Other Sports

Four Americans reach women's semifinals of Kentucky Bank Tennis Championships

Nicole Gibbs, who leads the race for a wild card into the U.S. Open, beat top seed Jarmila Gajdosova in the quarterfinals.
Nicole Gibbs, who leads the race for a wild card into the U.S. Open, beat top seed Jarmila Gajdosova in the quarterfinals.

It'll be an All-American semifinals Saturday in the women's singles of the Kentucky Bank Tennis Championships.

Melanie Oudin, Irina Falconi, Madison Brengle and Nicole Gibbs all advanced after winning their quarterfinal matches with the three contenders for the USTA Pro Circuit wild card to the U.S. Open all winning in straight sets.

In Friday's feature match, 22-year-old Oudin defeated another American, Maria Sanchez of California, 7-6 (2), 6-1. Sanchez, 24, had climbed through the qualifying rounds into the quarterfinals of the main draw, winning five matches to get there.

In the first set, she kept up with Oudin. The players mirrored each other as they fought back and forth. Sanchez broke Oudin, held her serve, and then broke Oudin again to pull ahead 3-0. Oudin then broke Sanchez, held her serve and broke Sanchez again to tie at 3-3. Oudin held her serve to make it 4-3, and Sanchez held hers to make it 4-4. She then broke Oudin and Oudin broke her, tying the score once again, 5-5. Oudin went on to win her serve, and Sanchez was right behind her to win her serve, sending the two competitors into a tiebreak at 6-6.

It was only in the tiebreak that one player separated herself, with Oudin dominating 7-2 and using that momentum to take the second set 6-2.

"I thought I played a solid tiebreak," said Oudin, a 2009 U.S. Open quarterfinalist. "I got the momentum, and you could tell she was frustrated. My second set was solid, as well."

Oudin, who is from Atlanta and has been ranked as high as 31, will play Brengle in the semis at 6 p.m.

The No. 2 seed, Brengle defeated Romina Oprandi of Switzerland, 6-4, 6-2.

"I try and get a lot of balls back so that it gives me that extra chance, unless of course they're sitters and that's no good," said Brengle, a 24-year-old from Dover, Del who is ranked 151. "But when I hit smart shots it presses my opponent to try and finish the point."

Brengle and Oudin have played a few times before. Oudin described their last match as lopsided, with the two of them splitting sets with extreme scores before Oudin took the third set.

"It wasn't the best quality tennis for either of us," she said. "Hopefully tomorrow will be a lot better."

Oudin is running second in points behind Gibbs in contention for the U.S. Open wild card. "I think the reason I am playing so well is I don't care," she said. "If I am playing well enough I will be there."

Gibbs advanced with a 6-1, 6-3 win over the No. 1 seed, Jarmila Gajdosova, in the quarterfinals.

Gibbs, who lives in California and was an NCAA champion in both singles and doubles in 2012 for Stanford, said the U.S. Open is in the back of her mind, but she is still taking it a match at a time.

On Saturday she will play Falconi, who advanced after defeating Japan's Nao Habino 6-2, 6-7, 6-4.

"She is one of those players who knows how to bring it when she is behind," said Falconi of the 19-year-old Japanese.

¦??Last year's men's finalists, winner James Ward of Great Britain and runner-up James Duckworth of Australia, are both headed to the semifinals on Saturday.

No. 5 seed Ward advanced after his opponent retired in the second set with Ward ahead 7-6 (4), 4-2. Ward will play American Wayne Odesnik Saturday at 4 p.m. Odesnik won this tournament in 2011.

No. 6 seed Duckworth defeated American Chase Buchanan 6-4, 6-3. He will play 18-year-old Thanasi Kokkinakis of Australia at 6 p.m. on Saturday.

Kokkinakis defeated Belgian Reuben Bemelmans 7-6 (7), 7-6 (6) in the feature match Friday night.