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Saturday, September 9, 2017

Americans Gauff and Anisimova Meet for US Open Girls Title; Geller and Wu to Decide Boys Championship; Wu and Hsu Claim Boys Doubles Crown; Stephens Beats Keys for Women's Title

©Colette Lewis 2017--
Flushing Meadow NY--

For the third consecutive junior slam, the championship match will feature two American girls, with 13-year-old Coco Gauff challenging 16-year-old Amanda Anisimova for the US Open girls title.

No. 4 seed Anisimova defeated unseeded Emiliana Arango of Colombia 6-4, 6-1 to earn her second trip to a junior final, while wild card Gauff won the final nine games of the match to beat unseeded Maria Carle of Argentina 7-5, 6-0 on a cool and sunny day at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

As she had in her quarterfinal win, Anisimova fell behind early, but after trailing Arango 3-1, she broke the 16-year-old three consecutive times to take the first set.

“I don’t know what’s going on with that,” Anisimova said of her slow starts. “I felt pretty confident with my game today.”

Anisimova hadn’t played Arango before and needed some time to assess the appropriate strategy.

“She was getting a lot of balls back so it was difficult to play her,” Anisimova said. “She had good anticipation of my shots, so it was pretty tough in the beginning. But I just started playing a little bit smarter. I scattered the ball around the court, not just going deep on everything, using variety.”

The parallels between Anisimova, who reached the French Open girls final at age 14, and Gauff, who is the youngest girl ever to reach US Open junior final, are unmistakable, but even Anisimova is impressed with the precocity of Gauff.

“This is an incredible run for her,” said Anisimova, who had played just one main draw match at a junior slam before reaching the French final in 2016. “I can’t imagine playing the finals at 13. She’s an amazing player and I have a lot of respect for her. I played her last year at Hard Courts, but I’m sure she’s improved a lot since then. I think she’s a powerful hitter, so I’m just going out playing my game, as I usually do, and see how it goes.”

Gauff admitted that nerves cost her the 4-2 lead she had built up in the opening set.

“I made a couple of unforced errors and lost the 4-3 game, and I got a little bit nervous,” Gauff said. “But once I got to 4-5, I talked to my dad and he calmed me down, and after that I didn’t lose a game.”

Carle’s slice did present a challenge for Gauff, but staying in the long rallies with Carle proved to be a psychological boost for Gauff.

“I won most of the long rallies and I think that brought her down a little bit,” Gauff said. “Her game plan was to make me hit as many balls as possible and once I started winning those long rallies, she tried to do other things and I started moving forward and closing at the net. I tried changing the height of the ball, not give her a steady ball. I think the strongest part of her game was her slice; I haven’t played that many players, especially girls, who have a good slice like that, who hit as many slices as her. I think her game plan was to hit slices to my backhand and move me out to my forehand. That’s what she was doing in the first set and it was working, but I figured it out and settled in.”

Gauff is anticipating a hard-hitting battle in Sunday’s final.

“I know she’s a very powerful hitter, but I think if I play my best and stay calm, I’ll hopefully be able to pull out the win,” said Gauff, who is playing in her first main draw of a junior slam. “Even though this is the finals, I try to think of it as a first round match and I’m looking forward to playing it. All I want to do is have fun out there.”

The boys final will be between the top two seeds, with No. 1 Axel Geller of Argentina facing No. 2 Yibing Wu of China.

Geller advanced to his second consecutive junior slam final with a 6-1, 7-6(7) win over unseeded Timofey Skatov of Russia.  Geller dominated in the first set, but Skatov matched him game for game in the second set and had two set points in the tiebreaker before Geller closed out the win.

“In the first set, he missed so much,” Geller said. “I think he was nervous. At Wimbledon, in my semi, I was also really, really nervous and I also lost the set 6-1, but when he broke me back in the second set, he started playing so much better. I thought it was a good match after that. I wouldn’t say I dropped my level. He started playing much better.”

Geller said the three slams he has played this summer have taught him valuable lessons.

“I tried to learn from the experience at Wimby,” said the Stanford freshman. “I was much more relaxed and didn’t feel so overwhelmed by the situation. Maybe that helped me, but at the same time, you’re expected to do better, but I always look at the positive side, the side which would motivate me. Do it again, stay focused, learned from what I did.”

The South American press has followed Geller’s progress closely since his Wimbledon final, and after a brief press conference with English-speaking press, he did several more minutes of interviews in Spanish with six or eight South American journalists.

“At the beginning of the year I think no one really knew and now look at this,” Geller said gesturing at the group gathered around a table in the media center. “I didn’t have that many matches before because of school, but I started learning from my experiences and that’s what I did. In the three slams, I think mentally I managed the situations much better every time, so that’s a good thing.”

Geller’s opponent in the final had to save two match points to advance to his first slam final. Wu trailed unseeded Emil Ruusuvuori of Finland 5-6, 15-40 serving in the third set, but survived to claim a 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(4) victory.

Wu said he briefly considered the possibility of a loss facing those two match points, “but it’s fine, because it’s my service game,” the 17-year-old from Hangzhou said. “So I think about just to put my first serve in and let’s see.”

Wu saved the first match point with a big first serve and saved the second when Ruusuvuori netted a backhand approach shot. The combination of Wu’s good first serves and Ruusuvuori’s backhand errors resulted in a tiebreaker, with Wu finishing the match with some assertive forehands in the final two points of the match.

Although Wu and Geller have not played before, Wu has been practicing with Geller throughout the week and he knows what to expect.

“His serve is huge and the forehand and backhand is aggressive,” said Wu, whose goal is to be the first Chinese male in the ATP Top 100. “He’s going to make a lot of trouble with his serve. I think I’ll have to place the ball very well, put my returns in and make my first serves more stronger.”

Regardless of the outcome of Sunday’s singles final, Wu did claim his first junior slam title in doubles, partnering with Yu Hsiou Hsu of Taiwan to defeat Toru Horie and Yuta Shimizu of Japan 6-4, 5-7, 11-9. The top seeds saved a match point at 9-8, winning the final three points of the match over their unseeded opponents, who won the Orange Bowl title last December.

It’s Hsu’s third junior slam doubles title of the year, each with a different partner, although Wu said they’ve been trying to arrange a partnership for most of the year.

“He’s amazing, he’s amazing, he's my idol,” Wu said with a smile. "We are good friends and he’s asked me about past grand slams, but I had others arranged, so this is our first time. At the last grand slam I asked him, do you want to make some noise and he said yeah, and here we are.”

The girls doubles final is set, with top seeds Olga Danilovic of Serbia and Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine facing unseeded Lea Boskovic of Croatia and Xiyu Wang of China.  Danilovic, who has already won two junior slam doubles titles with other partners, and Kostyuk defeated No. 7 seeds Sofya Lansere and Kamilla Rakhimova of Russia 6-4, 7-6(3), while Boskovic and Wang took out No. 4 seeds En Shuo Liang of Taiwan and Xin Yu Wang of China 7-6(3), 6-2.

The girls singles and doubles finals are scheduled for noon Sunday, with the boys singles final to follow, the girls singles on the Grandstand, not before 2 p.m.

Sloane Stephens won the women's title Saturday afternoon, beating No. 15 seed Madison Keys 6-3, 6-0 to cap an amazing comeback from nearly a year off due to injury.  For more on Stephens first slam title, see this article from the WTA website.


Shameful said...

Women's tennis is such an embarrassment - watching Stephens take that final's check was a joke. Even she knew it was ridiculous. How they get equal pay to play two sets is beyond reason, they are no where near equal to men in effort, fitness or ability. Many are overweight and out of shape, something a man could never be in the game. Her makeup was perfect - not because she played so well, but because it required no effort. McEnroe was 100% right btw, with a UTR of 12 (same scale for men/women), and the top men at 16, Serena can never be the greatest. Yet we give girls college players 8 scholarships while the boys get 4.5. What sane parents wants to raise a boy to play tennis these days, given this culture and bias. And they wonder why US tennis is failing. Look at the big picture people.

Alex Ho said...

What a totally weak comment, you could totally argue that women do not earn equal prize money for playing 2 of 3 vs 3 of 5. To say that "many are overweight and out of shape" is totally ridiculous, many women just have different bodies then men, and 98% of women on tour are amazingly fit, including both finalists. I think that the fact that men get 4.5 vs 8 scholarships is stupid, but it has nothing to do with Stephens getting equal pay.

I actually do not think that Serena could beat a top 700 man, the games are just to different, but it also does not matter, she is the greatest women of all time. The women's game is different from the men's game, to be honest I do not always find the men's game more interesting.

I wonder if you yourself is either fit or a good tennis player, I doubt either