©Colette Lewis 2016--
Fourth of July fireworks were at a minimum for American juniors playing their first round matches at Wimbledon Monday, but three boys and two girls advanced on an ostensibly summer day in London that started out sunny but ended with heavy clouds and chilly temperatures.
The top seeds took the courts for the first time today, and both were forced to earn their way into the second round. Boys No. 1 Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece raised his game at the key moments in his 7-6(3), 7-5 win over British wild card Alexis Canter, while girls No. 1 Olesya Pervushina of Russia fought back a determined challenge from Maria Mateas to record a 4-6, 7-6(1), 6-2 victory. Pervushina hit 16 aces in the match, and her return, which was erratic in the opening set, improved as the match went on.
One of the most intriguing matches of the day saw qualifier Will Blumberg take on No. 5 seed and Roehampton champion Denis Shapovalov of Canada, a rematch of a third round match last year at Wimbledon, which Blumberg won 6-4, 6-2. This time Shapovalov emerged the winner, taking a 6-3, 6-4 decision to extend his winning streak on grass to seven matches. Even though Roehampton is played on the same courts as the Wimbledon men's and women's qualifying, Shapovalov knew he would need to make adjustments for his first match at the All England Lawn Tennis Club.
"It was very difficult for me, playing on these grass courts today because they're almost too perfect," said Shapovalov, who is seeded in the juniors based on his ATP ranking of 374. "I am so used to the bad bounces and there's barely any grass at Roehampton, so I was kind of adapting to my shots, accelerating at the last minute. Here you have so much time, I felt almost like too much time, that the court was slower."
Shapovalov admitted that he was not relishing another match with Blumberg.
"Before the tournament we were discussing it, and he said, yeah, I'm playing qualifying, and I went, oh, I'm playing a qualifier, maybe we can have a rematch," Shapovalov said. "And we were both like, no, hopefully not."
Blumberg didn't have much trouble identifying the reason he lost that rematch.
"Well, today, I served 39 percent," said Blumberg, who also had seven double faults. "I return well, usually make people play a lot of balls, but Denis today served a couple of good games."
"I think he played off the ground very well today," said Shapovalov. "I think the serve was the biggest difference today. I was having a lot of looks on the second, and I managed to serve pretty well, so I think that was the biggest key."
No. 16 seed John McNally was one of the three US boys advancing, picking up a 7-6(6), 6-2 win over qualifier Riccardo Balzerani of Italy in his first match at the All England Lawn Tennis Club.