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Keys, Ginepri power into Australian Open Wild Card Playoff finals

December 17, 2011 08:41 PM
Madison Keys continues to turn heads as one of the nation's most promising junior players, rallying from a set down to advance to Sunday' final against Gail Brodsky.
In front of a hometown crowd, Robby Ginepri outclassed college standout Rhyne Williams.
By Steve Pratt, special to USTA.com
 
NORCROSS, Ga. – It never hurts to have the hometown crowd behind you. 
            
They had to wait till the last match of the day, but the Atlanta-area fans did not leave disappointed on Saturday as they watched 29-year-old Robby Ginepri of Kennesaw, Ga., move one match away from winning a coveted spot in next month’s Australian Open main draw by way of his straight-set win against Rhyne Williams, 7-5, 6-2, in the semifinals of the 2011 Kia Motors USTA Australian Open Wild Card Playoff taking place at Racquet Club of the South. 
            
Ginerpi will play 24-year-old Jesse Levine on Sunday in a best-of-five final for the spot Down Under in the year’s first Grand Slam. Levine recorded a similar 7-5, 6-2 win against Denis Kudla in the other semifinal. 
 
"I definitely have more experience than Jesse in three-out-of-five matches and bigger matches," said Ginepri, who lost to Williams a couple of months back in the Aptos Challenger. "Yeah, Rhyne beat me pretty good in California, but this is sports so anything can happen out there. It was a big revenge win for me."
 
"Now I go home and get some rest. It’s just nice when 80 percent of the fans are cheering for you, and I’m sure it’s going to be more of the same tomorrow," he added. 
            
The lefty Levine from Boca Raton, Fla., has climbed more than 300 spots in the ATP rankings (currently No. 164) since September after winning four titles in six finals on the USTA and ITF Pro Circuits. He said he was familiar with Kudla’s game as the two practice a lot in Florida. "He’s had a great year and I expect big things from him," Levine said of Kudla, just 19 years old. "The younger guys know the pressure is on me and they can swing for the fences. I should know. I’ve used it to my advantage many times in the past."
 
Levine and Ginepri have never met in a professional match. "There’s a lot at stake tomorrow, a lot riding on one match," Levine said. "It should be a good one."
 
On the women’s side, 16-year-old Madison Keys will meet Gail Brodsky in the 1 p.m. Sunday final. The two played back in August at the US Open Wild Card Playoff semifinals at College Park, Md., with Keys winning, 7-5, 7-6 (7). 
 
On Saturday, Keys had to come back to beat No. 2-seeded Alison Riske of McMurray, Pa., 3-6, 6-4, 6-1. 
 
"We play each other all time down in Boca," Keys said of Riske, adding that she knew to keep her balls high and to hit more to Riske’s backhand. 
 
Keys, who was watched by her USTA National coach Adam Peterson, seemed to get better as the match progressed. "I prefer not to go three sets if I have the choice," she said. "If I lose the first set then of course I want to go three but I really just try and focus on playing better than I did in the previous set."
 
Riske said she’ll head to New Zealand on the Dec. 26 and hopes to keep improving her WTA ranking which is currently at No. 136. She will then travel to Australian Open where she will attempt to qualify. "I just made too many errors," Riske said. "That’s what it came down to."
 
In the tightest match of the day, No. 5 Brodsky of Brooklyn, N.Y., upset top-seeded Coco Vandeweghe of Newport Beach, Calif., 6-3, 3-6, 9-7. 
 
Fitness was the key, according to Brodsky, who is now training with the USTA Training Center – East at Billie Jean King Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.  "I just went through a hellish five-week training period with the USTA coaches," Brodsky said. "It was some hardcore fitness to be honest. I’m happy I was able to make it through it."
 
Saturday’s Semifinal Scores
 
WOMEN
No. 5 Gail Brodsky (Brooklyn, N.Y.) def. No. 1 Coco Vandeweghe (Newport Beach, Calif.), 6-3, 3-6, 9-7
No. 6 Madison Keys (Boca Raton, Fla.) def. No. 2 Alison Riske (McMurray, Pa.), 3-6, 6-4, 6-1
 
MEN
No. 4 Robby Ginepri (Kennesaw, Ga.) def. No. 8 Rhyne Williams (Knoxville, Tenn.), 7-5, 6-2
No. 2 Jesse Levine (Boca Raton, Fla.) def. No. 3 Denis Kudla (Arlington, Va.), 7-5, 6-2
 
Sunday’s Final Schedule
 
Beginning at 1 p.m. on Stadium Court
Madison Keys vs. Gail Brodsky
Followed by Robby Ginepri vs. Jesse Levine 
 

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