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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Americans Dominate Bolton, with Seven of Eight Semifinalists; AO Junior Qualifying; Traralgon G1 Finals Set; Gibbs Feature

The Nike International, which has gone by different names in the past, but has remained in Bolton, England, has always been kind to Americans. In six of the past seven years, at least one US player has won a singles title at the 14-and-under event, which is the same level as next week's Les Petits As, although the fields are never as deep as in Tarbes.  A US boys champion is already assured with all four of the players USTA National Coach Jon Glover took on the trip reaching the semifinals: No. 4 seed Toby Kodat, No. 7 seed Martin Damm, Alexander Bernard and Aidan Mayo.  Damm will play Bernard and Kodat will face Mayo to determine the finalists.  Three of the US girls on the trip, top seed Cori Gauff, Alexandra Yepifanova and Elvina Kalieva won their quarterfinal matches today, with Gauff playing Kalieva in the semifinals.  No. 8 seed Charlotte Owensby lost to No. 2 seed Kylie Bilchev of Great Britain 5-7, 6-3, 6-3 to deny the US a clean sweep.  Maureen Diaz is the USTA coach for the girls.

A team from the US will also play in both doubles finals.  Top seeds Gauff and Owensby will face No. 5 seeds Flavie Brugnone and Anaelle Leclercq of France, who defeated Kalieva and Yepifanova in the semifinals to prevent an all-US doubles final.  Damm and Mayo, the No. 8 seeds in the boys doubles, beat the top seeds in today's semifinals and will play No. 2 seeds Joel Pierleoni and Jack Pinnington Jones of Great Britain in the finals.

Qualifying for the Australian Open junior championships will finish on Thursday (tonight in the US), with Americans Jimena Rodriguez-Benito and Tristan Boyer getting to the final round with victories on Wednesday in Traralgon.  Draws and the order of play can be found at the Tennis Australia tournament site.

The finals are set at the Grade 1 in Traralgon, with 15-year-old Iga Swiatek of Poland, seeded fifth, facing 14-year-old Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine, seeded tenth, in the girls final.  The boys finals will be between two 17-year-olds: No. 6 seed Corentin Moutet of France and No. 16 seed Zsombor Piros of Hungary.  The boys doubles final will feature two unseeded teams: Ryan Nijboer of the Netherlands and Ajeet Rai of New Zealand and Francesco Forti and Mattia Frinzi of Italy. Swiatek will go for her second title of the day in the girls doubles final. She and Maja Chwalinska, seeded seventh, will face the unseeded Australian team of Gabriella Da Silva Fick and Kaitlin Staines.

Traralgon is one of three Grade 1s this week. There are no Americans in the Czech Republic tournament's draw, but 17 US juniors made the trip to Colombia for the Copa Barranquilla. Of the ten boys, three advanced to the second round: Govind Nanda, Brian Cernoch(11) and William Grant.  Of the seven girls, five advanced to the second round, with No. 2 seed Victoria Emma and No. 14 seed Lea Ma getting byes in the 48-player girls draw.  Chloe Hamlin, Amanda Meyer and qualifier Victoria Flores won their first round matches.

The first day of the second round of the Australian Open didn't go as well for Americans as the past two, with US players going 5-8 and No. 19 seed John Isner bowing out after winning the first two sets from Mischa Zverev of Germany. But that was probably the only surprising loss, and Noah Rubin acquitted himself well against Roger Federer on Rod Laver Arena before falling 7-5, 6-3, 7-6(3).

Wednesday's second round matches featuring Americans:

Venus Williams[13] def. Stefanie Voegele(SUI) 6-3, 6-2
Roger Federer[17](SUI) def. Noah Rubin 7-5, 6-3, 7-6(3)
Garbine Muguruza[7](ESP) def. Samantha Crawford 7-5, 6-4
Elina Svitolina[11](UKR) def. Julia Boserup 6-4, 6-1
Stan Wawrinka[4](SUI) def. Steve Johnson 6-3, 6-4, 6-4
Ashleigh Barty(AUS) def. Shelby Rogers 7-5, 6-1
Sam Querrey[31] def. Alex De Minaur(AUS) 7-6(5), 6-0, 6-1
CoCo Vandeweghe def. Pauline Parmentier(FRA) 6-4, 7-6(5)
Alison Riske def. Shuai Zhang[20](CHN) 7-6(7), 4-6, 6-1
Tomas Berdych[10](CZE) def. Ryan Harrison 6-3, 7-6(6), 6-2
Ying-Ying Duan(CHN) def. Varvara Lepchenko 6-1, 3-6, 10-8
Mischa Zverev(GER) def. John Isner[19] 6-7(4), 6-7(4), 6-4, 7-6(7), 9-7
Jack Sock[23] def. Karen Khachanov(RUS) 6-3, 6-4, 6-4

Only seven Americans are on Thursday's schedule, including two former college stars playing each other in Nicole Gibbs and Irina Falconi. Gibbs is the subject of this excellent New Yorker article, which focuses on her commitment to speaking out on issues that concern her, both inside and outside of tennis.

Frances Tiafoe and Alexander Zverev will play in an interesting ATP Next Gen match. It's surprising to me that they didn't play in their junior careers, despite the fact that Zverev is only one year older.

Thursday's second round matches featuring Americans:
Lucia Safarova(CZE) vs. Serena Williams[2]
Alexander Zverev[24](GER) vs. Frances Tiafoe
Donald Young vs. Philipp Kohlschreiber[32](GER)
Ernesto Escobedo vs. David Ferrer[21](ESP)
Jennifer Brady vs. Heather Watson(GBR)
Nicole Gibbs vs. Irina Falconi