©Colette Lewis 2008--
Key Biscayne, FL--
Tsung-Hua Yang of Chinese Taipei clinched the ITF World Junior Championship this week, but he couldn't hold off unseeded Eddie Herr champion Alex Domijan in Thursday's round of 16 action at the Dunlop Orange Bowl. Domijan came from a break down in the third set to snatch a 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 victory from the ITF's top-ranked junior.
The match, played on the stadium court, had the atmosphere of a final, with the bulk of the spectators who ventured out to Crandon Park gravitating to it. The first set was all Yang, however, as he pulled Domijan from side to side and pounded winner after winner into the open court.
Domijan began working his way back into the match in the second set, and broke Yang at 4-5 to even the match. In the deciding set, Yang was up 4-2, then 5-3, and earned a match point with Domijan serving at 3-5, 30-40, but his backhand went long, and Domijan took the next two points. Serving for the match at 5-4, Yang suddenly looked vulnerable, and at 15-40, Domijan cracked a forehand winner to even the match.
The 6-foot-6 Floridian then went down 0-30 on his serve, opening up the prospect of Yang serving for the match again, but Domijan picked up his game, getting his first serve in and aggressively closing in on the short reply. Four points later, Domijan had taken a 6-5 lead.
In the final game, Domijan came up with a deft volley to take a 15-30 lead, making the next point critical. As the storm clouds began to gather over the tennis courts, Yang had control of the point, and approached the net to finish it, when Domijan hit a clean cross court forehand winner to earn two match points. Recognizing the importance of that point and shot, the usually quiet Domijan let out a "yes," then finished the match with a forehand winner in the corner on the next point.
"I knew he was tired, he didn't want to play long points," Domijan said, as the raindrops began to spatter the court where he was conducting a series of interviews. "I haven't been choking as much as before, so I knew I could do it. I've beaten a couple of players like him before."
In his run to the semifinals in a Pro Circuit event in Hawaii last month, Domijan took out Uladzimir Ignatik of Belarus, who had won the French Open boys title in 2007 and also reached the Wimbledon junior finals last year.
"I knew if I beat him, I could beat this guy," Domijan said, although he did concede that defeating the top junior was an important win.
As for the rest of the tournament, Domijan refused to look beyond his next opponent, No. 7 seed Nikolaus Moser of Austria, who didn't play the Eddie Herr.
"I know he's really good, he has a really big serve, and I don't do too well with guys like that, but I'll see what I can do."
In the girls match preceding the Domijan - Yang contest, unseeded Christina McHale fought past fellow wild card Asia Muhammad 6-4, 7-6(3), dominating the tiebreaker. Muhammad's firepower is impressive, but McHale played outstanding defense, and stayed in every point until either Muhammad made an error or McHale could begin constructing the point.
The 16-year-old McHale will meet 14-year Daria Gavrilova of Russia, who took all pace from her game to defeat wild card Nicole Gibbs 6-3, 6-4. Sloane Stephens advanced to a quarterfinal match with top seed Ana Bogdan of Romania when No. 9 seed Yana Buchina of Russia retired with an injury trailing 5-1. Bogdan had dismissed Ester Goldfeld 6-3, 6-3 to retain her chance to finish the year as the ITF's World Junior Champion.
Wimbledon girls champion Laura Robson's chance to take that title ended Thursday, when she retired at 1-1 against Beatrice Capra of the U.S. Robson, who was watching the action after her retirement with a bag of ice strapped around her waist, said she had pulled a stomach muscle two days ago, and was serving at "5 miles per hour" in her second round win. The 14-year-old from London will play the three major ITF junior tournaments in Australia, where she is going to spend Christmas with her grandparents. Capra will face wild card Julia Boserup in an all-American quarterfinal after Boserup's 6-4, 7-5 win over doubles partner Alison Riske.
Lauren Embree lost her first set of tennis in December, but the Eddie Herr champion rebounded to take out qualifier ChiChi Scholl, also of Florida, 6-3, 4-6, 6-0. Embree will face Ajla Tomljanovic of Croatia, who ended the run of 2006 Orange Bowl 16s champion Allie Will 7-6(5), 6-2.
In addition to Domijan, two other U.S. boys advanced to the quarterfinals, which, like the girls 18s, feature only four seeds. Jarmere Jenkins defeated Devin Britton 2-6, 6-2, 6-0 and Chase Buchanan, the No. 6 seed, downed tenth seed Adrien Puget of France 6-4, 6-0.
In the boys 16s, there will be a winner from the U.S., with Denis Kudla, Raymond Sarmiento, Mitchell Frank and Shane Vinsant making the semifinals. Kudla, the top seed, rolled past 2007 Junior Orange Bowl 14s champion George Morgan of Great Britain 6-2, 6-2, while the No. 2 seeded Sarmiento got past unseeded Saurabh Singh of India 6-2, 6-4. Mitchell Frank, the No. 12 seed, earned a 6-2, 6-2 victory over No. 3 seed Gianni Mina of France, in a very lengthy 16-game match. Unseeded Shane Vinsant dropped unseeded Ben Davis of Great Britain 2-6, 6-4, 3-0 ret. Late in the second set Davis injured his knee, and although he continued to play for several more games, his movement was obviously affected.
The girls 16s semifinals feature three U.S. girls, with only Eddie Herr champion Eugenie Bouchard of Canada keeping the girls from duplicating the boys 16s. The 14-year-old Bouchard, the No. 1 seed, downed unseeded Monica Turewicz of the U.S. 6-4, 6-0 and will meet 13-year-old Madison Keys, the third seed, who got past Natalija Kostic of Serbia 7-5, 6-2.
Although the top half of the draw features the two expected seeds, the bottom half is a different story, with unseeded Giuliana Olmos and Chanelle Van Nguyen reaching the semifinals. Californian Olmos, who received a special exemption due to her quarterfinal appearance at the Eddie Herr, posted her fourth consecutive straight set victory, downing wild card Lauren Herring 6-1 6-2. Van Nguyen eliminated Grace Min, who had upset No. 2 seed Christina Dinu of Romania on Wednesday, 6-3, 3-6, 6-2.
For complete results, see the Dunlop Orange Bowl page at usta.com.
Thursday, December 11, 2008