Qualifier Gemouchidis Reaches Boys Orange Bowl Final; Buzarnescu and Wozniacki Vie for Girls Title ~~~
©Colette Lewis 2005
The frustration was growing for eighth seed Mihaela Buzarnescu of Romania. Although having an excellent year-- climbing into the ITF top twenty, reaching the semifinals of the U.S. Junior Open in September-- she had failed to reach a tournament final. On Saturday, she finally broke through, upsetting fourth seed and countrywoman Alexandra Dulgheru 6-3, 6-0 to join Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark in the Orange Bowl girls final.
"This year I've played like seven semifinals of Grade 1 and Grade A, and I've always lost," said the voluble lefthander from Bucharest. "This is one of my last tournaments this year and I said, I want to win this semifinal to get into the final, at least now, at the end of the year."
Across the net on Sunday, Buzarnescu will find the fifth seeded Wozniacki, who defeated seventh seed Alisa Kleybanova of Russia 6-4, 6-0 in Saturday's other semifinal. Wozniacki and Buzarnescu did not expect to meet in the Orange Bowl final but Wozniacki's father had it all worked out in advance.
"I'm very good friends with her and her parents," said Buzarnescu, "and her dad said, beginning the tournament, 'you two will play in the final.' I was like, yeah, yeah... okay, we'll see, but I don't think so. But now it happens. It's really cool."
Wozniacki has beaten Buzarnescu the last two times they've played--on clay at Roland Garros and on grass at Roehampton. But Buzarnescu is confident, saying she prefers hard courts to those surfaces.
Confident too is the fifteen-year-old from Denmark, who survived a scare in the first round when she was down 4-1 in the third set before taking the next five games.
"I'm playing well right now," said Wozniacki. "and if I continue, I'll have a good chance. But she's playing well too. I'm going to be aggressive and play my game and I hope that's going to be enough."
Wozniacki will play two finals on Sunday, having reached the doubles championship match with partner Anna Tatishvili of Georgia. Tatishvili and Wozniacki, the fifth seeds, will play Jennie-Lee Heinser and Liz Plotkin of the U.S., who are seeded sixth. Beginning with the semifinals, all doubles matches are being played using standard scoring--best of three sets, twelve-point tiebreak in all sets.
Qualifier Paris Gemouchidis of Greece stretched his remarkable winning streak to eight in boys 18s action Saturday, upending France's Kevin Botti 7-6 (3), 6-2 to reach the Orange Bowl final, where he'll meet ninth seed Robin Roshardt of Switzerland. Roshardt, who had defeated world number one Donald Young in Friday's quarterfinals, earned his berth in the final with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Ukrainian Ivan Sergeyev.
Roshardt, 17, avenged his third-set tiebreak loss to Sergeyev last week at the Eddie Herr International, but was unable to pinpoint the reason for the about face.
"Nothing special," said the quiet righthander. "Today I had a good feeling."
As Sergeyev did Saturday, on Sunday Roshardt will face a vanquished foe from last week's Grade 1 in Bradenton. Roshardt defeated Gemouchidis in a straight-set second round match there, but gave his Eddie Herr doubles partner credit.
"He makes no mistakes, and plays everything with his forehand to my backhand, with spin, spin, spin. Last time we had so many rallies and it was a long match for 6-4, 6-2."
Asked if he'd prepare any differently for the final, Roshardt dismissed that notion. "I'm just going to play my game," said Roshardt, whose mother, Claudia Pasquale, played on the WTA tour. "I won last week, so I don't have to change anything."
Gemouchidis is not likely to want to change much about his game; his 7-6 (3), 6-2 victory over Botti is one of the few in his run that didn't go three sets, but he is showing no sign of fatigue. The long first set proved his mettle once again.
"The tiebreak gave me the match, actually," said Gemouchidis, who trains at former French Open champion Sergi Bruguera's tennis academy in Spain. "I was all the time down in the first set, and I tried to give everything in the tiebreak."
Botti began experiencing shoulder problems and was unable to serve with his usual effectiveness. A trainer was called to the court and Botti continued, but the energy level he sustained in his previous matches flagged.
Gemouchidis, the ITF's 173rd ranked junior, credited both his recent completion of high school and the heavy training he has done since as the primary reasons for his unexpected run.
"From October until now I spend many hours on the tennis court and on physical conditioning, and I was waiting for a good result. And it came. Reaching this point is unbelievable for me," he said. "A lot of effort, many hours on the practice court and I am happy for this, very happy."
In the boys doubles final, Marin Cilic, still with a mathematical chance to win the ITF World Junior Champion's title, and Nikola Mektic, the second seeds, take on the top seeded team of Emiliano Massa and Leonardo Mayer of Argentina.
In the boys 16 singles, France's Stephane Piro, seeded third, faces unseeded Gueorgui Roumenov of Spain. The boys 16 doubles will be an all-French affair, with Piro and partner Nassim Slilam meeting Jerome Inzerillo and Jonathan Eyserric.
The girls 16 singles finals features unseeded fifteen-year-old Oksana Kalashnikova of Georgia against ninth seed Maria-Luiza Craciun of Romania. The 16s doubles final finds Japan's Erina Kikuchi and Kristy Frilling of the U.S. taking the court against Craciun and her partner Ioana Ivan, also of Romania.