©Colette Lewis 2007--
The stunning news that Roger Federer had lost to Guillermo Canas for the second time in two weeks may have been Tuesday evening's big buzz-producer, but the Luxilon Cup also produced a match featuring two tiebreaks with a 6-2 set sandwiched in between.
Unlike Canas's win over Federer, however, Devin Britton's 6-7 (2), 6-2, 7-6 (5) victory over fellow Bollettieri student Austin Krajicek wasn't an upset. Instead it was another chapter in a rivalry that has already produced several memorable matches.
As the last match of the day, the two 16-year-olds didn't have much of an audience, although Nicole Vaidisova, who will meet Serena Williams in a Wednesday evening quarterfinal match, stopped by to watch her Bollettieri pals play a few games.
The points were short, with both players serving well and approaching the net often. Neither's game exhibits any of the usual junior reluctance to volley, and compared to the other seven matches played prior to theirs, it was a completely different style of tennis.
The third set moved inexorably toward a tiebreak, with neither player dropping serve. Krajicek was in the precarious position of serving to stay in the match at 4-5 and 5-6, but showed no signs of any nervousness. In the tiebreak, while the roars from the stadium floated out to Court A, Britton took a 4-2 lead at the change, but Krajicek soon worked his way to a match point, up 6-5, with Britton serving.
Britton missed his first serve, but his second produced a chance for a volley, and he caught Krajicek leaning the wrong way. Attempting to change direction to at least get a racquet on the shot, Krajicek lost his footing, and his racquet preceding him, tumbled to the ground. Unhurt, Krajicek got up to change ends, and when his forehand pass sailed long on the next point, Britton had his chance to finish.
As Britton had, Krajicek missed his first serve. But Britton timed the second serve, scorching a backhand return down the line for the match.
"I decided I was going to go for it and come in off it," said Britton. "I wasn't really expecting to hit a winner."
Asked about the draw, which pitted two of the four Americans in the 12-player field against each other, Britton admitted some disappointment.
"It was a little bit of a bummer," said the native of Jackson, Mississippi, who recently won his first ITF event in El Salvador. "There's all these other guys that we'd never played before. We practice with each other, we know how each other play, we pretty much know what to do against each other. He's a tough opponent for me, because his passing shots are so good. But I was guessing pretty well, and that's the best I've served in a while."
"We always have good matches," Krajicek, of Brandon Florida, said. "Devin played well, he deserved it. Hopefully we'll have many more battles in the future."
And speaking of battles, Allie Will of the U.S. and Maria Mokh of Russia had a doozy, dueling for over three hours before Will emerged with a 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 win.
Will credited her fitness for the win, and also mentioned her mental strength as an important key.
"I fought for every point," said the 2006 Orange Bowl 16s champion, competing on the same courts where she won that title three months ago. "I stayed calm and took my time between points."
Mohk could often be heard shrieking in frustration and that too provided Will with an edge.
"It helps me, it makes me feel like I've accomplished something when she does that--I'm getting to her," said the Boca Raton resident, who turns 16 next month. "Some people show their emotions differently--sometimes I let out a few things--but I try to remain focused. I think that was really the main part of the match."
In a much shorter match, Californian Julia Boserup defeated Nastassya Burnett of Italy 6-3, 6-0, and Jamie Hampton of Alabama eliminated Brooke Bolender of Florida 6-3, 6-2.
Petra Martic of Croatia defeated Tara Moore of Great Britain 6-2, 6-4. Moore was a substitute for Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal, who withdrew prior to the day's first match due to back problems.
In other boys' action, Mike McClune of California dismissed Matt Reid of Australia 6-1, 7-5 to earn a shot at No. 1 seed Fernando Romboli of Brazil. Gastao Elias of Portugal won another all-Bollettieri contest, when he defeated Giacomo Miccini of Italy 6-3, 3-6, 6-1.
Tyler Hochwalt of Arizona overcame a determined Guido Pella of Argentina 7-6 (5), 6-3. Hochwalt let an early break slip away, but took the tiebreak in an unusual fashion.
"I was up 6-5 serving," said Hochwalt, who turned 18 last month, "and we got into an eight-ball rally. He pulled me wide on the forehand side, and I hit it back to his backhand, and he hit it up the line. It was a close ball, it was in, and he said something like c'mon or something like that, and it was a hindrance. The chair immediately called it."
After losing the tiebreak due to that premature celebration, Pella immediately fell behind 2-0 in the second set, and couldn't recover.
Wednesday will feature the seeds' first action of the tournament, beginning at 11 a.m. For full draws, see the Sony Ericsson website.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007