Sanchez, Gilchrist, Anderson, Min, Novikov Reach Pro Circuit Semifinals; Kozlov into Futures Final; Sock, Johnson Advance to ATP Semifinals in Stockholm and Vienna
After a break yesterday to wrap up the ITF Grade B1 Pan American Closed, it's back to the Pro Circuit, with four former college players advancing to the semifinals in North American tournaments.
But before I get to their results today, I realize I've neglected Stefan Kozlov's recent success in European Futures. The 17-year-old Floridian went to Europe at the end of September, unlike his peers, who have all stayed in the US to compete in Futures and Challengers here. Last week at a $15,000 tournament in Belarus, Kozlov, the No. 5 seed, reached the final, losing to 26-year-old Dzmitry Zhyrmont of Belarus, the No. 3 seed, 6-1, 6-4. Tomorrow Kozlov(5) and Zhyrmont(2) will meet again in another $15,000 Futures final in Belarus, with Kozlov in search of his first career Futures title.
Kozlov will be the only US teenager in a men's final this weekend, after Taylor Fritz lost in the second round on Thursday to unseeded Grega Zemlja of Slovenia at the $50,000 Las Vegas Challenger 6-7(6), 6-2, 6-2 and wild card Michael Mmoh was defeated in the quarterfinals today by No. 7 seed Thiemo de Bakker of the Netherlands 6-1, 6-3. Mmoh never saw a break point against de Bakker, and Mmoh's six double faults didn't help his cause. But with his first two wins at the Challenger level this week and coming off his title at the $15,000 Houston Futures last week, Mmoh has every reason to be positive about his performance in October. Jared Donaldson, the No. 6 seed, also lost today, falling to unseeded Blaz Kavcic of Slovenia 3-6, 7-5, 6-1.
The only American to reach the semifinals is 21-year-old Dennis Novikov, the No. 8 seed, who defeated top seed Austin Krajicek 7-6(2), 3-6, 7-6(3) in a battle of former Kalamazoo 18s champions. Novikov won the previous two non-USTA Pro Circuit Challengers this fall in Cary, NC and Columbus, OH, so he is going for the triple crown this week. Novikov will play Zemlja in Saturday's semifinals.
At the $50,000 women's tournament in Saguenay, Canada, former USC All-American Maria Sanchez reached the semifinals, defeating 16-year-old Canadian wild card Charlotte Robillard-Millette 7-5, 6-0. Sanchez will play unseeded Amra Sadikovic of Switzerland in the semifinals, after Sadikovic defeated Stanford junior Carol Zhao 6-4, 6-4 in the quarterfinals this evening.
Former Georgia All-American Nadja Gilchrist, who qualified in Saguenay, is into her first $50,000-level semifinal after defeating Ashley Weinhold, also a qualifier, 3-6, 7-6(3), 6-3. Gilchrist will play unseed Jovana Jaksic of Serbia, who downed No. 5 seed Samantha Crawford 7-6(0), 6-3.
At the $25,000 women's tournament in Florence, SC, the 2015 ITA Player of the Year Robin Anderson has reached the semifinals, defeating qualifier Sonya Kenin 6-2, 6-1. Kenin may have been drained from her 2-6, 6-2, 7-6(7) win over fellow teen qualifier Sophie Chang, with Kenin coming back from 6-1 down in the final set tiebreaker to steal the victory. Anderson will play No. 3 seed Grace Min in the semifinals. Min defeated French qualifier Elixane Lechemia, a former standout at South Carolina, 1-6, 7-5, 6-2 to advance.
Duke freshman Kaitlyn McCarthy had a great run through the qualifying and into the quarterfinals, where she was beaten today by one of the only two seeds remaining, No. 6 Florencia Molinero of Argentina, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.
Jack Sock and Steve Johnson have reached the semifinals of ATP events in Stockholm and Vienna with big wins today. Sock, the No. 7 seed, defeated No. 3 seed Gilles Simon of France 7-5, 7-6(5), coming back from a 5-2, two-break deficit in the second set in the ATP 250-level tournament. He will play No. 2 seed Richard Gasquet of France in Saturday's semifinals. Sock is also in the doubles semifinals, with former North Carolina Tar Heel Nick Monroe.
Johnson, who is unseeded, beat No. 2 seed Kevin Anderson 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-4, putting an end to his four-match losing streak against the former Illinois star. Johnson will play unseeded Ernests Gulbis of Latvia in the semifinals of the ATP 500 tournament.