©Colette Lewis 2009--
Flushing Meadows, NY--
Evan King finally took the court on Tuesday, having spent the past two days watching his friends play while his opponent, Argentina's Agustin Velotti, received the extra recovery time after reaching last Saturday's finals in the Canadian Open Grade 1.
It was worth the wait however, as the unseeded 17-year-old took out the No. 5 seed 7-6(4), 6-4, then less than two hours later teamed with Denis Kudla to upset the No. 1 seeded doubles team.
Against Velotti, King got off to a shaky start, losing his serve in the opening game, but he recovered quickly, got the break back and played an excellent tiebreaker. King gave credit to his serve for allowing him to frustrate Velotti to the point of a racquet abuse warning.
"I was serving extremely well today," said King, who also played his first round match on Tuesday in last year's Open, losing a heartbreaker when he couldn't convert match points. "I'm trying to focus on being more aggressive in general, because I think I play better when I'm forcing the action a little bit."
King used an effective slice approach shot and some precise volleys to keep Velotti from getting too much rhythm. At 4-4 in the second set, King got a break, but suddenly his first serve deserted him, and at 15-40, Velotti had two chances to pull even. But with a service winner and a devastating slice that produced an error, King brushed those break points aside, and after a backhand winner, he held a match point.
"He didn't want to give me the match in the 5-4 game, he kind of changed his strategy, making me hit a ton of balls, and not going for much," said King, who was due to start classes at the University of Michigan today. "I was pretty happy that I stepped up a little bit and ended the match with a forehand winner, so that was pretty cool."
King said the experience he gained playing in both the French and Wimbledon Junior Championships this summer helped put last year's disappointing loss out of his mind. He didn't have much time to dwell on his singles upset, however, as he was back on court for his first round doubles match, teaming with Kudla against top seeds Yuki Bhambri of India and Liang-Chi Huang of Chinese Taipei. King and Kudla took a 3-0 lead, lost seven straight games, but ended up winning the second set 6-2 and the match tiebreaker 10-6, after losing the first set 6-3.
"Yuki was beating us, so we tried to change our strategy and hit to the other guy," King said. "We loosened up a little bit and played a really good tiebreaker. It was pretty cool, it was pretty full out there with the crowd, and we were having fun."
Kudla, the No. 16 seed in singles, won his second round match against qualifier Mikhail Biryukov of Russia 7-5, 6-3, finishing with a flourish by hitting three aces in succession to close it out. He couldn't recall ever doing that before, although he does remember once hitting six aces to start a match.
Kudla is joined in the third round by wild card Jack Sock, who defeated Stanislav Poplavskyy of the Ukraine 6-1, 6-4, and Raymond Sarmiento, a 7-6(2), 6-1 winner over Filip Horansky of Slovakia. Sarmiento was down a set point serving at 5-6 in the first set, but something clicked and he played inspired tennis from that stage on. His point construction and execution was flawless, and he made a very good player look overmatched with his variety.
Tennys Sandgren and Matt Kandath were unable to follow their upsets in the first round with wins in the second. Sandgren lost to unseeded Sebastian Lavie of New Zealand 7-6(4), 7-6(5) and Kandath fell to unseeded Arthur De Greef of Belgium 6-3, 4-6, 6-4. Wild card Dennis Novikov lost his first round match to Tiago Fernandes of Brazil 6-2, 6-1.
After a very good day on Monday, the U.S. girls had an equally bad day Tuesday, losing five of six matches, not including an all-American contest between wild cards Asia Muhammad and Gail Brodsky, won by Muhammad 6-3, 6-4.
No. 7 seed Lauren Embree was up 4-1 in the final set against Laura Robson of Great Britain, but she lost the last five games, allowing the 2008 Wimbledon champion to advance to the third round with a 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 victory. Robson's forehand began to warm up in the sixth game--she said she "got more rhythm on it,"--and she broke Embree at love to get back on serve at 3-4. A forehand winner serving at 40-30 in the next game gave Robson all the momentum she needed and Embree didn't win another point in the final two games.
"I was thinking how did I win that second set so easy," Robson said, when asked what her thoughts were down 1-4 in the third. "And then I tried to bring that into the next few games."
On the court adjacent to Robson and Embree, No. 16 seed Beatrice Capra and Anna Orlik of Belarus battled for nearly three hours before Capra emerged with a 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 win. Capra was down a break 2-1 in the third set, but took the next four games before Orlik could hold, and only then after saving three match points. Capra closed it out however, and after a double fault to open the final game, she served well and stayed in the points until Orlik overhit her forehand.
Three other U.S. girls fell to seeded players. Tenth seed Richel Hogenkamp of the Netherlands defeated wild card Grace Min 6-1, 6-4; Mallory Burdette lost to No. 9 seed Daria Gavrilova of Russia 2-6, 6-2, 6-3 and No. 15 seed Ulrikke Eikeri of Norway downed Nicole Gibbs 6-3, 7-6(3). Wild card Ester Goldfeld was beaten by qualifier Luksika Kumkhum of Thailand 4-6, 6-0, 7-5.
With the first round of doubles complete, there are five girls teams from the U.S. remaining and four boys teams, not including Harry Fowler, who is playing with Ahmed El Menshawy of Great Britain.
For complete draws and results, see usopen.org, where you can also find Josh Rey's report on the junior action today.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009