Take Five: McNally rules in Midland to break Top 100; Paul stuns Nadal in Paris
Caty McNally triumphs in Midland, breaks into Top 100
Welcome to the Top 100, Caty McNally. The 20-year-old Cincinnati native triumphed at the Dow Corning Tennis Classic in Midland, Mich. last week to win the biggest title of her career.
McNally's triumph was her second in Midland. In 2019 as an 18-year-old, she won the singles title when it was a W100 on the ITF calendar. This year, it's a step up: The event was elevated from a USTA Pro Circuit event to a WTA 125 Series event in 2021, positioning it between ITF World Tennis Tour and WTA Tour levels.
Five wins for McNally last week improved her win-loss record over the last five months to 25-11, and 15-3 since the US Open. Seeded No. 7, she defeated Alycia Parks (6-3, 6-1) in the opening round, South Korea's Jang Su-jeong in Round 2 (6-2, 6-3), 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin (6-3, 0-6, 6-4) in the quarterfinals, and fellow Ohioan Peyton Stearns in the semifinals (6-1, 6-2) to roll into her first singles final since she last triumphed in Midland.
She eased to a 6-3, 6-2 victory over former Top 50-ranked German Anna-Lena Friedsam in a 80-minute final. Entering Midland ranked No. 111, McNally moves up 17 places in this week's rankings to a new all-time best of No. 94; she's cut more than 130 spots off her ranking since June 6, having slipped that week to No. 226.
"This title is for everyone who kept believing and supporting me through the highs and lows," McNally wrote in an emotional Instagram post that accompanied photos of her crowning moment.
"None of this would be possible without you. Knowing where l was a few months ago to where I am now is a testament to trusting in Gods plan. I’m so blessed and this is just the beginning of my journey."
McNally's reward for her late-season surge is a call-up to the U.S. Billie Jean King Cup team. She was announced as a replacement for Jessica Pegula on Monday.
Ann Li also reached the semifinals in Midland before losing to Friedsam.
Tommy Paul stuns Rafael Nadal en route to Paris quarterfinals
A career-best 2022 got even better for Tommy Paul in the final week of the regular season: He knocked off Rafael Nadal at the Rolex Paris Masters en route to his second ATP Masteers 1000 quarterfinal.
It was a notable win for Paul in more ways than one. In February, he lost 6-0, 7-6(X) to Nadal in the quarterfinals of the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC in Acapulco. Last week, he authored a stirring comeback to knot their head-to-head at 1-1. Trailing Nadal 6-3, 2-0, Paul came all the way back in 2 hours, 32 minutes for a 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-1 win. The win over world No. 2 Nadal was Paul's fourth career Top 10 win, and his best-ever by ranking.
After the victory, Paul said a lesson he took from their match earlier this year showed in his play.
"The first time I was so nervous," he said. "It was weird, this time I wasn't really nervous. I was pretty relaxed going onto the court and the day before. I think that played a role. I came out playing pretty well. He got the first set, but I feel like I played pretty well from the jump."
Paul beat three Spaniards to reach his second career quarterfinal at an ATP Masters 1000 event; his first came this summer in Toronto. Sandwiching his comeback against Nadal were two 6-4, 6-4 wins against Roberto Bautista Agut and No. 15 seed Pablo Carreño Busta, before his run ended at the hands of Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarterfinals, 6-2, 6-4.
Paul returns to the Top 30 in the ATP rankings this week at No. 29, just one spot of the career-high of No. 28 he reached in September.
Frances Tiafoe, seeded No. 16, also reached the quarterfinals in Paris before losing to Felix Auger-Aliassime. Tiafoe defeated Lorenzo Sonego, Jack Draper and Alex de Minaur en route to his second career Masters 1000 quarterfinal.
Desirae Krawczyk makes doubles semifinals at WTA Finals
Of the three Americans who qualified for the season-ending WTA Finals Fort Worth, Desirae Krawczyk had the best showing: She and her Dutch partner Demi Schuurs reached the semifinals in doubles after finishing second in their round-robin group.
Krawczyk and Schuurs bounced back from an opening defeat to Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova, the top seeds, to finish second in the Rosie Casals group with a 2-1 record. They came from a set down against Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula for their first win, and then defeated China's Xu Yifan and Yang Zhaoxuan in a winner-take-all match that decided the second semifinalists behind Krejcikova and Siniakova.
Their campaign ended at the hands of eventual champions Veronika Kudermetova and Elise Mertens, 6-1, 6-1.
Krawczyk ends 2022 as No. 16 in the WTA doubles rankings, just ahead of Schuurs at No. 17. In their first season as a full-time pair, they won the WTA 500 in Stuttgart and reach the final in Madrid on clay, and also reached the quarterfinals of the US Open. Individually, Krawczyk also reached the semifinals at Wimbledon with Danielle Collins, and she and Neal Skupski successfully defended their mixed doubles title at the All England Club.
Austin Krajicek's streak of finals hits four
Speaking of doubles, Austin Krajicek continues to roll. The 32-year-old American and his Croatian partner Ivan Dodig reached their seventh final of the season as a pair in Paris, and fourth in as many weeks.
Though the pair fell short against No. 2 seeds Skupski and Wesley Koolhof in pursuit of their first ATP Masters 1000 title as a pair (and third straight tiltle in the aforementioned four finals), their semifinal victory against Germans Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies was their most notable: A 6-3, 6-4 victory earned them a spot in the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin, Italy, which begin on Sunday. It'll be Krajicek's first-ever appearance and the season-ending event and Dodig's eighth.
As a result of the pair's run in Paris, Krajicek hits a new career-high ATP doubles ranking of No. 9 this week.
Ben Shelton wins first USTA Pro Circuit title
Crowned at last: In his four appearance in an ATP Challenger final, Ben Shelton is finally leaving as champion. The 20-year-old former Florida Gator captured his second, but biggest, career title last week in Charlottesville, Va. with a 7–6(4), 7–5 win over Christopher Eubanks.
After runner-up finishes in Rome, Ga., Chicago, and Tiburon, Shelton lost one set in Charlottesville before edging good friend Eubanks for the title. The reigning NCAA champion is the fifth player to win the NCAA Division I singles title and an ATP Challenger title in the same season and the first in a decade (Steve Johnson, 2012).
“I went in with a mindset that I was going to out compete everybody,” Shelton told ATPTour.com's Grant Thompson in victory. “I was going to bring more energy than everyone I played. I think that was a really big part of my success this week.”
Other American highlights around the world last week included:
- Asia Muhammad and Alycia Parks swept to the doubles title in Midland as the top seeds. They came from a set down in Round 1 and in the semifinals.
- Learner Tien reached the singles final of the USTA Pro Circuit ITF World Tennis Tour M15 in Fayetteville, Ark. The all-American pair of George Goldhoff and Tyler Zink won the doubles title.
- Bruno Kuzuhara reached the singles final of the ITF World Tennis Tour M15 in Antalya, Turkey.
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