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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Qualifiers Keep Rolling, Rybakov Defeats Sixth Seed Safiullin at Eddie Herr ITF

©Colette Lewis 2013--
Bradenton, FL--

After several days of low clouds and fog, Tuesday dawned clear and bright for the second day of main draw action at the Eddie Herr International.  After Monday's major upset of top seed Alexander Zverev of Germany by Sameer Kumar, along with 42 other singles matches, Tuesday's schedule was lighter and more predictable, although the qualifiers did produce some notable results.

Of the eight girls qualfiers, five won and the other three lost to seeded players.  Top seed Varvara Flink of Russia beat qualifier Barbara Gatica of Chile 6-0, 6-4 and No. 2 seed Tornado Alicia Black was equally impressive, taking down qualifier Gabriela Knutson of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-0.  No. 12 seed Sandra Samir of Egypt's 6-1, 6-3 victory over qualifier Mira Ruder-Hook meant that Black was the only US girl to pick up a win Monday. Both Marie Norris and Madison Bourguignon lost three-hour plus marathons, with Norris dropping a 1-6, 7-6(2), 6-3 decision to qualifier Seone Mendez of Australia and Bourguignon fell to Sweden's Jacqueline Cabaj Awad 6-3, 5-7, 6-3.

In addition to Mendez, the other four girls qualifiers to post wins Tuesday are Katherine Sebov of Canada, Angelika Shapovalova of Russia, who beat No. 14 seed Jil Teichmann of Switzerland, Aleksandra Pospelova of Russia and Julia Terziyska of Bulgaria.

The top girls seed to fall on Tuesday was No. 5 Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic, but it was not much of an upset, given that it was Renata Zarazua who got the 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 win. Zarazua, from Mexico, was a finalist at the Grade 1 Yucatan Cup last week.

The boys qualifiers were even more successful, with six of the eight advancing to Wednesday's second round.  Americans Catalin Mateas and Reilly Opelka won their fourth matches of the tournament, with Mateas beating Gabriel Hocevar of Brazil 6-1, 6-4 and Opelka downing No. 16 seed Nino Serdarusic of Croatia 6-4, 6-3.  Matos Zukas of Argentina beat Spencer Papa 6-2, 7-5, joining Artur Dubinski of Belarus, Marko Osmakcic of Switzerland and Ryotaro Matsumura of Japan as qualifiers reaching the second round.

In addition to Opelka and Mateas, another American reached the second round, with Alex Rybakov ousting No. 6 seed Roman Safiullin of Russia 7-5, 6-1.

Rybakov, a 16-year-old from Florida, jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead, but Safiullin won five of the next six games to serve for the set. Rybakov got his game back on track just in time, winning the last three games of the set, and Safiullin's resistance dissolved after he was broken serving at 1-2 in the second set.

"I feel like I had a good start in the beginning," said Rybakov, a left-hander with a one-handed backhand. "But then both of us weren't playing our best tennis. I kind of toughed it out mentally at the end of the first set, and then he kind of went away in the second. I just tried to keep it up the best as I possibly could. I think I competed hard at the end, so I was proud of that."

Rybakov grew up playing on the green Har-Tru, but it's red clay that tops his list of favorite surfaces.

"I played a couple of tournaments this year in South America on red clay and I loved it. Clay is my favorite surface, any clay, but I prefer red clay," Rybakov said.

After the completion of the ITF first round, there are 11 US boys remaining and five US girls.

The first round of doubles were played on Tuesday, with top seeds Black and Fanny Stoller of Hungary losing to Naiktha Bains of Australia and Anna Bondar of Hungary 6-4, 6-4.

In the younger age divisions, all the No. 2 seeds reached the second round, just as the No. 1 seeds had done on Monday.

In the 16s, Jenna Friedel beat Alana Smith 6-2, 6-3 and Mate Valkusz of Hungary beat John McNally 6-3, 7-6(3).

In the 14s, Noah Makarome advanced with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Jose Paz of Bolivia and Sofia Sewing defeated Avital Vulf of Israel 6-1, 6-0.

In the 12s, Hurricane Tyra Black, Tornado's sister, won 6-1, 6-0 over Andjela Skrobonja of Serbia and Adam Neff beat Gabriel Nini of Romania 6-0, 7-5.

For complete results and Wednesday's order of play for the ITF, see eddieherr.com.