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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

US Men 8-1 in Australian Open Qualifying First Round, Nine US Women Begin Qualifying Play Wednesday; ITF Grade 1 Coffee Bowl Quarterfinals Feature at Least Four US Girls

The first round of the Australian Open qualifying was a good one for US men, with eight of the nine Americans winning their opening round matches.  No. 4 seed Denis Kudla, No. 20 seed Alex Kuznetsov No. 19 seed Wayne Odesnik and No. 15 seed Rajeev Ram won in straight sets, as did unseeded Bobby Reynolds. Austin Krajicek and No. 13 seed Rhyne Williams both won in three sets and will play each other in the second round. Former UCLA Bruin Dan Kosakowski, who was out for six months last year with a shoulder injury and hadn't won a match in the four Challengers he played in late 2013, came up with a big win, defeating No. 30 seed Tatsuma Ito of Japan 6-3, 2-6, 6-4.   Tennys Sandgren was the only American man to suffer a loss, beaten by No. 5 seed Dusan Lajovic of Serbia 7-6(5), 6-3. Odesnik, Ram and Kosakowski are scheduled to play tonight.

The US men also had an excellent day in Auckland, with three making the ATP event's quarterfinals.  Lucky loser Steve Johnson beat both Marcos Baghdatis and No. 4 seed Kevin Anderson, wild card Jack Sock beat No. 2 seed Tommy Haas, and John Isner, the No. 3 seed, advanced with a a three-set win over qualifier Lucas Lacko.  For more on that tournament see this New Zealand Herald article.

Only 16 men's second round matches are on the schedule for Thursday (tonight in the US) in Melbourne, but all 96 women will be on the courts for their first round, including nine Americans (there were 13 last year, but none qualified).  They are: Nicole Gibbs, CoCo Vandeweghe(2), Grace Min, Julia Cohen, Maria Sanchez, Irina Falconi(23), Vicky Duval, Shelby Rogers(11) and Madison Brengle. 

The nine US women are the most of any country, with Russia, the Czech Republic and Australia having seven players in qualifying (six of Australia's received wild cards)  2013 girls champion Ana Konjuh received the traditional qualifying wild card, but news has recently surfaced in Croatian newspapers that she will undergo elbow surgery after the Australian Open.  When I spoke to her about it at the US Open, Konjuh said it had been bothering her for a couple of years and she would consider surgery if it continued, which it obviously has. After beating top seed Roberta Vinci in the first round of the Auckland WTA event last week, Konjuh was primed for a great start to 2014, but obviously her complete transition to the WTA tour will have to wait. 

Streaming of the Australian Open qualifying can be found under the video tab of the tournament's home page.

Speaking of websites, you won't come across a better one for a junior tennis tournament than that of Costa Rica's ITF Grade 1 Coffee Bowl, which also features live streaming.  The US girls have had outstanding results, with four already reaching the quarterfinals and Eddie Herr 16s champion Abi Altick, seeded No. 11, still to play this evening.  Usue Arconada(5), Kelly Chen, CiCi Bellis(8) and Mia Horvit won their round of 16 matches today.

In the second round, Horvit defeated No. 2 seed Jaqueline Cristian of Romania and followed it up with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over No. 15 seed and University of Miami recruit Yolimar Ogando of Puerto Rico today. She now faces doubles partner Bellis for a place in the semifinals.

The only US boy still remaining in singles is qualifier Kalman Boyd, who today beat No. 11 seed Alejandro Tabilo of Canada 6-3, 4-6, 7-5.