Sunday, October 25, 2015

Min Wins Florence $25K; Monterrey, Macon and Toronto Qualifying Underway; Sock, Johnson Fall in ATP Finals

Grace Min won her first title in more than year today at the $25,000 Women's Pro Circuit event in Florence, SC.  The 21-year-old from Georgia, who has had a difficult year, took a tough 6-2, 4-6, 7-6(2) decision from unseeded Paula Goncalves of Brazil in today's final.  No. 3 seed Min, who broke into the WTA Top 100 back in March, has seen her ranking plunge into the 200s, so winning any tournament, particularly in a third-set tiebreaker, has to be satisfying for her.

Min, the 2011 US Open girls champion, will attempt to build on today's title at the $50,000 event in Macon, Georgia, which is the first of the three USTA Pro Circuit tournaments that make up the Australian Open wild card challenge.  The second round of qualifying on Monday finds nine Americans in action: juniors Ingrid Need and Michaela Gordon, Cal junior Maegan Manasse, recent Georgia graduate Lauren Herring and Jacqueline Cako, Chiara Scholl, Vania King, Jan Abaza and Lindsay Lee-Waters.

The men's Australian Open wild card challenge doesn't begin until next week in Charlottesville, Virginia, with this week's North American ATP Challenger taking place in Monterrey, Mexico.  The $100,000 + hospitality tournament's qualifying featured only 16 players, and just one American, Nikita Kryvonos, and he did not qualify.  One surprising qualifier was 17-year-old Luis Eduardo Morfin Friebel of Mexico, who played the ITF Grade B1 Pan American Closed last week and lost in the second round to Kyrylo Tsygura.

The main draw will have no American qualifiers, but plenty of Americans.  Taylor Fritz received a wild card, his second in the past four weeks (he received special exemptions into the Fairfield and Las Vegas Challengers). He will play No. 4 seed Bjorn Fratangelo. Other seeded Americans are Dennis Novikov(6) and Austin Krajicek (3). Deiton Baughman, Ernesto Escobedo, Mitchell Kreuger, Adam El Mihdawy, Dennis Nevolo, Kevin King and Chase Buchanan give the USA 11 of the 32 players in the draw.

Las Vegas champion Thiemo de Bakker of the Netherlands is the No. 5 seed this week in Monterrey, which has three ATP Top 100 players: No. 64 Victor Estrella Burgos of the Dominican Republic, No. 71 Paolo Lorenzi of Italy and Krajicek, ranked 96th.

A second straight $50,000 women's tournament takes place in Canada, this time in Toronto, with seven Americans in the main draw: Melanie Oudin, Caitlin Whoriskey, Danielle Lao, Samantha Crawford(4), Maria Sanchez(6), Kristie Ahn(8) and Jessica Pegula(2).  Three juniors received wild cards: Canadians Charlotte Robillard-Millette and Bianca Andreescu and Fanni Stollar of Hungary.

In ATP finals today, both Jack Sock and Steve Johnson failed to take titles.  Sock, the No. 7 seed, lost in Stockholm to top seed Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic 7-6(1), 6-2.  Sock did get a title however, taking the doubles with Nick Monroe. Sock and Monroe beat New Zealand's Michael Venus(LSU) and Mate Pavic of Croatia 7-5, 6-2. In the ATP article on the final, Sock reveals that he is going to play fewer doubles events next year.

Johnson held tough against David Ferrer of Spain until the last two games of his 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 loss to the top seed in Vienna. Johnson, playing in his first ATP final, will need to make it to 50 more to match the total of the 33-year-old Ferrer, who is ranked No. 8 and likely earned a trip to the World Tour Finals in London next month with his win today.

Also of note, 18-year-old Russian Andrey Rublev, 2014 ITF World Junior Champion, won his first ATP title in Moscow, in doubles.  He and Dmitry Tursunov of Russia, who were a wild card entry, defeated unseeded Radu Albot of Moldova and Frantisek Cermak of the Czech Republic 2-6, 6-1, 10-6.