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Friday, September 8, 2017

Gauff, Anisimova Reach US Open Junior Championships Semifinals; Finals Set for American Collegiate Invitational; Former Illinois All-American Anderson Advances to US Open Men's Final

©Colette Lewis 2017--
Flushing Meadow NY--

Sixteen-year-old Amanda Anisimova wants a junior slam title before she moves on to the pro tour. Thirteen-year-old Coco Gauff simply wants to win every tournament she enters.  Both moved closer to those goals on Friday, posting straight-sets victories in the quarterfinals of the US Open Junior Championships.

Anisimova, whose best finish in a junior slam came last year at the French, when she was just 14, got off to a slow start against No. 8 seed Olga Danilovic of Serbia, falling behind 4-0 and 5-1. Unable to get her first serve in, Anisimova had difficulty controlling points against the 16-year-old left-hander, who only had to stay in the point long enough for Anisimova to miss.

"Last year I didn't do so well here, so I was kind of nervous," said the fourth-seeded Anisimova, who lost in the third round to finalist Viktoria Kuzmova of Slovakia in 2016. "I was pretty tight because it's the quarters, and I was just trying to get into my game."

Danilovic served for the first set at both 5-2 and 5-4, but didn't earn a set point either time as Anisimova's big groundstrokes began to find their targets. Danilovic double faulted only three times in the first set, but two of those were on game points serving at and 5-4 and at 5-6.

Anisimova ran her winning streak to eight games before Danilovic broke to get back on serve, but by then Anisimova had picked up her first serve percentage and was ending the brief rallies with winners not errors. Danilovic never had a game point on her serve in the second set, and Anisimova finished with a rare overturned call on match point, using Hawkeye to demonstrate Danilovic's return was a few inches out on the baseline.

Anisimova, who lost in the first round of women's qualifying, has been in New York for going on three weeks, but she's keeping that loss fresh in her mind.

"It was really upsetting," said Anismova, who is 182 in the WTA rankings, of the 6-2, 0-6, 6-0 loss to Ipek Soylu of Turkey. "It really motivated me to work harder throughout that week. I think I'm really focused in the juniors this week because once you lose a pretty tough match, you want to get back to it right away."

Anisimova will face unseeded Emiliana Arango of Colombia, who defeated Elysia Bolton 7-6(1), 6-2, in Saturday's semifinals.

Coco Gauff is playing in her first junior slam main draw, and this is only her fourth ITF junior event. But in her quarterfinal match today, Gauff faced another precocious wild card, 15-year-old Katie Volynets, who had beaten Gauff 6-2, 6-2 in the semifinals of USTA 18s Clay Courts back in July.  Today she turned the tables on Volynets, earning a 6-3, 6-2 victory and a place in Saturday's semifinals against Maria Carle of Argentina, who took out No. 3 seed Elena Rybakina of Russia 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.

"It definitely motivated me," Gauff said of the loss to Volynets in Memphis. "I played a little different today. I was still hitting my shots, but I was more consistent than last time, going for safer targets, not trying to go for the lines. I knew I could beat her if I just stayed calm and didn't make as many unforced errors."

Gauff, who made the final of the Grade 1 in College Park Maryland last month, said she is not surprised to find herself in the semifinals.

"Every tournament I play, I play to win it," Gauff said. "I never go into a tournament thinking oh, second round would be good enough. I always think I can win it. And even if I'm proud of myself for making it this far, of course I always want to do my best and make it to the end."

Gauff said she is not familiar with Carle's game, but will ask her father for a scouting report.

"I'm sure my dad will tell me how she plays after," said Gauff. "He went and watched her matches at College Park, so I think I'll have a good game plan going into the match."

The boys semifinals will feature the top two seeds, both of whom will face unseeded opponents.

No. 1 seed Axel Geller of Argentina got by a stubborn Naoki Tajima of Japan 6-3, 6-7(8), 6-4 to earn a meeting with Timofey Skatov. The 16-year-old Russian defeated DJ Thomas 6-3, 6-1 to reach his second Grade A semifinal.

Yibing Wu of China, the No. 2 seed, fought back against No. 11 seed Oliver Crawford, posting a 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory to advance against Emil Ruusuvuori of Finland. Ruusuvuori, a quarterfinalist at the Australian Open this year, defeated No. 10 seed Sebastian Baez of Argentina 7-6(5), 6-4.

"It's a terrific thing, a grand slam semis," said the 18-year-old right-hander. "It's a great win and I'm happy to be in the semis."

Ruusuvuori said his previous trip to a major quarterfinal helped him relax, and he is beginning to feel comfortable in New York, with this his first visit.

"It's cool," said Ruusuvuori, who hopes to find time to do more sightseeing after the tournament. "The people just like to watch tennis, so it's good to play here."

The boys doubles final are set for Saturday, with top seeds Wu and Yu Hsiou Hsu of Taiwan facing unseeded Toru Horie and Yuta Shimizu of Japan.  Wu and Hsu defeated No. 5 seeds Baez of Argentina and Thiago Seyboth-Wild of Brazil 6-4, 6-1, while Horie and Shimizu defeated no. 3 seeds Trent Bryde and Portugal's Duarte Vale 6-2, 7-6(5). Hsu will be aiming for his third junior slam doubles title of the year, after capturing the Australian with Lingxi Zhao of China and Wimbledon with Geller.

The girls doubles competition is a round behind, with the semifinals scheduled for Saturday. Top seeds Danilovic and Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine will face No. 7 seeds Sofya Lansere and Kamilla Rakhimova of Russia.  No. 4 seeds En Shuo Liang of Taiwan and Xin Yu Wang of China defeated No. 8 seeds Bolton and Ann Li 6-7(5), 6-4, 10-8 and will face the unseeded team of Lea Boskovic of Croatia and Xiyu Wang of China.

The finals are set for the American Collegiate Invitational, with Ohio State's Francesca Di Lorenzo and Florida's Ingrid Neel meeting for the women's title and Arkansas's Michael Redlicki and Stanford's Tom Fawcett facing off for the men's title.

Top seed Di Lorenzo defeated UCLA's Ena Shibahara 6-4, 6-1 and Neel beat Vanderbilt's Sydney Campbell 6-4, 1-6, 6-2 in Friday's women's semifinals. In the men's semifinals, Redlicki took advantage of USC's Brandon Holt's injury to claim a 4-6, 6-0, 6-3 victory and Fawcett dominated Florida's Alfredo Perez 6-1, 6-2.

I'll have coverage of Saturday's finals here tomorrow and will have more from all 16 participants in the next week or two.

Certainly all those competing in the American Collegiate Invitational are inspired by the run of former University of Illinois All-American Kevin Anderson, who advanced to the men's final against Rafael Nadal with a 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 win over Pablo Carrena Busta of Spain. Anderson is the first collegiate player to make a major singles final since Northwestern's Todd Martin reached the US Open final in 1999.

Whether Anderson wins or not, college tennis did pick up a grand slam title at this year's US Open, with former UCLA standout Jean-Julien Rojer winning the men's doubles title with Horia Tecau.  The pair, who won the Wimbledon title in 2015, defeated Feliciano Lopez and Marc Lopez of Spain 6-4, 6-3. For more on the men's doubles final, see this article from the ATP.  Former LSU star Michael Venus, who won the French Open men's doubles title this summer, is in the mixed doubles final Saturday with Hao-Ching Chan of Taiwan.

Friday’s quarterfinal junior results for Americans:

Emiliana Arango(COL) def. Elysia Bolton 7-6(1), 6-2
Coco Gauff def. Katie Volynets 6-3, 6-2
Amanda Anisimova[4] def.  Olga Danilovic(SRB)[8] 7-5, 6-1
Timofey Skatov(RUS) def. DJ Thomas 6-3, 6-1
Yibing Wu(CHN)[2]def. Oliver Crawford[11] 4-6, 6-3, 6-3

Saturday's semifinal junior matches featuring Americans:

Amanda Anisimova[4] v Emiliana Arango(COL)
Coco Gauff v Maria Carle(ARG)

Women's final:
Madison Keys[15] v Sloane Stephens


Tournado Tennis Question said...

Colette, I'm a little bit surprised that you haven't mentioned or linked to the various high profile articles about Alicia Black's medical and financial problems that have become front and center in major news publications such as the New York Times and CNN.com in the past few days. And, I would also be very interested to hear your thoughts about her situation. Has her story lost some credibility with the USTA and junior tennis experts like yourself? I ask that question because the article seems to indicate that the USTA has now withdrawn their financial support for her and it seems a little bit conspicuous that you haven't even mentioned these new prominent stories about a recent former junior tennis prodigy on this blog.

Colette Lewis said...

I did tweet a link to the article but have not had time to include it in a post. I will try to next week.

So what? said...

Why would there be any more interest in Black's medical or financial issues than the many other players that deal with the same issues? Show me a player winning and you will see a player with USTA support. Show me a player that is losing - because of injury and or ANY other reason - and I will show you a player that no longer receives support from USTA. There are dozens that enter this cycle all the time. Some come out the other side, some go into oblivion. That's tennis.

5.0 Player said...

@so what, Thank you for your heartless comment. You obviously didn't read the articles about Alicia Black. Her story is quite unusual in that she has been homeless twice and is trying to financially support her little sister and her cancer ridden mother by giving tennis lessons and she is only something like 19 years old. Her father left the family years ago. Also, she was just recently one of the top 3 juniors in the world and got second place at the US Open Juniors.

And, she's not merely "losing" matches, she can't play ANY matches because she can BARELY WALK and she can't afford a medical operation that could restore her to playing shape. But, thank you again for your helpful and empathetic contribution to the discussion. I hope you have a nice day.