Saturday, November 21, 2015

Anisimova Reaches Grade A Final in Mexico; Fritz Falls, Giving Australian Open Wild Card to Rubin; Rybakov and Wiersholm Advance to Pensacola Futures Final

Fourteen-year-old Amanda Anisimova's only previous appearance in a Grade A tournament was in September's US Open, where she qualified, but lost in the first round.  This week on the red clay of the Abierto Juvenil Mexicano in Mexico City, the unseeded Anisimova has swept through the draw, advancing to Sunday's final with a 7-6(3), 6-4 victory over No. 7 seed Evgeniya Levashova of Russia.  Anisimova will face Australian Open girls finalist Katie Swan of Great Britain, who defeated Alexandra Sanford 7-6(6), 7-6(3).  Swan, the No. 3 seed, served for the first set at 6-5, but was broken; Sanford, the No. 11 seed, served for the second set at 6-5, but she too was unable to close it out.  Swan was just slightly better on the big points in both tiebreakers, with Sanford making errors on the final points of both sets.

The boys final will feature unseeded Genaro Alberto Olivieri of Argentina against No. 13 seed Youssef Hossam of Eygpt.  The 17-year-old Olivieri is playing in only his second Grade A main draw, while Hossam, also 17, hadn't won a Grade A match in three attempts prior to this week.

The doubles titles were decided today, with No. 3 seeds Jay Clarke of Great Britain and Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia defeating No. 5 seeds Geoffrey Blancaneaux and Ugo Humbert of France 6-4, 6-4 in the boys final.

Levashova and Anna Blinkova of Russia, the No. 2 seeds, took the girls doubles title, beating top seeds Swan and Sonya Kenin 7-5, 6-4.

Sunday's finals will be streamed, beginning with the girls final at noon Eastern, at tennisjuniortv.com.

Switzerland's Henri Laaksonen won the $50,000 Champaign Challenger, defeating Taylor Fritz 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 this afternoon. The 23-year-old's first Challenger title gives the USTA's Australian Open wild card to Noah Rubin, who won the first of the three Challengers in the race in Charlottesville earlier this month.  Rubin, who would not have made the qualifying draw in Australia, will be playing in his second slam main draw. He played at last year's US Open as the Kalamazoo 18s champion. Fritz, along with Donaldson and Tiafoe and possibly Tommy Paul, are US teens who will receive entry into the Australian Open qualifying based on their rankings.

Fritz, who had saved 28 consecutive break points over four matches, saw his luck run out in the second and third sets, as he could not find his serve (31% first serves in the second set, 41% for the match) and Laaksonen consistently attacked his second serve. Laakson was down a set in his previous three matches, so he had no reason to panic after dropping the first set, and he played at a consistently high level throughout the match. Based on his performance in Champaign this week, Fritz will move into the ATP Top 200 for the first time.

Former Memphis teammates David O'Hare of Ireland and Joe Salisbury of Great Britain won the doubles title, defeating top seeds Austin Krajicek and Nick Monroe 6-1, 6-4 in the final.  O'Hare and Salisbury, who completed their collegiate eligibility in 2014, were unseeded, but had also reached the semifinals of the Charlottesville Challenger. The pair have seven Futures titles together, with this their first Challenger title.

An eighteen-year-old will win his first Futures title tomorrow, with unseeded Alex Rybakov taking on qualifier Henrik Wiersholm at the $10,000 Pensacola Futures. Wiersholm had the easier time advancing, beating 16-year-old qualifier Denis Shapovalov of Canada 6-2, 6-2, which ended Wiersholm's streak of 6-0 sets at four.  Rybakov, who will start at TCU in January, needed over two hours to get past No. 6 seed Maximiliano Estevez of Argentina 6-1, 3-6, 7-5. Rybakov was a finalist last week in Niceville, his first Futures final.  Wiersholm, a sophomore at Virginia, had not earned an ATP point until this week, but could collect 17 if he wins Sunday.

Shapovalov split his matches on Saturday, taking the doubles title with former Texas A&M-Corpus Christi standout Peter Nagy of Hungary.  Nagy and Shapovalov, who won the US Open boys doubles title this year with Felix Auger-Aliassime, defeated wild cards Christopher Ephron, a Northwestern recruit from Pensacola, and former West Florida player Bruno Savi of Brazil 6-3, 6-2 in the final.