Sunday, August 1, 2021

Shelton Goes Undefeated at USTA Pro Circuit $25K in Champaign; Isner Beats Nakashima for Sixth ATP Atlanta Title; Lepchenko Wins WTA 125 in Charleston

Wild card Ben Shelton won his second USTA Pro Circuit title a day after claiming his first, adding the singles title to his doubles championship with a 7-6(4), 6-3 decision over No. 5 seed Gijs Brouwer of the Netherlands at the $25,000 tournament on the campus of the University of Illinois. 

The first set was a slog for the two left-handers, with Shelton going up 3-1, but losing four straight games and needing to save five set points just to get to a tiebreaker. Shelton, who turns 19 in October, kept calm in the late stages of that tiebreaker, with Brouwer committing two unforced errors on his two service points at 4-5. 

Shelton, who clinched Florida's NCAA team title in May, got a break to start the second set and again went up 3-1, but Brouwer brought it back to even, only to be broken again, when he served at 3-3. At 30-30 Shelton won the next two points, and a discouraged Brouwer lost the next eight points to give Shelton his second title in as many days.

I assume Shelton's next stop will be Kalamazoo for the USTA 18s Nationals, which for seeded 18s doubles players begins Friday August 6, but there is a $25,000 USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Decatur Illinois starting Monday.

The other American teenager in a final today, Brandon Nakashima, came up just short, with John Isner getting his sixth Atlanta title with a 7-6(8), 7-5 decision over the 2017 Kalamazoo 16s champion. Nakashima had defeated Isner last week en route to the Los Cabos ATP 250 final, but Isner has been in 9 of the 11 Atlanta finals and couldn't feel more at home in that setting.

From the USTA:


John Isner Wins Sixth Truist Atlanta Open Singles Title


Defeats 19-Year-Old American Brandon Nakashima to Join Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal as only Active Men's Players to Win Six-Plus Titles at a Tour-Level Event


August 1, 2021 -- American John Isner won the Truist Atlanta Open singles title for the sixth time on Sunday, joining Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal as the only active men's players to win six or more singles titles at a tour-level event. Isner's six Atlanta titles are second only to Federer's seven Cincinnati victories in terms of US Open Series events. 


The 36-year-old University of Georgia alumnus outlasted 19-year-old American Brandon Nakashima, 7-6 (8), 7-5, in just under two hours. The San Diegan Nakashima -- bidding to become the youngest American singles champion at an ATP event since Andy Roddick in 2002 in Houston -- reached his second ATP singles final in as many weeks, after reaching the final in Los Cabos last week. He turns 20 on Tuesday. 


Coached by Dusan Vemic, Nakashima, who played one season at the University of Virginia before turning pro, spent two weeks training with former USTA Player Development director of coaching Jose Higueras prior to this hard-court swing and is projected to rise to a career-high No. 89 in the world on Monday. Nakashima is the second rising American to reach an ATP singles final in as many US Open Series events thus far in 2021, after 20-year-old Jenson Brooksby reached the final in Newport two weeks ago.


Jamie Loeb and Varvara Lepchenko battled for over three hours in the WTA 125 tournament in Charleston South Carolina today, with the fourth-seeded Lepchenko earning a 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-4 victory over the unseeded former NCAA champion at North Carolina. It's the biggest title of a long career for the 35-year-old Lepchenko, who reached No. 19 in the WTA rankings back in 2012.

At the ATP Challenger in Lexington, unseeded Jason Kubler of Australia took the title, defeating No. 6 seed Alejandro Tabilo of Chile 7-5, 6-7(2), 7-5 in today's final. Kubler had beaten Ernesto Escobedo, the last American in the draw, 6-2, 6-3 in Saturday's semifinals. 

Canadian Liam Draxl, the rising University of Kentucky junior, and Stefan Kozlov won the doubles title Saturday night, with the pair taking a 6-2, 6-7(5), 10-7 decision over former TCU stars Reese Stalder and Alex Rybakov. Both teams received entry into the draw as wild cards.

Qualifying is complete at the ATP 500 Citi Open in Washington DC, with Mitchell Krueger earning one of the six main draw spots on offer. JJ Wolf(Ohio State) lost today to Elias Ymer of Sweden 7-6(5), 7-6(4) and Maxime Cressy(UCLA) lost to Illya Marchenko of Ukraine 7-5, 6-7(4), 6-3 tonight.

Former University of Michigan star Emina Bektas qualified for her first WTA main draw above the 125 level today at the Mubadala Classic in San Jose California, a 500 event. Bektas beat Katie Volynets in the first round of qualifying yesterday 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 and today took out former Georgia star Ellen Perez of Australia 6-4, 5-7, 6-4. Ashlyn Krueger lost to Na-Lae Han of Korea 6-1, 4-6, 6-1 in the final round of qualifying and Robin Montgomery was beaten by Ana Konjuh of Croatia by a 6-3, 7-6(2) score.