Saturday, September 10th
Junior Championships, Day Seven
I have seen a lot of live tennis this year and some pretty unbelieveable matches the past three weeks at the U.S. Open, but today I think I've finally seen it all. From match point "touch" calls to underdogs racing to the finals, it was all in a day's play.
It was a hard fought trophy for the American doubles team of Donald Young and Alex Clayton. With a men's semifinal in the stadium and no grounds passes sold, there was a very sparse crowd on Court 11. The majority of those that were there were anxious to see the crown stay on home soil (Scott Oudsema and Brendan Evans had won it here last year).
The first set was a difficult one for the No. 8 seeds as they battled Carsten Ball (an Australian who grew up in California) and Thiemo deBakker of the Netherlands, the number two seeds. To add to the closeness of the games, Donald was having problems with his serve and even double faulted twice at 3-2. There was a break for each group, but it was back on serve and into a tiebreaker. The Americans just couldn't get a grip on it and fell in the breaker, 7/3.
The second set of the boys doubles final was a great display of talent with just the one important break to Donald and Alex for a 6-4 win. The third began to progress normally, but then, at match point, the chair declared that Donald had touched the net and the point went to Carsten and Thiemmo. As if that wasn't strange enough, it happend again at the next match point. This time, however, it was in their favor for a 7-5 win and the match. Alex now heads to Belgium to be a hitting partner (with Sam Querrey) for the U.S. Davis Cup Team while Donald will be on a Davis Cup Team of his own -- the Junior one -- as he tries to lead the U.S. to victory.
The girls doubles match was not quite as strange, thought it certainly ran tight and didn't finish the way the players would have liked. The second-seeded Americans, Alexa Glatch and Vania King, faced off against the No. 7 team of Nikola Frankova and Alisa Kleybanova. It was one of the best displays of girls doubles I have seen as the long points and games went on to 7-5 win for the Russian/Czech duo. The second set ran just as close and it looked like there would be a split (Alexa and Vania did have a set point), but that didn't happen. It was forced into a tiebreaker that went back and forth until the 3-3 tie. From that point it favored Nikola and Alisa with Alexa's double fault finally deciding it at 7/3.
She may have lost the doubles, but the day wasn't all bad for Alexa Glatch as she earned her way to tomorrow's final. It was a pretty easy first set past Nina Henkel, 6-1. The unseeded German had made her way to her most successful tournament result and she wasn't going to give up that easy. In the second set she pushed Alexa's game as she worked her own. There was nothing flashy about her play, just a consistency that made the Californian work hard on her sixteenth birthday. Finally, serving at 6-5, Alexa decided she'd had enough and finished it off in again of mostly aces.
In a press conference after, both girls were happy with their final finish. Alexa said it's "been an amazing tournament. I never expected to do so well. In the finals of both with singles tomorrow." When asked if they would play together again at Orange Bowl, they gave a unanimous "Yes."
Alexa's opponent for tomorrow's final, Victoria Azarenka, finally had to work for her spot. After going through the draw only losing a total of eight games, the Australian Open winner gave up a set to fourteenth-seeded Mihaela Buzarnescu. Top-seeded Victoria was not on her best game and was distracted by the yelling -- coaching?? -- from the sidelines. In fact, she even screamed back her self and the set changeover. The Belarus teen was not about to lose this match to the Romanian and she put her best out there in the second and third to walk away with it 3-6, 6-2,6-2.
It was anyone's guess who would win the first set serving duel between No. 4 Santiago Giraldo and No. 7 Jeremey Chardy. I really wished there was a speed gun on that court because the serves seemed to get faster and stronger with each game -- especially from Wimbledon winner Jeremy. He seemed to take the edge. In fact, when I left for Alexa's, he was up 4-1 against the Columbia. Wen I came back, however, it was a different match.
Santiago Giraldo came back from a 4-1 deficit to bring the set to a tiebreaker. The stunned Frenchman couldn't seem to get it back together and was in a 4-0, then 5-1 hole at the breaker. But wait... this was the day of the impossible and Jeremy Chardy did the impossible -- he came back and won seven straight points to take the set! The next set was an easy one for him at 6-2.
Joining Jeremy Chardy in tomorrow's final will be unseeded Ryan Sweeting. The Bahamian, who lives in Florida, ran through the No. 4 player in the world and Australian Open Finalist Sun-Yong Kim so fast that I have to admit I didn't even make it out to the match. As I ran from court to court Jeremy pounded the winners to a quick 6-4,6-0 victory.
After today it is any guess what the final matches will bring, but I'm prepared for all the excitement -- and all the court running -- for the U.S. Open Junior Champinship finals.