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Sunday, July 19, 2015

Ram Wins Second ATP Title in Newport; Rublev Delivers in Davis Cup; Binghamton and Sacramento Challengers, European Championships on Tap

Rajeev Ram won the second ATP title of his career today, defeating No. 2 seed Ivo Karlovic of Croatia 7-6(5), 5-7, 7-6(2) in the final of the Hall of Fame Championships in Newport, Rhode Island.  Ram, who played on the 2003 NCAA championship team at Illinois, won his first ATP title in 2009, also in Newport.  Ram defeated top seed John Isner in the opening round, saving a match point, and saved two match points in his win over No. 5 seed Adrian Mannarino of France in the quarterfinals. Ram, currently ranked 161, will move inside the ATP Top 90, assuring himself a spot in the main draw of the US Open.  For more on the final, see the ATP website.

The final day of Davis Cup play provided plenty of drama, with Australia coming back from 2-0 down against Kazakhstan to reach the semifinals against Great Britain, with veterans Sam Groth and Lleyton Hewitt getting the two single wins Sunday.  Argentina beat Serbia 4-1 and will meet Belgium in the other semifinal, after Belgium shut out Canada.

Russia claimed the second comeback from 2-0 down of the weekend, defeating Spain in Zone Group I Playoffs to earn a place in the September World Group Playoffs.  2014 ITF World Junior Champion Andrey Rublev had lost in straight sets to Tommy Robredo to open the tie, but in the fifth rubber, the 17-year-old beat ATP No. 32 Pablo Andujar 6-4, 7-6(4), 6-3 to seal the win.   For all results, see the Davis Cup website.

The $50,000 Stockton Challenger, the first of three tournaments designated for the USTA's US Open wild card challenge, featured two international players in the final, with No. 5 seed Nao Hibino of Japan defeating top seed An Sophie Mestach of Belgium 6-1, 7-6(6).  Sanaz Marand reached the semifinals in singles to take the lead in the Wild Card Challenge, with two more tournaments, in Sacramento and Lexington, remaining.  No. 4 seeds Marand and Jamie Loeb, both stars at North Carolina, won the doubles championship, beating former USC standouts Danielle Lao and Kaitlyn Christian 6-3, 6-4 in the final.

The men's wild card challenge begins tomorrow at the $50,000 tournament in Binghamton, New York.  Reilly Opelka, Tommy Paul and Noah Rubin received wild cards into the main draw, as did Great Britain's Kyle Edmund, who is the top seed. Frances Tiafoe received entry based on his ranking. Opelka plays a qualifier, Paul faces former Texas Tech star Gonzalo Escobar of Ecuador, Rubin meets 2014 US Open boys champion Omar Jasika of Australia and Tiafoe's first round opponent is Gregoire Barrere of France.  Bjorn Fratangelo(2), Jared Donaldson(5), Daniel Nguyen(7), Dennis Novikov, Mitchell Krueger, Dennis Nevolo and Ryan Sweeting are the other US men in the draw, as well as Marco Giron and Sekou Bangoura, who qualified today. Austin Smith(Georgia) and Ernesto Escobedo will decide the third American qualifier tomorrow, and Nick Meister can join them with a win over Great Britain's Luke Bambridge in their final round qualifying match.

The first round of qualifying for the women's tournament in Sacramento is underway, with the main draw yet to be released.

After a couple of weeks on grass, the ITF Junior Circuit in Europe returned to clay. At the Grade 1 in Austria, No. 7 seed Ugo Humbert took the boys title in an all-French contest, beating unseeded Evan Furness 6-4, 6-3.  No. 14 seed Georgia Craciun of Romania took the girls title, beating unseeded qualifier Anastasia Zarytska 6-1, 3-6, 7-6(5) in the final. Nada Dimovska of the US qualified and reached the third round, beating the No. 7 seed in the second round.

The European championships begin in three different locations on the continent next week. The ITF Grade B1 is in Switzerland, with Corentin Dennolly of France and Mikael Ymer of Sweden the top two boys seeds, and Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic and Dalma Galfi of Hungary No. 1 and No. 2 in the girls draw.

The 16s division is in Moscow, with Patrik Rikl of the Czech Republic the top boys seed and Olesya Pervushina of Russia the No. 1 girls seed.

At the 14s division, held in the Czech Republic, Timofey Skatov of Russia is the No. 1 boys seed and Taisya Pachkaleva of Russia is No. 1 in the girls draw.

Links to the draws and order of play for all three age divisions is available at this Tennis Europe website page.