Both No. 4 Seeds Fall in Fifth Round Action Wednesday in Kalamazoo; Jenkins and Krajicek Upset in 18s Doubles
©Colette Lewis 2008--
Wednesday wasn't a good day to be a No. 4 seed in Kalamazoo, as both Alex Domijan in the 18s and Sekou Bangoura, Jr. in the 16s were sent to the back draw. Domijan served for the match at 5-4 in the third set, but dropped the final three games to lose to No. 12 seed Rhyne Williams by a 1-6, 7-6(6) 7-5 score; Bangoura fought back to force a third set, but fell to No. 11 seed Clay Thompson 6-3, 4-6, 6-3.
The weather was cooler, with no heat rule in effect for the 18s for the first time in three days, and all main draw round of 16 matches were played on the front four courts at Stowe Stadium. The 18s played first, with six of the eight matches going the distance to provide the lunchtime crowd with a feast of tennis drama.
One match that certainly didn't look as if it was going to be a long one was Domijan - Williams. Williams was thoroughly dominated by the serve and forehand of the 6-foot-6 Floridian, and a routine win for the No. 4 seed looked likely. But Williams, who had endured a stretch in his fourth round win over JT Sundling Tuesday where he lost six straight games after leading a set and 5-1, was able to get his tired muscles moving in the second set.
"I was extremely sore today from yesterday," said Williams, 17. "The first set he crushed me, I could barely move. I got warmed up and I guess the adrenaline kicked in and I started playing better."
Williams put the pressure on himself in the second set when he failed to hold serving for the set at 5-4, but returning well in the tiebreaker got him to the third set. He was broken at 2-2 in the third set and Domijan kept that advantage until 5-4, when a missed volley cost him the game. Williams held and suddenly Domijan's usually reliable forehand went awry, and a double fault didn't help things. At deuce, Williams hit a feathery backhand drop shot winner to earn a match point. The tension built during the long rally, but a ball from an adjacent court interfered, and a let was called.
"I was mortified," Williams recalled. "I felt like I had the point won, I had got into the point. I started on the defensive and I got back into it, and as soon as I had a forehand, I could make him run. Obviously that's his weakness, because he's really tall. Then a ball rolled on the court and I was like oh great, he has another first serve and here we go. I really got lucky on match point, very lucky."
When Domijan's ball went wide, Williams had the win, and considering his start and his opponent, he was very relieved.
"I hate playing him, I can't stand playing people like that," said the right-hander from Knoxville, Tenn. "He stands right on the baseline and hits it flat and low, and I just don't like it."
Williams will play No. 5 seed Austin Krajicek, a 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 winner over No. 15 seed Steve Johnson in one of two quarterfinal matches that will be played on Thursday.
The other quarterfinal in the 18s will feature top seed Ryan Harrison, who dropped his first set of the tournament, but recovered to down friend and roommate Alex Llompart, the No. 21 seed, 4-6, 6-0. 6-3.
Harrison's opponent will be No. 7 seed Bradley Klahn, who was one of only two 18s players to advance in straight sets. Klahn beat No. 13 seed Kyle McMorrow 6-3, 6-2.
No. 6 seed Ty Trombetta is probably relieved to have a day off on Thursday, as he was taken to a third set tiebreaker for the second day in a row, this time prevailing over No. 11 seed Dennis Nevolo 6-3, 6-7(2), 7-6(5). Trombetta served for the match after breaking Nevolo at 4-4 in the second set, but he was broken despite having a 30-0 lead. Nevolo didn't get that close when he served for the match in the third set, dropping his serve at love at 5-4. In the tiebreaker, Trombetta found another gear, especially on his serve, and finally ended the three hour and fifteen minute contest.
"I was serving good in the tiebreak," said the 18-year-old from Hallandale, Fla. "I was placing it well, and putting the second ball away. He's just solid off both sides, so I played him to the middle so he couldn't hurt me really, couldn't have the angles to attack me."
Trombetta will meet No. 3 seed Adam El Mihdawy in one Friday quarterfinal. El Mihdawy defeated No. 16 seed Wil Spencer 6-2, 6-7(4), 6-2. Like Trombetta, El Mihdawy was serving for the match in the second before losing the tiebreaker that extended his day, but a cramping Spencer couldn't hold an early break in the third set and El Mihdawy took control.
2007 finalist Ryan Thacher, this year's No. 8 seed, dropped his first set of the tournament, but the left-hander from California found another gear in the final two sets of his 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory over No. 9 seed Jarmere Jenkins. Thacher will play No. 2 seed Chase Buchanan, who continued his roll with a 6-2, 6-1 win over unseeded Ian Chadwell. In his first four wins, Buchanan has lost a total of seven games.
The 16s singles three-setters were much less numerous, with only two of the eight matches going to a third set. One was Thompson's upset of Bangoura, his first win over the graceful Floridian in four tries. At the Grass Courts in June, Thompson was up a set, but at 4-4, 40-0, Bangoura started his comeback and won the match.
"He's so smooth, so consistent and so mentally tough that you can be up a set 4-4, 40-0 and he's like, I've got him right where I want him," Thompson said. "So it was really tough for me out there, because I had to keep playing so great. He just waits for you to mentally let up just a little bit, and he's on you."
Up 5-2 in the third set, Thompson called for a trainer for a tweak in his back, but there was no sign of any problems when he stepped to the line to serve out the match. Thompson went for his first serves and made four out of five, with both strategy and execution working in concert.
"I told myself if I'm going to get broken, it needs to be because I double fault," said Thompson, who turned 16 in May. "I double faulted a lot in this match, but I just said whatever. My serve is one of the strongest points of my game, so I'm going to keep going for it and ripping it as hard as I can. It really worked out for me--I only got broken twice in the whole match and those were both in the second set."
Thompson will play No. 7 seed Jordan Cox on Thursday, after Cox also was extended to three sets, but came away with a 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 win over No. 15 seed Nelson Vick.
The other quarterfinal on Thursday will pit No. 9 seed Raymond Sarmiento against No. 5 seed Bob van Overbeek. Sarmiento took out giant-killer Spencer Newman, the 20th seed, 6-3, 6-2 and Van Overbeek, seeded No. 5, rolled past No. 14 seed Mitchell Frank 6-2, 6-2.
One of Friday's quarterfinals in the 16s will send No. 6 seed Denis Kudla against No. 3 seed Jack Sock. Both advanced with routine victories; Sock downed No. 13 seed Zach Leslie 6-2, 6-1 and Kudla sent No. 10 seed Joshua Tchan to the back draw 6-3, 6-3.
No. 2 seed Evan King conquered No. 16 seed Nathan Pasha 6-4, 6-2 on Wednesday and will meet No. 12 seed Ben Guthrie, who surprised No. 8 seed Junior Ore 7-6(7), 6-2.
The big upset in the 18s doubles quarterfinal action (16 doubles quarterfinals are Thursday) saw No. 5 seeds Thacher and Williams beat top seeds Jenkins and Krajicek 6-4, 3-6, 6-3. Their semifinal opponents will be Buchanan and Harrison, the No. 8 seeds, who dominated No. 3 seeds Denis Lin and McMorrow 6-1, 6-0. Twelfth seeds Daniel Nguyen and JT Sundling, the 2007 16s doubles champions in Kalamazoo, still have a chance for back-to-back titles, after defeating No. 6 seeds Drew Courtney and Dennis Nevolo 6-3, 6-2. They will meet fellow Southern Californians Klahn and Johnson on Friday, after the No. 2 seeds steamrolled No. 7 seeds Devin Britton and Ryan Lipman 6-1, 6-1.
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