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Friday, September 9, 2011

Long Day at Sound Shore Produces Four US Girls Quarterfinalists at US Open; Halebian Sole US Boy Remaining

©Colette Lewis 2011--
Port Chester, NY--

Two days of rain forced the US Open junior championships indoors on Thursday, the third time in the past four years the USTA has sent matches to the Sound Shore Indoor Tennis Club in Port Chester, New York.

This year, the trip came much earlier than in 2008 and 2009, when the draw was down to the semifinals and quarterfinals respectively, so there were three and four times as many matches, which meant more buses, a very crowded lobby, unsatisfactory viewing options and various other inconveniences. Because of heavy traffic, the first bus containing the girls competitors took just under two hours to get the 25 miles from Manhattan to Port Chester, so second round starts were delayed, and the final boys round of 16 match didn't finish until after 10:30 p.m.

But when the final eight boys and eight girls emerged from the 32 who began the day in each draw, two countries could point to an outstanding day, with four US girls and three British boys reaching the quarterfinals.

Vicky Duval started her day by beating defending champion and 2010 World Junior champion Daria Gavrilova of Russia 6-3, 6-7(3), 6-3, and then breezed by 14-year-old Francoise Abanda of Canada, who had upset No. 12 seed Madison Keys in the second, by an eye-popping score of 6-1, 6-1.

"I was really focused and into the match," said Duval, 15. "It wasn't that I wanted to get it over with, but I wanted an easier one than earlier this morning. I glad I played really well and got through that one quite fast. After I loosened up in the first game, it was all me from there."

It was an unusual circumstance for Duval, who trains at the IMG/Bollettieri Academy in Bradenton, to be the older player on the court.

"To be honest, I was a little nervous going into the match," said Duval, who has now reached the quarterfinals in consecutive junior slams. "She's had a good win, but it's one of those matches where you're expected to win, because she's so young. For the first time, I'm the older player. But it's going to happen.

When Duval plays top seed Caroline Garcia in the quarterfinals on Friday, she will revert to her usual position.

"There's absolutely zero pressure on me," Duval said of her first encounter with the 17-year-old from France. "I have nothing to lose, so I'm going to go out there, play my game, take it to her, and see what happens."

The other quarterfinal in the top half of the draw will feature Krista Hardebeck against Wimbledon champion Ashleigh Barty of Australia. Both kept their time on court to a minimum Thursday, with Barty beating Gabby Andrews and Kyle McPhillips in straight sets, and Hardebeck downing Stephanie Nauta and Risa Ozaki, with her two wins also coming in straight sets.

Only one seed remains in the bottom half of the girls draw--2010 finalist Yulia Putintseva of Russia. Putintseva dropped Samantha Crawfored and Donna Vekic with the loss of only six games, while her opponent on Friday, qualifier Nicole Gibbs of the US, had two very tough three-setters.

Gibbs beat No. 4 seed Eugenie Bouchard of Canada 6-0, 6-7(7), 6-3 in the second round, then took on 15-year-old American Taylor Townsend, dropping the first set before posting a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory. Townsend played near-perfect tennis in the opening set, with her backhand return providing her with winner and winner, but Gibbs adjusted and stayed composed, battling back to take the second set. She trailed 4-2 in the final set, but won the final four games to earn her first appearance in a slam quarterfinals.

"By that point in the match, we were both playing sloppier tennis than we were in the beginning," said the Stanford sophomore, who said there was an ice bath in her immediate future. "I knew if I could find like and eighth wind, not a second wind, and stay in points, I was going to have opportunities to get back in."

"Down 4-3 serving and 15-40, I remember hitting this one ball, a forehand I hit into the middle of the court, and I remember thinking, oh man, it's 5-3 and that's the match. I just got really lucky she missed that ball, and I was right back in."

Gibbs said her year of college tennis provided her with the tools to handle the day's unusual circumstances.

"College tennis has prepared me very well for this type of situation, going out and playing multiple matches in day. A lot of these girls are playing elite tournaments where you never see that. My fitness could always be better, but I really think my match toughness, as far as playing consecutive matches, is at its peak right now."

In the other quarter in the bottom half of the draw, Ellen Allgurin of Sweden will play Grace Min in a quarterfinal that assures an unseeded semifinalist. Min beat two qualifiers, Valeria Patiuk of Israel and Su Jeong Jang of Korea, both in straight sets, to advance to her first junior slam quarterfinal.

Great Britain began the day with four boys in the draw and ended it with three: No. 10 seed George Morgan, No. 13 seed Oliver Golding and unseeded Kyle Edmund.

The only British player to lose was No. 9 seed Liam Broady, who fell to American Alexios Halebian 3-6, 6-4, 6-3. Halebian saw his 3-0 lead in the final set slip away, but held for 4-3, broke Broady after the Wimbledon finalist made several unforced errors on the forehand, and held to 15 to reach his first slam quarterfinal.

"I made all my returns that game," Halebian said of the third set's eighth game, when he broke Broady. "I knew I had to do that and it paid off. In the first set, I wasn't returning too well, I couldn't read his serve. But I started playing a little better, making more balls and then everything started clicking a little bit He got negative after that, and I started feeding off that a little bit."

Halebian will play top seed and Australian boys champion Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic on Friday.

An unseeded boys semifinalist is assured, now that Edmund and Karim Hossam of Egypt are through with two wins today. Edmund beat Mitchell Krueger and Filip Peliwo of Canada, while Hossam took out Frederico Silva of Portugal and No. 4 seed Hugo Dellien of Bolivia.

In the bottom half, Golding will play No. 6 seed Filip Horansky of Slovakia after Golding avenged his two losses on clay to Bjorn Fratangelo, beating the French boys champion 7-5, 3-6, 6-3. Morgan, who needed two tough tiebreakers to get past American Connor Farren in the second round, beat Robin Kern of Germany 6-2, 6-2 in the third round. Morgan will play unseeded Adam Pavlasek of the Czech Republic, who put an end to the run of qualifier Or Ram-Harel of Israel 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-2.

The Friday schedule includes two rounds of doubles for those who did not play a round of Tuesday.

The junior draws, with all of today's results are update at usopen.org.

Jack Sock, the 2011 Kalamazoo champion, has reached the mixed doubles final with Melanie Oudin. Sock and Oudin received a walkover into the final, due to any injury to Leander Paes, who, with Elena Vesnina of Russia, was seeded No. 7. Wild cards Sock and Oudin's opponents in the final, which is scheduled to take place at Arthur Ashe after the two men's quarterfinals, are No. 8 seeds Gisela Dulko and Eduardo Schwank of Argentina.


Brent said...

Moving the men's final to Monday is ridiculous. I was totally supportive of the players' complaints of being out on wet courts. The Roddick exchanges with the Open officials were highly entertaining. But, to move the finals by a day pre-emptively because some players would have to play 4 times in 4 days? That is absolutely ridiculous. If someone happened to have to play 3 five setters in that mix, that would be extremely hard, but the odds of that are very low - and the finalists are already signed up to play two in a row as normal course of business. I think it is a terrible decision. No one will see the men's final now.

John said...

Brent - spoken like a fan, not a player. How many injuries do you need to see before you realize how tough the schedule (in general) is on these players and then to minimize the impact of 4 straight match days is a pretty narrow view of the decision.

Brent said...

John, what is the last injury you would point to that was driven by playing too many days in a row?

John said...

Brent - I'm just repeating what the talking heads say (McEnroe, etc). I'll take them at their word.....why don't you send your comment in to those guys for an opinion that matters....