Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Gibbs coasts in Australian Open qualifying

Nicole Gibbs eyes a backhand in her
victory over Lourdes Dominguez
 Lino of Spain in the first round of
the U.S. Open last September.
 Photo by Paul Bauman
   Second-seeded Nicole Gibbs routed wild card Olivia Tjandramulia of Australia 6-2, 6-2 today in the first round of qualifying for the Australian Open in Melbourne.
   Gibbs, a 22-year-old former Stanford star living in Marina del Rey in the Los Angeles area, will face Jana Fett, 19, of Croatia for the first time in the second round.
   Fett, the girls runner-up in the 2014 Australian Open, defeated wild card Sara Tomic of Australia 6-3, 6-2.
   Gibbs is ranked No. 105 to Fett's No. 149.
   Gibbs, the 2012 and 2013 NCAA singles champion, gained direct entry into last year's Australian Open and advanced to the second round in her main-draw debut in Melbourne.
   Kristie Ahn, Gibbs' former Stanford teammate, lost to 32-year-old Frenchwoman Virginie Razzano 6-4, 6-3. Razzano stunned Serena Williams in the first round of the 2012 French Open.
   Maria Sanchez, a 26-year-old Modesto native, defeated Fangzhao Liu, 20, of China 6-4, 6-2 after the match was delayed by rain.
   Sanchez will play Portugal's Michelle Larcher de Brito, who ousted 24th-seeded Marina Erakovic of New Zealand 0-6, 6-4, 7-5.
   Larcher de Brito, who will turn 23 on Jan. 29, played her first match since retiring in the second round of qualifying at Wimbledon in late June with a wrist injury. She underwent surgery in July.
   Larcher de Brito reached the third round at Wimbledon as a qualifier in 2013 (beating Maria Sharapova) and 2014. She helped the Sacramento Capitals win the World TeamTennis title in 2007 at 14.
   Sanchez seeks her first singles main-draw appearance in the Australian Open and second in a Grand Slam tournament. The USC graduate lost to Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia in the first round of the 2013 U.S. Open as a wild card.

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