Bouchard and Svitolina Play for Wimbledon Girls Championship Saturday; Peliwo Saves Five Match Points to Beat Krueger and Advance to Third Straight Junior Slam Final Against Defending Champion Saville on Sunday
|Eugenie Bouchard reaches her first junior slam final|
This year's Wimbledon Junior Championships have been all about the Canadians and the weather, with the weekend's finals likely to continue those themes. On Saturday, Montreal's Eugenie Bouchard faces Elina Svitolina of Ukraine for the girls championship on Court 1, and on Sunday, Vancouver's Filip Peliwo meets defending champion Luke Saville of Australia for the boys title, with rain forecast for both days. A Canadian junior has never won a junior slam single championship.
Bouchard, the No. 5 seed, has played four Wimbledons and eight other junior slams, but this will be her first trip to a singles final. After defeating No. 11 seed and Orange Bowl champion Anett Kontaveit of Estonia 7-6(3), 6-4 in a rain-delayed semifinal match, Bouchard will try to deny Svitolina her second junior slam title, while adding a Wimbledon singles title to the girls doubles championship she collected last year with Grace Min.
|Elina Svitolina will play for her second junior slam singles title Saturday|
Svitolina, the 2010 Roland Garros girls champion, prevented an all-Canadian final when she came from behind to beat 15-year-old Francoise Abanda 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 in the semifinals. Trailing 2-0 in the final set, the third-seeded Svitolina, who turns 18 in September, drew on her experience to win the final six games of the match.
"I started not so good, did a lot of mistakes, and she started good and was focused," Svitolina said of the early stages of the third set. "I lost my serve and knew I needed to be more focused or she would win. My head was somewhere out of the court, but then ball by ball and step by step I went, and I was playing well and feeling good."
Svitolina said she thought Abanda might have let a correction call on a serve bother her at a key stage in the third set.
"When it was 3-2 for me, the referee made a mistake and we had to replay her serve. At 15-30, on her first serve the linesman called out, but it was good. I didn't play, because of the call and we replay the point and I win an important point."
Asked if her experience may have been a factor in shifting the momentum, Svitolina said she thought it was, but had nothing but praise for the young Canadian.
"She's young, but she's a great player," said Svitolina, who played Fed Cup for Ukraine against the US back in April. "I think she has a great future."
Bouchard won the only match she and Svitolina have played on the ITF junior circuit at the 2010 Orange Bowl, the last junior tournament the Ukrainian played until this Wimbledon.
"I beat her there and she was the second seed, so that was a good win for me," said Bouchard, 18. "But that was a long time ago, things change, it was a different surface, different tournament, different everything. But she's definitely a tough opponent."
Bouchard had planned to play only junior slams this year, her final year of eligibility, but she played last week at the ITF Grade 1 Roehampton, winning both the singles and doubles, and felt that was the perfect preparation.
"It got me six more matches under my belt, and I felt like I'm used to the grass now," said Bouchard. "I'm starting to like it more, I think my game goes well on the grass, and now I'm moving forward, playing aggressively and I was able to practice that last week."
Svitolina is happy to be back in a final and despite her success on clay, she is comfortable on grass.
"I like to play on grass and I got used to it this week," said Svitolina. "It was great to play here and I hope to play good tomorrow."
Svitolina has the experience, but she won in her first junior slam final at Roland Garros, so she knows it doesn't guarantee her a victory.
Saville is in a similar position, but the defending boys Wimbledon champion, who has now reached a junior slam final for the fourth time, doesn't actually dwarf his opponent in that department. Peliwo is in his third straight final, and although he lost the first two, he may feel as if he's playing with house money after saving five match points in his 5-7, 7-5(3), 6-3 win over Mitchell Krueger.
With the matches starting just over four hours late due to rain that finally stopped around 2:30 p.m., Peliwo, seeded fourth, and Krueger, seeded eighth, didn't have the luxury of their usual pre-match routine and it showed.
Peliwo started without much rhythm and couldn't rely on his serve, falling behind a break early in both the first and second sets. The atmosphere was nearly forlorn, with just a few dozen spectators on Court 16, while the entire country's attention was turned to Centre Court and Andy Murray's attempt to reach his first Wimbledon final.
In the first set, Krueger was up 5-2, lost the lead, held for 6-5 and broke for the first set, although it took him five set points to do so.
The second set played out with an eerie similarity, but this time Peliwo was facing match points, not set points. Serving at 2-5, Peliwo saved the first match point with a good first serve, and the second with a stellar backhand winner down the line. Serving at 5-3, Krueger only got one first serve in, but he had another match point at 40-30. Peliwo won the long rally by forcing a short ball and putting away the overhead, then won the next two points when Krueger made errors on the forehand side.
After he and Krueger held, Peliwo was back in the same place he was in the first set, this time serving to stay in the match. Down 15-40 after three errors, Peliwo again came up with the right shot at the right time. He hit an ace to make it 30-40, then put a forehand on the baseline to force an error, although after the match he had difficulty recalling exactly which match point was which.
"One that I remember is I hit a backhand right on the baseline," said Peliwo, who recalled a Futures win when he had saved even more match points. "He thought it was going out, I thought it was out, and he ended up missing it, I think."
"I don't know exactly what I did, but I said, okay, the match is probably over, but just play the point," Peliwo said of his mindset on the match points. "I doubt I'm going to be saving this match point after I saved those match points, so just play the point, do whatever you can and hopefully he doesn't hit a winner or you make a stupid error, and I ended up hitting winners instead."
Krueger couldn't find much to regret in his choice of shots during those critical moments.
"I can't really remember all the match points, but from what I can remember, it wasn't me who made an error," Krueger said. "I was in the position I wanted to be in and I didn't win the last point. I suppose I could have tried a bigger serve or a bigger shot, but I can't second-guess myself. I put myself where I wanted to be, I got as close as you can get."
Peliwo thinks he will approach his third straight junior slam final a little differently because of how he got there this time.
"I'm not saying I should have lost today, but I could have easily done so," Peliwo said. "So I'm happy to be in the final. I'm not completely satisfied with it, because I want to win obviously, but what I didn't do in the French Open was go for my shots, play loose. I was playing tight, so I think I'll just go out and enjoy the moment, not really think about the result."
Krueger is hoping to learn from his loss, as he prepares for the USTA Nationals and a shot at a US Open wild card in Kalamazoo next month. One lesson he would like to master is closing out an opponent when he has the chance.
"This is three times in four tournaments that I've lost on this trip having match points," said Krueger with a sigh. "I lost in Milan to Quinzi when I had match points, and against Julien Cagnina last week I had match points. It's too many. But all the matches I'm losing are against good players, and all close. I can't complain. I'm playing well."
Saville may have been able to handle Peliwo in the Australian Open final 6-3, 5-7, 6-4, but he is expecting another close match on Sunday.
"I don't think he has any distinct weaknesses," said Saville, who beat No. 3 seed Gianluigi Quinzi 6-3, 6-4 in the shortest of Friday's semifinals. "He's a very good mover, a very good competitor, good off the ground. Even though he's a pretty small kid, he's got a great serve. I think I've got to play my game, be very aggressive and take it to him. I'm going to have to win, he's not going to make many errors and give me the win. I think it's going to be a tough match."
Saville is attempting to become the first player to repeat as Wimbledon boys champion since current UCLA men's coach Billy Martin accomplished that feat in 1973 and 1974.
The doubles semifinals are scheduled for Saturday and the finals on Sunday, but whether they will be the normal advantage sets or the match tiebreaker format that has been in place due to all the rain will depend on Saturday's weather.
A US girl is certain to be in the final, as is a Canadian girl, with the two mixed North American pairs playing each other. Bouchard and Taylor Townsend, the top seeds, will face No. 4 seeds Abanda and Sachia Vickery in one semifinal. In the other, Russia's Daria Gavrilova and Svitolina, the No. 2 seeds, will play Belinda Bencic of Switzerland and Ana Konjuh of Croatia, the No. 7 seeds. Those matches are after suitable rest, following the girls final at 1 p.m., and not before 3 p.m.
The boys doubles semifinals will kick off the action on Saturday and will be on Show Court 18.
In the first match, unseeded wild cards Evan Hoyt of Great Britain and Wayne Montgomery of South Africa will play the unseeded Italian team of Matteo Donati and Pietro Liccardi. Juan Ignacio Galarza and Mateo Martinez of Argentina, the No. 6 seeds, will face No. 4 seeds Andrew Harris and Nick Kyrgios in the second semifinal.
For complete draws, see the Wimbledon website.