Friday, September 30, 2016

Top seed Becker, 35, retires from Tiburon match

Benjamin Becker, shown on Tuesday, retired with
Darian King leading 6-7 (3), 6-2, 4-2 on Thursday
in the second round of the $100,000 Tiburon Chal-
lenger. Photo by Paul Bauman
   When Benjamin Becker expressed concern about his age on Tuesday, he was prophetic.
   The top-seeded Becker, a 35-year-old German, retired from his second-round match against Darian King on Thursday in the $100,000 Wells Fargo Bank Tiburon Challenger. King, 24, of Barbados led 6-7 (3), 6-2, 4-2 at the Tiburon Peninsula Club when Becker quit because of a strained chest muscle.
   Becker, who's not related to German legend Boris Becker, reached the final of last week's $50,000 Columbus (Ohio) Challenger. He lost to Danish wild card Mikael Torpegaard, an Ohio State junior playing on his home court, in three sets.
   After beating 19-year-old American Tommy Paul in the first round in Tiburon, Becker said he didn't want to continue engaging in long rallies because of his age. He'll decide in December whether to retire or play one more year.
   King, the only non-American in the quarterfinals, will take on fifth-seeded Dennis Novikov of Milpitas, located on the other side of San Francisco Bay, today at noon (live stream).
   Novikov, a 22-year-old former UCLA standout, eliminated 31-year-old wild card Brian Baker of Nashville, Tenn., 6-4, 3-6, 6-1. Baker overcame 11 operations during his career to play in the Olympics last month in Rio de Janeiro, falling in the first round to Yuichi Sugita of Japan.
   Another Bay Area product, 21-year-old wild card Mackenzie McDonald from Piedmont, advanced with a 7-6 (3), 6-2 victory over qualifier Salvatore Caruso of Italy.
   McDonald, a Tiburon semifinalist in singles and doubles (with Deiton Baughman) last year, will meet fourth-seeded Frances Tiafoe, an 18-year-old phenom originally from the Washington, D.C., area. Tiafoe dismissed Australian left-hander John-Patrick Smith 6-3, 6-3 in 64 minutes.
   The quarterfinals in the bottom half of the draw were determined Wednesday. No. 2 seed Bjorn Fratangelo will play 18-year-old qualifier Michael Mmoh, and No. 3 seed and defending champion Tim Smyczek will face Mitchell Krueger.
   Novikov is 1-0 against King, Mmoh is 1-0 against Fratangelo, and Smyczek is 3-0 against Krueger. McDonald and Tiafoe will meet for the first time.
   Here are the singles and doubles draws and today's schedule.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Tempers flare as Mmoh upsets Kozlov in Tiburon

Qualifier Michael Mmoh follows through on a
leaping forehand during his victory over fellow
18-year-old U.S. phenom Stefan Kozlov, seeded
sixth, in the second round of the $100,000
Tiburon Challenger. Photo by Paul Bauman
   TIBURON, Calif. -- It took Stefan Kozlov all of two games on Wednesday to call for the supervisor.
   With qualifier Michael Mmoh serving at
1-0, Mmoh saved a break point on a ball that the sixth-seeded Kozlov insisted had bounced twice. The chair umpire informed Kozlov, however, that he could request the supervisor only on a changeover.
   Kozlov then asked Mmoh to concede the point. On Tuesday, Mmoh voluntarily did precisely that in his victory over Tennys Sandgren, who had hit an apparent ace that was called out at 40-0 during a key stage of the match. This time, Mmoh did not reply. Kozlov eventually broke serve anyway on a backhand cross-court passing shot.
   It took Mmoh only one more game to lose his temper. With Kozlov facing a break point at 1-1, Kozlov rifled an inside-out forehand passing shot on the chair umpire's side.
   "That ball was five feet out!" Mmoh screamed. "Are you serious, man?"
   Kozlov held serve for 2-1 but eventually lost 7-5, 6-4 in the second round of the $100,000 Wells Fargo Bank Tiburon Challenger.
   Tension was high in the matchup of 18-year-old American phenoms at the Tiburon Peninsula Club. The athletic, powerful Mmoh, ranked No. 356, reached his second Challenger quarterfinal and improved to 2-0 against the versatile Kozlov, ranked No. 152.
   Mmoh won the USTA boys 18 national title last month in Kalamazoo, Mich., to earn an automatic wild card in the U.S. Open. He lost to 55th-ranked Jeremy Chardy of France 6-4, 6-4, 6-1 in the first round at Flushing Meadows.
   "Michael is one of the most athletic people you will ever see on a tennis court," fellow U.S. prospect Reilly Opelka, a close friend of Mmoh's, told The New York Times last September. "There is nothing he can't do out there."
   Kozlov turned pro at the unheard-of age -- for a boy, at least -- of 14. He reached the final of the $100,000 Sacramento Challenger at 16, falling to U.S. Davis Cup veteran Sam Querrey. Afterward, Querrey predicted that Kozlov eventually would crack the top 10.
   Both Mmoh and Kozlov were named after prominent athletes and have highly international backgrounds.
   Mmoh is a one-man United Nations. He was born in Saudi Arabia to Tony Mmoh, a former journament professional and Olympian from Nigeria, and Geraldine O'Reilly, an Irishwoman who also holds Australian citizenship.
   Tony was coaching the Saudi Arabian Davis Cup team, and Geraldine, an avid tennis fan, was working in Saudi Arabia as a nurse at the time.
   Michael was named after Michael Jordan. Tony became infatuated with the NBA legend while attending St. Augustine's College (now St. Augustine's Univerity) in North Carolina and becoming a U.S. citizen.
   The Mmohs moved to Washington, D.C., when Michael was a child. He trains at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
   Kozlov and his younger tennis-playing brother, Boris, were named after Stefan Edberg and Boris Becker, respectively.
Kozlov fell to 0-2 against Mmoh.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   Stefan Kozlov was born in Macedonia and moved to South Florida with his Russian parents when he was 1. His father, Andrei, runs the Kozlov Miami Tennis Academy in Pembroke Pines, Fla.
   "We don't live in the biggest house or have the nicest cars," Kozlov said during the 2014 Sacramento Challenger. "We grind day by day. If I do well here, I'm earning money for my family and my brother so he can travel to tournaments. I'm not playing for myself. I'm playing for my family. I'm playing for a lot of things."
   The friction between Mmoh and Kozlov, who are close friends off the court, continued in the first set Wednesday.
   With Mmoh serving at 3-4, the 6-foot-1 (1.85-meter), 187-pound (85-kilogram) professional pounded a service winner for 15-0. Kozlov then admonished the chair umpire: "Next time, tell me when there are new balls. I had no idea."
   Mmoh promptly snapped at Kozlov: "He told you. Listen to the guy next time."
   Kozlov retorted, "You're supposed to raise your hand when there are new balls."
   Mmoh repeated, "Listen to the guy."
   The turning point in the match came with the 6-foot (1.83-meter), 175-pound (79-kilogram) Kozlov serving at 5-5 in the opening set. He lost his serve at love on an nonchalant, ill-advised forehand drop shot early in the point. Mmoh then overcame a 15-30 deficit to hold serve for the set on a runaround forehand passing shot set up by a big serve.
   Mmoh, who survived three match points in the first round before Sandgren retired with a lower back injury, will face second-seeded Bjorn Fratangelo, 23, of Boca Raton, Fla., in Friday's quarterfinals.
   It will be the second meeting between Mmoh and Fratangelo, the 2011 French Open boys singles champion who was named after Bjorn Borg. Mmoh prevailed 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (6) in the second (final) round of qualifying in Memphis on the ATP World Tour, the major leagues of men's tennis, in February. Mmoh then lost to another 18-year-old American, Taylor Fritz, 6-3, 6-4.
   In the other quarterfinal in the bottom half of the Tiburon draw, Mitchell Krueger of Boca Raton will take on No. 3 seed and defending champion Tim Smyczek of Tampa, Fla.
   Krueger upset No. 8 seed and 2015 semifinalist Quentin Halys, a 19-year-old Frenchman, 6-4, 6-4 to reach the quarterfinals for the second consecutive year.
   Smyczek held off Sam Groth of Australia 7-5, 7-6 (11). Groth, a husky 6-foot-4 (1.93 meters) and 218 pounds (99 kilograms), set the unofficial record for the world's fastest serve of 163.7 mph (263.4 kph) in the 2102 Busan (South Korea) Challenger.
   The quarterfinals in the top half of the draw will be determined today.
   The tournament is being streamed live. Here are the singles and doubles draws and today's schedule.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Story on Tiburon Challenger coming Thursday morning

   I will post a story about Wednesday's results in the $100,000 Tiburon (Calif.) Challenger on Thursday morning.
   I drove from Tiburon to Sacramento, where I live, this afternoon. My wife and I went out to dinner downtown and then heard author Michael Lewis ("Moneyball," "The Blind Side," "The Big Short," etc.) speak at the Sacramento Community Center Theater.
   Thank you for your patience.

Becker recalls ending Agassi's career 10 years ago

Clouds obscure the Golden Gate Bridge near Tiburon. Photo by Paul Bauman
   TIBURON, Calif. -- Before Benjamin Becker arrived at the U.S. Open last month, it never occurred to him that the tournament marked the 10th anniversary of his third-round victory that sent Andre Agassi into retirement.
   Becker promptly found out, however.    
   "You get reminded all over the place," the top-seeded Becker, 35, recalled after beating 19-year-old American Tommy Paul, last year's French Open boys champion, 7-6 (1), 6-2 on Tuesday in the first round of the $100,000 Wells Fargo Bank Tiburon Challenger at the Tiburon Peninsula Club. "When I walked in to get my credential on Thursday before the U.S. Open, they showed the match on TV, so everybody was talking about it. Everybody reminded me about it."
   Becker also stumbled upon an article about the anniversary on ESPN's website.
   "I was looking for NBA news," admitted Becker, the 2004 NCAA champion from Baylor University in Waco, Texas, and a big fan of Dallas Mavericks star and fellow German Dirk Nowitzki, "and I saw an article about the 10-year anniversary, so I was reading about it. That's the first time, actually, I realized it was the 10-year anniversary.
   "It's not something I thought about or planned or felt like it was something special for me. It was just another U.S. Open. I wanted to do well. I didn't."
   Becker, who's not related to German legend Boris Becker, shouldn't be too hard on himself. He drew sixth seed and 2014 runner-up Kei Nishikori in the opening round at Flushing Meadows and lost in four sets. Nishikori, 26, went on to reach the semifinals before losing to eventual champion Stan Wawrinka.
Top-seeded Benjamin Becker is shown during his victory
over 19-year-old Tommy Paul in the first round of the
$100,000 Tiburon Challenger. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Becker may have forgotten about the anniversary, but journalists at the U.S. Open didn't. Not that he was inundated by interview requests.
   "I did one with a German journalist," Becker said. "Actually, after my match, an American journalist came and just asked me about the Agassi match, not even about the match I just played. I did a few, but nothing compared to what I did 10 years ago."
   Whereas Paul had lost seven of his previous eight matches, Becker reached the final of last week's $50,000 Columbus (Ohio) Challenger. Becker lost to Danish wild card Mikael Torpegaard, an Ohio State junior playing on his home court.
   Despite being almost twice Paul's age, Becker outrallied him on a beautiful day.
   "That's not really the way I want to play, but coming from indoors, trying to get used to the conditions is very tough," said Becker, who won the first four games of the match but lost the next five against the 235th-ranked Paul. "I just arrived yesterday. I didn't want to try to overpower him and go for too many shots. I knew he hasn't won many matches -- I did my research. I just wanted to make him play and get my rhythm. I didn't want to give him free points.
   "I did pretty well at the beginning, then he kind of found his rhythm and came back in the first set. The tiebreak was obviously important. I kept up my game, and he started missing more. The game plan today was to play more consistent, but I don't want to do it over a longer term because I know I can't do it at my age."     
   With the first round of the Tiburon Challenger complete, seven of the eight singles seeds have advanced. Salvatore Caruso, a 23-year-old qualifier from Italy, upset No. 7 Ernesto Escobedo, a 20-year-old resident of West Covina in the Los Angeles area, 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 on Tuesday.
   Another qualifier, 18-year-old Michael Mmoh of Bradenton, Fla., survived three match points in a victory over Tennys Sandgren of Gallatin, Tenn. Mmoh led 4-6, 7-6 (5), 2-0 when the 25-year-old Sandgren, a semifinalist in Columbus, retired with a lower back injury.
   The athletic Mmoh, who won the USTA boys 18 singles title last month to earn an automatic wild card in the U.S. Open, and Sandgren, who has a punishing whipping forehand similar to Jack Sock's, engaged in numerous breathtaking baseline rallies. Mmoh will face another 18-year-old American, No. 6 seed Stefan Kozlov, today for a quarterfinal berth.   
   No. 3 seed and defending champion Tim Smyczek of Tampa, Fla., defeated qualifier Brydan Klein of Great Britain 6-4, 2-1, retired (back).
   Klein ousted No. 2 seed and countryman Kyle Edmund in the first round last year before falling to 18-year-old Frenchman Quentin Halys in the second round. Halys went on to reach the semifinals.
   Also advancing Tuesday were Bay Area products Dennis Novikov, 22, and Mackenzie McDonald, 21.
   The fifth-seeded Novikov, who grew up in San Jose and lives in Milpitas, dismissed wild card Robbie Bellamy, a USC senior from Pacific Palisades in the Los Angeles area, 6-3, 6-2.
   McDonald, a wild card who grew up in Piedmont, beat Canada's Peter Polansky, the 2013 champion, 6-3, 6-4. McDonald, only 5-foot-10 (1.78 meters) and 145 pounds (66 kilograms), reached the semifinals in singles and doubles (with Deiton Baughman) last year.
   Agassi, wracked by back pain, lost to Becker 7-5, 6-7 (4), 6-4, 7-5 on the afternoon of Sept. 3, 2006, in front of almost 24,000 fans at Arthur Ashe Stadium and a national television audience. Afterward, Agassi gave an emotional farewell speech on the court. Becker lost in the next round to Andy Roddick; the fourth-round appearance remains Becker's best showing in a Grand Slam tournament.
Paul, last year's French Open boys champion, lost for the eighth
time in his last nine matches. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Now Becker, the only top-100 player in the Tiburon Challenger at No. 91, is approaching retirement. Only 5-foot-10 (1.78 meters) and 158 pounds (72 kilograms), he has amassed more than $4.3 million in prize money, attained a career high of No. 35 in singles and won one ATP World Tour title (on grass at Hertogenbosch, Netherlands, in 2014). But he'll always be known as the guy who ended the charismatic Agassi's legendary career.        
   "I'm used to it now," Becker said. "Obviously, it felt uncomfortable at first because I was a newcomer on tour. It was my first U.S. Open and second Grand Slam. But I feel like I'm still going at it 10 years later. I still played the U.S. Open main draw. ...
   "(Ending Agassi's career) was a great experience, but it's not like I look back now and be like, 'Oh my god, it was great, the best thing of my life.' I might do it after my career, but now I'm so focused on what's coming up that I don't really look back too much."
   Asked how often he has been reminded of the Agassi match in the past 10 years, Becker said: "A lot, obviously. I don't blame people for asking me about it because it obviously was (on) a very big stage.
   "There are always two questions when I come to the tennis courts: 'Are you related to Boris Becker/' and 'How did it feel to retire Agassi?' I'm used to it. I'm fine with it. I would do the same if somebody else did it."
   Agassi was Benjamin Becker's second-biggest idol behind Boris Becker. In fact, watching Boris win Grand Slam titles on television inspired Benjamin to take up tennis.
   "Nobody in my family plays tennis," Becker noted. "I started playing soccer like every German boy. Then I started playing tennis and got into it. I went to, like, scouting for little kids and then the regional federation took me under its wing. That's how it started."
   Boris has become a mentor to Benjamin. But the first time they met, during Benjamin's Davis Cup debut in 2007, he was overcome by nerves.
   "I didn't breathe for a minute, I think," Benjamin Becker cracked. "I was already nervous playing Davis Cup. He didn't come to watch my match just to kind of protect me, which I think was very respectful. He came to the doubles match, which I didn't play.
   "But everybody, when he enters the room, it's like the king enters. Me growing up, I woke up at night to watch him (play overseas on television)."
   Now Benjamin Becker has two young sons. He said he will decide in December if he'll play next year.
   "As of now, I think I have one more year in me. Then I'll call it quits," Becker suggested.
   Becker plans to obtain his bachelor's degree in finance from Baylor. He has one semester left.
   "Then I have no idea," Becker conceded. "I'm not sure if I'll stay in tennis. It's an option, but I would like to try other things. We'll see what door will open for me. Hopefully I'll find something that I'm as passionate about as tennis."
   Here are the Tiburon singles and doubles draws and today's schedule.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Mmoh wins showdown to reach Tiburon main draw

Michael Mmoh, shown last month in the U.S. Open, will meet
fellow American Tennys Sandgren today in the first round of
the $100,000 Tiburon Challenger. Photo by Paul Bauman
   The first meeting in what could develop into one of the world's top rivalries went to Michael Mmoh.
   The 18-year-old American beat second-seeded Denis Shapovalov, a 17-year-old Canadian, 6-4, 6-4 on Monday in the final round of qualifying for the $100,000 Wells Fargo Tiburon Challenger at the Tiburon Peninsula Club.
   Tiburon is located across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco.
   Mmoh, a 6-foot-1 (1.85-meter) right-hander with a two-handed backhand, won the USTA boys 18 national singles title last month to earn an automatic wild card in the U.S. Open. He lost to 55th-ranked Jeremy Chardy of France 6-4, 6-4, 6-1 in the first round at Flushing Meadows.
   Shapovalov, a 6-foot (1.83-meter) left-hander with a one-handed backhand, took the Wimbledon boys singles crown in July and stunned 19th-ranked Nick Kyrgios in the opening round at Toronto later that month.
   Mmoh will face 25-year-old countryman Tennys Sandgren, a semifinalist at last week's $50,000 Columbus (Ohio) Challenger, for the second time today after a 10 a.m. match.
   Sandgren, a former Tennessee All-American, defeated Mmoh 7-5, 6-3 in the first round of a $25,000 Futures tournament in Los Angeles in January.
   The Tiburon main draw began Monday. All four seeds in action won, but only No. 6 Stefan Kozlov of Pembroke Pines, Fla., coasted. No. 2 Bjorn Fratangelo and No. 4 Frances Tiafoe, both of Boca Raton, Fla., and No. 8 Quentin Halys of France survived in three sets.
   Kozlov, Tiafoe and Halys, a Tiburon semifinalist last year, are teenagers. Fratangelo, a quarterfinalist the past two years, is 23.
   Highlighting today's schedule, No. 3 seed and defending champion Tim Smyczek of Tampa, Fla., will play qualifier Brydan Klein of Great Britain after a 10 a.m. match, and No. 1 seed Benjamin Becker of Germany will face Tommy Paul, yet another U.S. teenager, not before 3 p.m.
   Becker, 35, reached the Columbus final as the top seed but lost to Danish wild card Mikael Torpegaard 6-4, 1-6, 6-2. Torpegaard, a junior at Ohio State, was playing on his home court.
   The Tiburon Challenger is being streamed live. Here are the singles qualifying draw, singles main draw, doubles main draw and today's schedule.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Teen stars to meet for main-draw berth in Tiburon

Michael Mmoh serves during his first-round
loss to French veteran Jeremy Chardy in the
recent U.S. Open. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Years from now, San Francisco Bay Area fans might boast that they saw the first match between Michael Mmoh and Denis Shapovalov.
   Two of the top teenagers in the world, they will meet today in the final round of qualifying for the $100,000 Wells Fargo Bank Tiburon Challenger. The 10 a.m. match at the Tiburon Peninsula Club could be streamed live.
   Mmoh, an 18-year-old American, eked out a 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7) victory over Erik Crepaldi of Italy on Sunday. The second-seeded Shapovalov, 17, of Canada beat Swedish wild card Andre Goransson, a senior at nearby Cal, 4-6, 6-1, 6-2.
   Mmoh, a 6-foot-1 (1.85-meter) right-hander with a two-handed backhand, won the USTA boys 18 national singles title last month. That gave him an automatic wild card in the U.S. Open, in which he lost to French veteran Jeremy Chardy 6-4, 6-4, 6-1 in the first round.
   Shapovalov, a 6-foot (1.83-meter) left-hander with a one-handed backhand, took the Wimbledon boys singles crown in July. He stunned 19th-ranked Nick Kyrgios in the first round at Toronto later that month and reached the semifinals of the $75,000 Gatineau (Canada) Challenger in August.
   Shapovalov is ranked No. 248 (fifth in Canada), and Mmoh is No. 356 (31st in the United States).
   Meanwhile, Australian veteran Matt Reid knocked off top qualifying seed Alessandro Giannessi of Italy 7-6 (3), 7-5.
   In Giannessi's previous two tournaments, he reached the second round of the U.S. Open as a qualifier before losing to eventual champion Stan Wawrinka in straight sets and won the $120,000 Szczecin (Poland) Challenger on clay.
   Reid took advantage of a favorable draw to gain the Tiburon semifinals in 2014 as a qualifier. He also has advanced to the last two doubles finals in the tournament with countryman Carsten Ball.
   Filip Bergevi, another Swedish wild card and Cal senior, and Stanford junior Tom Fawcett lost to seeds in qualifying.
   Main-draw play will begin today not before 11:30 a.m. Four seeds will be in action during the day: No. 2 Bjorn Fratangelo of Boca Raton, Fla., No. 4 Frances Tiafoe of Boca Raton, No. 6 Stefan Kozlov of Pembroke Pines, Fla., and No. 8 Quentin Halys of France. All except Fratangelo, 23, are teenagers.
   Halys reached the semifinals last year, and Fratangelo has advanced to the quarterfinals the last two years.
   Here are the singles qualifying draw, today's schedule, singles main draw and doubles main draw.

NorCal products Sanchez, Novikov win doubles titles

Maria Sanchez, who was born and raised in Modesto,
rose to a career-high No. 56 in doubles. 2015 photo
by Paul Bauman
   Two pros from Northern California won doubles titles on Sunday.
   Third-seeded Maria Sanchez, who was born and raised in Modesto, and Michaella Krajicek of the Netherlands beat second-seeded Elise Mertens of Belgium and Mandy Minella of Luxembourg 6-2, 6-4 in the $75,000 ColemanVision Tennis Championships in Albuquerque, N.M.
   Dennis Novikov, who grew up in San Jose and lives in nearby Milpitas, and Mikelis Libietis of Latvia topped Canadians Philip Bester and Peter Polansky 7-5, 7-6 (4) in a matchup of unseeded teams in the $50,000 Columbus (Ohio) Challenger.
   Sanchez improved five spots in the world rankings to a career-high No. 56 after winning her 17th ITF (minor-league) doubles title and first with Krajicek.
   Sanchez, a 26-year-old USC graduate, has won one WTA (major-league) doubles crown. She teamed with Sharon Fichman of Canada for the Auckland crown in 2014.
   Novikov and Libietis, who won the 2014 NCAA doubles title with Tennessee teammate Hunter Reese, stopped Bester and Polansky's winning streak at seven matches. They won the title in the $50,000 Cary (N.C.) Challenger the previous week.
   Bester and Adil Shamasdin of Canada defeated Novak Djokovic and Nenad Zimonjic of Serbia in the first round at Toronto on the ATP World Tour in July.
   The 22-year-old Novikov jumped 39 places to No. 177 in doubles. His career high is No. 160.
  Novikov, who won his fourth Challenger doubles title and first with Libietis, is seeded fifth in singles in this week's $100,000 Wells Fargo Bank Tiburon (Calif.) Challenger.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

U.S. teen Mmoh advances in Tiburon qualifying

Michael Mmoh, 18, slugs a backhand during his loss
to veteran Jeremy Chardy of France in the first round
of the recent U.S. Open. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Michael Mmoh, who won the USTA boys 18 national title last month, dispatched Luke Bambridge of Great Britain 6-3, 6-3 on Saturday in the first round of qualifying for the $100,000 Wells Fargo Bank Tiburon Challenger at the Tiburon Peninsula Club.
   Mmoh, 18, is scheduled to face Erik Crepaldi of Italy today at 10 a.m. on Court 1. Crepaldi beat No. 6 seed and countryman Edoardo Eremin 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-0.
   Also advancing were Swedish wild cards Andre Goransson and Filip Bergevi of Cal, Stanford's Tom Fawcett and Connor Farren of Hillsborough in the San Francisco Bay Area. All will face seeds today.
   Goransson will take on second-seeded Denis Shapovalov of Canada at 10 a.m. on Center Court. Shapovalov, 17, won the Wimbledon boys singles title in July,
   Tiburon is located across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco.
   Here are the singles qualifying draw, today's schedule and singles main draw.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

U.S. prospect Mmoh to make NorCal pro debut

Michael Mmoh, 18, unleashes a forehand in
a first-round loss to French veteran Jeremy
Chardy in the recent U.S. Open. Photo by
Paul Bauman
   Michael Mmoh, one of the United States' top prospects, is scheduled to make his Northern California pro debut today.
   Mmoh, who won the USTA boys 18 national title last month, will play Luke Bambridge of Great Britain at 10 a.m. in the first round of qualifying for the $100,000 Wells Fargo Bank Tiburon Challenger at the Tiburon Peninsula Club.
   "Michael is one of the most athletic people you will ever see on a tennis court," fellow U.S. prospect Reilly Opelka, a close friend of Mmoh's, told The New York Times last September. "There is nothing he can't do out there."
   By winning the USTA boys 18s in Kalamazoo, Mich., Mmoh earned an automatic berth in the main draw of the U.S. Open. He lost to 55th-ranked Jeremy Chardy of France 6-4, 6-4, 6-1 in the first round at Flushing Meadows.
   Mmoh, the 18-year-old son of former ATP journeyman Tony Mmoh from Nigeria, also won a $25,000 Futures tournament in Bakersfield, Calif., in March.
   The top two qualifying seeds in Tiburon, 145th-ranked Alessandro Giannessi of Italy and 247th-ranked Denis Shapovalov of Canada, received first-round byes. 
   In Giannessi's last two tournaments, he reached the second round of the U.S. Open as a qualifier before losing to eventual champion Stan Wawrinka in straight sets and won the $120,000 Szczecin (Poland) Challenger on clay.
   Shapovalov, 17, also had an outstanding summer. He won the Wimbledon boys singles title, stunned 19th-ranked Nick Kyrgios in the first round at Toronto before losing to former world No. 8 Grigor Dimitrov and reached the semifinals of the $75,000 Gatineau (Canada) Challenger.
   The top entries in the main draw of the Tiburon Challenger, which begins Monday, are No. 97 Benjamin Becker of Germany, No. 110 Bjorn Fratangelo of Boca Raton, Fla., and No. 112 and defending champion Tim Smyczek of Tampa, Fla.
   Here are the qualifying draw and today's schedule.     

Friday, September 23, 2016

Exhibition to feature three former No. 1s in doubles

Tennis Channel commentator Mark Knowles interviews Roger
Federer at Indian Wells in 2014. Knowles will return to the Sac-
ramento area, where he starred for the Capitals in World Team-
Tennis, for a doubles exhibition on Oct. 1. Photo by Paul Bauman
   These are tough times for men's professional tennis in Sacramento.
   The Capitals of World TeamTennis folded in 2014 after 28 seasons. A one-night legends tournament starring Pete Sampras, John McEnroe and Jim Courier lasted one year in 2014. Ditto for the WTT's California Dream in 2015. A Challenger tournament is moving to nearby Stockton next month after 11 years.
   Into the void steps a one-day exhibition featuring three former world No. 1 doubles players on Oct. 1 at the Antelope Community Tennis Center in the Sacramento area.
   Former Capitals Mark Knowles and Brian MacPhie will face Rick Leach and Jonathan Stark in a best-of-three-set match at 4 p.m. All except MacPhie reached No. 1.
   The all-day event, hosted by ex-Capitals coach Wayne Bryan, will begin with a pro-am at 10 a.m. A children's clinic will be held at noon, and top juniors will play exhibition sets at 2 p.m.
   Tickets cost $25, and pro-am spots can be purchased for $500. Sponsorship opportunities and VIP seating also are available. Proceeds benefit the Sacramento Community Tennis Association, whose mission is to help underprivileged children play the sport.
   Leach, 51, Knowles, 45, and Stark, 45, combined for 15 Grand Slam doubles titles. Leach won nine (five men's and four mixed), Knowles four (three men's and one mixed), and Stark two (one men's and one mixed).
  MacPhie, a 44-year-old left-hander originally from San Jose, peaked at No. 22 in men's doubles. He reached five Grand Slam quarterfinals in men's doubles, one with Knowles (2001 U.S. Open).
  Bryan, Knowles and MacPhie were adopted Sacramentans.
  Bryan, the father of doubles stars and identical twins Bob and Mike Bryan, coached the Capitals for 12 of his 13 WTT seasons (Idaho in 1999 and Sacramento in 2002-13). He won three Coach of the Year awards and two WTT titles.
   Knowles, affectionately known as "Knowlzee," played all 12 of his WTT seasons (2001-07 and 2009-13) with the Capitals.The Bahamas native competed on two league championship teams and won three WTT Male MVP awards.
   MacPhie played seven seasons for the Capitals (1996-2002). Known menacingly as "The Hammer," he helped the team win five WTT titles and, like Knowles, earned three league Male MVP awards.
   All four players starred at Pacific-12 Conference schools -- Stark at Stanford, Knowles at UCLA, and Leach and MacPhie at USC,
   To purchase tickets to the exhibition, go to ticketleap.com. For more information, call (916) 757-3739.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Rankings, schedule, calendar

WORLD RANKINGS
   Players with Northern California ties ranked in the top 1,000 in the world (change from last week in parentheses):
Men
   Bob Bryan, 38-year-old former NCAA singles and doubles champion from Stanford -- No. 6 in doubles (no change), unranked in singles.
   Mike Bryan, 38-year-old former NCAA doubles champion from Stanford -- No. 7 in doubles (no change), unranked in singles.
   John Paul Fruttero, 35-year-old former Cal All-American -- No. 378 in doubles (+2).
   Ryan Haviland, 35-year-old former Stanford All-American -- No. 721 in singles (+45).
   John Lamble, 24-year-old Saratoga resident and former Santa Clara star -- No. 652 in doubles (+3), career-high No. 809 in singles (+3). 
   Scott Lipsky, 35-year-old former Stanford All-American -- No. 44 in doubles (no change).
   Mackenzie McDonald, 21-year-old resident of Piedmont in San Francisco Bay Area -- No. 385 in singles (+14), career-high No. 468 in doubles (+3).
   Dennis Novikov, 22-year-old resident of Milpitas in San Francisco Bay Area -- No. 133 in singles (-7), No. 216 in doubles (-3).
   Sam Querrey, 28-year-old San Francisco native -- No. 29 in singles (no change), No. 73 in doubles (-1).
   Dmitry Tursunov, 33-year-old resident of Folsom in Sacramento area -- No. 409 in singles (-5), No. 270 in doubles (+2).
Women
   Kristie Ahn, 24-year-old former Stanford All-American -- No. 214 in singles (+16), No. 481 in doubles (no change).
   Raquel Atawo (formerly Kops-Jones), 33-year-old San Jose resident and 2003 NCAA doubles champion from Cal -- No. 20 in doubles (no change).
   CiCi Bellis, 17-year-old product of Atherton in San Francisco Bay Area -- Career-high No. 115 in singles (+5), No. 248 in doubles (-5).
   Alexandra Facey, 23-year-old product of Cameron Park in Sacramento area -- No. 645 in doubles (-1). 
   Kat Facey, 23-year-old product of Cameron Park in Sacramento area -- No. 645 in doubles (-1).
   Nicole Gibbs, 23-year-old former NCAA singles and doubles champion from Stanford -- No. 72 in singles (+1), career-high No. 107 in doubles (+2).
   Michaela Gordon, 17-year-old resident of Saratoga in San Francisco Bay Area -- No. 619 in doubles (-1), No. 774 in singles (-6). 
   Maegan Manasse, 21-year-old Cal junior -- No. 607 in doubles (-2), No. 960 in singles (-1).
   Maria Sanchez, 26-year-old Modesto product -- No. 61 in doubles (+1), No. 295 in singles (-13).
   Sloane Stephens, 23-year-old Fresno product -- No. 27 in singles (+1), No. 872 in doubles (-6).
   Karina Vyrlan, 17-year-old Sacramentan -- No. 912 in doubles (-5).
   Carol Zhao, 21-year-old Stanford junior -- No. 304 in doubles (+1), No. 361 in singles (-1).
TV SCHEDULE 
(All times in California; all broadcasts on Tennis Channel)
Thursday  
   Metz (men), St. Petersburg (men), Tokyo (women), 1:30 a.m.
Friday
   Metz (men), St. Petersburg (men), Tokyo (women), 3 a.m.
   Metz (men), St. Petersburg (men), Tokyo (women), 8 p.m. (live).
 Saturday 
   Metz (men), St. Petersburg (men), Tokyo (women), 9 a.m.
   Metz (men), St. Petersburg (men), Tokyo (women), Guangzhao, 8 p.m. (live).  
CALENDAR 
   Monday-Oct.2 -- $100,000 Wells Fargo Tiburon Challenger (men), Tiburon Peninsula Club, Tiburon, Calif. Qualifying begins Saturday. Champions in 2015: Tim Smyczek, Johan Brunstrom/Frederik Nielsen. 
   Oct. 1 -- Exhibition (Mark Knowles, Brian MacPhie, Rick Leach, Jonathan Stark, host Wayne Bryan), 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Antelope Community Tennis Center in Sacramento area. Pro-am 10 a.m.-noon, kids clinic noon-1 p.m., junior exhibition 2-3 p.m., pro players 4-6 p.m. ticketleap.com (search for SCTA Big Event), (916) 757-3739. 
   Oct. 3-9 -- $100,000 Stockton Challenger (men), Eve Zimmerman Tennis Center, University of the Pacific. Qualifying begins Oct. 1. Champions in 2015 (Sacramento): Taylor Fritz, Blaz Kavcic/Grega Zemlja.
   Oct. 3-9 -- $25,000 Redding Challenger (women), Sun Oaks Tennis & Fitness. Qualifying begins Oct. 1. Champions in 2015: Heidi El Tabakh, Ashley Weinhold-Caitlin Whoriskey. 
   Oct. 10-16 -- $50,000 Fairfield Challenger (men), Solano College, Fairfield, Calif. Qualifying begins Oct. 8. Champions in 2015: Taylor Fritz, Johan Brunstrom/Frederik Nielsen.
   Oct. 23-30 -- WTA Finals, Singapore. 2015 champions: Agnieszka Radwanska, Martina Hingis/Sania Mirza.
   Nov. 12-13 -- Fed Cup final, Czech Republic at France.
   Nov. 13-20 -- ATP World Tour Finals, London. 2015 champions: Novak Djokovic, Jean-Julien Rojer/Horia Tecau.
   Nov. 25-27 -- Davis Cup final, Argentina at Croatia.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Rankings, TV schedule, calendar

WORLD RANKINGS
   Players with Northern California ties ranked in the top 1,000 in the world (change from last week in parentheses):
Men
   Bob Bryan, 38-year-old former NCAA singles and doubles champion from Stanford -- No. 6 in doubles (-1), unranked in singles.
   Mike Bryan, 38-year-old former NCAA doubles champion from Stanford -- No. 7 in doubles (-1), unranked in singles.
   John Paul Fruttero, 35-year-old former Cal All-American -- No. 380 in doubles (+65).
   Ryan Haviland, 35-year-old former Stanford All-American -- No. 766 in singles (+7).
   John Lamble, 24-year-old Saratoga resident and former Santa Clara star -- No. 655 in doubles (+36), career-high No. 812 in singles (+6). 
   Scott Lipsky, 35-year-old former Stanford All-American -- No. 44 in doubles (-3).
   Mackenzie McDonald, 21-year-old resident of Piedmont in San Francisco Bay Area -- No. 399 in singles (+7), career-high No. 471 in doubles (+7).
   Dennis Novikov, 22-year-old resident of Milpitas in San Francisco Bay Area -- No. 126 in singles (-5), No. 213 in doubles (-4).
   Sam Querrey, 28-year-old San Francisco native -- No. 29 in singles (+1), No. 72 in doubles (-30).
   Dmitry Tursunov, 33-year-old resident of Folsom in Sacramento area -- No. 404 in singles (+5), No. 272 in doubles (-2).
Women
   Kristie Ahn, 24-year-old former Stanford All-American -- No. 230 in singles (-8), No. 481 in doubles (-74).
   Raquel Atawo (formerly Kops-Jones), 33-year-old San Jose resident and 2003 NCAA doubles champion from Cal -- No. 20 in doubles (-3).
   CiCi Bellis, 17-year-old product of Atherton in San Francisco Bay Area -- Career-high No. 120 in singles (+38), career-high No. 243 in doubles (+5).
   Alexandra Facey, 23-year-old product of Cameron Park in Sacramento area -- No. 644 in doubles (no change). 
   Kat Facey, 23-year-old product of Cameron Park in Sacramento area -- No. 644 in doubles (no change).
   Nicole Gibbs, 23-year-old former NCAA singles and doubles champion from Stanford -- No. 73 in singles (-3), No. 109 in doubles (+17).
   Michaela Gordon, 17-year-old resident of Saratoga in San Francisco Bay Area -- No. 618 in doubles (-6), No. 768 in singles (-12). 
   Maegan Manasse, 21-year-old Cal junior -- No. 605 in doubles (+1), No. 959 in singles (+6).
   Maria Sanchez, 26-year-old Modesto product -- No. 62 in doubles (-1), No. 282 in singles (-5).
   Sloane Stephens, 23-year-old Fresno product -- No. 28 in singles (-3), No. 866 in doubles (+2).
   Karina Vyrlan, 17-year-old Sacramentan -- No. 907 in doubles (-101).
   Carol Zhao, 21-year-old Stanford junior -- No. 305 in doubles (-4), No. 360 in singles (-2).
TV SCHEDULE 
(All times in California)
Today  
   Davis Cup, semifinals, 5 a.m., Tennis Channel (live). 
 Saturday 
   Davis Cup, semifinals, 3 a.m., Tennis Channel (live). 
Sunday
   Davis Cup, semifinals, 3 a.m., Tennis Channel (live).
CALENDAR 
   Today-Sunday -- Davis Cup semifinals, Argentina at Great Britain, France at Croatia. 
   Sept. 26-Oct.2 -- $100,000 Wells Fargo Tiburon Challenger (men), Tiburon Peninsula Club, Tiburon, Calif. Qualifying begins Sept. 24. Champions in 2015: Tim Smyczek, Johan Brunstrom/Frederik Nielsen. 
   Oct. 1 -- Exhibition (Mark Knowles, Rick Leach, Brian MacPhie, Jonathan Stark, host Wayne Bryan), Antelope Community Tennis Center in Sacramento area. Pro-am 10 a.m.-noon, kids clinic noon-1 p.m., junior exhibition 2-3 p.m., pro players 4-6 p.m. ticketleap.com (search for SCTA Big Event), (916) 757-3739. 
   Oct. 3-9 -- $100,000 Stockton Challenger (men), Eve Zimmerman Tennis Center, University of the Pacific. Qualifying begins Oct. 1. Champions in 2015 (Sacramento): Taylor Fritz, Blaz Kavcic/Grega Zemlja.
   Oct. 3-9 -- $25,000 Redding Challenger (women), Sun Oaks Tennis & Fitness. Qualifying begins Oct. 1. Champions in 2015: Heidi El Tabakh, Ashley Weinhold-Caitlin Whoriskey. 
   Oct. 10-16 -- $50,000 Fairfield Challenger (men), Solano College, Fairfield, Calif. Qualifying begins Oct. 8. Champions in 2015: Taylor Fritz, Johan Brunstrom/Frederik Nielsen.
   Oct. 23-30 -- WTA Finals, Singapore. 2015 champions: Agnieszka Radwanska, Martina Hingis/Sania Mirza.
   Nov. 12-13 -- Fed Cup final, Czech Republic at France.
   Nov. 13-20 -- ATP World Tour Finals, London. 2015 champions: Novak Djokovic, Jean-Julien Rojer/Horia Tecau.
   Nov. 25-27 -- Davis Cup final.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Results of all 2016 U.S. Open finals

Angelique Kerber
Photo by Paul Bauman
Stan Wawrinka
Photo by Paul Bauman
   Men's singles -- Stan Wawrinka (3), Switzerland, def. Novak Djokovic (1), Serbia, 6-7 (1), 6-4, 7-5, 6-3.
   Women's singles -- Angelique Kerber (2), Germany, def. Karolina Pliskova (10), Czech Republic, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.
   Men's doubles -- Jamie Murray, Great Britain, and Bruno Soares (4), Brazil, def. Pablo Carreno Busta and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, Spain, 6-2, 6-3.
   Women's doubles -- Bethanie Mattek-Sands, United States, and Lucie Safarova (12), Czech Republic, def. Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic (1), France, 2-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4.
   Mixed doubles -- Laura Siegemund, Germany, and Mate Pavic, Croatia, def. CoCo Vandeweghe and Rajeev Ram (7), United States, 6-4, 6-4.
   Boys singles -- Felix Auger-Aliassime (6), Canada, def. Miomir Kecmanovic (5), Serbia, 6-3, 6-0.
   Girls singles -- Kayla Day (5), United States, def. Viktoria Kuzmova (13), Slovakia, 6-3, 6-2.
   Boys doubles -- Juan Carlos Manuel Aguilar, Bolivia, and Felipe Meligeni Rodrigues Alves, Brazil, def. Felix Auger-Aliassime and Benjamin Sigouin (3), Canada, 6-3, 7-6 (4).
   Girls doubles -- Jada Hart and Ena Shibahara, United States, def. Kayla Day and Caroline Dolehide, United States, 4-6, 6-2 [13-11].

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Bay Area's Bellis, 17, turns pro

CiCi Bellis slugs a backhand during her victory over
49th-ranked Shelby Rogers in the second round of
the recent U.S. Open. Photo by Paul Bauman
   As it turned out, CiCi Bellis didn't crack the top 100 before deciding to turn pro.
   She came close, though.
   Bellis, 17, of Atherton in the San Francisco Bay Area announced the move today on Twitter, adding that she has signed with IMG to represent her.
   Bellis recently gave Stanford, a five-minute drive from her home, a non-binding verbal commitment for the fall of 2017. However, she said at the time that she would turn pro if she reached the top 100.
   Bellis jumped from No. 158 to a career-high No. 120 by advancing to the third round of the U.S. Open as a qualifier two weeks ago.
   "I think the deciding factor was seeing that I was able to consistently compete at the WTA level," Bellis, who now can keep the $140,000 she earned in the year's last Grand Slam tournament, wrote in an e-mail. "I still have a lot of work to do on my game, but love that I will be able to put all my energies into tennis now.
   "I work very well with my current coach, Anibal Aranda, and he is with the USTA in Florida. I would not have been able to continue working with him if I had decided to go to college.
   "Plus, I felt like I could go to college at any time in my life. It doesn't have to be on the right after high school timetable. I will miss being able to play on a team, but hope to make the US Fed Cup team some day."
    In this week's $250,000 Coupe Banque Nationale in Quebec City on the WTA tour, Bellis will play her second straight qualifier, 5-foot-3 (1.61-meter) Danielle Lao, for a berth in the quarterfinals. Lao, a former USC All-American, shocked third-seeded Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, a 5-foot-11 (1.81-meter) former prodigy from Croatia, 6-4, 6-2 in the first round. Lucic-Baroni is ranked 54th.
   Depending on the outcome against Lao, Bellis will rise at least three to five more notches in Monday's rankings.
   Bellis burst onto the international scene in the 2014 U.S. Open, overcoming a 3-1 deficit in the final set to shock 12th-seeded Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia in the first round. Cibulkova had reached the Australian Open final that year, losing to since-retired Li Na of China.
   With the victory, Bellis became the youngest player to win a main-draw match at the U.S. Open since Anna Kournikova, also 15, in 1996. Bellis lost to Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan in the second round but beat the 32nd-ranked Diyas last year in the second round in Miami. In between, Bellis ended 2014 as the No. 1 junior in the world.
   Bellis reached her first WTA quarterfinal in the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford in July, upsetting No. 38 Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia in the opening round.
   In the main draw of the U.S. Open, Bellis beat No. 65 Viktorija Golubic of Switzerland and No. 49 Shelby Rogers of Charleston, S.C.,  before losing to second seed and eventual champion Angelique Kerber 6-1 6-1.
   Bellis, listed at 5-foot-7 (1.68 meters) and only 110 pounds (50 kilograms), has tremendous groundstrokes but needs to continue getting stronger. She has good pop on her serve for someone her size, but it's not a weapon.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Wawrinka comes up big again, wins U.S. Open

Stan Wawrinka, shown at Indian Wells
in March, defeated Novak Djokovic
in four sets on Sunday to win his first
U.S. Open title. Photo by Paul Bauman
   The bigger the occasion, the better Stan Wawrinka plays.
   Not a bad trait to have.
   Wawrinka improved to 3-0 in Grand Slam finals, all against the No. 1 player, with a 6-7 (1), 6-4, 7-5, 6-3 victory over Novak Djokovic on Sunday for his first U.S. Open title.
   It was Wawrinka's 11th consecutive win in a tournament final. Still, Wawrinka was so nervous before Sunday's match in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., that he was shaking and even started to cry, The Associated Press reported.
   "I don't want to lose the final in a Grand Slam, that simple. That's the only reason," the third-seeded Wawrinka, 31, told reporters. "(It's) the feeling of: You don't want to lose. I don't want to come to the court and lose a final. So close, so far."
   Not to worry, as Wawrinka used his punishing groundstrokes -- including that sensational one-handed backhand -- to beat Djokovic for only the fifth time in 24 career matches and collect $3.5 million. 
   Wawrinka, who saved a match point in the third round against recent Aptos (Calif.) Challenger champion Daniel Evans of Great Britain, became the oldest U.S. Open men's champion since Ken Rosewall was 35 in 1970. 
   All of Wawrinka's Grand Slam titles have come since his 28th birthday and since he hired former world No. 2 Magnus Norman of Sweden as his coach in 2013. 
   Having also beaten Rafael Nadal to win the 2014 Australian Open and Djokovic to capture the 2015 French Open, Wawrinka is three-fourths of the way to a career Grand Slam. He has reached the Wimbledon quarterfinals twice, in 2014 and 2015.
   The 29-year-old Djokovic, who apparently hurt his left leg early in the fourth set Sunday, remained tied with Roy Emerson for fourth place with 12 career Grand Slam singles titles. Roger Federer holds the record with 17, and Nadal and Pete Sampras are tied for second with 14.     
   Since winning the French Open, completing a career Grand Slam, in June for his fifth title in the last six majors, Djokovic has gone 0 for 2. He lost in the third round at Wimbledon to Sam Querrey.
   Only a four-set loss to Wawrinka in last year's French Open final prevented Djokovic from becoming the first man to achieve a calendar-year Grand Slam since Rod Laver in 1969.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

In virtual Stanford replay, Kerber tops Pliskova for title

Angelique Kerber, shown last year, will rise one notch
to No. 1 in the world, replacing Serena Williams, on
Monday. Photo by Mal Taam
   When Angelique Kerber defeated Karolina Pliskova for the title in the Bank of Classic at Stanford only 13 months ago, neither had played in a Grand Slam final.
   Pliskova was ranked No. 11, three places higher than her opponent, entering the match. But Kerber had reached two Grand Slam semifinals, while Pliskova had never advanced past the third round in 13 majors.
   Now look at them.
   In a virtual replay of the Stanford final, Kerber topped Pliskova 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 on a brutally hot, muggy Saturday to win the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
   Kerber, who overcame a 3-1 deficit in the final set, will rise one spot in the rankings and replace Serena Williams at No. 1 on Monday.
   Kerber, who pocketed $3.5 million, told reporters that winning the U.S. Open "means a lot to me. When I was a kid, I was always dreaming to one day be the No. 1 player in the world, to win Grand Slams. I mean, all the dreams came true this year."
   It was Kerber's third Grand Slam final, all this year, and second major title. She stunned Williams to win the Australian Open in January and lost to her in the Wimbledon final in July. Kerber also won the silver medal in singles in the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro last month.
   The 10th-seeded Pliskova, 24, of the Czech Republic upset a hobbled Williams in the U.S. Open semis to reach her first Grand Slam final. That guaranteed Kerber would end Williams' streak of 186 weeks at No. 1, which began in February 2013 and tied Steffi Graf's record.
   Kerber, a 28-year-old left-hander, became the first German woman to win the U.S. Open and ascend to No. 1 since her her idol and mentor, Graf. The 47-year-old legend wished Kerber good luck via a text message before Saturday's match.
   Kerber defeated Pliskova 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 in the Stanford final. There were 18 service breaks in that match, compared with six on Saturday. Pliskova, however, overwhelmed Kerber 6-3, 6-1 in the Cincinnati final three weeks ago.
   The 5-foot-8 (1.73-meter) Kerber is best known for her outstanding defense. With the help of coaches, she has become more aggressive and more positive.
   The turning point in Kerber's career came in the first round of this year's Australian Open. She escaped a match point in a second-set tiebreaker when a shot by unseeded Misaki Doi of Japan hit the tape and fell back on Doi's side of the net.
   Pliskova, 6-foot-1 (1.86 meters), relies on her powerful serve. She will jump from No. 11 in the world to No. 6.
   Entering the U.S. Open, Pliskova still had not moved past the third round of a Grand Slam tournament in 17 appearances. No longer is she an underachiever.