San Francisco preview: City by the Bay hosts its first Challenger event - UBITENNIS
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ATP Challenger

San Francisco preview: City by the Bay hosts its first Challenger event

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Young American Frances Tiafoe is the top seed, and is just one of a number of NextGen talents in San Francisco (Zimbio.com)

The third American Challenger of 2017 is underway in San Francisco, and we preview the tournament that features a number of NextGen stars hoping to qualify for the inaugural NextGen finals in Milan at the end of the season.

The San Francisco Challenger is a new addition to the circuit, making it’s first appearance in the tennis calendar.

Frances Tiafoe is the top seed, and he faces wildcard Bradley Klahn. Klahn is a wildcard in every sense of the word, having impressed since making his comeback after nearly two years away from the game in October 2016. Some tough wins, and a respectable display in Australian Open qualifying suggest the former Top 100 player is not someone to be dismissed lightly in the draw.

Tiafoe is joined by fellow NextGen hopeful Taylor Fritz. The nineteen year-old had a rather indifferent start to the year, with a first round exit at the Australian Open to Sydney winner Gilles Muller. He rebounded well though to make it to the final of the Dallas Challenger last week, where he fell to top seed Ryan Harrison. Harrison, who moved up to No.62 in the ATP rankings, does not feature in San Francisco.

Elias Ymer, fourth seed Jared Donaldson, and Reilly Opelka are all other players in the draw who could be credited with an interest in NextGen stakes this season.

San Francisco preview (Picks in bold):

(1) Frances Tiafoe vs Bradley Klahn

(WC) Ryan Shane vs Salvatore Caruso

Sekou Bangoura vs Reilly Opelka

Marco Trungelliti vs (7) Vasek Pospisil

(3) Mikhail Kukushkin vs Nikola Milojevic

Michael Mmoh vs Tennys Sandgren

Mackenzie McDonald vs Kimmer Coppejans

Qualifier vs (8) Denis Kudla

(6) Henri Laaksonen vs Matthew Barton

(WC) Ramkumar Ramanathan vs (WC) Marcos Giron

Tim Smyczek vs Qualifier

John-Patrick Smith vs (4) Jared Donaldson

(6) Peter Polansky vs Dennis Novikov

Tatsuma Ito vs Darian King

Elias Ymer vs Qualifier

Qualifier vs (2) Taylor Fritz

  • Matches where qualifiers are yet to be determined have not been selected.
  • My pick of Bradley Klahn to edge top seed Frances Tiafoe stems largely from Tiafoe’s injury last week. He injured his arm during his match with Denis Kudla in the Dallas quarter-finals, and subsequently retired from the doubles where he was due to play with Ryan Harrison. The question remains as to just how much that might trouble him in San Francisco.
  • The same applies to Vasek Pospisil, who was obviously troubled by a knee injury in the Davis Cup. Despite winning two rubbers in a valiant defeat, the Canadian might struggle with the knee in San Francisco, though I have a feeling that he might well retire ahead of the match with Marco Trungelliti.
  • Third seed Mikhail Kukushkin continues to struggle in 2017, so I have selected Nikola Milojevic as my pick for that match-up.

 

 

ATP Challenger

Danielle Collins beats Caroline Garcia to reach the second semifinal of her career in Miami

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Danielle Collins beat Caroline Garcia 6-3 6-2 in 80 minutes to reach her second semifinal at the Miami Open. Collins became the first qualifier to reach the semifinal in the history of this tournament. 

Collins achieved her third win against a seeded player in five matches over the past seven days. 

Collins dropped just 11 points in nine service games against Garcia and hit 22 winners to Garcia’s 12. 

Collins earned a break in the eighth game and held serve to seal the first set 6-3. The US player broke serve in the third game of the second set and never looked back to close out the match in 1 hout and 19 minutes. 

Collins has extended her record to 4-0 in her head-to-head matches against Garcia and has not lost a set to her French opponent. 

Collins set up a semifinal match against the winner of Wednesday night’s match between Jessica Pegula and Elena Alexandrova, who beat world number one player Iga Swiatek in the fourth round.  

Collins won two WTA titles in Palermo and San José in 2021 but she has not reached a WTA Tour level final since losing to Ashleigh Barty in Melbourne in 2022. 

“I think Caroline Garcia comes out here and fights her butt off. She hits some really strong shots. I don’t think the set scores are a reflection of how close the match really is”, said Collins. 

Garcia beat Naomi Osaka and Coco Gauff to reach the quarter finals in Miami for the first time in her career. The French player was troubled by an injury to her right shoulder and received treatment early in the second set. 

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ATP Challenger

Dominic Thiem To Return At Marbella Challenger, Joins Wawrinka In Stacked Field

Dominic Thiem will be joining Stan Wawrinka in making his return to action at the Marbella challenger next week.

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Stan Wawrinka and Dominic Thiem (@SK_Tennis - Twitter)

Dominic Thiem will finally make his return to the ATP tour at the Marbella challenger next week.

The Austrian hasn’t played a tennis match since retiring at the grass court event in Mallorca last June due to a wrist injury.

Despite being scheduled to play at the Australian Open and at the Indian Wells-Miami swing, Thiem had to postpone his return as he wasn’t quite ready to compete in matches.

However now Thiem has decided to return as he will begin his clay court swing next week at the Marbella Challenger.

The former Roland Garros finalist took to Instagram to announce the news as he looks to climb back up the rankings.

The world number 50 will face tough competition with former Roland Garros champion Stan Wawrinka also making his comeback at the event in Spain next week.

At the blockbuster event there will also be the likes of Holger Rune, Pablo Cuevas, Jaume Munar and Lucas Pouille competing.

The winner of the event will receive 125 ranking points but much more importantly for Thiem and Wawrinka much needed match practice ahead of a busy European clay-court swing.

Thiem will be the top seed while Wawrinka will be unseeded with their being a possibility of the two heavyweights meeting in the opening round.

Play will start on Monday with Jaume Munar being the defending champion.

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ATP Challenger

Roberto Bautista Agut reaches his second career final in Doha

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Roberto Bautista Agut reached the second final of his career at the Qatar Exxon Mobil with a 6-3 6-3 win over defending champion Andrey Rublev. 

Bautista Agut broke serve in the fourth game with a forehand winner to open up a 3-1 lead and held on his next service games to close out the first set 6-3 after 29 minutes. 

The Spaniard started the second set with an early break. Rublev broke straight back in the second game and won his next two service games to take a 3-2 lead. Bautista Agut saved two break points to hold serve before getting two consecutive breaks to claim the second set 6-3. 

Rublev was playing his first match this week after two walkovers. The Russian player claimed the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam last week. 

“It was very difficult to play tennis today, with the windy conditions, but I put a lot of pressure on his second serve and played really good tennis. I played a long match yesterday against Dominic Thiem, but I felt fresh and I had a lot of power on the court. This is one of my favourite tournaments. I played one of my best matches here in Qatar two years ago, and I hope I can win one more match tomorrow”, said Bautista Agut.

Bautista Agut set up a final against Nikoloz Basilashvili, who beat Taylor Fritz 7-6 (7-3) 6-1. 

Basilashvili, who beat Roger Federer in the quarter final, rallied from one break down to win the tie-break of the first set 7-3. The Georgian player broke twice in the second and sixth games to close out the second set 6-1.  “To reach the final means a lot. I am playing well and I am relaxed. It’s great to play in front of a crowd and a nice atmosphere”, said Basilshvili. 

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