US Boys Undefeated on Day One of French Open Junior Championships; Third Seed Black Falls in Opening Round
Overall the US players did well on the first day of the French Open juniors, primarily due to the boys, who went 6-0 on the day, and didn't drop a set in the process.
Taylor Fritz, who received a special exemption into the main draw, beat Ku Keon Kang of Korea 6-4, 6-2 to set up another meeting with No. 2 seed Orlando Luz of Brazil, who Fritz surprised in the quarterfinals of the Grade 1 Astrid Bowl in Belgium last week. Michael Mmoh, the no. 11 seed, beat Wei Qiang Zheng of China 7-6(5), 6-1, qualifier Noah Rubin downed Bastian Malla of Chile 7-5, 6-3, No. 6 seed Stefan Kozlov defeated Ryotaro Matsumura of Japan 6-4, 6-2 and Alex Rybakov eased past Chan-Yeong Oh of Korea 6-4, 6-4.
Top seed Francis Tiafoe didn't have an easy time with French wild card Clement Larriere of France, but he got a late break in both sets to earn a 6-4, 7-5 decision. Tiafoe, who according to the ATP's Greg Sharko is the first American boy to be the top seed at the French since Ben Testerman in 1979, has been much in the news lately, with the CBS Morning Show doing a short feature on him which aired last month, as well as articles from Jon Wertheim at Sports Illustrated and Liz Clarke at the Washington Post. All this attention makes me uncomfortable, having lived through the Donald Young teen years, but I am reassured by the knowledge that every player and every player's situation is different. Everyone who conributes to the "hype" mentions the "hype" and I guess I'm no different, but there are dangers in junior success, which Justin Gimelestob mentions in this article by Clarke. Gimelstob was in no way as internationally successful as Tiafoe has been, but the times were different then, and his point on the dangers of focusing on winning rather than improving is certainly a valid one. Doug Robson of USA Today went out to have a look at Tiafoe today and provided this report.
The US girls were not nearly as successful as the boys, going 2-4 on the day, with only No. 2 seed CiCi Bellis and Usue Arconada picking up victories. Bellis defeated the dangerous Kimberly Birrell of Australia 6-3, 6-3 and Arconada rolled past Italian Bianca Turati 6-0, 6-0 in 47 minutes for the two US wins.
No. 3 seed Tornado Alicia Black went out to Paula Badosa Gibert of Spain, who has won two ITF Grade 1s this year and is inside the WTA Top 500, but the scoreline--6-2, 6-1--was still unexpected. Sofia Kenin, who had such an impressive Orange Bowl on the Har-Tru, reaching the semifinals there, lost to qualifier Tereza Mihalikova of Slovakia 6-3, 6-3 today in Paris. Dasha Ivanova and Katrine Steffensen also lost in straight sets.
Black was hardly the only seeded girl to struggle today, although she was the highest seed to go out. No. 6 seed and Orange Bowl champion Varvara Flink of Russia lost to Great Britain's Isabelle Wallace, with No. 7 seed Ziyue Sun of China, No. 9 seed Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine, No. 12 seed Priscilla Hon of Australia, No. 13 seed Olga Fridman of Ukraine and No. 14 Anna Bondar of Hungary all losing in the first round as well.
The boys seeds were a perfect 12-0 on Sunday.
Top girls seed Ivana Jorovic of Serbia plays her first round match tomorrow, with eight first round matches on the schedule for both boys and girls. Fritz, Tiafoe and Rubin are the US boys playing their second round matches Monday, while Henrik Wiersholm will play his first round match against Joao Menezes of Brazil. There are six second round girls matches on Monday's schedule, including Bellis' meeting with French wild card Emmanuelle Salas. Raveena Kingsley, who qualified, will play her first round match again Katie Boulter of Great Britain.
Doubles play also begins Monday. Mmoh and Tiafoe are the No. 2 seeds, with Kozlov and Andrey Rublev of Russia the No. 1 seeds. Rubin and Wiersholm are playing together, with Rybakov partnering Matias Zukas of Argentina and Fritz partnering Marc Polmans of Australia. Dennis Uspensky, who did not get through qualifying, did get into the doubles, and will compete with Bogdan Bobrov of Russia.
Kaitlyn McCarthy, who also did not get through qualifying in singles, is in the doubles draw with Sofia Kenin, a pairing that reached the Orange Bowl final last December, losing to Naiktha Bains of Australia and Black, who are also playing together this week and are the No. 4 seeds. Ivanova and Steffensen are a team and Bellis is playing with Marketa Vondrouskova of the Czech Republic, with the pair receiving the No. 7 seed. Kingsley is playing with Tami Grende of Indonesia and Arconada is partnering Kamonwan Buayam of Thailand. Canada's Francoise Abanda and Flink are the top seeds in the girls doubles.
Complete draws can be found at the Roland Garros website.