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Monday, September 2, 2013

Top Seeds Bencic, Zverev Advance, but Rain Washes Out Most Junior Action Monday at the US Open

©Colette Lewis 2013--
Flushing Meadows, NY--

A rain delay lasting more than five hours Monday kept the first round of singles from being completed, but top seeds Alexander Zverev and Belinda Bencic did manage to move past their opponents and into the second round.

The air at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center was thick with humidity, and just over an hour after matches began, the rain arrived.  Zverev, the 16-year-old German playing in the US Open for the first time, led American qualifier Taylor Fritz 6-3, 5-4 deuce, with Fritz serving, meaning he was only two points from advancing.

"It was more boring than frustrating," said Zverev, who reached the final of the French Open junior championships this year. "I didn't really care, but after I came [back] on the court and lost that game, I thought what might have been if the rain had come five minutes later."

Frtiz, a 15-year-old from Southern California, who is playing in just his second ITF event, won the two points he needed to extend the match. After Zverev held for 6-5, Fritz served to force a tiebreaker, but went down 15-40. Fritz saved the first match point when Zverev hit a backhand long and the second when Zverev netted a forehand. The game went to deuce two more times before Fritz finally held, but Zverev's experienced showed in the tiebreaker, as he led throughout and won the last four points of his 6-3, 7-6(2) victory.

Zverev didn't know anything about Fritz, and declined a request from him to practice together on Sunday.

"I was like, who are you?" said Zverev, "and when he told me I'm your opponent, I said I don't think it's a good idea to practice before a match. I didn't even know how he looked like or how he played--it was the first time I saw him."

Zverev, who trains at Saddlebrook during the winter, said he asked several of his American friends about Fritz and his game.

"They told me he's playing pretty well," said Zverev, who is the younger brother of ATP professional Mischa Zverev. "I knew it was a tough match, especially because it was a first round and he had played two matches before me. So I was ready to play such a tough match."

As for being the top seed in a tournament he had never even qualified to play in before, Zverev isn't impressed with that.

"I don't worry about that much," Zverev said. "I think this year, the number one seed hasn't won a major. I hope I can change that, but I don't really care about the seeding system, as long as I don't have to play someone like Quinzi second round or third round."

Unlike Zverev, Bencic has previous experience with being a number one seed at a junior slam, with the French girls champion adding the Wimbledon title as the top seed.

Against Raveena Kingsley, a 15-year-old qualifier from Maryland, Bencic was able to concentrate on the task at hand despite waiting until 6 p.m. for her match to be called, posting a 6-2, 6-4 victory.

Bencic's extensive play on the international junior circuit may have been the difference, but she certainly didn't have any idea how Kingsley would play, saying she was surprised by Kingsley's style.

"She played really flat, and her backhand was better I think, so I tried to play more on the forehand, serve more to her forehand," said Bencic, a 16-year-old from Switzerland. "But there was not very much rallies today. It was just about serve and return, two, three shots. I've been working on serves very much, and today it was working very well. If I was 0-30 down, I hit great serves to win the game."

Bencic doesn't feel her two consecutive junior slam titles have added any pressure.

"I'm not making myself any pressure, because now I can enjoy this tournament," Bencic said. "Because I've won two grand slams and this is my last junior [tournament], so it's just about enjoying it for the last time."

After an excellent opening day of the tournament for Americans on Sunday, Monday proved much less successful, with only one of the six US players who took the court posting a victory.  Wild card Peggy Porter beat qualifier Szabina Szlavikovics of Hungary 6-0, 6-4, finishing just before the rains came, but Jamie Loeb, Johnnise Renaud and Jared Donaldson all lost three-setters.  Loeb, who was up 6-4, 4-3 serving against Ivana Jorovic of Serbia when it started to rain, won only one game after play resumed, falling 4-6, 6-4. 6-1.  Kalamazoo 18s finalist Jared Donaldson had lost a long first set to No. 3 seed Christian Garin of Chile 7-6(4), and was 1-1 in the second set before the storm arrived. Donaldson took the second set, but couldn't find an answer for Garin's top level in the third set, going out 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-0.  Renaud forced a third set with No. 12 seed Camila Giangreco Campiz of Paraguay, but fell 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 in a match that finished at nearly 8 p.m.

The remainder of the first round matches are scheduled to be completed on Tuesday, as well as eight second round matches in both boys and girls singles.  All first round doubles matches are also on Tuesday's schedule.

For the draws, see usopen.org.