LAS VEGAS, October 22, 2017
19-year-old American Stefan Kozlov just seems to play his best tennis against Tennys Sandgren. For the fifth consecutive time on the pro level – and third time in the semifinals – the No 4-seeded Kozlov got the better of Sandgren, this time 6-3, 7-6 (6) to advance to the singles final of the third annual Las Vegas Tennis Open.
Kozlov has won 10 sets against Sandgren to just one loss in the five matches, with his only set loss coming in the final of last November’s Columbus $50,000 Challenger. That win marked the first $50,000 Challenger win for Kozlov, who also has won four Futures ($25,000 or less) singles titles during his career.
Kozlov will look for Challenger win No. 2 on Sunday when he faces unseeded Liam Broady of Great Britain following the doubles final beginning at noon at the ATP Tour Challenger $50,000 event being played at the Fertitta Tennis Complex on the campus of UNLV.
Broady won a classic baseline battle of lefties as he outlasted a game Evan King earning the final with a 6-4, 7-5 victory in the later semifinal.
Kozlov, who had a match point against Sandgren at 6-5 in the second set before Sandgren battled back to force a tiebreaker, said he tried not to think back to Columbus during the match. “I didn’t think about that,” he said. “You play the next point, you play the next game. That’s all you’re worried about.”
Kozlov went up 5-2 in the breaker, but Sandgren just wouldn’t go away, forcing his way back to 5-all with two big service points. Kozlov couldn’t convert another match point at 6-5, and set himself for his final match point with a huge serve out wide at 6-all. “That was big, I needed that free point,” he said.
Kozlov spoke to his USTA coach Stanford Boster after the match by phone, then consulted with his younger brother Boris during his post-match stretch as he arranged for a massage later Saturday night.
Currently ranked No. 137 in the Emirates ATP World Tour rankings, Kozlov would love to end the year achieving a career-high ranking of No. 115 which he held back in February.
In the doubles final to precede Kozlov-Broady, it will be No. 3-seeded Hans Hach Verdugo of Mexico and American Dennis Novikov against the top-seeded team of Brydan Klein and Joe Salisbury.
RESULTS – OCTOBER 21, 2017
Men’s Singles – Semifinals
 Stefan Kozlov (USA) def.  Tennys Sandgren (USA) 6-3, 7-6 (6)
Liam Broady (GBR) def. Evan King (USA) 6-4, 7-5
Men’s Doubles – Semifinals
 Brydan Klein (GBR) / Joe Salisbury (GBR) def. Kevin King (USA) / Ruan Roelofse (RSA) 7-6 (6), 6-3