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Friday, January 13, 2017

My Eight Intriguing Questions for 2017; 12 Americans in Final Round of Australian Open Qualifying; Grade 1 Traralgon Draws; Dolehide, Auger-Aliassime Reach Pro Circuit Semis

Every January I write an article for the Tennis Recruiting Network with questions I hope to have answered in the next 12 months. Some will definitely be decided by this time next year, others are more open ended, but have a look at what I'm interested in learning in 2017.

The final round of the Australian Open qualifying is Saturday (tonight in the United States) with a dozen Americans, eight men and four women, needing just one more win to reach the main draw of 2017's first major.  Second round US qualifying results from Friday, which saw a 5-hour rain delay in the afternoon, are below:

Men’s Round 2:(THURS)
Frances Tiafoe[2] def. Yannik Reuter(BEL) 6-4, 6-0
Dennis Kudla[18] def. Darian King(BAR) 4-6, 6-4, 6-4
Bjorn Frantangelo[6] def. Stefanos Tsitsipas(GRE) 4-6, 6-1, 6-3
Tim Smyczek[25] def. Mohamed Safwat(EGY) 6-4, 6-3
Ernesto Escobedo[21] def. Tatsuma Ito(JPN) 6-1, 6-3

Men’s Round 2: (FRI)
Luca Vanni(ITA) def. Alex Sarkissian 3-6, 6-3, 6-2
Noah Rubin def. Roberto Carballes Baena[32](ESP)  6-4, 3-6, 6-2
Rajeev Ram[20] def. Marcelo Arevalo(ESA) 6-1, 4-6, 8-6
Reilly Opelka def. Mitchell Krueger 6-3, 7-6(2)

Women’s Round 2: (FRI)
Jennifer Brady[4] def. Barbora Stefkova(CZE) 6-7(2), 6-4, 6-1
Taylor Townsend[14] def. Francoise Abanda(CAN) 6-4, 6-4
Julia Boserup[6] def. Julia Glushko(ISR) 6-2, 3-6, 6-2
Rebecca Sramkova[7](SVK) def. Jamie Loeb 4-6, 7-5, 6-2
Bethanie Mattek-Sands def. Amandine Hesse(FRA) 6-1, 5-7, 10-8
Lin Zhu[12](CHN) def. Jennifer Elie 7-6(2), 6-2

The US had been fortunate to have few of its players competing against each other, but by this stage, it's almost inevitable, and today's final round has two all-American encounters.

Saturday's final round of qualifying:
Jennifer Brady[4] vs. Taylor Townsend[14]
Reilly Opelka vs. Casper Ruud(NOR)
Lukas Lacko[10](SVK) vs. Denis Kudla[18]
Julia Boserup[6] vs. Olivia Rogowska(AUS)
Hiroki Moriya(JPN) vs. Bjorn Fratangelo[6]
Jurgen Melzer(AUT) vs. Rajeev Ram[20]
Frances Tiafoe[2] vs. Tim Smyczek[25]
Yuki Bhambri(IND) vs. Ernesto Escobedo[21]
Evgeny Donskoy[11](RUS) vs. Noah Rubin
Bethanie Mattek-Sands vs. Elizaveta Kulichkova[24](RUS)

Order of play and live streaming are available at ausopen.com.

The draws for the ITF Grade 1 in Traralgon Australia have been posted, although the rain kept the final round of qualifying from being completed.  The girls qualifying draw was not full, with just 24 players signing up, two of them Americans. The boys qualifying had two byes in the 32-draw, with one American competing.

The main draw features seven US girls and three US boys. The girls are: Hurricane Tyra Black, Caty McNally[11], Natasha Subhash[14], Alana Smith, Carson Branstine[12] (still USA as of now), Nicole Mossmer and Taylor Johnson[2].  The boys are: Trent Bryde[12], Alafia Ayeni and Alexsandre Rotsaert.

The top seeds are French Open champion Rebeka Masarova of Switzerland and Orange Bowl finalist Yibing Wu of China.

More rain in California has required that both the second round and the quarterfinals be completed today at the $25,000 Futures event there. USC freshmen Brandon Holt and Riley Smith both earned their first ATP points with victories in the first round on Wednesday.

In Florida, the semifinals are set for the $15,000 men's Futures in Plantation and the $25,000 women's event in Daytona Beach.

US Open boys champion Felix Auger-Aliassime has advanced to the final four with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Ricardo Rodriguez of Venezuela after beating top seed Peter Torebko of Germany 6-4, 6-4 yesterday.  The 16-year-old Canadian will play No. 3 seed Peter Nagy of Hungary, a former standout at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. Recent South Florida star Roberto Cid of the Dominican Republic will play Miguel Semmler of Spain in a semifinal between two unseeded players.

In Daytona Beach, 18-year-old wild card Caroline Dolehide has reached her fourth semifinal at the $25,000 level, beating qualifier Ulrikke Eikeri of Norway 7-5, 6-4 today. Dolehide will play unseeded 19-year-old Ellie Halbauer, playing in her third $25K semifinal after a 7-5, 6-3 win over Polina Leykina of Russia.  The other semifinal features 2015 Wimbledon girls champion Sofya Zhuk of Russia against 2014 US Open girls finalist Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine, a qualifier, who spent most of 2016 sidelined by injuries.  Zhuk defeated 2016 US Open girls finalist and No. 3 seed Viktoria Kuzmova of Slovakia 4-6, 6-4, 6-1, avenging a loss last fall in the $25K in Lubbock Texas.  Kalinina beat Danielle Collins 5-7, 6-2, 6-1 in today's quarterfinal, her sixth straight win.