8 a.m.-8 p.m. (live).
Thursday
   Cincinnati (men and women), round of 16, ESPN2, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and 6-10 p.m. (live).
Friday
   Cincinnati (men and women), quarterfinals, ESPN2, 8 a.m.-2 p.m. and 4-6 p.m. (live).
Saturday
   Cincinnati (men and women), semifinals, ESPN2, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and 4-8 p.m. (live).
Sunday
   Cincinnati (men and women), finals, ESPN2, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. (live).
CALENDAR
  Aug. 25-Sept. 8 -- U.S. OPEN, Flushing Meadows, N.Y. 2013 champions: Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams, Leander Paes/Radek Stepanek, Andrea Hlavackova/Lucie Hradecka, Hlavackova/Max Mirnyi.
   Sept. 8-14 -- $25,000 Redding Challenger (women), Sun Oaks Tennis & Fitness, Redding, Calif. 2013 champions: Adriana Perez, Robin Anderson/Lauren Embree.
   Sept. 22-28 -- $50,000 Napa Valley Challenger (men), Napa Valley Country Club, Napa, Calif. 2013 champions: Donald Young, Bobby Reynolds/John-Patrick Smith.
   Sept. 29-Oct. 5 -- $100,000 Sacramento Pro Circuit Challenger (men), Natomas Racquet Club, Sacramento, Calif. 2013 champions: Donald Young, Matt Reid/John-Patrick Smith.
   Oct. 6-12 -- $100,000 Tiburon Challenger (men), Tiburon Peninsula Club, Tiburon, Calif. 2013 champions: Peter Polansky, Austin Krajicek/Rhyne Williams.
   Nov. 1-2 -- Sacramento Clay Court League finals, 8582 Westin Lane, Orangevale, Calif.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Baghdatis keeps streaks alive in Aptos Challenger

No. 2 seed Marcos Baghdatis, left, beat No. 1 Mikhail Kukushkin
 7-6 (7), 6-4 to win the Aptos Challenger. Photo by Paul Bauman
    APTOS, Calif. -- Two streaks continued on Sunday in the final of the $100,000 Comerica Bank Challenger.
   Marcos Baghdatis won his 10th straight match for his second Challenger title in two weeks, and no top seed has won the Aptos crown in the tournament's 27-year history.
   For the first time, though, the No. 1 and 2 seeds met in the final as Baghdatis topped Mikhail Kukushkin 7-6 (7), 6-4 at the Seascape Sports Club. Kukushkin had a set point in the first-set tiebreaker.
   After Baghdatis converted his fourth match point, he jubilantly held up 10 fingers in the direction of his new coach, Antonio van Grichen, in the stands. Baghdatis then dropped to his knees and kissed the court.
   "It was an important title for me," explained Baghdatis, who triumphed in Vancouver last week and became the first No. 2 seed to win the Aptos title. "It's been a long run the last two or three years. I had some injuries, (I wasn't) very consistent, and winning last week and this week -- 10 matches in a row -- is a good sign."
Baghdatis won his 10th straight match for his second title
in two weeks. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Tennis fans might remember Baghdatis. He burst onto the scene in 2006 as a swashbuckling 20-year-old from Cyprus, reaching the Australian Open final against Roger Federer. Baghdatis led by a set and a break before falling in four sets.
   Baghdatis followed with appearances in the Wimbledon semifinals that year, vaulting him to a career-high No. 8 in the world, and quarterfinals in 2007. He became the only player in 2010 to beat Federer and Rafael Nadal while they were No. 1.
   But Baghdatis has had few highlights since then. With the Aptos title, he returned to the top 100 for the first time in eight months at No. 82.
   "I think I'm playing much better tennis now than I was (in 2006)," said Baghdatis. "It's just that the game changed so much. The courts are much slower, and opponents are bigger -- somehow. They're very tall. If you see the top 10 players in the last 10 years, they're all over 185 (centimeters, or 6-foot-1). The balls are heavier. It's just finding a way to adapt my game and finding a way to be better and going back where I want to go."
   Translation: For all his ball-striking ability, the 6-foot (1.82-meter) Baghdatis is getting overpowered on the ATP Tour, the major leagues of tennis. His goal at age 29?
   "I'm trying to be a better player and person than yesterday," he said.
Kukushkin had a set point in the
first set. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Kukushkin, meanwhile, was ranked high enough at No. 55 to play in this week's Masters 1000 tournament, the highest level in men's tennis besides the Grand Slams, in Toronto. There was just one problem. The 26-year-old Russia native, who plays for Kazakhstan, didn't have a visa for Canada.
   "This was the only chance for me to play this week," explained Kukushkin, who rose four places in the rankings to approach his career high of No. 48 three weeks ago.
   Both the swarthy Baghdatis, who plays with his hair in a bun and a scarf tied around his head, and the 6-foot (1.83-meter) Kukushkin rely on punishing serves and forehands. Kukushkin battled Baghdatis evenly for most of the match in their first meeting but played poorly late in the tiebreaker and at 1-1 in the second set, when he suffered the only service break of the match. That was the difference.
   Kukushkin, who reached the fourth round of the 2012 Australian Open, blew a golden opportunity when he had a set point on Baghdatis' second serve at 5-6 in the tiebreaker. But Kukushkin let Baghdatis off the hook by sailing his return of serve long.
   After Kukushkin saved a set point for 7-7, he hit an easy forehand approach wide and drilled a backhand into the bottom of the net to drop the set.
   Kukushkin cracked again while serving at 1-1 in the second set. From 15-15, he netted an inside-out forehand drop shot, sprayed a forehand down the line wide and double-faulted to lose the game.
   Kukushkin fought valiantly in the final game, saving three match points with a forehand passing shot down the line, a topspin lob and a backhand return-of-serve passing shot down the line. He even earned a break point, but Baghdatis responded with a service winner.
  Baghdatis gained his fourth match point when Kukushkin netted a forehand. Baghdatis hit a kick second serve to Kukushkin's backhand, and the return went wide to end it.
   "The key was to stay mentally strong," said Baghdatis, who also won the Nottingham Challenger on grass in June. "It was my 10th match in a short period of time, but  I fought hard for every point and never gave up."
   Kukushkin said of his critical errors: "There's some pressure from the opponent. You play a good player, you better do something special on the important points."
   Baghdatis earned $14,400 and Kukushkin $8,480. Both will play in the main draw of the U.S. Open, which begins on Aug. 25. Baghdatis lost to Andre Agassi 7-5 in the fifth set in the second round of the 2006 U.S. Open, the American's last career win. 
   Baghdatis -- who has battled shoulder, back and wrist injuries -- said he's feeling better.
Wild cards Ruben Bemelmans and Laurynas Grigelis won
won the doubles title. Photo by Paul Bauman
   "It's not the same level as playing big guys and stronger guys," Baghdatis cautioned. "But I'm feeling much better than three or four weeks ago, and I'm much more confident. It was a great run.
   "I cannot say I'm 100 percent because it's just a Challenger. When I win the U.S. Open, I'll tell you I played 100 percent my best tennis."
   In the doubles final, wild cards Ruben Bemelmans of Belgium and Laurynas Grigelis of Lithuania edged fourth-seeded Purav Raja and Sanam Singh of India 6-3, 4-6 [11-9]. Bemelmans and Grigelis, the 2011 singles champion in Aptos, trailed 5-0 in the match tiebreaker.  
   The Comerica Bank tournament is the longest-running men's Challenger in the United States.
   Past Comerica singles champions include International Tennis Hall of Famer Patrick Rafter (1993) and two-time Grand Slam singles champion Andy Murray (2005). Among the doubles winners are 15-time Grand Slam men's doubles titlists Bob and Mike Bryan (1998 and 2000).

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Altamirano loses in final of Boys 18 Nationals

Collin Altamirano fell short in his bid for a second straight
title in the USTA Boys 18 National Championships.
2013 photo by Paul Bauman
   Fifth seed and defending champion Collin Altamirano of Sacramento lost to third-seeded Noah Rubin of Rockville Centre, N.Y., 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 today in the final of the USTA Boys 18 National Championships in Kalamazoo, Mich.
   Rubin, who won the Wimbledon boys singles title last month, earned a wild card into the men's main draw of the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows, N.Y. The year's last Grand Slam tournament begins Aug. 25.
   Both Rubin and Altamirano are 18.
   Altamirano last year became the first unseeded player in the history of the USTA Boys 18 National Championships, which began in 1943, to win the title. He then lost in the first round of the U.S. Open to 22nd-seeded Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany 6-1, 6-3, 6-1.

Bellis, 15, to play in women's main draw at U.S. Open

CiCi Bellis, 15, of Atherton became the youngest winner of the
USTA Girls 18 National Championships since Lindsay Daven-
port, also 15, in 1991. Photo courtesy of JFS Communications
   CiCi Bellis is going to the U.S. Open.
   Not as a spectator, and not as only a junior.
   Bellis, 15, earned a wild card in the women's main draw at Flushing Meadows by winning the USTA Girls 18 National Championships in San Diego.
   The second-seeded Bellis, from Atherton in the San Francisco Bay Area, drubbed fifth-seeded Tornado Alicia Black, 16, of Boca Raton, Fla., 6-3, 6-1 on Saturday.
   Bellis won 12 of the last 13 games after trailing 3-0 in the first set. She became the youngest winner of the tournament since Lindsay Davenport, also 15, in 1991.
   Bellis and Black are ranked second and fourth, respectively, in girls singles in the world. Black had  routed Bellis on clay in both of their previous meetings, but the San Diego tournament is played on hardcourts.
   Bellis' eyes filled with tears after Saturday's match as she looked ahead to the U.S. Open, which begins on Aug. 25.
   "I was so emotional at the end of the match," Bellis told reporters. "It feels amazing. I've been dreaming about playing there since I was 7 years old. The fact that I'm going to be playing there n a week and a half is amazing. I'm so excited."
   (Here's a link to a profile of Bellis that I wrote two years ago: http://norcaltennisczar.blogspot.com/2012/06/little-bellis-gets-big-results.html)
  Meanwhile, Collin Altamirano of Sacramento will try to win the boys 18 title in Kalamazoo, Mich., for the second straight year today and earn another wild card in the men's main draw at the U.S. Open.
   Altamirano, seeded fifth, topped fourth-seeded Stefan Kozlov, 16, of Pembroke Pines, Fla., 6-4, 6-2 in the semifinals. Kozlov, the second-ranked junior in the world, reached the boys singles final at the Australian Open and Wimbledon this year. 
   Altamirano will play third-seeded Noah Rubin of Rockville Centre, N.Y., in a matchup of 18-year-olds for the title. Rubin, who won the Wimbledon boys singles title last month, outlasted seventh-seeded Michael Mmoh of Temple Hills, Md., 7-6 (1), 2-6, 7-5.
USTA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS
(Results of Northern Californians only)
Boys 18
In Kalamazoo, Mich.
Singles semifinals
   Collin Altamirano (5), Sacramento, def. Stefan Kozlov (4), Pembroke Pines, Fla., 6-4, 6-2.
Doubles semifinals
   Collin Altamirano, Sacramento, and Deiton Baughman (1), Carson, def. Tommy Paul, Coconut Creek, Fla., and Henrik Wiersholm (3), Kirkland, Wash., 7-6 (3), 6-2. 
Doubles final
   Stefan Kozlov, Pembroke Pines, Fla., and Noah Rubin (2), Rockville Centre, N.Y., def. Collin Altamirano, Sacramento, and Deiton Baughman (1), Carson, 6-2, 6-2.
Girls 18
In San Diego
Singles final
   Catherine (CiCi) Bellis (2), Atherton, def. Tornado Alicia Black (5), Boca Raton, Fla., 6-3, 6-1.