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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Frank, Kudla and Williams Salvage Gloomy First Day of US Open Qualifying for Americans; McHale Reaches New Haven Quarterfinals


Today's first round of qualifying at the US Open started dismally for the US players, with seven losses posted before wild card Mitchell Frank finally recorded a win. Gail Brodsky went out first, losing 6-0, 6-0 in 40 minutes to No. 3 seed Stephanie Dubois of Canada. Tim Smyczek, wild card Julia Boserup and No. 27 seed Alex Glatch all went out in straight sets, while Madison Brengle, Nick Monroe and Lauren Albanese all lost three-set battles. Wayne Odesnik, the No. 19 seed, who has been a persona non grata in tennis since returning from his suspension for HGH possession, lost to Australian Greg Jones after winning the opening set, but Frank broke the string with his 3-6, 7-5(5), 7-5 win over No. 13 seed Kenny De Schepper of France. It was a harrowing final game for Frank, who needed by my count, six match points to end it, saving one break point in the seven-deuce game.

Frank's friend and former neighbor and training partner Denis Kudla had an even more exciting final game, saving two match points in the third-set tiebreaker to beat Italy's Andrea Arnaboldi 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(7). Kudla trailed 6-5 and 7-6 in the tiebreaker. Should Frank and Kudla win their second round matches on Thursday, they would play each other for a place in the US Open main draw.

In addition to Frank and Kudla, three other wild cards made their way into the second round. 2010 NCAA champion Bradley Klahn beat fellow wild card Tennys Sandgren 6-7(2), 6-2, 6-2, while Sandgren's former Tennessee teammate Rhyne Williams, the 2011 NCAA runnerup, avenged a recent loss by beating No. 10 seed Rik De Voest of South Africa 6-4, 6-4. Blake Strode, the former Arkansas All-American who won his wild card in the National Playoff competition, beat No. 27 seed Niloa Ciric of Serbia tonight to advance to the second round of qualifying for the second year in a row. Jesse Witten, in another late match, lost to Ilija Bozoljac of Serbia, leaving the US men with a 5-7 mark on the day.

Bjorn Fratangelo and Marcos Giron, the two other wild cards in action today, lost in straight sets. Dan Kosakowski, the final wild card, will play his opening round match on Wednesday.

Ashley Weinhold, who received entry based on her ranking, kept the US women from being shutout on the first day, taking a 3-6, 7-6(7), 6-2 decision from Liana Ungur of Romania in a late evening match. With Weinhold's comeback, the US women were 1-5 on Tuesday.

Sixty-four more first round matches are scheduled for Wednesday, with eight of the nine wild cards, including 2010 US Open girls champion Daria Gavrilova and 2011 Wimbledon girls champion Ashleigh Barty, in action. US women on the schedule are Julia Cohen, Chichi Scholl, Krista Hardebeck, Jessica Pegula, Robin Anderson, Nicole Gibbs, Taylor Townsend and Liz Jeukeng. American men playing their opening matches are Zack Fleishman, Michael Yani, Rajeev Ram, Alex Kuznetsov, Greg Ouellette and Kosakowski.

A recap of the first day of qualifying can be found at usopen.org. But pay no attention to the sentence about Frank "turning pro." It's obvious that the writer doesn't understand the distinction between playing professional events as an amateur and actually giving up collegiate eligibility.

The complete order of play is at usopen.org, as is the men's qualifying draw and the women's qualifying draw.

Although there wasn't much good news on the women's side of things at the US Open, Christina McHale continued to build on her excellent summer, reaching the quarterfinals of the New Haven Open with another win today. McHale, who beat lucky loser Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain tonight, had beaten No. 6 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia yesterday, her second win over the two-time Grand Slam winner this year. McHale will now play world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki for the second time in two weeks. Last week McHale upset Wozniacki at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati.

For more on New Haven, see the tournament website.

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