Tiafoe Digs Deep To Reach Lexington Challenger Final

Frances Tiafo (photo: Kentucky Tennis Challenger)

LEXINGTON, July 31, 2016

It was an eventful day on Saturday at the 2016 Lexington Tennis Championships on Saturday, with both the men’s and women’s field whittled down to two finalists, in addition to the doubles titles on both sides being claimed in two great matches.

In singles, the men’s final is set to be a great one with Ernesto Escobedo (USA) facing off against Frances Tiafoe (USA) after they both won their semifinal matches on Saturday in the Lexington heat. On the women’s side, it will be an international final with Michaella Krajicek (NED) and Arina Rodionova (AUS) both advancing into the finals of the tournament.

Escobedo had no trouble dispatching Andrew Whittington (AUS) in the first set, claiming the frame in 6-1 fashion, and gaining two breaks of serve in the process. In a tight second set, both players held towards the end of the set to force a tiebreak, in which Whittington won easily, 7-1 to force a decisive third set. In the third set, Escobedo picked up two early breaks of serve and consolidated those breaks to give himself a 4-0 lead and would eventually go on to win the final set, 6-1 to book his spot in the finals of the tournament.

His opponent on Sunday will be Tiafoe, who played a three-set thriller with Brian Baker (USA), who is now headed to Rio to represent the USA in the 2016 Olympic Games. Tiafoe dropped the first three games of the match and fell behind Baker early, and would not be able to break Baker’s serve late in the set, as Baker took the opening set, 6-3.

In the second set, Baker struggled with his serve, and Tiafoe took advantage, collecting two breaks and consolidating both to give himself the second set in 6-2 fashion and force a decisive third frame. After about a 90-minute weather delay due to a thundershower in the area, Baker broke Tiafoe in the first game of the third set, but then was successively broken his next three service games, to drop the third set and the match, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2.

Women’s Final Set

On the women’s side, Krajicek battled past Jevana Jaksic (SRB) 6-3, 7-6 (6) after a wild second-set tiebreak that saw the lead change many times. Krajicek will face off against Rodionova in the finals after she dispatched Jamie Loeb (USA), the lone American left in the draw, 7-6, 6-1.

Both singles finals will begin at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday afternoon.

Australians Claim Doubles Title

Both doubles titles were claimed on Saturday night, with fourth seeded Luke Saville and Jordan Thompson (AUS) combining to knock off Nicolaas Scholtz and Tucker Vorster (RSA) 6-2, 7-5. In the third set, the Australian duo was serving for the match at 5-4, but was broken back to five all and then served out a quick service game to take a 6-5 lead and force the South Africans to serve to stay in the match. The Aussie tandem broke at love to secure the match, and the men’s doubles title of the Kentucky Bank Tennis Championships.

In the women’s title match, Hiroki Kuwata (JPN) and Lin Zhu (CHN) teamed to win 6-0, 7-5 in straight sets over Sophie Chang and Alexandra Mueller (USA) on the main stadium courts Saturday night. Kuwata and Zhu had to break in the second set at 4-5, as they faced two set points from Mueller and Chang, and were able to fend them off and win the deuce point to put the second set back on level terms. They then served for 6-5 and broke in the 12th game of the set to capture the championship.

Saturday, July 30 – Results
Men’s Singles – Semifinals

Ernesto Escobedo (USA) def. Andrew Whittington (AUS), 6-1, 6-7 (1), 6-1

(7) Frances Tiafoe (USA) def. Brian Baker (USA), 3-6, 6-2, 6-2

Women’s Singles – Semifinals
Michaella Krajicek (NED) def. Jevana Jaksic (SRB), 6-3, 7-6

Ariana Rodionova (AUS) def. Jamie Loeb (USA), 7-6 (1), 6-1

Men’s Doubles – Final

Luke Saville/Jordan Thompson (AUS) def. Nicolaas Scholtz/Tucker Vorster (RSA), 6-2, 7-5

Women’s Doubles – Final

Hiroko Kuwata (JPN)/Lin Zhu (CHN) def. Sophie Chang/Alexandra Mueller (USA), 6-0, 7-5