©Colette Lewis 2010--
Flushing Meadows, NY--
You won't find too many knowledgeable junior tennis fans who would be willing to call Andrea Collarini's 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-3 win over top seed Juan Sebastian Gomez of Colombia a major upset. Collarini, a U.S. wild card, was a boys finalist at Roland Garros, the only other junior tournament he's played this year, and sports an ATP ranking of 562. So Gomez, the Youth Olympic Games gold medalist, couldn't be blamed for thinking he got a very unfortunate draw.
Most of the hundreds of fans crowded around court 6 probably didn't stay the nearly three hours it took for Collarini to subdue Gomez, but even those viewing two or three games could see this was likely to be a lengthy struggle. The allegedly fast U.S. Open courts were producing very long points, and neither player could find the key to shortening them.
In the press conference after the match, Collarini said that he hoped to learn how to play quicker points, more first-strike tennis. He also said that he was advised by his family and agent not to talk about his recent national affiliation change from Argentina to the United States.
While Collarini was grinding through his opening match, his doubles partner Jack Sock, another U.S. wild card, took a quick 4-0 lead on Bowen Ouyang of China, winning the first set 6-1. It got much tougher after that, with Sock needing a 76-minute second set that went to a tiebreaker in order to avoid a third. Sock trailed 3-1 in the tiebreaker, but Ouyang had serving difficulties when he could least afford it, with two double faults midway through the tiebreaker. Sock showed some dazzling touch with a backhand drop volley winner, and hit an ace to give himself match point. His always dangerous forehand forced an error from Ouyang and by a 6-1, 7-6(4) score, Sock advanced to the second round.
Other U.S boys advancing in Monday's ideal weather conditions were Dennis Novikov, who defeated qualifier Julien Cagnina of Belgium 6-4, 6-3, and Alexios Halebian, who beat fellow qualifier Bruno Semenzato of Brazil 6-4, 6-1. U.S. boys losing were Raymond Sarmiento, wild card Junior Ore, Nick Chappell, and qualifiers Michael Zhu and Mackenzie McDonald.
In girls action, qualifier Robin Anderson surprised No. 11 seed An-Sophie Mestach of Belgium 6-4, 6-4. Anderson, who has not played much this summer due to some technical changes she is making in her game, admitted that some jitters accompanied her first main draw U.S. Open match.
"In the beginning I was kind of nervous, playing a lot of defense," said the 17-year-old from New Jersey. "I was playing defense a lot through the whole match, but I was still trying to go for my shots off my forehand especially."
Anderson said she believed that getting through qualifying helped with her confidence and match toughness. Brooke Austin, another qualifer and the youngest player in the field at age 14, pointed to her match in the final of the ITF World Tennis Championships in the Czech Republic as the key to her current run.
"We were down 1-0, and I'm down a set and 3-0, and I come back and win, and we end up winning," said Austin, who today beat qualifier Sabina Sharipova of Uzbekistan 6-0, 6-1 in 38 minutes. "It basically came down to my match--if I lost we were done. It was the biggest win I've ever had. The Easter Bowl was big, but that was even bigger, because you're representing your country."
Next up for Anderson and Austin are fellow Americans. Anderson plays Kyle McPhillips, and on Tuesday, Austin plays Sachia Vickey, who was on the 2009 ITF World Junior Champion team with Austin.
A third qualifier from the U.S., Chanelle Van Nguyen, advanced with a 6-1, 7-6(1) victory over Petra Romanova of the Czech Republic.
Krista Hardebeck was the fourth U.S. girl to advance on Monday. Hardebeck defeated Denisa Allertova of the Czech Republic 6-4, 7-6(7). Both girls were rocketing ground strokes throughout the match, with most of their shots clearing the net by inches. In the second set, Hardebeck served for the match at 6-5 but was broken, and when she fell behind 2-5 in the tiebreaker, a third set loomed. Hardebeck needed some help from Allertova while playing perfectly herself, and that's exactly how the next several points unfolded. Hardebeck won the next four points for her first match point, which Allertova saved with an excellent first serve. After the change of ends, Allertova had a chance to earn a set point, with Hardebeck stumbling and falling on the baseline, but with Hardebeck just beginning to recover her position, Allertova hit a forehand wide. Allertova saved another match point with a volley winner on Hardebeck's serve but, at 7-7, the 17-year-old from Prague made a return error to give Hardebeck her third chance. This time it was Allertova's forehand that went long, giving Hardebeck a well-earned victory.
U.S. girls losing on Monday were wild cards Jessica Pegula and Victoria Duval, qualifier Julia Elbaba, lucky loser Gabrielle DeSimone and Monica Turewicz.
For complete draws and Tuesday's schedule, which will feature only half of the second round matches, see usopen.org.
Monday, September 6, 2010