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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Junior Semifinals Set at Australian Open; Nanda Defeats Top Seed at Les Petits As; Ross, Kirkov Reach Semifinals in Ecuador Grade 1; Teens Advance to Futures and Challenger Quarterfinals

The results from the Australian Open on Thursday were not good for the US juniors, with all three still remaining dropping their matches.

No. 3 seed Taylor Fritz lost to No. 7 seed Seong Chan Hong of Korea in a battle neither are likely to forget, with Hong claiming a 6-7(4), 7-6(4), 6-0 victory, his first in three meetings with the 17-year-old Californian.  Hong led 5-1 40-0 in the second set, but Fritz saved eight set points to pull even at 5-5, but dropped the tiebreaker and was unable to recover in the third set.  In the semifinals, Hong will play Australian Akira Santillan, the No. 16 seed, who prevented a all-Korean meeting with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 win over No. 6 seed Duck Hee Lee.  Hong and Santillan split two close matches in their previous two meetings last year.

Top seed Roman Safiullin eliminated unseeded Marc Polmans of Australia 6-4, 6-2 and will face another unseeded player in the semifinals after Djurabeck Karimov of Uzbekistan came back to defeat No. 14 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece 3-6, 6-4, 6-1.

No. 11 seed Raveena Kingsley was defeated by No. 14 seed Katie Swan of Great Britain 6-4, 6-3, with Swan looking to take out a third straight higher seed when she meets No. 5 seed Dalma Galfi of Hungary.  Galfi downed No. 4 seed Ailona Bolsova Zadoinova of Spain 6-1, 7-6(4).  The other girls semifinal features two unseeded players, both of whom advanced by scores of 6-2, 6-2.  Tereza Mihalikova of Slovakia defeated Charlotte Robillard-Millette of Canada and Greet Minnen of Belgium defeated Manca Pislak of Slovenia.  Hong and Santillan are the only pair of semifinalists to have met previously in ITF junior events. For more on Katie Swan, see this BBC article.

Minnen is the only player still in both singles and doubles, and she will go for her first title Friday, when she and Katharina Hobgarski of Germany, who are unseeded, will play No. 2 seeds Marketa Vondrousova and Miriam Kolodziejova of the Czech Republic.

In the boys doubles final, unseeded Jake Delaney and Polmans will play No. 8 seeds Hubert Hurkacz of Poland and Alex Molcan of Slovakia. Delaney and Polmans defeated Mate Valkusz of Hungary and Louis Wessels of Germany 2-6, 6-1, 11-9.  No. 3 seeds Michael Mmoh and Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia struggled in their final two tiebreakers after saving nine set points to take the first one, falling 6-7(9), 7-6(0), 10-2.

The draws are available at the tournament website.

At Les Petits As, unseeded Govind Nanda defeated top seed Jack Draper of Great Britain 5-7, 6-4, 7-6(7) to advance to the quarterfinals.  No. 5 seed Amanda Anisimova, a finalist last week at the Nike Teen Tennis event in Bolton, also reached the quarterfinals, defeating No. 11 seed Taisya Pachkaleva of Russia 6-1, 6-3.  Teen Tennis champion Caty McNally lost however, with the No. 3 seed going out to No. 14 seed Kamilla Rakhimova of Russia 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-3.

All three US team in the doubles quarterfinals lost, including Anisimova and McNally, the top seeds. They went out to No. 7 seeds aria Novikova and Anastasia Potapova of Russia 5-7, 7-6(5), 15-13.  In a match tiebreaker that long, whoever wins is going to have saved match points and I believe the Russians saved four beginning at 8-9 down.

For results, see the Tennis Europe tournament page.

Two US qualifiers have reached the semifinals of the ITF Grade 1 in Ecuador.  Gianni Ross, who turns 16 next week, won his second straight match in a third set tiebreaker today, defeating No. 7 seed Nuno Borges of Portugal 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(3).  Vasil Kirkov, who turns 16 in March, had beaten No. 5 seed Yshai Oliel of Israel 6-2, 6-0 in the quarterfinals and reached the semifinals with a 6-4, 6-3 win over unseeded Benjamin Sigouin of Canada today.   No. 7 seed Francesca DiLorenzo, the only US girls to reach the quarterfinals, lost to No. 16 seed Jaqueline Christian of Romania 6-0, 6-2.

Young US players continue to post good results at Futures events in Florida this year, with wild cards Francis Tiafoe and Reilly Opelka and special exempt entry Tommy Paul, all 17 years old, reaching the quarterfinals of the Palm Coast $10,000 tournament.  Tiafoe defeated No. 8 seed Daniel Dutra da Silva of Brazil 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-2 to set up yet another meeting with Benjamin Balleret of Monaco, who has defeated him in the previous two Futures, in the semifinals and last week, in the finals. Opelka defeated Facundo Mena of Argentina 6-3, 6-0 and Paul outlasted Romain Arneodo of Monaco 7-5, 4-6, 7-5. Paul will play top seed Marcelo Arevalo of El Salvador, the former Tulsa star, and Opelka gets No. 2 seed Connor Smith, the Ohio State standout.

US teenagers are having another good week in the Caribbean, at the $10,000 tournament in Guadeloupe.  Last week's champion Usue Arconada, Nicole Frenkel and Dasha Ivanova advanced to the quarterfinals, as did former Alabama All-American Alexa Guarachi.  Frenkel and Arconada, both 16, will play each other on Friday.

At the Pro Circuit women's $25,000 tournament in Sunrise, Florida, qualifier CiCi Bellis lost to French Open champion Darya Kasatkina of Russia 6-4, 6-1 and Katerina Stewart fell to Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.  The only US women to make it to the quarterfinals are Maria Sanchez and No. 7 seed Sachia Vickery. 

The Maui Challenger has also showcased some of the top teenaged talent from the United States. Eighteen-year-old Jared Donaldson defeated No. 7 seed Chase Buchanan 6-1, 6-3 and Stefan Kozlov, who will be 17 next week, beat No. 3 seed Michael Russell 7-6(2), 6-3.  Nick Meister and Dennis Novikov, former teammates at UCLA, also both advanced to the quarterfinals, as did No. 2 seed Bradley Klahn.  Top seed Denis Kudla was upset by qualifier Takanyi Garanganga of Zimbabwe 3-6, 6-4, 6-4.

The USTA announced on Wednesday that both Donaldson and Kozlov had received main draw wild cards into the upcoming ATP tournament in Memphis.