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Saturday, January 8, 2022

Cressy Meets Nadal for First ATP Title; Finals for Anisimova, Fratangelo, Escobedo; Jimenez Kasintseva Advances to $60K Final; Vukic Receives Australian Open Main Draw Wild Card; Qualifying Underway at J1 in Costa Rica

Maxime Cressy defeated No. 3 seed Grigor Dimitrov 7-5, 7-6(9) in the semifinals of the ATP 250 in Melbourne Saturday to reach his first ATP final. The 24-year-old, who won the 2019 NCAA doubles title as a senior at UCLA, will face top seed Rafael Nadal in Sunday's final. Cressy, who will move into the ATP Top 100 with his results this week, who has beaten two top 30 players this week in Reilly Opelka and Dimitrov, will be aiming for his first Top 10 win. For more on the semifinals, see this article from the ATP. I spoke to Cressy this summer during Wimbledon qualifying; that article can be found here.

Amanda Anisimova is into her first final in almost three years, with the unseeded 20-year-old from Florida defeating No. 3 seed Daria Kasatkina of Russia 6-2, 6-0 in Saturday's semifinals of the WTA 250 in Melbourne. Anisimova will face unseeded Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus, who prevented an all-US final with a 7-6(4), 2-6, 6-3 win over No. 7 seed Ann Li. For more on the semifinals, see this article from the WTA.

In ATP Challengers in Australia, Ernesto Escobedo and Bjorn Fratangelo have reached finals in Bendigo and Traralgon. Escobedo, the No. 8 seed, will play No. 10 seed Enzo Couacaud of France in Bendigo; Fratangelo, seeded No. 5, faces No. 4 seed Tomas Machac of the Czech Republic in Traralgon.

Sixteen-year-old Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva of Andorra, who has entered in the Australian Open Junior Championships, is into the final of this week's ITF $60K+H tournament in Bendigo as an unseeded qualifier. The 2020 Australian Open girls champion, who recently moved into the women's field for next week's Australian Open qualifying, defeated Coco Vandeweghe 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 in Saturday's semifinals; she will face unseeded Ysaline Bonaventure of Belgium for her second ITF World Tennis Tour women's title. She won a $25K in Brazil in November.

With the Australian Open qualifying beginning Monday, the final wild cards have been announced by Tennis Australia. Former University of Illinois star Aleks Vukic of Australia is the only former collegian among the eight men's wild cards. Former ITF Junior No. 1 Chun-hsin Tseng of Taiwan, Great Britain's Andy Murray and Thanasi Kokkinakis, Alex Bolt, Christopher O'Connell of Australia received wild cards from Tennis Australia. Stefan Kozlov of the US and Lucas Pouille of France are the reciprocal wild cards.

North Carolina junior Rinky Hijakata of Australia received a qualifying wild card, as did the top Australian junior of 2021, Philip Sekulic. The complete list can be found here.

The women's wild cards are Australians Priscilla Hon, Storm Sanders, Daria Saville (Gavrilova), Maddison Inglis and Sam Stosur, with Xiyu Wang of China receiving the Asian-Pacific wild card. The reciprocal wild cards are Robin Anderson of the US and Fiona Ferro of France.

The qualifying wild cards include 16-year-old Taylah Preston, who was recently named the Australian female junior athlete of the year (Sekulic was the male junior athlete of the year).The complete list of qualifying wild cards is here.

The Coffee Bowl J1 in Costa Rica began today with qualifying, with the main draw scheduled to begin on Monday. As is customary, many Americans have made the trip; unfortunately, according to the tournament website, there will be no spectators allowed this year due to the pandemic. I said yesterday that 2000 spectators are extremely rare at junior events, but this tournament has always had impressive attendance at its night matches, and that is part of what has made it so popular with American juniors over the years. The order of play is not up on the ITF junior site, but is available at the tournament website. The girls qualifying draw of 32 did not fill, with the top eight seeds receiving byes.

At the rain-plagued J3 in India, Anya Murthy claimed the doubles title, with partner Lanlana Tararudee of Thailand. The top seeds defeated No. 3 seeds Vaishnavi Adkar of India and Rutuja Chaphalkar of the United States 7-5, 7-5 in the final. Murthy reached the semifinals in singles.