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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Smyczek, Russell and Tatishvili Qualify for Australian Open; Baughman, Graham Reach $10K Finals; Vickery and Crawford Meet for $25K Plantation Title; Teen Tennis Starts Sunday

The fields are now set for the Australian Open, with the qualifiers placed in the draws and the schedule for Monday (Sunday night in the US) released as the tennis world takes the day off in preparation.

Two US men and one US women advanced to the main draw with wins last night.  Tim Smyczek, Michael Russell and Anna Tatishvili won their final round matches, while Alexa Glatch, Chase Buchanan, Jarmere Jenkins and Alex Kuznetsov lost theirs.

Only six of the 24 Americans are on Monday's schedule, which begins at 7 p.m. Eastern time in the US, but that includes both Smyczek and Russell.  Smyczek will play Australian wild card Luke Saville, one of eight Australian Open boys champions in the draw, while the 36-year-old Russell has drawn No. 20 seed David Goffin of Belgium.  The four US women on Monday's schedule are Grace Min, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Christina McHale and Alison Riske. Min, who plays No. 14 seed Sara Errani of Italy, is seeking her first slam victory in her fifth main draw appearance, her first in Australia. Mattek-Sands plays wild card Ying Ying Duan of China, who received Tennis Australia's last wild card, and Riske plays Oceane Dodin of France, who received the French federation's reciprocal wild card. McHale will play qualifier Stephanie Foretz of France.

The schedule can be found at the tournament website.

In the tournaments being played here in the United States, Deiton Baughman has reached his first Futures final at the $10,000 Sunrise tournament, and there will be an all-American final at the women's $25,000 tournament in Plantation, featuring Samantha Crawford and Sachia Vickery.

The unseeded Baughman beat qualifier Samuel Bensousson of France 3-6, 6-3, 6-1, his fourth three-set victory this week and the third in which he's come from a set down.  He will play No. 8 seed Benjamin Balleret of Monaco, who beat qualifier Francis Tiafoe 6-3, 6-0. Balleret has already captured the doubles title with countryman Romain Arneodo. The top-seeded pair defeated No. 2 seeds Connor Smith and Emilio Gomez 6-2, 7-5.

The unseeded Crawford and the No. 3 seed Vickery play doubles together often as they did this week, but their only previous meetings were in the juniors, with Crawford beating Vickery en route to her 2012 US Open girls title after Vickery had beaten her the year before at the Yucatan Cup in Mexico.  Neither has been in a Pro Circuit final in more than two years, so their wins today were especially important. Crawford defeated unseeded Elise Mertens 7-5, 6-3, while Vickery edged Russian qualifier Darya Kasatkina, the reigning French girls champion, 7-6(4), 7-6(4). For more on Vickery and Crawford, see this Sun Sentinel article, which includes the news that Crawford is now working with Michael Joyce at the MW Tennis Academy in Charleston, South Carolina.

Top seeds Asia Muhammad and Irina Khromacheva of Russia won the doubles title, beating No. 2 seeds Sanaz Marand and Jan Abaza 6-2, 6-2.

The final in the $15,000 men's Futures in Long Beach will see qualifier Takanyi Garanganga of Zimbabwe play No. 6 seed Frederik Nielsen of Denmark. Garanganga beat No. 3 seed Jason Jung 6-7(2), 7-6(5), 6-4. Nielsen also needed three sets in his semifinal win, beating unseeded Alex Sarkissian 3-6, 6-4, 6-3.

In the $10,000 women's ITF Circuit event in Martinique, 16-year-old wild card Alexa Graham has reached the final. Graham had won three matches total in her six previous main draw appearances in $10,000 tournaments; she's already exceeded that number this week alone. After beating No. 4 seed Laura Pigossi of Brazil in the first round, Graham went on to defeat No. 5 seed Alexa Guarachi, the former Alabama All-American, in the quarterfinals, and today she upset top seed Irina Ramialison of France, No. 277 in the WTA rankings, 7-6(5), 6-1.  She will play unseeded 18-year-old Canadian Gloria Liang in the final. Liang, who won the 16s Orange Bowl title in 2012, beat No. 6 seed Naomi Totka of Hungary 6-1, 6-4.  

The draws are out for the Nike Junior International Teen Tennis tournament in Bolton, England, where 11 Americans are competing. William Grant won a spot through qualifying, with Andrew Puscas, Nathan Han(12), Cannon Kingsley(16), Anton Matusevich, Govind Nanda(8) and Leighton Allen in the 48-player draw.  Jack Draper of Great Britain is the No. 1 seed.  Four US girls are in the main draw: Amanda Anisimova(8), Hurricane Tyra Black(14), Whitney Osuigwe and Caty McNally(2).  McNally's nemesis Anastasia Potapova of Russia is not in the field, with the No. 1 seed going to Oona Orpana of Finland. For her part, Potapova is in the final of the ITF Grade 4 this week in Austria. 

At the Grade 1 Copa Gatorade in Venezuela, the last two Americans lost in today's semifinals.  No. 14 seed Andrea Kevakian was beaten by top seed Evgeniya Levashova of Russia 6-0, 6-0, while No. 4 seed Emil Reinberg lost to No. 13 seed Yshai Oliel of Israel 6-3, 6-1. Oliel will get another crack at Casper Ruud of Norway, last week's champion at the Coffee Bowl, who beat Oliel  6-0, 6-1 in the semifinals in Costa Rica. No. 3 seed Ruud reached this week's final with a 6-4, 6-2 win over No. 10 seed Nuno Borges of Portugal.  

Kevakian and Ndindi Mwaruka, the No. 6 seeds, lost in the doubles final 6-1, 6-2 to top seeds Levashova and Brazilian Thaisa Pedretti. The boys doubles title went to No. 6 seeds Geoffrey Blancaneaux and Ugo Humbert of France, who beat Ruud and Jay Clarke of Great Britain, the No. 3 seeds, 6-1, 6-7, 10-7. 

At the Grade 1 Loy Yang in Australia, three US boys have made the third round: Taylor Fritz(3), Michael Mmoh(5) and Sameer Kumar. Madison Bourguignon is the only US girl to advance to the second round, with Raveena Kingsley, Jessica Ho, Mia Horvit and Raquel Pedraza losing their openers. Top seed Orlando Luz was beaten 6-2, 6-4 in the second round by Andrea Pellegrino of Italy.