Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Top Seeds Osuigwe and Kostyuk Ousted in US Open Juniors Second Round as Five Wild Cards Advance to Round of 16; Play Canceled for Wednesday Due to Forecast Rain

©Colette Lewis 2017--
Flushing Meadow NY--

The top two seeds in the girls draw, both 2017 junior slam champions, saw their dreams of a second title evaporate Tuesday in the second round of the US Open Junior Championships.  French Open champion Whitney Osuigwe, the No. 1 seed, was beaten by Anastasia Kharitonova of Russia 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 and Australian Open champion Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine fell to Elysia Bolton 7-6(4), 6-2.

The 17-year-old Kharitonova was playing in just her third junior slam and had not won a match at the first two this summer, but she played an excellent first set.

"The first set I play great, great serves and returns," said the left-hander from Moscow. "The second set, in the middle, I have some doubts, for me it's so hard. I take the toilet break after second set and bring more energy and I come back and won."

Kharitonova will take on another 15-year-old American in the third round, after Katie Volynets claimed the day's only all-US match, defeating fellow wild card Natasha Subhash 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-1.

Bolton, who picked up the first US Open win of her junior career yesterday, had lost to Kostyuk last year at the Eddie Herr, on Har-Tru.
The 17-year-old New Yorker said the surface and the venue may have worked in her favor today.

"That was a good match too, so I kind of knew what to expect," said Bolton, who trains with the USTA at the National Tennis Center. "I just know [the surface] really well and I'm used to it, so it doesn't take me very long to adjust to it."

As with her win yesterday, Bolton took a tiebreaker in the first set, and during the set break, she consulted with coaches Jay Devashetty and Mark Bey, about improving on her start to the second set.

"Mostly it was just staying calm and getting my returns in the court," Bolton said of the advice she received. "I didn't feel like I was hitting my serve great today, so mostly making sure I'm getting it in with some good spin. And then just having a lot of energy. Yesterday I came out in the second set and didn't have a lot of energy, so really making sure that I didn't have that little lull."

Bolton's opponent in the third round will be No. 15 seed Sofya Lansere of Russia.

In addition to Volynets, three other wild cards advanced to the third round.  The youngest, 13-year-old Coco Gauff, defeated No. 5 seed Carson Branstine of Canada 6-4, 6-4, avenging her loss to Branstine at the Roehampton Grade 1.

"At Roehampton it was my first time on grass," Gauff said. "She played a really good match, good serves, she had at least seven aces or more probably. And I was still sort of trying to adjust to grass, and it was my first ITF.  I saw what I had to work on, and I practiced a lot, and now I'm seeing success."

Gauff went up 5-1 in the opening set, but couldn't close out the set on her first try, with her unforced errors giving Branstine the game. Serving for the set for a second time, Gauff spoke to her father on the changeover, making use of the rule change that allows coaching during a match in the junior event.

"He was telling me to calm down and go for safer targets," Gauff said. "He knows me like a book when I'm up 5-2 and it gets to 5-4. He knows I get nervous, so talking to him calmed me down. Obviously it worked, because I won the next game."

The second set was much closer, but Gauff earned the crucial break at 4-4, with Branstine certain that a missed call had cost her an important point.  Gauff did not need two opportunities to close out the second set as she had the first, holding at love for the 6-4, 6-4 victory.

Gauff's opponent will be another American wild card, Dalayna Hewitt, who beat No. 12 seed Maria Osorio Serrano of Colombia 6-4, 6-3. Hewitt, a 16-year-old from Ohio who trains at Club Med in Florida, has had a series of injuries, but when she is healthy, her game takes a backseat to no one on the junior circuit.

"I got injured earlier this year and I'm just trying to get back into it," said Hewitt, who sported a bandage on her thigh during today's match but said it was not a serious injury. "In the beginning of the year, I sprained all the ligaments in my toes, it was an over-training thing. I couldn't really do anything for two months. Then I was supposed to go over to Europe for the French and I sprained my hamstring. So I had to get my fitness back and try to get my points back through the summer."

Hewitt lost in the first round at the Grade 1 in College Park, but took eventual champion Jaimee Fourlis of Australia to three sets there, and last week qualified and beat No. 2 seed Branstine in the second round of the Grade 1 in Quebec.

"It's actually really nice to see that," Hewitt said of her game's current level. "It's finally getting up there. I'd see it in practice, but it's finally good that I can see it in matches now."

The challenge that comes with knowing the match is always on your racquet is not one that most juniors face.

"Sometimes that makes it harder, but I'm trying to work on getting more mentally tough," Hewitt said. "Staying in the big points and not worrying about that. Staying focused for longer. And it's working now."

Hewitt demonstrated some of that mental improvement serving at 3-2 in the second set. At 30-all, a ball she thought was wide was signaled good by the line judge and the chair said he could not overrule the call. Rather than let that break point turn into a break of serve, Hewitt put it out of her mind and hit an ace to save it and won the next two points to keep her lead.

"That's how I needed to handle it," said Hewitt. "I've been working so much on improving my attitude, trying to stay more positive on the court and I feel that it's really helped my tennis a lot in a positive way. I'm kind of proud of myself, how I handled that."

The fourth and final wild card to reach the round of 16 is Kelly Chen, who defeated No. 6 seed Xin Yu Wang of China 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 after trailing 3-0 and two breaks in the final set.

"I thought I was going to lose, to be honest," said the Duke freshman, who reached the final of the USTA 18s Nationals in San Diego last month. "But I've been down so many times in the third set, I'm like, I can do it again. I believed in myself at Hard Courts, my mom was giving me very encouraging words, and that kind of clicked for me. I started fighting more, believing in myself, feeling more confident. And now that I'm going to college, I'm playing a little bit more freely."

Like Hewitt, Wang is a powerful player, but Chen was able to neutralize and anticipate many of Wang's huge ground strokes.

"I just try to get every ball back," Chen said. "I also try to mix up with the slice a lot, a high ball here and there. I just wanted to mix up the pace a little bit. She kind of reminded me of Samantha Crawford, blasting balls here and there."

The final game, with Wang serving to stay in the match, went to deuce three times. Wang saved a match point with a good volley at 30-40, then hit a blistering backhand to earn her first game point. After netting a forehand, Wang earned another game point with a big forehand, but a pair of errant backhands gave Chen a second match point and she converted when Wang made a forehand error.

Chen will face Emiliana Arango of Colombia in the third round.

The sixth US girl to advance to the third round is No. 4 seed Amanda Anisimova, who defeated Kamilla Rakhimova of Russia 6-2, 6-2. Anisimova will face qualifier Paula Arias Manjon of Spain next.

Four US boys made their way to the third round, but only one that is seeded, No. 11 Oliver Crawford.  Crawford, a freshman at Florida, earned his place in the round of 16 with a 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 win over Alan Rubio Fierros of Mexico and will face Uisung Park of Korea. Sam Riffice, who is slated to start at Florida next fall, had no trouble with Tomas Machac of the Czech Republic, posting a 6-3, 6-0 victory.  Riffice will play Emil Ruusuvuori of Finland, who took out No. 13 seed Sebastian Korda 6-3, 6-3.

DJ Thomas defeated No. 8 seed Yu Hsiou Hsu of Taiwan 6-2, 6-4 despite not feeling well before and during the match.

"I was dizzy and felt like I was going to throw up on the court," said Thomas, who asked for a trainer after breaking Hsu serving at 4-2 in the second set. "I got some Pepto Bismol and something to put in my Gatorade; I'm just glad I got through it."

Thomas held and broke, but had to save a break point serving for the match at 5-4.  Watching him close out the match were Ivan Lendl, Jose Higueras and Martin Blackman of USTA Player Development, and Thomas admitted he was aware of their presence.

"I probably tried to do a couple of things I shouldn't have, to impress them," Thomas said. "But it was an honor to have them there."

Thomas will face George Loffhagen of Great Britain in the third round.

Trey Hilderbrand was initially given a wild card into qualifying, but some late moves in the entries saw him upgraded to a main draw wild card.  He saved two match points in his win over Alexey Zakharov of Russia on Monday and proved that was no fluke with a 1-6, 6-1, 6-2 win over No. 5 seed Marko Miladinovic of Serbia, last week's champion at the Grade 1 in Quebec, Tuesday afternoon.

Hilderbrand can throw opponents off their game when he utilizes his serve and volley game, and he found that especially effective against Miladinovic.

"It's not something I have to do, but it's something I'm good at and it gives people some trouble," said Hilderbrand, who has committed to the University of Central Florida for 2018. "It works, so I might as well do it right?"

Hilderbrand's coaching advice from his father Mark, a teaching pro, helped Hilderbrand take control of the match in the final two sets.

"He told me to serve and volley and come in off of everything," Hilderbrand said. "He saw that I was struggling a little bit from the baseline and the guy was very good from the baseline, so he told me to start coming in and all that, and it worked out."

Hilderbrand's opponent in the third round is No. 10 seed Sebastian Baez of Argentina, who beat Alafia Ayeni 6-4, 6-4 today.

Only five seeds remain in the boys draw, but two of them are No. 1 and No. 2. Top seed Axel Geller of Argentina defeated Brandon Nakashima 7-5, 6-4 and No. 2 seed Yibing Wu of China cruised past qualifier Jesper De Jong of the Netherlands 6-1, 6-1.

The quarterfinals are set in the boys doubles with top seeds Hsu and Wu advancing, but No. 2 seeds Jurij Rodionov of Austria and Michael Vrbensky of the Czech Republic were beaten by Toru Horie and Yuta Shimizu of Japan.  The first round of girls doubles was completed, and three second round matches were played, but five others were not on the schedule.

Due to the forecast for rain on Wednesday, no junior matches, singles or doubles, are on the schedule.

Amanda Anisimova[4] def. Kamilla Rakhimova(RUS) 6-2, 6-2
Duarte Vale(POR)[15] def. Alexandre Rotsaert 6-4, 6-1
Emil Ruusuvuori(FIN) def. Sebastian Korda[13] 6-3, 6-3
Kelly Chen def. Xin Yu Wang(CHN)[6] 3-6, 7-5, 6-4
Coco Gauff def. Carson Branstine(CAN)[5] 6-4, 6-4
Elysia Bolton def. Marta Kostyuk(UKR[2] 7-6(4), 6-2
Jakub Paul(SUI) def. Vasil Kirkov 6-3, 6-4
Axel Geller(ARG)[1] def. Brandon Nakashima 7-5, 6-4
Anastasia Kharitonova(RUS) def. Whitney Osuigwe[1] 6-4, 2-6, 6-2
Oliver Crawford[11] def. Alan Rubio Fierros(MEX) 6-2, 4-6, 6-4
Sebastian Baez(ARG)[10] def. Alafia Ayeni 6-4, 6-4
Katie Volynets def. Natasha Subhash 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-1
Dalayna Hewitt def. Maria Osorio Serrano(COL)[12] 6-4, 6-3
Menelaos Efstathiou(CYP) def. Trent Bryde[7] 6-4, 6-2
Sam Riffice def. Tomas Machac(CZE) 6-3, 6-0
Simona Waltert(SUI)[10] def. Caty McNally 7-6(5), 6-2
Trey Hilderbrand def. Marko Miladinovic(SRB)[5] 1-6, 6-1, 6-2
Elsabetta Cocciaretto(ITA) def. Nikki Redelijk 6-3, 6-4
DJ Thomas def. Yu Hsiou Hsu(TPE)[8] 6-2, 6-4

Sloane Stephens and Venus Williams won third set tiebreakers to advance to a semifinal meeting on Thursday.  On Wednesday, CoCo Vandeweghe and Madison Keys will attempt to join them for an All-American semifinal.

Tuesday's results for Americans:
SLOANE STEPHENS def. Anastasija Sevastova(LAT)[16] 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(4)
VENUS WILLIAMS[9] def. Petra Kvitova(CZE)[13] 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(2)
 Kevin Anderson(RSA)[28] def. SAM QUERREY[17] 7-6(5), 6-7(9), 6-3, 7-6(7)

Wednesday matches featuring Americans:
Karolina Pliskova(CZE)[1] v COCO VANDEWEGHE[20]
MADISON KEYS[15] v Kaia Kanepi(EST)