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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Qualifiers Van Emburgh, Battaglia into International Hard Court Semifinals; Paul, Liu, Bellis Reach Final Round of Qualifying at US Open; Taylor Fritz Turns Pro

©Colette Lewis 2015--
College Park, Maryland--

Madison Battaglia and Jake Van Emburgh are hardly the most likely semifinalists at the ITF Grade 1 International Hard Court Championships, but both qualifiers have proved their mettle throughout the week to join six high-profile juniors in the tournament's Final Four.

Battaglia, who has played seven matches over the past six days, earned her third straight win over a seeded player Thursday, defeating No. 6 seed Iryna Shymanovich of Belarus 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-3 after three hours and 30 minutes.

Battaglia served for the match at 6-4, 5-4 and had a match point, but the former world No. 2 junior wasn't quite ready to concede. A good backhand return forced an error from Battaglia on match point, and Shymanovich broke back on one of her many effective drop shots. The errors Shymanovich had been giving Battaglia disappeared in the second set tiebreaker, and Battaglia had to regroup before beginning her first third set of the tournament.

"I just tried to come and forget about the second set, just start fresh and stay calm and focused as possible," said the 17-year-old from New York, playing in just her third ITF event. "I think I was. It was a very up and down match, it kept flipping, there were a lot of deuces and everything, so I just tried to stay as positive as possible."

With Shymanovich serving at at 3-4 in the third set, Battaglia got the break, and for the second time, and well over an hour after the first, served for the match.  Up 30-0, she lost the next three points, but a good first serve had Shymanovich netting the backhand return.  A Shymanovich backhand long gave Battaglia her second match point, and this time she converted, with a Shymanovich sending a return long.

Battaglia said she didn't know that Shymanovich had reached two junior slam quarterfinals last year, but she wasn't going to be intimidated by her opponent's resume regardless.

"I didn't look that deep into it, but I knew she had played Wimbledon, US Open, the other slams," said Battaglia, who trains at the John McEnroe Tennis Academy. "She's from Belarus, so I'm sure she plays only ITFs, which changes the rankings a little bit."

Next up for Battaglia is top seed and defending champion Anna Kalinskaya of Russia, who defeated No. 8 seed Maia Lumsden of Great Britain 6-2, 6-4.

"It's really exciting," said Battaglia, who said the mild weather and just one match a day has helped keep her fresh despite all the matches she has played. "It's all positive. I'm just trying to enjoy it as much as possible and have fun. I've been playing great matches with great players, so everything is just really positive."

The other semifinals will feature No. 5 seed Vera Lapko against No. 2 seed Tereza Mihalikova.  Lapko defeated unseeded Kelly Chen 7-5, 7-6(4) and Mihalikova put an end to 13-year-old qualifier Amanda Anisimova's impressive run 6-3, 7-6(3).

Van Emburgh did not come into the tournament with much confidence, but he advanced to the semifinals with a 6-2, 6-4 win over unseeded Trent Bryde.

"I had been playing the worst tennis of my life in practice," said the 16-year-old from Wisconsin, who recently began training at the IMG Academy in Bradenton. "And at Kzoo, I was really sick. But the weeks leading up to this I was just playing terrible in practice, just awful. So I didn't come here and think I was going to semi, I was trying to get some points because I'm not playing too well and just get some matches, and all of a sudden, I just started playing good. The timing clicked, and I'm not getting broken at all."

Van Emburgh, who defeated No. 8 seed Benjamin Hannestad of Denmark in the first round and No. 10 seed Artem Dubrivnyy of Russia in the third round, said he played well in the first set against Bryde, but then counted on holding his serve when his level dropped in the second set.

"I was controlling everything in the first set," said Van Emburgh, also playing in just his third ITF tournament. "There really wasn't anything he could do. But then we both sort of got tight and started missing, and it was kind of like, who's going to miss first. No one was striking the ball well in that second set."

When Van Emburgh went to serve out the match, Bryde's comeback in his second round victory, in which Bryde saved five match points, wasn't far from his mind.

"I had a match point at 3-5," said Van Emburgh, who has played six matches in the past six days.  "And he saved one, and I thought, here we go again."

But Van Emburgh was able to think positively in the final game.

"I thought if I get tight, I'm not going to hit the serve that I need to hit," Van Emburgh said. "So I just went up loose and swung free on the first serve. I missed three first serves in that game (an ace got him to 40-15 however), but my second serve I'm feeling really confident with right now. It's kicking really high and getting me on the offense, which is helping a lot."

Van Emburgh finished with a forehand winner to set up a meeting with No. 15 seed Denis Shapovalov of Canada, who won his third three-set match of the week, beating No. 6 seed Alberto Lim of the Philippines 6-4, 4-6, 7-5.  Lim had served for the match at 5-4 in the third set, but never got closer than two points from the win.

No. 14 seeed Alex De Minaur of Australia defeated No. 5 seed Nathan Ponwith 6-2, 7-5, leaving his opponent, No. 7 seed Felix Auger Aliassime of Canada as the top remaining boys seed. Auger Aliassime defeated unseeded Alex Rotsaert 6-2, 6-2.

Shapovalov and Auger Aliassime, the No. 3 seeds, have advanced to the doubles semifinals, where they will face the unseeded team of Hannestad and Andres Andrade of Ecuador. Top seeds Yunseong Chung of Korea and Casper Ruud will face No. 5 seeds Alexey Aleshchev of Russia and Hady Habib in the other boys doubles semifinal.

In the girls doubles semifinals, top seeds Kalinskaya and Mihalikova will play unseeded Elysia Bolton and Clarissa Hand, while No. 2 seeds Lapko and Shymanovich face unseeded Siqi Cao and Shuyue Ma of China.

For complete results and Friday's order of play, see the tournament website.

Seven Americans have reached the final round of qualifying at the US Open, including three teenagers: 15-year-old Claire Liu, 16-year-old CiCi Bellis and 18-year-old Tommy Paul.  The results of today's second round and the matchups for Friday's final round for US players are below.

Second Round Wins:
Jessica Pegula def. Margarita Gasparyan (RUS)[1] 6-3, 6-3
Melanie Oudin def. Yafan Wang (CHN)[24] 6-7(2), 6-3, 7-6(5)
Claire Liu WC def. Jana Cepelova (SVK)[9] 7-6(4), 6-4
CiCi Bellis def. Romina Oprandi (SUI)[22] 7-5, 7-5
Shelby Rogers def. Mandy Minella (LUX) 6-2, 6-3
Anna Tatishvili [16] def. Laura Pous-Tio (ESP) 6-0, 6-0
Tommy Paul WC def. Jose Hernandez-Fernandez (DOM) 6-3, 7-5

Second Round Losses:
Matthew Ebden (AUS)[26] def. Dennis Novikov 6-3, 6-7(2), 6-2
Guido Pella (ARG)[3] def. Noah Rubin WC 6-4, 7-6(6)
Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN)[23] def. Daniel Nguyen 6-2, 2-6, 6-2
Kimmer Coppejans (BEL)[7] def. Reilly Opelka WC 6-4, 6-2
Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO)[5] def. Mitchell Krueger WC 4-6, 6-2, 6-3
Alla Kudryavtseva (RUS)[15] def. Vicky Duval WC 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-0
Tereza Mrdeza (CRO) def. Raveena Kingsley WC 6-1, 3-6, 7-5
Daria Kasatkina RUS[27] def. Taylor Townsend 6-2, 6-2

Friday’s Final Round Qualifying Matches Featuring Americans:
Jessica Pegula vs. Melanie Oudin
Claire Liu WC vs. Alexandra Panova RUS[26]
CiCi Bellis vs. Jelena Ostapenko LAT[11]
Shelby Rogers vs. Alla Kudryavtseva RUS[15]
Anna Tatishvili[16] vs. Ysaline Bonaventure BEL
Tommy Paul WC vs. Marco Chiudinelli SUI

The men's and women's singles draws were released today, with 19 US women and 15 US men competing (possibly more, pending the results of qualifying).

Kalamazoo champion Frances Tiafoe has drawn No. 22 seed Viktor Troicki of Serbia, and San Diego champion Sonya Kenin will play Mariana Duque-Marino of Colombia.

NCAA men's champion Ryan Shane faces No. 27 seed Jeremy Chardy of France, and NCAA women's champion Jamie Loeb meets No. 4 seed Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark.

Loeb, who according to this New York Daily News article has turned pro after completing her sophomore year at North Carolina, is the second NCAA champion Wozniacki will have faced in the US Open. 2010 NCAA champion Chelsey Gullickson lost to No. 1 seed Wozniacki in the first round that year.

In other pro news, Taylor Fritz, who had said he would make a decision regarding his status by the US Open at the latest, has signed with CAA, according to this release. He and Reilly Opelka are playing in the main draw of doubles with the wild card they earned winning Kalamazoo.


get real said...

WOW. Shame on the USTA. Ryan Harrison who cant win fist round match of late gets a main Draw WC into the US OPEN. Michael Russell the greatest journeyman of all times wanted to end his inspiring career at the US Open and no WC. I don't get it. Harrison has never even been a example of good ambassador for the sport. I am at a complete loss.