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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Rubin into Sarasota Challenger Quarterfinals; Wolf and Kozlov Meet in Little Rock First Round; Ten US Women Advance in Pelham $25K

The ATP $100,000 Sarasota Challenger is the first of three Challengers that will decide the recipient of the USTA's French Open wild card and with the other two tournaments being $50,000 level, it is undoubtedly the most important of the three.

Noah Rubin, who won the Australian Open wild card in last fall's competition, had the misfortune of drawing top seed Denis Kudla, but Rubin beat Kudla 7-5, 2-6, 7-6(8), saving a match point, to clear his own path.  Kudla, who is ranked 59, does not need the French Open wild card.

Today, Rubin defeated Gonzalo Lama of Chile 6-0, 7-6(4) to reach Friday's quarterfinals, where he will face Guilherme Clezar of Brazil, who, at 194, is ranked lower than Rubin, who is at 190.

In Rubin's half of the draw is Frances Tiafoe, who on Tuesday defeated No. 5 seed Tim Smyczek 6-4, 6-3. Tiafoe, who won the French Open wild card last year, at age 17, faces Quentin Halys of France in Thursday's second round.  Tiafoe and Halys met in a memorable match in the semifinals of the 2014 US Open junior championships, where Halys saved two match points to deny Tiafoe an appearance in the final.

Bjorn Fratangelo(6) and Dennis Novikov, the other two Americans who posted first round victories, will meet in a second round match Thursday.

Tommy Paul, who dropped his first round match in Sarasota to James McGee, won his first ATP level match last week in Houston and Tennis Channel's Steve Flink interviewed Paul by phone for this feature on the 18-year-old French Open boys champion.

Live streaming is available at the ATP Challenger home page.

The other men's tournament this week in the US is in Little Rock, Arkansas, where a $25,000 Futures event has been disrupted by rain. Three first round matches were played yesterday, as well as the final round of qualifying; the rest of the first round matches are now underway after rain pushed back the start.  One of the more interesting matches will be tonight's main draw Futures debut of JJ Wolf, who last week reached the quarterfinals of the Easter Bowl.  The 17-year-old Wolf, No. 22 in the ITF junior ranking, received a wild card and drew 18-year-old Stefan Kozlov, the No. 3 seed. 

The women are in Pelham, Alabama, for a $25,000 event this week, before their USTA French Open Wild Card Challenge begins next week at the $50,000 tournament in Dothan. Alla Kudryavtseva of Russia is the top seed. Americans through to Thursday's second round are Grace Min(6), Asia Muhammad(4), Nicole Coopersmith, Sophie Chang, Lauren Albanese, Melanie Oudin, Bernarda Pera, Nicole Frenkel, Taylor Townsend and Yuki Chiang. 


no Houston? said...

The USTA PD should allow ATP Houston to count in their French Open wildcard tournament challenge. The should reward players for doing well at bigger events than the challengers they selected. Isn't that the goal to get players on the Tour level? Tim Symczek and Tommy Paul earned points at that event. This is a WC at a Grand Slam so only counting Challengers when a Tour Event fits the calendar seems to short-side the players with a more difficult schedule.

Why No Houston said...

One can see your point. It makes sense. Paul beat a seed and Smee won two rounds. Impressive. However, here are a few counterpoints. Both guys (and Tiafoe) received Houston WCs. The primary argument is that not everyone with a realistic shot at the French WC got the same opportunity to play in the Houston Main Draw. Perhaps a more fair way would be to also count points from Houston Qs, since just about anyone could gain entry there. Secondly, if a guy can win multiple rounds at a 250 event or beat a seed, one would think the same player(s) would have even better success at the Challenger level. Finally, to earn the French WC, odds are that one still needs to win one of the 3 Challengers to accumulate enough points.