Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Venus, CoCo -- in Aussie semis -- have NorCal ties

Venus Williams, playing in the Bank of the West Classic at Stan-
ford last July, became the oldest woman to reach the Australian
Open semifinals in the Open Era. Photo by by Paul Bauman
   Northern California has played a prominent role in the careers of Americans Venus Williams and CoCo Vandeweghe, who will meet in the Australian Open semifinals.
   Williams, 36, made her professional debut at 14 in Oakland in 1994, won the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford in 2000 and 2002 and reached last year's final.
   Vandeweghe, 25, played World TeamTennis for the now-defunct Sacramento Capitals in 2009 at 17 years old and in 2012. She advanced to the final of the 2012 Bank of the West Classic as a lucky loser, falling to Serena Williams.
   Venus Williams, seeded No. 13, beat No. 24 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia 6-4, 7-6 (3) on Monday (California time) in Melbourne to become the oldest female semifinalist in the Australian Open in the Open Era (since 1968). Pavlyuchenkova played for the Capitals at age 15 in 2006.
   The unseeded Vandeweghe dismantled No. 7 Garbine Muguruza, the reigning French Open champion, 6-4, 6-0 to reach her first Grand Slam semifinal. Muguruza won the Bank of the West doubles title in 2014 with fellow Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro.
   Vandeweghe, the niece of former NBA star Kiki Vandeweghe, was coming off a straight-set victory over top-ranked and defending champion Angelique Kerber.
CoCo Vandeweghe, shown in the 2012 Bank of
the West Classic at Stanford, reached her first
Grand Slam semifinal. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Venus Williams beat Vandeweghe 6-4, 6-3 in the first round of the Italian Open in Rome on clay last year in their only career meeting.
   In an all-Swiss men's semifinal in Melbourne, No. 4 Stan Wawrinka will meet No. 17 Roger Federer.
   Wawrinka, who won the first of his three Grand Slam singles titles in the 2014 Australian Open, defeated No. 12 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France 7-6 (2), 6-4, 6-3.
   Federer, who has won four of his record 17 major singles titles in the Australian Open, eliminated unseeded Mischa Zverev of Germany 6-1, 7-5, 6-2.
   Zverev, the runner-up in the 2012 Sacramento and Tiburon Challengers, had stunned top-ranked Andy Murray in the fourth round.
   The 35-year-old Federer, who missed the last half of 2016 with a knee injury, is 18-3 against Wawrinka, 31. They won the doubles gold medal in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
   Meanwhile, No. 3 seeds and six-time Australian Open champions Bob and Mike Bryan (Stanford, 1997-98) reached the semifinals with a 7-6 (5), 5-7, 6-4 victory over No. 9 Ivan Dodig of Croatia and Marcel Granollers of Spain.
   The 38-year-old Bryan twins have won a record 16 Grand Slam men's doubles titles but none since the 2014 U.S. Open. They will play unseeded Spaniards Pablo Carreno Busta and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.
   On the women's side, No. 11 Raquel Atawo (former Kops-Jones, Cal 2001-04) of San Jose and Xu Yifan of China lost to No. 2 Bethanie Mattek-Sands of Phoenix and Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic 6-1, 6-1.
   In the second round of mixed doubles, No. 1 seeds Mattek-Sands and Mike Bryan dispatched Xu and Fabrice Martin of France 6-3, 6-2.
   Atawo, 34, and Robert Lindstedt of Sweden fell to Michaella Krajicek of the Netherlands and Raven Klaasen of South Africa 6-4, 6-4. Lindstedt, 39, played at Fresno State before transferring to Pepperdine.

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