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Thursday, December 1, 2005

Mektic Stuns Second Seed Sweeting; Top Seeds in Boys & Girls 16s and Girls 14s Bow Out of Eddie Herr

Mektic Stuns Second Seed Sweeting; Top Seeds in Boys & Girls 16s and Girls 14s Bow Out of Eddie Herr ~~~

©Colette Lewis 2005
Bradenton FL--

It was another day of upsets, with many top seeds falling in the younger divisions, but the boys 18s once again produced the biggest surprise. Ryan Sweeting, the U.S. Jr. Open champion, tasted bitter defeat for the first time in months when he was ousted by sixteen-year-old Nikola Mektic 6-1, 2-6, 6-4. The 13th seed from Croatia refrained from slugging with Sweeting, who in the swirling, chilly breezes was unable to serve with the effectiveness he showed in winning the Jr. Open and October's Grade B1 event in Tulsa. Mektic was as composed as his favored opponent was peevish, and even a series of breaks in the third set failed to frustrate him. Serving for the match at 5-4, Mektic hit a service winner at 30 love, and the subsequent match point was riveting, as Mektic and Sweeting first exchanged backhands and then forehands as the tension mounted. Sweeting eventually got the ball he had so patiently waited for and had Mektic on the defensive, but when the Croatian's short reply dropped just over the net and Sweeting failed to reach it, Mektic showed his first emotion of the match. He gave a shout and jump, while Sweeting smashed then flung his racquet crosscourt before the handshake.

Mektic joins top seed and countryman Marin Cilic in the quarterfinals, with Croatia the only nation with more than one player in the final eight. Cilic eliminated Marcus Fugate (USA) 6-4, 6-3 and will face 11th seed Ivan Sergeyev of the Ukraine on Friday. Sergeyev upset sixth seed Robin Roshardt of Switzerland, winning a third set tiebreak. In the other quarterfinal in the top half, Dusan Lojda of the Czech Republic, seeded fourth, plays unseeded Petru Luncanu of Romania who upset eighth seed Javier Garrapiz of Spain in straight sets. In the bottom half, unseeded Kevin Botti of France proved too much for Jamie Hunt (USA) and will meet Kei Nishikori (12) of Japan, while wild card Georgi Roumenov of Spain squares off against Mektic.

The girls 16s championship is now wide open with Michelle Larcher de Brito's upset Thursday of top seed Ksenia Lykina of Russia. Larcher de Brito of Portugal will now face the only seed left in the quarterfinals, number eight, Ioana Ivan of Romania. A wild card having a great run is Mallory Cecil (USA), who has reached the quarterfinals without dropping a set. Cecil, 15, is now training at the IMG Bollettieri Tennis Academy and she will take her fearsome forehand into a quarterfinal contest with unseeded Alexa Guarachi, one of four U.S. players still alive.

In the bottom half, qualifier Cristala Andrews (USA) dumped second seed Nigora Sirojiddinova of Uzbekistan in straight sets and meets unseeded Taylor Ormond of Canada. Another qualifier from the U.S., Nadja Gilchrist, also advanced and will face unseeded Marie-Pier Huet of Canada.

Equally bereft of seeds are the girls 14s quarterfinals, with only Valeriya Savinykh of Russia, the fifth seed, surviving Thursday's slew of upsets. The biggest saw Tamaryn Hendler cruise past top seed Kai Chen K Chang of Taipei in straight sets. The Belgian now takes on unseeded Katarena Paliivets of Canada, while Savinykh meets unseeded Australian Sally Peers. An unseeded finalist is assured from the bottom half, where Great Britain's Tara Moore cleared the way by upending second seed Gabriela Paz of Venezuela in straight sets. Moore plays Valeria Solovieva of Russia, while Pipiya Nanuli, also of Russia, hopes to end Carling Seguso's streak of straight set victories.

In contrast to the girls 14s, the boys 14s quarterfinals seem positively predictable, though two unseeded players have made it through. Top seed Borut Puc of Slovenia continued to dominate with two straight set wins Thursday, and second seed Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria survived a three-setter in his second encounter of the day to move on. Dimitrov plays Guido Andreozzi of Argentina (9) while Puc meets sixth seed Nicolas Pastor, also of Argentina. The other match in the top half is 13th seeded Alex Domijan (USA) versus unseeded Joao Fernandes of Brazil. Unseeded South African James Munro pairs with 15th seeded Manuel Sanchez-Montemayer in the other bottom half match.

It's a rare Lucky Loser that advances to the quarterfinals, but that's where Jeff Dadamo (USA) finds himself in boys 16 singles. The rain earlier in the week resulted in two matches Thursday and Dadamo won both of his, going three rounds farther than his conqueror in the qualifying. He will face Gonzalo Escobar of Ecuador (13), who beat giantkiller Otto Sauer of Sweden in the Round of 16. Sauer had stunned top seed Alejandro Gonzalez of Columbia earlier in the day.

Another U.S. player making waves is Bollettieri-trained wild card Rhyne Williams who has yet to lose a set, even while dismissing the fifth seeded Venezuelan Arnaldo Lovera in the second round. Williams faces 16th seeded Cesar Ramirez of Mexico, who ended the run of qualifier Joseph Cadogan (USA).

The bottom half finds 12th seed Alexey Grigorov of Russia, who survived two three-set matches Thursday, taking the court against Drew Daniel, (USA) the third seed. Daniel, who trains at the Roddick-Moros Academy, has not lost a set in his three wins and hopes to earn a shot at another Roddick-Moros student, unseeded Vladimir Ignatic of Belarus, who plays sixth seed Radu Albot of Moldova Friday morning.

In girls 18 singles, there was only one suprise--fourth seed Alexandra Dulgheru of Romania was upset by unseeded Sabine Lisicki of Germany, who also had eliminated the sixth seed earlier in the week. But don't cry for Romania, as there are still three girls from that country in the quarterfinals, including, in the top half, 10th seed Sorana Cirstea, who ended qualifier Kristy Frilling's (USA) run. Cirstea takes on top seed Agnieszka Radwanska, who has had no challenges in her first three matches, while Lisicki meets fifth seed Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark. In the bottom half, seventh seeded Romanian Mihaela Buzarnescu faces Slovakian third seed Dominika Cibulkova, while Evgeniya Rodina of Russia, seeded 11th, hopes to knock off the second seed, Romanian Raluca Olaru.

All quarterfinal matches in 14s, 16s and 18s in both divisions will be played Friday morning.