Sunday, March 18, 2018

BNP champ Osaka hinted at greatness at Stanford

Unseeded Naomi Osaka beat No. 20 Daria Kasatkina
6-3, 6-2 to win the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells.
2014 photo by Paul Bauman
   Naomi Osaka of Japan announced herself as a potential Grand Slam champion by routing Daria Kasatkina of Russia 6-3, 6-2 today in an unlikely matchup of 20-year-olds to win the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells.
   But Osaka's first big win came four years ago at Stanford.
   As a 16-year-old qualifier playing her first main-draw match on the WTA tour, Osaka ousted 2011 U.S. Open champion Samantha Stosur 4-6, 7-6 (7), 7-5 in the first round of the Bank of the West Classic.
   Osaka saved a match point in the tiebreaker and overcame a 3-5 deficit in the third set. She then fell to eighth-seeded Andrea Petkovic 6-2, 6-2.
   In today's men's final, sixth-seeded Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina saved three match points in a 6-4, 6-7 (8), 7-6 (2) victory over top-ranked Roger Federer.
   Del Potro, who almost quit tennis after undergoing four wrist operations in recent years, handed Federer, who was seeking a record-breaking sixth Indian Wells title, his first loss of the year after 17 wins.
   Del Potro also beat Federer in the 2009 U.S. Open final but trails 18-7 in the head-to-head series.
   Osaka was born in Japan to a Haitian father and Japanese mother. She moved to the United States at 3 and has trained at the Evert Tennis Academy in Boca Raton, Fla., for the past two years.
   Unseeded at Indian Wells, Osaka defeated two-time champion Maria Sharapova, former world No. 2 Agnieszka Radwanska,, former No. 1 Karolina Pliskova and current No. 1 Simona Halep en route to the title.
   In the final, Osaka dismissed the 20th-seeded Kasatkina in 70 minutes to win her first title at any professional level.
  "We've seen the power," ESPN commentator Chris Evert said of the 5-foot-11 (1.80-meter) Osaka's game. "What we hadn't seen is the consistency and the court coverage."
   Osaka recently began working with Sascha Bajin, formerly Serena Williams' hitting partner.
   "I give Sascha a lot of credit," Evert told the New York Times. "He knew what she lacked, what she needed. Her movement is noticeably different."     
   Osaka earned $1,340,860, almost double her career earnings of $1,483,053. She will jump from No. 44 in the world to a career-high No. 22 in Monday's updated rankings. Kasatkina will rise eight spots to a career-high No. 11. 
   BNP Paribas announced that it has extended its title sponsorship of the tournament for five years. The worldwide bank will become the longest-running title sponsor in the event's 42-year history.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Bryan brothers endure another title drought

   Bob and Mike Bryan aren't just enduring a Grand Slam title drought.
   The ex-Stanford stars also are suffering a dry spell in Masters 1000 tournaments, the highest level after the Slams.
   Unseeded John Isner and Jack Sock edged the seventh-seeded Bryans 7-6 (4), 7-6 (2) today in an all-American final in the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells.
   The Bryans, who will turn 40 next month, haven't won a Grand Slam men's doubles title since the 2014 U.S. Open or a Masters 1000 crown since the 2016 Italian Open. Their most recent title of any kind came in Atlanta last July.
   The Bryans were seeking their third Indian Wells title, having triumphed in 2013 and 2014.
   Meanwhile, Sock won his second Indian Wells doubles crown and Isner his first.  
   "It's pretty special," Isner, the 2012 singles runner-up to Roger Federer at Indian Wells, told reporters. "I think more importantly for Jack and (me), (it's) just getting that winning feeling back. Admittedly, both of us have not played singles that well this year."
   Sock and Canada's Vasek Pospisil won Wimbledon in 2014 and Indian Wells in 2015. They also reached the BNP final in 2016, losing to Frenchmen Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut.
    Isner and Sock became only the third team in the past 30 years to win the Indian Wells title without losing a set. Jonathan Erlich-Andy Ram (2008) and Rafael Nadal-Marc Lopez (2012) also accomplished the feat.
   Isner and Sock received a walkover against Roberto Bautista Agut and David Ferrer in the second round after the Spaniards had ousted top seeds and 2017 runners-up Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo.
   Isner and Sock also beat eighth-seeded Ivan Dodig and Rajeev Ram in two tiebreakers in the quarterfinals. Ram won last year's title with Raven Klaasen.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Querrey falls short of milestones in BNP loss

   Sam Querrey could have achieved two milestones with a victory today.
   Instead, the 30-year-old San Francisco native lost to resurgent Milos Raonic 7-5, 2-6, 6-3 in the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells.
   Querrey, seeded 18th, served for the first set at 5-4 but netted a backhand volley on break point, and Raonic, seeded 32nd, capitalized.
   The 6-foot-5 (1.96-meter) Raonic blasted 17 aces in the match, and the 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Querrey had nine.
   Raonic, the 2016 runner-up to Novak Djokovic, reached the BNP final for the third consecutive year.
   Querrey, with a win, would have advanced to his first Masters 1000 (the highest level after the Grand Slams) semifinal and cracked the top 10 for the first time, jumping from No. 21 to No. 10. Querrey was No. 11 before losing in the first round at Acapulco as the defending champion in the week before Indian Wells.
    Raonic, the 2016 Wimbledon runner-up to Andy Murray, has battled injuries over the years. He had surgery on his right hip in 2011, right foot in 2015 and left wrist last year. He also struggled with a right leg injury for much of last year, missing the U.S. Open. Ranked a career-high No. 3 in November 2016, Raonic has tumbled to No. 38.
   Saturday's men's doubles final will be an all-American showdown between seventh-seeded Bob and Mike Bryan and unseeded John Isner and Jack Sock.
   The Bryan twins, former Stanford stars who will turn 40 next month, topped unseeded Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay and Horacio Zeballos of Argentina 7-6 (5), 6-4.
   Isner and Sock dismissed third-seeded Oliver Marach of Austria and Mate Pavic of Croatia 6-3, 6-2. Marach and Pavic won the Australian Open in January.
   WTA tour -- Madison Keys and CoCo Vandeweghe, the finalists in last summer's Bank of the West Classic at Stanford, have entered the inaugural Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic at San Jose State.
   Keys defeated her close friend Vandeweghe 7-6 (4), 6-4 for the Bank of the West title. The Mubadala tournament is scheduled for July 30-Aug. 5.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

NorCal Hall of Fame to add five members

   Five new members of the Northern California Tennis Hall of Fame will be inducted during a luncheon on July 27 from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Peninsula Golf and Country Club in San Mateo.
   Enshrined will be Mike Bauer, Dana (Gilbert) Heinemann, Tad Taube, Rich Andrews and Wendell Pierce.
   Bauer, a former Cal All-American, reached No. 29 in the world in 1984. He won three singles and nine doubles titles on the ATP Tour.
   Heinemann, the older sister of Brad Gilbert, climbed to No. 46 in the world in 1983. She captured two singles and one doubles title on the WTA tour.
   Taube, a San Francisco Bay Area philanthropist, had Stanford's tennis facility named after him. The Taube Family Tennis Stadium hosted the Bank of the West Classic on the WTA tour from 1997 through last year. In its place, the first Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic is scheduled for July 30-Aug. 5 at San Jose State's Spartan Tennis Complex.
   Andrews, now retired, coached in Sacramento, and Pierce is a teaching pro in the Bay Area.

Querrey loses in doubles quarters at Indian Wells

   If Sam Querrey entertained any thoughts of pocketing the $1 million bonus for sweeping the singles and doubles titles in the BNP Paribas Open, he can forget them.
   Querrey, a 30-year-old San Francisco native, and Gilles Muller, a 34-year-old left-hander from Luxembourg, lost to Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay and Horacio Zeballos of Argentina 6-4, 6-4 today in the quarterfinals at Indian Wells.
   Querrey is very unlikely to win the singles title anyway. Seeded No. 18, he will meet No. 32 Milos Raonic, the 2016 runner-up to Novak Djokovic, on Friday at noon (ESPN) in the quarterfinals.
   Also, looming are sixth-seeded Juan Martin del Potro in Querrey's half of the draw and top-seeded Roger Federer in the other half.
   No other man or woman remains alive in both singles and doubles.
   Cuevas and Zeballos are scheduled to face seventh-seeded Bob and Mike Bryan on Friday at about 4 p.m. The Bryan twins, former Stanford stars who will turn 40 next month, seek their third Indian Wells title.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Querrey finally reaches Indian Wells quarters

   Sam Querrey reached the quarterfinals at Indian Wells for the first time in 13 appearances today.
   The San Francisco native, seeded 18th, dispatched 36-year-old Spanish left-hander Feliciano Lopez, seeded 28th, 6-3, 6-4 in 66 minutes in the BNP Paribas Open.
   The 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Querrey pounded 14 aces, committed only one double fault and won 80 percent of the points on his first serve (24 of 30). He faced only one break point, which he lost.
   Querrey will play 32nd-seeded Milos Raonic of Canada on Friday. Raonic, the 2016 BNP runner-up to Novak Djokovic, advanced when 32-year-old qualifier Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus withdrew because of an illness. Querrey and Raonic have split their four matches.
   Querrey also is in the doubles quarterfinals with Gilles Muller, a 34-year-old left-hander from Luxembourg.
   In a late men's doubles quarterfinal, seventh-seeded Bob and Mike Bryan beat unseeded Marcus Daniell of New Zealand and Diego Schwartzman of Argentina 7-5, 6-1.
   The Bryan twins, former Stanford stars who will turn 40 next month, have won two Indian Wells titles (2013 and 2014).

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Querrey advances, 16-year-old Anisimova loses in BNP

   No. 18 seed Sam Querrey, a 30-year-old San Francisco native, outlasted qualifier Yuki Bhambri of India 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-4 today in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells.
   The 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Querrey hammered 17 aces and won 83 percent of the points on his first serve (40 of 48) in the 2-hour, 22-minute match.
   Querrey equaled his best result at Indian Wells in his 13th appearance. He also reached the fourth round in 2011 and 2013.
   Querrey is scheduled to play No. 28 seed Feliciano Lopez of Spain for a quarterfinal berth on Wednesday not before 6 p.m. PDT (Tennis Channel) in 8,000-seat Stadium 2.
   Lopez, a 36-year-old left-hander, held off No. 8 Jack Sock of Kansas City, Kan., 7-6 (6), 4-6, 6-4 in a 2-hour, 25-minute night match in Stadium 1.
   Lopez leads Querrey 6-4 in their head-to-head series, but Querrey won the last meeting 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in the first round of the Australian Open in January.
   In the women's fourth round at Indian Wells, fifth-seeded Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic downed 16-year-old U.S. phenom Amanda Anisimova 6-1, 7-6 (2).
   Anisimova, who won the $60,000 Sacramento Challenger last July, had beaten No. 9 seed and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the third round. Anisimova ended Kvitova's winning streak at 14 matches.
   No. 7 seeds Bob and Mike Bryan, former Stanford stars and two-time Indian Wells champions, dismissed Spaniards Pablo Carreno Busta and David Marrero 6-2, 6-3 to reach the quarterfinals.
   Obituary -- Ken Flach, who ascended to No. 1 in the world in doubles in 1985, died from complications of pneumonia on Monday in San Francisco at age 54.
   Flach, a St. Louis native who lived in Mill Valley in the San Francisco Bay Area, won six Grand Slam titles (four in men's doubles and two in mixed doubles) and claimed the men's doubles gold medal at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul with longtime partner Robert Seguso.