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Monday, January 22, 2018

Sandgren, Keys Reach Australian Open Quarterfinals; Noel and Baird into AO Junior Third Round; Oracle Newport Beach Events Underway

Professional tennis journalists and commentators have been searching for a more unlikely slam quarterfinalist than Tennys Sandgren, but they are having a tough time coming up with nominees.  The 26-year-old Sandgren, who had won only two ATP level matches in his career and won his first slam match last week in Melbourne, defeated No. 5 seed Dominic Thiem of Austria 6-2, 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-7(7), 6-3 at the Australian Open Tuesday, his second Top 10 win of the tournament.  Sandgren, who played at the University of Tennessee from 2009-2011, has equaled the performance of current Tennessee head coach Chris Woodruff, who was the Tennessee assistant when Sandgren was a Volunteer.  Woodruff reached the Australian Open quarterfinals back in 2000.  Sandgren will face 21-year-old Hyeon Chung, who pulled off a surprise of his own, beating six-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic 7-6(4), 7-5, 7-6(3).

For more on Sandgren's win, see this article from the Australian Open website.

Madison Keys is a much more likely quarterfinalist, with the 2017 US Open finalist setting up a meeting with Angelique Kerber of Germany with a 6-3, 6-2 win over France's Caroline Garcia.  For more on Keys' overpowering performance Monday, see this article from the WTA website.

Madison Keys[17] def. Caroline Garcia[8](FRA) 6-3, 6-2
Tennys Sandgren def. Dominic Thiem[5](AUT) 6-2, 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-7(7), 6-3

Two of the four American juniors in action on Monday advanced to the third round, with No. 7 seed Alexa Noel at the top of her game in a 6-2, 6-0 win over Mariam Dalakishvili of Georgia.  Drew Baird had a much tougher battle with qualifier Jesper De Jong of the Netherlands, but he pulled out a tense 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(6) victory.

Five Americans are in action Tuesday, with the most intriguing match that between Eddie Herr champion Adrian Andreev of Bulgaria and No. 7 seed Sebastian Korda.

All junior matches can be streamed via WatchESPN.

American juniors in action Monday (Sunday night in US)
Alexa Noel[7] def. Mariam Dalakishvili(GEO) 6-2, 6-0
Lulu Sun[10](SUI) def. Nicole Mossmer 6-2, 6-2
Drew Baird def. Jesper De Jong(NED) 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(6)
Marko Miladinovic[2](SRB) def. Tristan Boyer 2-6, 6-1, 6-4

American juniors in second round action Tuesday(Monday night in US):

Jaycer Lyeons v Hugo Gaston[5](FRA)
Sebastian Korda[7] v Adrian Andreev(BUL)
Dalayna Hewitt v Moyuka Uchijima(JPN)
Peyton Stearns v Xinyu Wang[1](CHN)
Elysia Bolton[12] v Himari Sato(JPN)

There are again two USTA Pro Circuit events in Florida, a women's $25,000 tournament in Wesley Chapel, and a men's $15,000 Futures in Weston, but the big event in the US this week takes place in Newport Beach California, a part of the new Oracle Challenge Series*.  Qualifying for the $150,000 men's Challenger was completed today, with Stanford senior Tom Fawcett, a wild card, advancing to the main draw, along with Dennis Novikov(UCLA).  2016 ITF World Junior Champion Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia beat No. 2 seed Frances Tiafoe 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 in today's first round.  Noah Rubin and Stefan Kozlov have advanced to the second round. Kei Nishikori, who is coming back from injury, is the top seed and plays Novikov in the first round.

At the women's WTA 125 event,  qualifying finished on Sunday, with reigning US Open girls champion Amanda Anisimova reaching the main draw and then advancing to the second round with a 6-1, 3-0 ret. win over Irina Falconi today. Anisimova had not played since the WTA 125 event in Hawaii last November.  Kayla Day and wild card Claire Liu picked up wins over WTA veterans Mariana Duque-Marino of Colombia and Stefanie Voegele of Switzerland respectively, with wild card Vicky Duval also advancing to the second round.

*About the Oracle Challenger Series – The Oracle Challenger Series was created to offer American tennis players more opportunities and builds on Oracle’s commitment to help support U.S. tennis for men and women at both the collegiate and professional level. The Series will feature equal prize money in a groundbreaking tournament format that combines the ATP Challenger Tour and WTA 125K Series.

Beyond expanding the number of chances to compete, the Series offers an unmatched potential prize of wild cards for top American finishers into the main draw of the BNP Paribas Open, which is widely considered the top combined ATP World Tour and WTA professional tennis tournament in the world. 

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Nine US Juniors Advance to Australian Open Second Round; Mayot, Osorio Win Coffee Bowl Titles; Cataldi and Brachman Claim Grade 5 Championships; Les Petits As Begins Monday

Five American juniors picked up wins Sunday at the Australian Open Junior Championships, giving the US nine players in the second round, which begins Monday (Sunday night in the US).  Dalayna Hewitt overpowered No. 4 seed Maria Carle of Argentina 7-6(5), 6-4 for the biggest upset among them, but the most dramatic win was Peyton Stearns 6-1, 6-7(6), 7-6(7) win over Gergana Topalova of Bulgaria. Stearns trailed 6-2 in the final tiebreaker before winning five straight points.  Topalova saved that match point, but not the next one, and Stearns will face top seed Xinyu Wang of China on Tuesday.  Sebastian Korda is the subject of this feature from AP, which mentions that father Petr Korda, who won the Australian Open men's title in 1998 and often travels to international junior tournaments, is not with him in Australia.  The ITF junior website has an update on Orange Bowl and Traralgon Grade 1 champion Hugo Gaston of France, who has now won 16 ITF Junior Circuit matches in a row.

American results Sunday (Saturday night in US):

Jaycer Lyeons def. Yeongseok Jeong(KOR) 3-6, 5-5, ret.
Peyton Stearns def. Gergana Topalova(BUL) 6-1, 6-7(6), 7-6(7)
Yanki Erel(TUR) def. Andrew Fenty[13] 7-6(2), 2-6, 6-3
Sebastian Korda[7] def. Clement Tabur(FRA) 7-5, 6-3
Dalayna Hewitt def. Maria Carle[4](ARG) 7-6(5), 6-4
Alexander Crnokrak(AUS) def. Sangeet Sridhar 6-3, 6-1
Viktoria Morvayova(SVK) def. Hurricane Tyra Black 6-4, 6-2
Elysia Bolton[12] def. Ivana Popovic(AUS) 4-6, 6-3, 6-4

American juniors in action Monday (Sunday night in US):

Alexa Noel[7] v Mariam Dalakishvili(GEO)
Nicole Mossmer v Lulu Sun[10](SUI)
Drew Baird v Jesper De Jong(NED)
Tristan Boyer v Marko Miladinovic[2](SRB)

Americans in men's and women's singles action Monday (Sunday night)
Madison Keys[17] v Caroline Garcia[8](FRA)
Tennys Sandgren v Dominic Thiem[5](AUT)

After a huge number of singles entries--54--at the ITF Grade 1 Coffee Bowl, the US contingent had to settle for two doubles titles last night in Costa Rica. 

Top seed Maria Osorio Serrano of Colombia defeated No. 7 seed Lea Ma 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 and unseeded 15-year-old Harold Mayot of France beat No. 7 seed Keenan Mayo 7-5, 6-2.  Mayo had won the doubles title prior to the singles final.  He and Tomas Kopczynski, the No. 4 seeds, beat top seeds Govind Nanda and Tyler Zink 6-4, 6-4.  Unseeded Kylie Collins and Shelly Yaloz won the girls doubles title, beating unseeded Natsumi Kawaguchi of Japan and Shavit Kimchi of Israel 6-1, 6-3.

At the ITF Grade 5 in Anguilla, 15-year-old Spencer Brachman won his second singles title, with the No. 4 seed beating unseeded Casper Christensen of Norway 6-1, 6-2 in the final.  Brachman won his first ITF singles title back in November at the Grade 5 in Antigua.  Fourteen-year-old Taylor Cataldi, playing in her first ITF tournament, swept the girls titles. She beat Rachel Caplan 6-1, 6-2 in the all-US final and partnered with Genevieve Quenville of Canada for the doubles title. The unseeded Cataldi and Quenville defeated No. 2 seeds Payton Saca and Australia's Luciana Kunkel  1-6, 6-4, 10-7 in the final.  Top seeds Quinn McLeod and Puerto Rico's Rafael Grovas won the boys doubles title, beating No. 3 seeds Timothy Phung and Japan's Toi Kobayashi 6-1, 6-4.

The finals of the two USTA Pro Circuit events in Florida this week did not produce any American champions.  At the $15,000 Futures in Sunrise,  Julien Cagnina of Belgium, the No. 2 seed, beat Naoki Nakagawa of Japan 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-3 to win the singles titles.  Cagnina and Maxime Chazal of France won the doubles title, beating Junior Ore(Texas A&M) and Juan Benitez Chavarriaga(Baylor) 1-6, 7-5, 10-4. 

At the $25,000 women's tournament in Orlando, Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine won her second straight event, with the top seed beating unseeded Julia Grabher of Austria 6-2, 3-6, 7-5. Hanyuo Gao of CHina and Ching-Wen Hsu of Taiwan won the doubles title, beating Ulrikke Eikeri of Norway and Ilona Kremen of Belarus 6-3, 3-6, 12-10 in the final. 

The Les Petits As tournament begins Monday in Tarbes France, with Bolton champions Katja Wiersholm and Victor Lilov the top seeded Americans, both at No. 5.  Lilov is still being shown as from Bulgaria, but that is not correct.  Katrina Scott and Evan Wen, finalists in Bolton, are both seeded No. 8.  Robin Montgomery, Vivian Ovrootsky, John Kim and Jonah Braswell are not seeded.  The top boys seed is Mikhail Gorokhov of Russia; the No. 1 seed in the girls draw is Diana Shnaider, also from Russia.  Printable draws can be found at the Tennis Europe tournament page.  Monday's schedule features three US girls: Wiersholm, Scott and Ovrootsky.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Ma, Mayo Reach G1 Coffee Bowl Finals; Day Two of Australian Open Juniors Features Eight Americans; Sandgren, Keys Make AO Second Week; Junior Orange Bowl 12s Photos, Videos

Keenan Mayo and Lea Ma, both No. 7 seeds, will play in their first Grade 1 finals tonight at the Coffee Bowl in Costa Rica.  Ma defeated No. 9 seed Alexandra Vagramov of Canada 6-3, 6-4 in last night's semifinals and will face top seed Maria Osorio Serrano of Colombia in tonight's final after Orsorio Serrano defeated No. 4 seed Elli Mandlik 6-4, 6-2.  Mayo's big serving helped him win a hard-fought battle with No. 8 seed Brandon Nakashima 6-4, 6-7(4), 6-4, earning him a meeting with 15-year-old Harold Mayot of France.  Mayot cruised past No. 3 seed Mateus Alves of Brazil 6-2, 6-1 late last night.

Before he plays in the singles final, Mayo will play for the doubles championship with partner Tomas Kopczynski, with the No. 4 seeds taking on top seeds Govind Nanda and Tyler Zink in an all-American final.  The unseeded team of Kylie Collins and Shelly Yaloz will face unseeded Natsumi Kawaguchi of Japan and Shavit Kimchi of Israel for the girls title.

See the tournament website for live streaming.

The first day of the Australian Open Junior Championships saw Americans go 4-2.  US Open finalist Coco Gauff suffered the first first round exit of her brief ITF Junior Circuit career, losing to unseeded Elisabetta Cocciaretto of Italy. Sunday's schedule includes eight more American first round singles matches, as well as first round doubles matches.  There are no US girls seeded in doubles, but interesting to note that Marta Kostyuk, who reached the third round in the women's draw this week, is in the girls doubles draw with Viktoriia Dema, also of Ukraine. They are seeded fourth.  In the boys doubles draw, Tristan Boyer, playing with Argentina's Juan Cerundolo, is seeded No. 5, and Sebastian Korda, playing with longtime partner Nicolas Mejia of Colombia, is seeded No. 2.

Sandy Harwitt spoke with Alexa Noel about her first junior slam win in this feature for the ITF junior website.

American junior results Saturday(Friday night in US)

Alexa Noel[7] def. Stefania Rogozinska Dzik(POL) 7-6(1) 6-1
Elisabetta Cocciaretto(ITA) def. Coco Gauff 2-6, 6-2, 6-2
Nicole Mossmer def. Myah Petchey(RSA) 6-0, 6-1
Tristan Boyer def. Lorenzo Musetti(ITA) 6-3, 6-1
Drew Baird def. Juan Cerundolo[10](ARG) 6-2, 6-2
Daniela Vismane[13](LAT) def. Niluka Madurawe 6-3, 6-4

American juniors in action Sunday (Saturday night in US)

Jaycer Lyeons v Yeongseok Jeong(KOR)
Peyton Stearns v Gergana Topalova(BUL)
Andrew Fenty[13] v Yanki Erel(TUR)
Sebastian Korda[7] v Clement Tabur(FRA)
Dalayna Hewitt v Maria Carle[4](ARG)
Sangeet Sridhar v Alexander Crnokrak(AUS)
Hurricane Tyra Black v Viktoria Morvayova(SVK)
Elysia Bolton[12] v Ivana Popovic(AUS)

Just two Americans have advanced to the second week of the Australian Open, No. 17 seed Madison Keys and Tennys Sandgren. Keys is no surprise, of course, having reached the final of the last slam, but Sandgren won his first grand slam match Tuesday, so his run has been unexpected.  Here's a tennis.com feature on Sandgren, who will face No. 5 seed Dominic Thiem of Austria next.  And hats off to Lauren Davis, who fell just short in an epic match with No. 1 seed Simona Halep of Romania 6-4, 4-6, 15-13.  For more on that, see the WTA website.

American results Saturday (Friday night in US)
Saturday(Friday night in US)

Simona Halep[1](ROU) def. Lauren Davis 4-6, 6-4, 15-13
Madison Keys[17] def. Ana Bogdan(ROU) 6-3, 6-4
Tennys Sandgren def. Maximilian Marterer(GER) 5-7, 6-3, 7-5, 7-6(5)
Barbora Strycova[20](CZE) def. Bernarda Pera 6-2, 6-2

I've been working on the Junior Orange Bowl photos and videos, and today's post features the 12s division.

Biltmore Tennis Center, site of girls 12s through quarterfinals

Salvadore Park, boys 12s site

Friday, January 19, 2018

My Annual Intriguing Questions Article; Lilov, Wiersholm Claim Bolton Titles; Nakashima Joins Mayo, Ma and Mandlik in Coffee Bowl Semis; Australian Open Junior Championship Draws

I've been writing an annual Intriguing Questions article for the Tennis Recruiting Network for 13 years now, with this year's edition available today. I cover ATP/WTA format changes, ITF junior points changes, UTR, live streaming and other topics, including what 2018 holds for Whitney Osuigwe and the 20-year-old American men. I am always struck, after I've written this article, how many of these big-picture questions are a result of conversations I've had with players, coaches and administrators during my five weeks in Florida at the end of the year. That suggests a recency bias, but I believe that preparation for and curiosity about a new year's changes is also a factor. I hope you learn something from reading it; I always learn something during my research before writing it.

For the second year in a row, the United States has swept the titles at the Tennis Europe Category 1 tournament in Bolton England. Thirteen-year-old Katja Wiersholm, whose brother Henrik reached the final of the same event back in 2011, avenged her loss to No. 2 seed Katrina Scott in the final of the USA Les Petits As playoff last fall with a 6-4, 6-4 victory.  Wiersholm, the No. 5 seed, beat the No. 4, No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in succession for the title.  Coco Gauff, then 12 years old, won the girls title last year over Alexandra Yepifanova, also of the United States.

No. 7 seed Victor Lilov also avenged a recent loss to his doubles partner Evan Wen, after the No. 4 seed had beaten him at a USTA tournament in Cincinnati.  The 13-year-old Lilov had come from a set down in both his quarterfinal and semifinal victories, and he went three sets again today against Wen in a 6-3, 0-6, 6-3 win.  Toby Kodat won the boys title last year over Martin Damm, also of the United States.

The next stop for the USTA's 14-and-under team is Tarbes France, where the Les Petits As tournament will begin on Monday. 

At the ITF Grade 1 Coffee Bowl in Costa Rica, No. 8 seed Brandon Nakashima defeated top seed Trey Hilderbrand 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-4 to reach his first Grade 1 semifinal.  The 16-year-old from San Diego will play No. 7 seed Keenan Mayo later tonight.  The other boys semifinal features No. 3 seed Mateus Alves of Brazil and unseeded 15-year-old Harold Mayot of France. Alves defeated No. 6 seed Tyler Zink 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 in the quarterfinals last night.

No. 4 seed Elli Mandlik will play top seed Maria Osorio Serrano of Colombia this afternoon, after Osorio Serrano breezed past Chloe Beck 6-2, 6-0.  No. 7 seed Lea Ma will face No. 9 seed Alexandra Vagramov of Canada in the other semifinal tonight. 

Streaming will begin around 6:30 p.m. Eastern at the tournament's website.

The draws are out for the Australian Open Junior Championships, which begin Saturday (Friday night in the United States) with eight American girls and six American boys participating.  The fields are similar to those of the Traralgon Grade 1 this week, although the No. 1 seed in the girls draw, Xinyu Wang of China, did not play there, as she won a wild card tournament and played in the women's main draw in Melbourne.  Timofey Skatov of Russia is again the No. 1 boys seed this week.  The US boys in the draw are Sebastian Korda[7], Andrew Fenty[13], Tristan Boyer, Drew Baird, Sangeet Sridhar and qualifier Jaycer Lyeons, who did not play Traralgon.  The US girls in the draw are Alexa Noel[7], Elysia Bolton[12], Hurricane Tyra Black, Coco Gauff, Peyton Stearns, Nicole Mossmer, Dalayna Hewitt and qualifier Niluka Madurawe. 

Streaming of junior matches should be available via WatchESPN

Ryan Harrison lost to No. 6 seed Marin Cilic of Croatia last night, leaving Tennys Sandgren as the last US man in the draw. 

Friday (Thursday night in US)

Marin Cilic[6](CRO) def. Ryan Harrison 7-6(4), 6-3, 7-6(4)

Saturday(Friday night in US)

Lauren Davis v Simona Halep[1](ROU)
Madison Keys[17] v Ana Bogdan(ROU)
Tennys Sandgren v Maximilian Marterer(GER)
Bernarda Pera v Barbora Strycova[20](CZE)

American Juniors in action Saturday(Friday night in US)

Alexa Noel[7] v Stefania Rogozinska Dzik(POL)
Coco Gauff v Elisabetta Cocciaretto(ITA)
Nicole Mossmer v Myah Petchey(RSA)
Tristan Boyer v Lorenzo Musetti(ITA)
Drew Baird v Juan Cerundolo[10](ARG)
Niluka Madurawe v Daniela Vismane[13](LAT)

Thursday, January 18, 2018

All-American Finals in Bolton; Midurawe, Lyeons Qualify for Australian Open Jrs; Mandlik, Ma and Mayo Into Coffee Bowl Semis; Sandgren and Pera with Big Wins in Australia

The singles finals are set for the Tennis Europe event in Bolton, with Americans filling all four spots.  No. 4 seed Evan Wen rolled past Samuel Reeve of Great Britain 6-1, 6-2 and he was later joined by his doubles partner Victor Lilov, who beat No. 3 seed Cesar Bouchelaghem of France 3-6, 6-2, 7-6(5).  No. 7 seed Lilov trailed 5-3 in the tiebreaker, but won the final four points of the match.  Wen and Lilov played in the quarterfinals of the Junior Orange Bowl 12s in 2016, with Lilov winning, but Wen claimed victories in their two meetings in USTA events last year, both on indoor hard courts. Lilov and Wen fell in the doubles final, with the No. 2 seeds going out to top seeds Mili Poljicak and Dino Prizmic of Croatia 3-6, 6-4, 10-5.

In the girls semifinals, No. 5 seed Katja Wiersholm beat top seed Matilda Mutavdzic of Great Britain 7-5, 6-2, while No. 2 seed Katrina Scott downed Robin Montgomery 6-4, 6-1 in the all-American semifinal.  As with the boys, the finalists have history in the Junior Orange Bowl 12s, with Scott defeating Wiersholm in the 2016 quarterfinals. Scott also beat Wiersholm this past fall, in the final of the Les Petits As playoffs in Florida.  Wiersholm and Montgomery, seeded fourth, won the doubles title, beating No. 3 seeds Oceane Babel and Laia Petretic of France 6-4, 6-2.

Two Americans qualified for the Australian Open Junior Championships, with Niluka Madurawe and Jaycer Lyeons earning their first spots in a junior slam with wins Thursday.  Madurawe, the No. 6 seed, beat No. 15 seed Funa Kozaki of Japan 6-3, 6-2 and Lyeons, seeded No. 15, defeated Hikaru Shiraishi of Japan 5-7, 7-5, 3-0 ret.  Complete draws can be found at the Tennis Australia website.  Play in the Australian Open Junior Championships main draw begins Saturday (Friday night in the United States).

The ITF Grade 1 in Traralgon Australia ended on Thursday, with top seed En Shuo Liang of Taiwan and No. 5 seed Hugo Gaston of France winning the titles.  Liang defeated No. 8 seed Xiyu Wang of Chinga 6-4, 0-6, 6-1 and Gaston cruised past unseeded Aidan McHugh of Great Britain 6-1, 6-1.  Wojciech Marek of Poland and Chun Hsin Tseng of Taiwan won the boys doubles title with a 7-6(1), 6-4 win over Rinky Hijikata of Australia and Taisei Ichikawa of Japan in an all-unseeded final. No. 6 seeds Joanna Garland of Taiwan and Himari Sato of Japan won the girls doubles title with a 6-4, 4-6, 10-6 win over No. 2 seeds Alina Charaeva and Kamilla Rakhimova of Russia.

The quarterfinals at the ITF Grade 1 Coffee Bowl will extend well into the night in Costa Rica, but three Americans have advanced to the semifinals.  No. 7 seed Lea Ma defeated Nikki Redelijk 6-1, 6-4 and will face No. 9 seed Alexandra Vagramov of Canada, who beat No. 14 seed Skyler Grishuk 7-5, 6-0.  No. 4 seed Elli Mandlik defeated Charlotte Owensby 7-6, 6-3 and will play the winner of tonight's match between top seed Maria Osorio Serrano of Colombia and No. 5 seed Chloe Beck.

No. 7 seed Keenan Mayo beat Toby Kodat 6-3, 6-1 and will face the winner of the night match between No. 1 seed Trey Hilderbrand and No. 8 seed Brandon Nakashima.  Unseeded Harold Mayot of France will play the winner of the evening match between No. 6 seed Tyler Zink and No. 3 seed Mateus Alves of Brazil.  All three evening singles matches will be streamed at the tournament website.

Two relatively unknown Americans came up big last night at the Australian Open, with Tennys Sandgren and lucky loser Bernarda Pera both beating the No. 9 seeds.  Sandgren, who won his first slam match on Monday, got the biggest win of his career, beating 2014 Australian champion Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland 6-2, 6-1, 6-4. Wawrinka is coming off a long injury layoff, but regardless of the circumstances, that is an impressive victory for the former Tennessee Volunteer.  Pera won a tight match over Great Britain's Johanna Konta 6-4, 7-5, and for someone who has never been in that position, it takes a lot of determination to finish off a quality opponent like Konta.  Lauren Davis and Madison Keys also advanced to the third round with wins Thursday.
The ATP article on Sandgren's win is here; the USTA has more on Pera's victory here.

Thursday (Wednesday night in US)

Dominic Thiem[5](AUT) def. Denis Kudla 6-7(6), 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-3
Madison Keys[17] def. Ekaterina Alexandrova(RUS) 6-0, 6-1
Tennys Sandgren def. Stan Wawrinka[9](SUI) 6-2, 6-1, 6-4
Bernarda Pera def. Johanna Konta[9](GBR) 6-4, 7-5
Marton Fucsovics(HUN) def. Sam Querrey[13] 6-4, 7-6(6), 4-6, 6-2
Albert Ramos-Vinolas[21](ESP) def. Tim Smyczek 6-4, 6-2, 7-6(2)
Lauren Davis def. Andrea Petkovic(GER) 4-6, 6-0, 6-0

Friday (Thursday night in US)

Ryan Harrison v Marin Cilic[6](CRO)

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Final Round Qualifying for Australian Open Juniors Features Three Americans; Five US Semifinalists at Bolton; Second Seeds Nanda, Ong Out at G1 Coffee Bowl; McDonald Falls Just Short Against Dimitrov

Qualifying for the Australian Open Junior Championships began on Wednesday in Traralgon, and three of the five Americans participating advanced to Thursday's final round.  Dakota Fordham, who was still an alternate at the last acceptance list update, got into qualifying and advanced with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Ayumi Miyamoto of Japan, the No. 4 seed.  No. 6 seed Niluka Madurawe won her first round match, as did No. 15 seed Jaycer Lyeons, who did not play Traralgon.  The other two US boys, William Woodall and No. 3 seed Brian Shi, lost their first round qualifying matches.  Live scoring for the final round can be found here.  Draws are at the Tennis Australia tournament website.

Both US girls in the semifinals at the Grade 1 in Traralgon lost Wednesday.  Top seed En Shuo Liang of Taiwan avenged her loss to Coco Gauff at last summer's College Park Grade 1 by claiming a 7-6(2), 6-0 victory after Gauff had served for the first set.  Dalayna Hewitt, who reached the second Grade 1 semifinal of her career this week, gave a walkover to No. 8 seed Xiyu Wang of China.  The boys final will feature No. 5 seed Hugo Gaston of France against unseeded Aidan McHugh of Great Britain.

The semifinals are set at the 14-and-under Tennis Europe event in Bolton England, with two US boys and three US girls advancing to the final four.  No. 4 seed Evan Wen and No. 7 seed Victor Lilov moved on, with Wen, a 1-6, 6-0, 6-1 winner over qualifier Paul Inchauspe of France, taking on Samuel Reeve of Great Britain Thursday.  Reeve defeated top seed Mili Poljicak of Croatia 6-2 4-6, 6-3.  Lilov, the 2016 Junior Orange Bowl champion, defeated No. 2 seed Alexander Blockx of Belgium, the 2017 Junior Orange Bowl 3rd place finisher, 5-7, 6-1, 6-0. He will play No. 3 seed Cesar Bouchelaghem of France.  Wen and Lilov have also advanced to the doubles final.

No. 2 seed Katrina Scott and No. 13 seed Robin Montgomery will play each other for a place in the final after straight-sets wins today.  Scott defeated unseeded Maelle LeClercq of France 6-2, 6-2 and Montgomery downed No. 6 seed Hanne Vandewinkel of Belgium 6-1, 6-3.  Scott defeated Montgomery 6-1, 6-2 in the third round of the Orange Bowl 16s last month. No. 5 seed Katja Wiersholm beat No. 4 seed Oceane Babel of France 6-4, 6-3 and will face top seed Matilda Mutavdzic of Great Britain, who prevented another all-US semifinal with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 win over No. 8 seed Vivian Ovrootsky.  Wiersholm and Montgomery have also reached the doubles final.

The ITF Grade 1 Coffee Bowl was dominated by Americans, and with the quarterfinals nearly set (there are a couple of night matches yet) five of the boys quarterfinalists and six of the girls quarterfinalists are from the US.  Those numbers do not include the No. 2 seeds however, as Govind Nanda lost last night to Sebastian Gonzalez of Peru 6-3, 7-6(6) and Vanessa Ong lost yesterday to Kylie Collins.  Gonzalez backed up his upset with another win today, but Collins lost to Nikki Redelijk.  Lea Ma[7] will face Redelijk in the quarterfinals; No. 14 seed Skyler Grishuk, No. 5 seed Chloe Beck and Charlotte Owensby have also advanced.  Owensby will play the winner of tonight's match between Elli Mandlik[4] and Sanyukta Gawande[16] in a second all-US quarterfinal.  A stream of that match is available at the tournament website.

The marquee matchup in the boys draw Thursday is top seed Trey Hilderbrand, playing in his first event since last October, against No. 8 seed Brandon Nakashima, the 2017 Kalamazoo 16s champion.  Toby Kodat and Keenan Mayo[7] play in the other quarterfinal in the top half, assuring a finalist from the US.  No. 6 seed Tyler Zink is the only American left in the bottom half; he will play No. 3 seed Mateus Alves of Brazil.

The talk of the Australian Open on the men's side Wednesday was the performance by 2016 NCAA champion Mackenzie McDonald, who took No. 3 seed Grigor Dimitrov to the limit before falling 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 0-6, 8-6. McDonald, who won his first round match over fellow qualifier Elias Ymer of Sweden Monday, impressed everyone with his level and his stamina.  For more on the match, read Joel Drucker's account at tennis.com.  Overshadowed by McDonald's heroics was Ryan Harrison's win over No. 31 seed Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay, which puts him in the third round of a slam for just the second time in his career.

Marta Kostyuk, the 15-year-old Ukrainian, continues to be undefeated in Melbourne. The 2017 Australian Open girls champion defeated wild card Olivia Rogowska of Australia 6-3, 7-5 to reach the third round, becoming the youngest woman to go that far in a slam since Mirjana Lucic Baroni did it in 1997.  For more on the rare accomplishments by Kostyuk this week, see this article from the Australian Open website.

Americans in Australian Open:

Wednesday (Tuesday night in US)

Grigor Dimitrov[3](BUL) def. Mackenzie McDonald 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 0-6, 8-6
Kiki Bertens[30](NED) def. Nicole Gibbs 7-6(3), 6-0
Ryan Harrison v Pablo Cuevas[31](URU) 6-4, 7-6(5), 6-4

Thursday (Wednesday night in US)

Denis Kudla v Dominic Thiem[5](AUT)
Madison Keys[17] v Ekaterina Alexandrova(RUS)
Tennys Sandgren v Stan Wawrinka[9](SUI)
Bernarda Pera v Johanna Konta[9](GBR)
Sam Querrey[13] v Marton Fucsovics(HUN)
Tim Smyczek v Albert Ramos-Vinolas[21](ESP)
Lauren Davis v Andrea Petkovic(GER)