Monday, June 30, 2014

More Rain Keeps Wimbledon Junior Championships First Round From Being Completed, but Top Seeds Both Advance in Three Sets

Noah Rubin beats the rain, moves into second round

©Colette Lewis 2014--

Rain was the story again on Monday, with the Wimbledon junior championships again hit by delays, preventing the completion of the first round of singles.

American Noah Rubin was relieved to have completed his match, and not just because his 6-2, 6-4 victory over British wild card Jamie Malik was completed within minutes of the day's second rain delay.

"This was a pretty important match for me," said the 18-year-old New Yorker. "This is my third year, and I didn't want to go down three years in a row in the first round."

Rubin lost to Luke Bambridge of Great Britain last year here 3-6, 6-4, 9-7, so negotiating a tricky spot in the second set was particularly important to him on Court 4 today.  Serving at 2-3, 0-40, Rubin reeled off five straight points, then broke the 17-year-old Malik's serve in the next game for a 5-3 lead.

"That could have been very dangerous," said Rubin. "He has a very good serve, so I knew if I didn't get that game back, it would have been difficult to come back in that set. To be honest, I don't want to go to three in England, with a Great Britain kid, and I got that game back, was serving well, so I was fortunate."

Malik saved two match points serving at 3-5 in the second, using his substantial power well, but he was simply too erratic to pressure Rubin consistently.  With Rubin serving for the match at 5-4 30-all, Malik netted a backhand during a neutral rally, and despite getting a second serve to return on the next point, put his forehand long to give Rubin the match.

Rubin's second round opponent is reigning Eddie Herr champion Kamil Majchrzak of Poland, the No. 12 seed, who defeated Joao Menezes of Brazil 6-1, 6-2 between the two rain delays.

Asked about not being seeded despite his ATP ranking of 539 (which should have earned him a 13-15 seed) Rubin admitted he didn't understand why, but wasn't going to dwell on it.

"I've learned that no matter what, if you want to win the tournament, you have to beat everybody," said Rubin. "I don't care if I'm the first seed, I don't care if I'm a qualifier. If I want to hold that trophy at the end, I have to take on everybody. So whether I get the toughest round in the first round or get the toughest round in the finals, that's up for them to decide. I believe in my game and I believe whoever I play I can have a good chance against.  I understanding the seeding, and maybe there was some confusion there, but it's not really a big deal for me."

Two Americans gave both the top seeds a battle, but fell in three sets.  Henrik Wiersholm, playing on Court 19 before the rain began, needed a set to get going against French boys champion Andrey Rublev of Russia, but found his form in the second set, before falling 6-1, 4-6, 6-4.  The volatile Russian seemed to lose his concentration in the second set, but he regained it in the third, digging out of a 0-40 hole serving at 1-2 in third. Rublev then broke Wiersholm to take a 4-3 lead, and that was all he needed, although Wiersholm made him serve it out by holding from 0-40 down at 3-5.

Wiersholm did have a glimmer of hope in the final game, winning the first two points, the second with a backhand return of a good serve so perfectly struck that Rublev dropped his racquet in disbelief.  But Wiersholm was wrong-footed on the next point and missed a second serve return long to pull even. A good serve and forehand combination gave Rublev his fourth match point and he converted it with a forehand winner, running his current winning streak to 17 matches.

Girls top seed Ivana Jorovic wins in three sets over Kaitlyn McCarthy

Kaitlyn McCarthy also lost her first set to Ivana Jorovic of Serbia in a hurry, but she too fought back before falling 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 to the ITF world No. 1.

McCarthy took a 4-1 lead in the second set, lost her break of serve, with Jorovic breaking and holding for 4-all.  McCarthy saved two break points in her next service game, hitting a couple of forehand winners to fight her way to 5-4.  Serving to stay in the set, Jorovic went down two set points after a wild forehand, saving the first with a forehand winner. But McCarthy made a difficult and unexpected slice that forced an error from Jorovic on the second set point, and the match, Jorovic's first on grass due to her absence from the Roehampton Grade 1, was even.

It stayed that way until 2-all, when McCarthy saved two break points but not a third. The heavy hitting from both players made for some excellent rallies, but once Jorovic took the lead, she didn't face a break point and broke McCarthy on the fourth match point to secure the win.

Jorovic had played McCarthy last summer at the ITF Grade 1 in Canada, beating her easily in the second round, and she was impressed by the improvement in the North Carolina 16-year-old's game from then.

"I played her last year and it was like 6-2, 6-1 and this time she is a better player now," said the 17-year-old right-hander, who has a weapon in her two-handed backhand. "She's improved her game a lot and she's a good player."

Despite her praise for McCarthy, Jorovic was unsure what led to her loss of the second set.

"In the second set, it was new balls and it was a little bit different," Jorovic said. "I was down 4-1, but I stayed positive and came to 4-all and, I don't know, something happened. In third set, I'm trying to play my game like in first set, and it was very good, the third set."

Jorovic will play Paula Badosa Gibert of Spain in the second round, who isn't seeded here, but like Jorovic, has a WTA ranking in the top 500. They played in March, in the first round of a $25,000 event on clay in Brazil, with Badosa winning it 6-3, 3-6, 7-5.

"I lost to her 7-5 in third set, so tomorrow I expect a big match and I will fight and we will see," said Jorovic, who is scheduled to play on Tuesday, despite the 37 first round matches that have yet to be completed.

Despite only 20 first round singles matches finishing on Monday, there were a few upsets. Tim Van Rijthoven of the Netherlands defeated No. 15 seed Jumpei Yamasaki of Japan 6-1, 6-2 and Petar Conkic of Serbia, brother of former Tennessee Volunteer Boris Conkic, won a rain-delayed match with No. 16 seed Daniil Medvedev of Russia 3-6, 7-6(5), 2-1 ret.  So far, more boys seeds have lost (4, with Quentin Halys of France and Orlando Luz of Brazil losing Saturday) than have won, with only Rublev and Majchrzak advancing to the second round.  In the girls draw, Katie Boulter of Great Britain defeated No. 13 seed Priscilla Hon of Australia 6-3, 6-3. Hon is the only seed out in the girls draw.

Viktoria Kuzmova advances to second round
Of the American juniors in action Monday, Rubin was the only winner. In addition to Henrik Wiersholm, Raveena Kingsley fell to Simona Heinova of the Czech Republic in the completion of a suspended match  7-6(1), 6-4, and Katrine Steffensen lost to Slovakia's Viktoria Kuzmova 6-4, 6-4.

No. 7 seed Francis Tiafoe was serving for the first set at 5-4 against Slovakia's Martin Blasko when the third and final rain shower arrived, and despite the removal of the tarps covering the courts, play never resumed.  With the drizzle arriving, No. 11 seed Michael Mmoh wanted play stopped when he was serving at 2-2 in the first set in his match with German Jan Choinski of Germany, as he slipped at least twice. It wasn't until after Mmoh dropped his serve however that the umpire granted the request.

In something of an oddity, one junior match continued on when all the rest of the contests, seniors and junior alike, were cancelled. On Court 19, Ipek Soylu of Turkey, who won two $10,000 ITF women's circuit titles last month but needed to qualify to reach the main draw in the juniors here, ended the hopes of British wild card Jodi Burrage, much to the disappointment of the large crowd gathered for the only live tennis outside Centre Court.  The 15-year-old Burrage, who had gained some notoriety in beating the reigning Wimbledon women's champion Marion Bartoli in an exhibition less than two weeks ago, could not quite match the confident Soylu, who is 390 in the WTA rankings and three years older than Burrage.

The order of play for Tuesday includes the remaining 37 first round matches and 12 second round matches, with the latter scheduled later in the day.

The weather forecast is better for Tuesday, but it must be said that the rain on Monday was not predicted to be as widespread or as disruptive as it turned out to be.

For Tuesday's order of play and the draws, see the Wimbledon website.