©Colette Lewis 2012--
Another beautiful day at the Eddie Herr International turned gloomy for the prospect of an American 18s champion, with the last four US players going out in the quarterfinals Friday.
No. 1 seed Noah Rubin, No. 4 seed Mackenzie McDonald, No. 5 Spencer Papa all exited, while the only US girl remaining, No. 14 seed Jennifer Brady, also fell, losing to No. 5 seed Belinda Bencic of Switzerland 6-1, 6-4.
Papa couldn't solve unseeded Mazen Osama of Egypt, who won 6-4, 6-3 and will next face No. 8 seed Christian Garin of Chile, a 6-1, 6-2 winner over McDonald.
Rubin's encounter with No. 9 seed Elias Ymer of Sweden didn't begin as the American's previous three matches had, with the 16-year-old New Yorker posting a dominating 6-1 set. It was the first time in four matches that Rubin didn't lose the opening set, yet he was again unable to avoid three sets. This time the well of energy ran dry, with Ymer taking recording a 1-6, 6-4, 6-4 victory.
Ymer admitted that he wasn't in the match in the opening set, saying afterward that he thought he was still sleeping, until the second set when his game started to improve.
At 2-2 in the second set, Ymer broke and held for 4-2, but Rubin won the next two games. At 4-4, Rubin was broken again, with Ymer starting to find his targets with his powerful and flowing forehand. Rubin saved one break point with an ace, but Ymer earned another by putting away a forehand. When Rubin's tired-looking forehand found the middle of the net to give Ymer the 5-4 lead, it was up to the 16-year-old Swede to serve it out. At 30-30, Rubin had a chance, but he couldn't get his return of a Ymer second serve in play, and on the next point, Ymer cranked yet another forehand winner to force a third set.
The veranda of the IMG Bollettieri adult activity center serves as the main viewing area for Court 1, and as on Thursday, all seats were taken, with dozens of spectators standing as the third set began.
Rubin began serving in the final set, and when he lost that six-deuce game, it looked as if he might have run out of energy. Ymer, however, didn't notice that his opponent might have been struggling physically.
"I saw that he had three tough matches, but all matches are tough now in a Grade 1," said Ymer, who trains with Magnus Norman at the Good to Great Tennis Academy in Stockholm. "I wasn't noticing him so much, I was focusing on my own game."
Ymer's focus waivered a bit up 2-0 in the third set, with Rubin taking the next three games, but serving down 2-3, 0-30, Ymer collected it again, hitting a forehand volley winner and another massive forehand winner. After he missed a forehand, Rubin had an opportunity to seize the momentum, but Ymer came up with a good first serve to save the break point, and two Rubin errors, one by the smallest of margins on game point, made it 3-3.
Rubin's fatigue was evident in the next game, when he was broken after four errors, and Ymer held for 5-3. Rubin held to force Ymer to serve it out, but Ymer came up with his best service game of the match, hitting a service winner and an ace for 30-0. Rubin netted a backhand to give Ymer three match points, but he only needed one, hitting an ace, which the chair umpire initially called out but corrected himself, and Rubin conceded the point without an argument.
"My coach tells me if I practice the serve twenty minutes each day, I will succeed," Ymer said. "I was serving very good today, that was the key for me."
"And my forehand," he added.
Ymer will play No. 6 seed Laslo Djere of Serbia for a place in the final.
"I've never played him, but he's a steady player," Ymer said. "Good all round, a really good backhand. I'll have to work on the tactical in that match."
The girls semifinal in the top half of the draw features Austria's Barbara Haas, the No. 16 seed, against Bencic. Haas won the only three-setter in the girls quarterfinals, coming back to defeat No. 6 seed Carol Zhao of Canada 3-6, 6-4, 6-1. The bottom half semifinal has No. 7 seed Ana Konjuh of Croatia playing No. 2 seed Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic. Konjuh beat unseeded Rebecca Peterson of Sweden 6-1, 6-2 and Siniakova downed unseeded Fiona Ferro of France 6-3, 6-4.
Australian Open and US Open girls doubles champions Gabby Andrews and Taylor Townsend, the No. 6 seeds, have reached the final of the girls doubles, and will play Haas and Siniakova for the title Saturday afternoon. Andrews and Townsend beat No. 4 seeds Bencic and Anastasiya Komardina of Russia 7-5, 7-6(10), while No. 3 seeds Haas and Siniakova defeated No. 5 seeds Katy Dunne of Great Britain and Christina Makarova of the United States 7-5, 6-4.
The boys doubles final will feature unseeded Osama and Skander Mansouri, also of Egypt, against unseeded Garin and Nicolas Jarry of the United States. Osama and Mansouri defeated Siyu Liu and Weiqiang Zheng of China 5-7, 6-4, 11-9, with Garin and Jarry ousting top seeds Ymer and Borna Coric of Croatia 2-6, 7-6(4), 10-1. There was a lot on the line for Jarry, who now will receive a special exemption into next week's Orange Bowl's main draw because he reached the doubles final.
As in 2011, all four girls 16s semifinalists are from the United States.
Terri Fleming will play Carolyn Xie in a semifinal between two unseeded players, with the other semifinal between No. 4 seed Marie Norris and No. 14 seed Chloe Ouellet-Pizer.
In girls 14s, Dominique Schaefer is still contending for back-to-back Eddie Herr titles. The 2011 12s champion, seeded ninth in the 14s this year, reached the semifinals with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Madeline Meredith of the US and will play No. 7 seed Fanni Stollar of Hungary Saturday. Stollar upset top seed Usue Arconada of the US 7-6(3), 6-3. In the other 14s semifinal, No. 3 seed Sofia Kenin of the US will play Zhanian Wei of China. Kenin beat No. 8 seed Siqi Cao of China 6-3, 6-0.
The girls 12s top seed Abigail Desiatnikov of the US will play No. 8 seed Ellie Douglas, also of the US in one semifinal, with No. 12 seed Jiaqi Ren of China facing No. 10 seed Anastasia Potapova of Russia in the other.
In the boys 16s, the top two seeds advanced to the semifinals. No. 1 Ku Keon Kang of Korea will play unseeded Walker Duncan of the US and No. 2 seed Jordi Arconada of Argentina meets unseeded Soon Woo Kwon of Korea.
IMG Academy student Gianni Ross, the No. 13 seed, reached the boys 14s semifinals, where he will play No. 4 seed Evan Zhu, assuring a US finalist in that division. Top seed Orlando Luz of Brazil will face No. 3 seed Chanyeong Oh of Korea in the other semifinal.
The boys 12s is the only younger age division without a semifinalist from the US. Top seed Yshai Oliel of Israel plays No. 3 seed Nikolay Vylegzhanin of Russia and No. 16 seed Rudolf Molleker of Germany faces unseeded Alen Avidzba of Russia.