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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Four US Girls Advance to Quarterfinals at Grade A Abierto Juvenil; Paul and Fritz Meet in Champaign Challenger Quarterfinals; Fratangelo, Sandgren, Smyczek and McDonald Also Advance

The girls quarterfinals are set at the ITF Grade A Abierto Juvenil in Mexico City, with four US girls still in the running for the title.  Top seed Whitney Osuigwe defeated No. 13 seed Diane Parry of France 6-1, 6-2 to advance to a meeting with unseeded Peyton Stearns. Stearns defeated doubles partner Dalayna Hewitt 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-3 to reach her first Grade A quarterfinal.

Natasha Subhash, the No. 4 seed, lost to No. 15 seed Sada Nahimana of Burundi  7-5, 6-4.  The two US girls in the bottom half of the draw do not play each other, with unseeded Alexa Noel facing unseeded Diae El Jardi of Morocco and No. 8 seed Nicole Mossmer playing unseeded Andreea Prisacariu of Romania.  Prisacariu defeated No. 2 seed Maria Carle of Argentina, who had taken a wild card into the tournament, 6-3, 7-5 and is known for her prowess on clay. Mossmer also reached the quarterfinals in Mexico City last year before falling to Amanda Anisimova.

Fifteen-year-old Noel, who has not played a tournament since July's USTA Clay Courts, will be playing in her first Grade A quarterfinal. She advanced with a 6-2, 6-0 win over 2016 finalist Ellie Douglas, the No. 3 seed.

The boys are a round behind, with the round of 16 matchups now set. Six US boys have advanced, but five of them are in the top half.  Top seed Sebastian Korda will face wild card Eliot Spizzirri in the only all-American contest.  Qualifier Jaycer Lyeons defeated No. 12 seed Leonid Sheyngezikht of Bulgaria 7-6(10), 6-2.  No. 16 seed Axel Nefve and No. 10 seed Sangeet Sridhar moved into the third round with straight-sets wins.

The only American boy in the bottom half is unseeded Drew Baird. No. 3 seed Andrew Fenty, who was awarded a wild card into the event, lost to unseeded Justin Schlageter of Germany 6-1, 7-6(3).

Live scoring is available here. 


I've completed my brief trip to the $75,000 ATP Champaign Challenger, where six of the quarterfinalist are Americans.  Top seed Tennys Sandgren, who told me he played this week in spite of his ranking of 85 because he has finalist points coming off from last year's Columbus Challenger and wants to make sure he is safe for main draw for the Australian Open.  Sandgren has played seven of the last eight weeks, going 17-6 in that span, so getting a walkover from Christian Harrison today, which was announced after the warm-up, was a break for him.  He plays No. 7 seed Tim Smyczek, who beat wild card Dennis Nevolo 6-3, 7-6(4). Smyczek is in the driver's seat for the USTA's Australian Open wild card, having won the title in Charlottesville over Sandgren in the final. I believe that if Smyczek wins Thursday, he'll clinch the wild card.

If Smyczek doesn't win Thursday, Bjorn Fratangelo still has an opportunity to tie him and Fratangelo wins the tiebreaker, which is ATP ranking. But taking the title, which Fratangelo has to do, would probably boost Fratangelo's ranking high enough so he wouldn't need the wild card.  Fratangelo defeated Bradley Klahn 6-4, 6-4 today, getting his second win over the 2010 NCAA singles champion this year.

"It's always difficult to play a really good friend," said Fratangelo, the No. 5 seed. "Brad's probably one of my best friends out here, but I know his game well and I match up pretty well with him. I just tried to execute, and I think it was a pretty straightforward match."

Fratangelo will face Filip Peliwo of Canada, last week's champion at the Knoxville Challenger, after Peliwo ousted two-time defending champion Henri Laaksonen of Switzerland 6-3, 7-5. 

No. 3 seed Taylor Fritz and No. 8 seed Tommy Paul will renew their rivalry in the quarterfinals after advancing in opposite fashion.  Fritz did not face a break point in his 6-4, 6-3 win over qualifier Ronnie Schneider, while Paul was pushed to the limit by qualifier Mikael Ymer of Sweden before taking a 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(0) decision.  Nothing separated Paul, the 2015 French Open boys champion, and Ymer, the 2015 Wimbledon boys finalist, until the final set tiebreaker, and suddenly the errors Ymer avoided down the stretch appeared.  Down 3-0, Ymer double faulted and the errors snowballed from there, providing a letdown of an ending to the nearly three-hour contest.

Paul's title in Paris came over Fritz, who then returned the favor in the final of the US Open boys championship in 2015.  They played in the round of 16 of the Winnetka Challenger this summer, with Paul earning a 7-6(7), 7-5 victory. 

The fourth quarterfinal will feature Mackenzie McDonald and No. 4 seed Cameron Norrie. McDonald defeated JP Smith of Australia 7-5, 7-6(5) and Norrie eliminated wild card Jared Hiltzik 6-2, 6-4.

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