9 hours of tennis on Kunal Patel Stadium Court today and almost every player looked as if they could make the final on Sunday. That wasn’t surprising given we’re down to the final 8, where seeded players are usually starting to meet up. What was surprising was that we had no seed vs seed matchups at all, and even further still, we’ll have none for the rest of the tournament! All 4 seeded players in action today lost, showing how deep this field truly is.
In the day session, Dennis Novikov came up against 7th seed Filip Peliwo of Canada. They were neck and neck all match, and exchanged words more than once. Novikov handled the tense situation better at the end of each set, winning 7-5, 7-5 to take the match.
Novikov’s semifinal opponent was set to be determined next, with Dominik Koepfer and Bradly Klahn following them on the court. Klahn struggled all match to find a rhythm on his backhand, but in the moments he was on his game it was easy to see how he previously reached number 63 in the world. Unfortunately for him those peak moments were a bit too few and far between. Koepfer took the match 6-2, 7-6 and broke through into a Challenger semifinal for the first time. His breakthrough performance comes just a week after losing in the Dallas quarterfinal to Kei Nishikori. We can’t wait to see what he brings next!
Moving into the night session we had what is likely the match of the tournament so far. Miomir Kecmanovic and Michael Mmoh had a battle that showed they are both worthy of their ATP NextGen tags. After three hard fought sets, two of them in a tiebreak, it was the 18 year old Serbian who prevailed. Kecmanovic was ranked number 663 in the world this time a year ago, but his results have propelled him upward nearly every week since then. He currently sits just inside the top 200, but seems to show no signs of slowing down his rise. He was consistently able to play offense against Mmoh, who showed incredible strength and speed to stay in the match. Had a few points in the first set tiebreak gone the other way, Mmoh could have easily walked away a winner tonight.
After the two-hour-and-forty-minute marathon that was our first night match, the second was completely the opposite. Jason Jung dispatched sixth seed Noah Rubin in just 52 minutes, building on his impressive win over the tournament favorite in the previous round. Rubin’s skills were never in doubt, Jung was just too far into the zone to be beaten.
As we head into Semifinal Saturday the matchups could not be more intriguing. The powerful strokes of Dennis Novikov will come up against the speed and counterpunching of Dominik Koepfer in the 5:30 PM match. Following their finish, Jung and Kecmanovic will fight fire with fire and see who can play offense more consistently in the 7 PM feature match. If doubles is your specialty, make sure to get here for a 3 PM start time as the second of our two doubles semifinals will kick off the day. They’ll be looking for a spot in the championship against Luke Bambridge and Joe Salisbury. The British pair punched their ticket to the final earlier in the day Friday with a comfortable 6-2, 6-2 win.
A note to all of you in attendance tomorrow, the third floor viewing rail will be closed during the night session as the Patel family and friends celebrate in honor of Kunal. As we expect a packed house, please enter the building on Brannan Street if you have General Admission or Premium Hospitality Tickets. Only Box Seat ticket holders and the Patel family guests should enter through the garage entrance.
Thanks so much for making this a fantastic event, each night has gotten better and better. We love having all of you here and can’t wait to see you again on Saturday and Sunday!