Kuznetsov Claims French Open Wild Card As Harrison, Young Set Tallahassee Showdown

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla., May 1, 2013 – Alex Kuznetsov was all smiles Wednesday night after solidifying his French Open birth via the Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge at the Tallahassee Tennis Challenger.

“It’s very exciting. I worked really hard for this,” Kuznetsov said. “I had some good results in Sarasota and Savannah and hopefully I can have one more here in Tallahassee and have a lot of confidence heading to Paris.”

Kuznetsov, 26, scored a win over Canadian Peter Polansky 6-2, 6-7 (4), 6-1 before No. 3 seed Wayne Odesnik lost 6-3, 6-3 to Facundo Arguello of Argentina. Odesnik’s loss sealed the trip to Paris for Kuznetsov, who was the French Open junior finalist in 2004.

“Two weeks ago I was really struggling with my game, but after winning in Sarasota, I really gained some confidence,” Kuznetsov added. “This will be my first French Open main draw. I like how they did this challenge; the wild card isn’t given, it’s earned. I’m thankful to the USTA for giving me this opportunity.”

No. 2 seed Ryan Harrison extended his USTA Pro Circuit winning streak to seven matches with a 7-5, 7-5 win over Alex Bogdanovic of Great Britain at the $50,000 event held at the Forestmeadows Tennis Complex. He faces fellow American Donald Young, a winner here in 2011, who beat No. 8 seed Mischa Zverev 6-2, 6-2 early in the day.

Defending champion Tim Smyczek, the No. 5 seed, was also a winner, trotting by Gerald Melzer in the second set after a tight opener, beating the Austrian 7-6 (6), 6-0 on Court 1.

Smyczek and Kuznetsov will lead the night session Thursday in what’s to be an exciting day of tennis.

“We’re great friends – we’re staying in the same housing here in Tallahassee,” Kuznetsov noted of Smyczek. “Tim’s having one of the better years of his career. Tomorrow night will be all business.”

No. 7 seed Denis Kudla was also a winner Wednesday, overcoming compatriot Bradley Klahn 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 on Stadium Court. He opens Thursday’s play against Arguello.

Cedrik-Marcel Stebe took down Suk-Young Jeong on Court 5. Jeong had beaten No. 1 seed Michael Russell Tuesday. The German won 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 and will face Canadian Frank Dancevic in the quarterfinals.

Dancevic won an evening session match against 18-year-old Christian Harrison, 6-4, 6-4. The young American, sibling to Ryan, raised many eyebrows in Tallahassee this week by qualifying and downing Steve Johnson in the first round.

Top seeds in doubles Tennys Sandgren and Austin Krajicek of the U.S. were victorious in straight sets, as were the Florida State University team of Jean-Yves Aubone and Vahid Mirzadeh. Americans Sekou Bangoura and Reid Carleton advanced thanks to a walkover.


Daily updates on this tournament can be found at www.procircuit.usta.com and www.tallahasseechallenger.com. Live streaming is also available on www.procircuit.usta.com. The tournament can be followed on Facebook at “USTA Tallahassee Tennis Challenger” and on Twitter @TallyChallenger or by using the #TallyChallenger hashtag.

The tournament is part of the Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge and can be followed on Twitter at #USTAHarTruWC and www.USTAHarTruWC.com.

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