Saturday, September 8th-Junior Championships, Day Seven
I am the first to admit that it's been a long time since I spent the day covering just foreign players. In fact, I probably can't think of ever doing it. The College And Junior Tennis audience has always leaned toward coverage of Americans and most of my freelance is done for USTA Magazine (emphasis on U.S.). Today, there were no Americans to watch at the U.S. Open and I used the opportunity to get to know a little bit more about the young talent
from all around the world.
It was the day of the underdog and there was no better example of that than Kristina Kuckova. The 17 year old from Slovakia had never made it past the round of 16 in a Grand Slam event. In fact, the highest ITF tournament she ever won a singles title in was the Copa Gatorade in January of 2006. Today, however, she earned a chance to play for a U.S. Open Junior Championship.
The unseeded Kristina had made her way through the draw only causing one upset (No. 12 Julia Glushko) before she hit the quarterfinals. It was then she was faced with top-seeded, defending champion Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.Kristina took her out with the support from a (very) loud clapping audience of fans and today she did the same to Oksana Kalashnikova of Georgia. It was even the same score -- 7-5,6-1 -- that got her through.
Urszula Radwanska, on the other hand, is no stranger to Grand Slams. It's only been a matter of weeks since she won the Wimbledon singles and doubles title. Before that the Polish 16 year old was the doubles winner at Roland Garros and runner up in Australia. Following in the footsteps of older sisther Agnieszka, she has been a dominant force on the ITF Junior Circuit. Today she was on the opposite side of the court from her doubles partner, Ksenia Milevskaya of Poland, the
seventh seed. Urszula looked rather worn out there in the hot sun and the second seed dropped the first set, 3-6. She came back alive a bit in the second, just enough to take the breaks for a 6-2 win. The third looked to be an easier one for Urszula, but as she served for it at 5-3, Ksenia made it clear she wasn't going down that easy and rallied to break. It wasn't long before Urszula broke back and took it 6-4 in the third.
After a couple of hours of rest, Urszula Radwanska & Ksenia Milevskaya came out on the same side of the court to face Oksana Kalashnikova & Ksenia Lykina and try to add another trophy to the French Open one they got together (Urszula won the Wimbledon title with Anastasia Pavelyuchenkova.) Though there were some exciting points and long games, it was not difficult for them to take the trophy, 6-1,6-2.
The boys were not without their surprise winner today. His name is Jerzy Janowicz and he also comes from Poland. The 17 year old has never played a Grand Slam event before, or even won a Grade 1 ITF. His biggest wins were the International Spring Bowl and the New Dehli ITF Circuit. And today he was on Court 13 at the U.S. Open, playing the quarterfinals against the 11th seed, Thomas Fabbiano of Italy.
I honestly can't say the quarterfinal between Jerzy & Thomas was exciting. It was a battle of two baseliners with big serves. The few times that Jerzy did come to net, he lost the point, but he won enough points on his serve and forehand to get him into tomorrow's final, 6-2,7-6.
The other boys semifinal today also involved an Italian that didn't make it through, however, it was a very different kind of match. Mattteo Trevisan (3) and Richard Berankis (15) played some exciting long, multiple deuce games. There were service breaks and crowd pleasing points. It was really just by an edge that the Ricardis, a 17 year old from Lithuania, took it 7-6,6-4.
The boys doubles final was quite an experience. It was clear from the beginning that the No. 6 seeds, Jonathan Eysseric & Jerome Inzerillo deserved that seeding when they took control over unseeded Grigor Dmitrov & Vasek Pospisil. They won the first set, 6-2, but were a challenged a bit in the second -- until Grigor lost his temper. The score was 2-2, ad to seeded duo. It started with a warning for racquet (hitting the wall) abuse. Then there was a point penalty for hitting
a ball into the stands and at spectators (fortunately no one appeared to be injured). Then, upon hearing the punishment, he threw his racquet across the court and a game penalty was issued for a that. From that point the match belonged to Jonathan & Jerome and they took the trophies at 6-4.
I could not remember ever watching finals at the U.S. Open that didn't have any Americans. I looked it up and found the last time there were no players from the United States in the girls or boys singles or doubles finals was 1990. Tomorrow's singles finals will represent Poland, Slovakia and Lithuania, but most important they represent some of this year's very best in junior tennis.
P.S. More great U.S. Open stories and photos are available on Zoo Tennis.