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Sunday, February 2, 2020

Ram and Salisbury Claim Australian Open Doubles Title; Kwiatkowski Wins First Challenger at Newport Beach; Ngounoue Falls in Les Petits As Final; Sarap and Banerjee Capture G4 ITF Titles

Rajeev Ram(Illinois) and Great Britain's Joe Salisbury(Memphis) won the Australian Open men's doubles title Sunday in Melbourne, with the No. 11 seeds beating the unseeded Australian wild card team of Luke Saville and Max Purcell 6-4, 6-2. It was the first men's doubles slam title for both of them, with Ram finally getting that winner's trophy after 58 attempts, an ATP Open Era record. Ram, 35, and Salisbury, 27, played all four slams together last year and qualified for the ATP Finals at the end of last year, but this is certainly the highlight of both of their careers. In this article from the Australian Open website, Ram explains why, for all the joy of claiming an elusive title, there is some sadness for him too.

Thai Kwiatkowski, the 2017 NCAA singles champion while at the University of Virginia, won his first ATP Challenger title today in Newport Beach California and it was a big one, an Oracle Challenger Series event at the 125 level. The unseeded 24-year-old from North Carolina had lost his first five semifinals at the Challenger level before he defeated No. 4 seed Steve Johnson(USC) 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-1 yesterday. He didn't need to work nearly as hard in today's final, beating unseeded Daniel Galan of Colombia 6-4, 6-1 in less than an hour, saving the only two break points he faced. Kwiatkowski will now move back into the ATP Top 200.

Fifth seed Madison Brengle won the women's title in Newport Beach, a WTA 125 tournament, beating No. 6 seed Stefanie Vogele of Switzerland 6-1, 3-6, 6-2 in the final.

Hayley Carter(UNC) and Luisa Stefani(Pepperdine) of Brazil won the women's doubles title, with the top seeds beating unseeded Marie Benoit of Belgium and Jessika Ponchet of France 6-1, 6-3 in the final.

The men's doubles title also went to the top seeds, with Gonzalo Escobar(Texas Tech) of Ecuador and Ariel Behar of Uruguay beating unseeded Antonio Sancic of Croatia and Tristan Weissborn of Austria 6-2, 6-4 in the final.

At the $25,000 USTA men's Pro Circuit event in Weston Florida, 2013 Wimbledon boys champion Gianluigi Quinzi of Italy took the title, with the No. 5 seed beating No. 3 seed Christian Lindell of Sweden 3-6, 7-5, 7-5. Lindell had beaten wild card Emilio Nava 6-2, 6-0 in the semifinals. The doubles title went to unseeded Boris Arias(LSU) of Bolivia and Daniel Dutra Da Silva of Brazil, who beat No. 4 seeds Alexander Merino of Peru and Manuel Pena Lopez of Argentina 6-4, 7-6(2) in the final.
Brenda Fruhvirtova and Oleksandr Ponomar
photo by Richard van Loon/toptennis.photos
Brenda Fruhvirtova kept the Les Petits As girls singles trophy in the family today, defeating Clervie Ngounoue 6-0, 3-6, 7-5 in this afternoon's final in Tarbes. Fourteen-year-old Linda Fruhvirtova, the older sister of the unseeded 12-year-old from the Czech Republic, won the title last year.  Ngounoue could not get started in the opening set, with her first serve not going in and her ground strokes misfiring, and went she went down 2-0 in the second set it didn't look good. But the 13-year-old from Washington DC began to find her range, while Fruhvirtova's level dropped a bit, and that resulted in Ngounoue taking the next four games. She gave the break back, but immediately broke Fruhvirtova again and held to claim her first set from Fruhvirtova in their four meetings.

In the third set, Ngounoue went up a break at 3-2, but double faulted on game point in her service game and Fruhvirtova went on to break back. Ngounoue found herself hitting too many second serves in the 4-5 game, and had to save a match point, while Fruhvirtova wasn't making errors or feeling much pressure on her own serve. Serving to force a tiebreaker, Ngounoue went up 40-30, but she hit a forehand long, and two netted shots later, Fruhvirtova had the title.

The boys final was decidedly less dramatic, with No. 3 seed Oleksandr Ponomar of Ukraine defeating unseeded Janis Simmen of Switzerland 6-4, 6-1.

Complete draws can be found at the Tennis Europe tournament page.

Two 16-year-old American boys won ITF Junior Circuit tournaments this weekend, with Samir Banerjee claiming a second straight Grade 4 in Nairobi and Tristan Sarap earning his first Junior Circuit title in just his second tournament at the Grade 4 in Cairo Egypt.

Banerjee, the No. 5 seed, defeated unseeded Bor Artnak of Slovenia 6-2, 6-2 for his tenth win in the past two weeks.  Sarap, a blue chip from California whose first tournament on the ITF Junior Circuit was last week, had to qualify for both events; he made the third round in a Grade 5 last week, also in Egypt, then won nine matches to take the title in Cairo this week. He defeated No. 4 seed Yousef Sadek of Egypt 7-6(4), 6-0 in the final.