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Sunday, January 8, 2023

16 US Women, 11 US Men Set for Australian Open Qualifying; Loeb and Fery Win Malibu $25K Titles; USA Claims United Cup; Gauff Earns Third WTA Title in Auckland

Qualifying for the Australian Open begins in a less than an hour, with ten US women and four US men on the schedule for Day One in Melbourne. Sixteen Americans total are in the women's qualifying draw, and fortunately, none are slated to play against each other in the first round. Alycia Parks, who is currently 75 in the WTA rankings, but was 100 when the acceptances cut off, is the top seed.  I can't remember the last time a player at 100 in the rankings did not make the main draw, but with so many women using a protected ranking this year for entry, Parks paid the price.

Eleven Americans are in men's qualifying, with 2022 Australian Open boys champion Bruno Kuzuhara, who received a wild card, facing Michael Mmoh. There is also a pod with only one of Stefan Kozlov, Denis Kudla and Aleks Kovacevic able to advance to the main draw. 

The American women:

Alycia Parks[1]
Katrina Scott
*Elli Mandlik[21]
*Ashlyn Krueger
*Louisa Chirico
*Sachia Vickery
*Sophie Chang
*Ann Li[24]
Hailey Baptiste
*Coco Vandweghe[23]
Robin Montgomery
*Kayla Day
*Katie Volynets[11]
*Robin Anderson
Asia Muhammad
Caroline Dolehide

*plays tonight (Monday in Australia)

The American men:

*Brandon Holt
Denis Kudla[6]
Aleks Kovacevic
*Stefan Kozlov
Michael Mmoh[9]
Bruno Kuzuhara[WC]
Emilo Nava
*Nicolas Moreno de Alboran
Ernesto Escobedo
Mitchell Krueger
*Bradley Klahn

Twenty-seven former collegians and one current collegian(Diana Shnaider of NC State) are in the two qualifying draws; the ITA has a list of those players here

All qualifying matches are available via ESPN+.

The singles finals were played without any rain issues today at the $25,000 SoCal Pro Series in Malibu, with Jamie Loeb capturing the women's title and Arthur Fery earning the men's title. Former North Carolina All-American and 2015 NCAA champion Loeb, the top seed, defeated No. 6 seed Renata Zarazua of Mexico 6-4, 6-1 to claim her tenth singles title on the ITF World Tennis Tour women's circuit. 

Great Britain's Fery, the No. 5 seed, had a much more complicated championship match, coming from 3-0 in the final set to defeat unseeded 18-year-old Alex Michelsen 6-4, 2-6, 6-4. The junior at Stanford adds the title to his ITF World Tennis Tour men's circuit resumé, which includes two $25K titles this summer and fall.

For comments from Fery, Michelsen and Loeb, see this release from the tournament.

The United States team won the first United Cup overnight, with another dominating win, this time over Italy, 4-0. The USA got singles wins from Jessica Pegula, Frances Tiafoe and Taylor Fritz, who clinched the third point and the championship, with a 7-6(4), 7-6(6) win over Matteo Berrettini, his second consecutive clinch, also prevailing in two tiebreakers over Hubert Hurkacz of Poland. The US dropped only two matches throughout the entire tournament, one to the Czech Republic in group play and one to Great Britain in the quarterfinals.  For more on the title, see this article from the tournament website.

Coco Gauff was as dominant as the USA's United Cup team, winning the rain-plagued ASB Classic in Auckland New Zealand without dropping a set. The top seed, still only 18 years old, defeated qualifier Rebeka Masarova of Spain 6-1, 6-1 in the final to claim her third WTA singles title. For more on her win, see this article from the WTA website.

Sebastian Korda had a championship point in the second set of the ATP 250 final in Adelaide, but Novak Djokovic saved it and rebounded for a 6-7(8), 7-6(3), 6-4 win in the three-hour and nine-minute battle. For more on the final, see this article from the ATP website.