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Friday, February 26, 2021

All-American Semifinals at Women's $25K in Boca Raton; Kuzuhara's Win Streak Continues in Brazil; Collegians Abound in WTA Adelaide's Women's Doubles Final; McDonald Advances to Semifinals at Kazakhstan Challenger

 All four American women competing in Friday's quarterfinals at the $25,000 USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Boca Raton won today, setting up two all-US semifinals on Saturday. Only one quarterfinal, No. 4 seed Usue Arconada's 7-5, 6-1 win over Gabriela Talaba of Romania, was decided in straight sets, with the other three all three sets and at least two hours and 45 minutes in duration. Arconada will play unseeded Claire Liu, who won the battle of former junior slam champions with a 6-7(2), 6-1, 6-2 decision over Maria Osorio Serrano of Colombia.

No. 8 seed Varvara Lepchenko, who needed over three hours to eliminate Canadian qualifier Katherine Sebov 6-4, 4-6, 7-5, will play 19-year-old wild card Hailey Baptiste, who took out Tereza Mrdeza of Croatia 3-6, 6-2, 6-2.

At the men's $25,000 tournament in Naples, Christian Harrison is the sole American to advance to the semifinals. Harrison, the No. 8 seed, defeated top seed Mitchell Krueger 7-6(3), 4-6, 7-5 in three hours and 17 minutes to reach Saturday's semifinal. He will play unseeded Cristian Rodriguez of Colombia for a place in the final. Martin Damm lost to Gonzalo Villanueva of Argentina 5-7, 7-6(0), 7-6(6) in three hours and eight minutes. Villanueva will face No. 6 seed Corentin Denolly of France in the bottom half semifinal. 

Bruno Kuzuhara, who won last week's Grade 1 in Paraguay, is through to the semifinals of this week's Grade 1 in Brazil, putting his win streak at eight. The 16-year-old from Florida, who is 12-1 this year in Grade 1 tournaments, defeated Alvaro Guillen Meza of Ecuador 6-2, 6-4 in today's quarterfinals. Kuzuhara, the No. 3 seed, will take on No. 2 seed Juncheng Shang of China, who beat him in the final of the Grade 1 in Ecuador two weeks ago. Shang defeated No. 7 seed Jack Anthrop 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, while No. 4 seed Alex Bernard lost to No. 5 seed Pedro Boscardin Dias of Brazil 6-4, 6-2. Boscardin Dias will face Swedish qualifier Leo Borg, son of Bjorn Borg, who advanced to the semifinals via walkover.

No. 3 seed Madison Sieg lost to unseeded Solana Sierra of Argentina in today's quarterfinals 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 and also fell in the doubles final. Sieg and Ellie Coleman, the top seeds, lost to unseeded Michaela Laki of Greece and Lola Radivojevic of Serbia 6-4, 6-4. 

Top seeds Bernard and Dali Blanch won their second Grade 1 doubles title on this South American swing, in dominating fashion, defeating unseeded Marko Adrejic of Austria and Mili Poljicak of Croatia 6-1, 6-3 in the final. Blanch and Bernard didn't lose more than four games in any of the eight sets they played this week.

Coco Gauff fell to No. 2 seed Belinda Bencic of Switzerland in the semifinals of the WTA 500 in Adelaide Friday 7-6(2), 6-7(4), 6-2. Gauff will earn a new career-high ranking after her wins this week however, moving into the Top 40 for the first time. Bencic will face French Open champion Iga Swiatek of Poland in the singles final. 

The doubles final in Adelaide is guaranteed to produce an American champion and a collegiate one with Hayley Carter(UNC) and Brazil's Luisa Stefani(Pepperdine) facing off against Chile's Alexa Guarachi(Alabama) and Desirae Krawczyk(Arizona State). The third-seeded Guarachi and Krawczyk, who reached the French Open final last fall, will be looking for their third WTA title as a team. Carter and Stefani, who are not seeded this week, also have two WTA titles as a team. 

At the ATP Challenger 100 in Kazakhstan, Mackenzie McDonald is through to the semifinals after defeating Frederico Silva of Portugal 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(3) today. McDonald will play No. 5 seed Henri Laaksonen of Switzerland on Saturday.