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Brian Baker’s three-set thriller puts him into Semifinal Saturday

LEXINGTON, Kentucky, July 29, 2016 – After 64 men and women started in the 2016 Kentucky Bank Championships main draw field on Monday, the field has been narrowed down to four each side, as the field was whittled down to semifinalists on Friday, setting the stage for what is sure to be an exciting Semifinal Saturday in Lexington.

The headline of the tournament continues to be Olympian Brian Baker (USA), a wild card into the main draw by the United States Tennis Association, who took down qualifier Alex Kuznetsov (USA) in three exciting sets on Friday, 6-4, 6-7 (7), 6-4.

unspecified-8(Brian Baker, photo courtesy of Charlie Baglan)

In the second set, after Baker had taken the first with one break of serve, there were no breaks in the second frame. The set went to a tiebreak, and Baker went up two mini-breaks, and was leading Kuznetsov 5-1 in the tiebreak. Kuznetsov then rattled off five points in a row to take a 6-1 lead and set up his first set point. Baker fought that off with an ace down the line, and then lost the next two successive points, as Kuznetsov forced a third set.

In the third set, after holds from both players to open the frame, Baker broke for 2-1 and held serve the final seven games of the set for the 6-4 third set win, booking his spot in the semifinals. The semifinal appearance for Baker is his first since 2012 after injuries and setbacks have plagued him the last several years. Baker will face night session winner Frances Tiafoe (USA) in the semifinals on Saturday afternoon in Lexington.

In the other day session matches, Andrew Whittington (AUS) survived a three-set thriller with Daniel Nguyen (USA), who was fresh off an upset of top-seeded Adrian Mannarino (FRA) on Thursday afternoon. Whittington took the first set with a tiebreak win, and was cruising up 5-1 in the second set before Ngyuen made a dramatic comeback, as Whittington failed to see the set out on his serve two times, and Nguyen won the next six successive games to take the second frame, 7-5.

unspecified-7(Andrew Whittington, photo courtesy of Charlie Baglan)

In the third set, Whittington got two breaks early and cruised to a 6-1 win. Whittington will face Ernesto Escobedo (USA) in the semifinals on Saturday afternoon, as Escobedo won in three sets, 6-7 (7), 7-5, 6-3 over qualifier Lloyd Glasspool (GBR) in the day’s opening match.

Tickets for the remainder of the week are still available for all sessions at LexingtonChallenger.com, and walk-ups at the gate are also gladly accepted. The United States Tennis Association also is live streaming all matches of the main draw on its website, in addition to providing scores and live stats.

On the women’s side, top-seeded Alison Van Uytvanck (BEL) had to retire after just six games in the match with an ankle injury, as Arina Rodionova (AUS) won 4-2 (ret.) to advance into the semifinals of the tournament.

American Jamie Loeb (USA) remains the only American left in the field on the women’s side, as she collected a straight-sets 7-5, 6-3 win over qualifier Greet Minnen (BEL). Loeb and Rodionova will play in Saturday’s first semifinal match. The other two winners of the day were Jovana Jaskic (SRB), who won 7-5, 6-3 over fifth-seeded Hiroko Kuwata (JPN) and Michaella Krajcek (NED), who ousted Sabrina Sharapova (UZB) in the day’s only three-set match on the women’s side, 7-6 (3), 1-6, 7-6 (2).

unspecified-9(Jovana Jaskic, photo courtesy of Charlie Baglan)

Semifinal Saturday will kick off at 2 p.m. ET inside the Hilary J. Boone Varsity Tennis Center with tickets available online at lexingtonchallenger.com or at the gate upon entry to the complex. Guests will be able to taste small plate creations by some of Lexington’s best Chefs, while also tasting bourbons and other barrel aged spirits from area distilleries. This event is $25 per person, you must be 21 years old, or older to attend. Mix and mingle with several tennis professionals from around the world! Tickets can be purchased online at http://kentuckybanktennis.eventbrite.com/

2016 Kentucky Bank Championships

A USTA Pro Circuit Event

Friday, July 29, 2016 – (Day 7)

Hilary J. Boone Varsity Tennis Center

Lexington, Ky.

Purse: $100,000

Surface: Hard-Outdoor


Friday, July 29 – Results
Men’s Singles – Quarterfinals
Andrew Whittington (AUS), def. Daniel Nguyen (USA), 7-5, 5-7, 6-1

Ernesto Escobedo (USA) def. [Q] Lloyd Glasspool (GBR), 6-7 (7), 7-5, 6-3

[W] Brian Baker (USA) def. [Q] Alex Kuznetsov (USA), 6-4, 6-7 (7), 6-4

Frances Tiafoe (USA) def. Mitchell Krueger (USA), 6-3, 6-4


Men’s Doubles – Semifinals 
Nicolaas Scholtz/Tucker Vorster (RSA) def. Hiroki Moriya/Yasutaka Uchiyama (JPN) 6-3, 7-5

(4) Luke Saville/Jordan Thompson (AUS), def. Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan/Ramkumar Ramanathan (IND, 7-5, 6-2

Women’s Singles – Quarterfinals

Ariana Rodionova (AUS) def. Alison Van Uytvanack (BEL), 4-2 (Ret.)

Michaella Krajicek (NED) def. Sabina Sharipova (UZB), 7-6 (3), 1-6, 7-6 (2)

Jovana Jaksic (SRB) def. (5) Hiroko Kuwata (JPN), 7-5, 6-3

Jamie Loeb (USA) def. [Q] Greet Minnen (BEL) 7-5, 6-3

Women’s Doubles – Semifinals

Sophie Chang/Alexandra Mueller (USA) def. (1) Maria Sanchez (USA)/An-Sophie Mestach (BEL) 6-3, 6-4

(3) Hiroko Kuwata/Lin Zhu (JPN) def. Melanie Oudin/Sanaz Marand (USA) 6-4, 6-4


ORDER OF PLAY – Saturday, July 30, 2016
STADIUM 1 – Start 2 p.m. ET

Ernesto Escobedo (USA) vs. Andrew Whittington (AUS) [Men’s singles, semifinals]

Not before 4 pm. ET

Brian Baker (USA) vs. Frances Tiafoe (USA) [Men’s singles, semifinals]

Not before 7 p.m. ET

Nicolaas Scholtz/Tucker Vorster (RSA) vs. (4) Luke Saville/Jordan Thompson (AUS) [Men’s doubles, final]

STADIUM 2 – Start: 2 p.m. ET
Jovana Jaksic (SRB) vs. Michaella Krajicek (NED) [Women’s singles, semifinals]

Not before 4 p.m. ET

Ariana Rodionova (AUS) vs. Jamie Loeb (USA) [Women’s singles, semifinals]

Not before 7 p.m. ET

Sophie Chang/Alexandra Mueller (USA) vs. (3) Hiroko Kuwata/Lin Zhu (JPN) [Women’s doubles, final]



With approximately 90 tournaments hosted annually throughout the country and prize money ranging from $10,000 to $100,000, the USTA Pro Circuit is the pathway to the US Open and tour-level competition for aspiring tennis players and a frequent battleground for established professionals. The USTA launched its Pro Circuit 37 years ago to provide players with the opportunity to gain professional ranking points, and it has since grown to become the largest developmental tennis circuit in the world, offering over $3 million in prize money. Last year, more than 1,000 men and women from more than 70 countries competed in cities nationwide. John Isner, Sam Querrey, Sloane Stephens, Kei Nishikori, Victoria Azarenka and Andy Murray are among today’s top stars who began their career on the USTA Pro Circuit.


For more information, contact:

CHRIS SHOALS, Tournament Press Aide

On-site: 513-312-2489

E-mail: cmsh223@uky.edu

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