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Karimov Stomachs Quick Loss From Start

Tennis: Abrams cruises to victory in one hour, 10 minutes in pre-qualifier semifinal, 6-2, 6-1.


UNIVERSAL CITY — Jenia Karimov was up against it from the start.

His opponent was seventh-seeded Geoff Abrams of Newport Beach, a big powerful serve-and-volley player who was undefeated in dual-match play during the college season and helped Stanford win its fourth consecutive NCAA men's championship in May.

To make matters worse, the late morning temperature was soaring and Karimov wasn't in top form.

"My stomach was feeling kind of funny today," the Encino resident said.

Abrams took advantage early and needed just one hour and 10 minutes to eliminate Karimov, 6-2, 6-1, Saturday in a semifinal match of the Mercedes-Benz Cup pre-qualifier at The Racquet Centre.

And Karimov needed just a couple of minutes after the match to find the men's locker room and become ill.

"Probably food poisoning," said Karimov, who wasn't sure why his stomach wasn't cooperating.

"I'm just happy to be in the semifinals, I haven't played in tournaments since May."

Abrams, who said he wasn't affected by the heat because he recently returned from playing satellite tournaments in Oklahoma and Texas, used an array of powerful serves and booming overheads to dismantle Karimov in a hurry.

Karimov, a baseline player who was a Division III All-American at Cal Lutheran, opened the match by holding serve, but was then broken twice and lost five consecutive games.

Karimov, 24, seemed to wilt under the hot sun and powerful serve of Abrams, who used five aces and six service winners to win the first set, 6-2.

"I usually return better than I did today," Karimov said.

Karimov wasn't the only player on the court disappointed with his performance.

Abrams, who at 6 feet 5, 185 pounds towered over his 6-2, 165-pound opponent, showed signs of frustration.

"I was a little off on my [ground strokes] today and made a lot of

unforced errors," he said.

"And I probably only made about 40 percent of my first serves."

Abrams, 20, who has two years remaining at Stanford, broke Karimov's serve to open the second set and went up 2-0.

Karimov held serve for the third and final time, benefiting from three unforced errors by Abrams to stay in the set, 2-1.

But Abrams reeled off four consecutive games, never losing more than two points in any game.

Abrams will face UCLA's Noah Newman of Los Angeles in the final today at 11 a.m.

The winner will advance to a qualifier from which four players will earn berths in the Mercedes-Benz Cup July 27-Aug. 2.

Newman overcame Zack Fleishman of Playa del Rey, 4-6, 7-6 (8-6), 7-5, in a competitive match that lasted 2:20.

Fleishman was serving for the match at 5-4 in the third set, but Newman broke back to pull even before winning the final two games.

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