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Thursday, July 12, 2018

French Girls Finalists Gauff, McNally Fall in Wimbledon Juniors Quarterfinals; Hilderbrand Loses to Top Seed Tseng

©Colette Lewis 2018--

American juniors have had plenty of success at the Wimbledon Junior Championships in the past five years, and with French Open girls finalists Coco Gauff and Caty McNally in the draw, that figured to continue in 2018.  But instead of a rematch of the Roland Garros final in Friday's semifinals, that contest will be between two first-time junior slam semifinalists: No. 10 seed Xiyu Wang of China and qualifier Leonie Kung of Switzerland.

Wang saved a match point in defeating No. 3 seed and French Open champion Gauff 4-6, 7-6(1), 6-4, but she had to overcome a furious comeback from the 14-year-old, who trailed 4-0 in the final set.

Wang, a 17-year-old left-hander, was down a set and a break, but she never stopped crushing the ball, and Gauff, who is not accustomed to being on defense lost her 3-0 advantage.  With Wang serving at 4-5, Gauff earned a match point, but Wang hung in throughout a long rally and hit an overhead winner to save it.

Both girls held easily to get into a tiebreaker, and Wang played a near perfect one, hitting the ball close to the lines and with great pace. Gauff seemed rattled to start the third set, but she worked her way back into the match, getting to 4-all and then earning a break point with Wang serving in the ninth game.  But Wang blasted a backhand that forced an error, got a netcord winner, and on her second game point hit another backhand winner to go up 5-4.

"I always believe that no matter what the score is, that I can come back," Gauff said. "So I'm going to keep fighting whether I'm up 4-0 or down 4-0."

Gauff got another opportunity to fight back when three errors saw her go down 0-40 serving at 4-5. She saved two of the match points, forcing an error and hitting a forehand winner, but she went for a big second serve and hit it just wide to give Wang the win.

"There's always matches like this, where someone is going to play out of their mind; that only happens a couple times a year, but unfortunately, it happened to me," Gauff said with a laugh. "But again, she played really well, the whole match, she just played solid tennis and I came up a little short. In our match, just one or two points made the difference, between me losing and me winning."

McNally wasn't able to find much to fault in her own play in her 7-6(3), 7-5 loss to qualifier Leonie Kung.

"I thought I played pretty well, honestly," the 16-year-old McNally said. "She came up with some unbelievable shots, forehand squash shots on the run, winners down the line. I was pretty happy with how I played, I hit the ball really well."

McNally served for the first set twice, at 5-4 and 6-5, and had two set points, but she couldn't convert, and then fell behind 4-2 in the second set.  She got the break back and held for a 5-4 lead, but Kung held and broke and served out the match.

"It was a really good match honestly, and she just played a little better," McNally said.
Kung had beaten McNally the previous two times they played this year, both in ITF Pro Circuit events, but she knew better than to take this match lightly.

"I played her on the professional tour, on hard court, so that's different," said Kung, 17. "I thought those matches were easier on hard court for me. Today was tougher. Today she played really, really well. She was in the final of Roland Garros, so I think she has a lot of confidence. I was able to play good and make my winners, but it was a tough game and it could have gone either way. You have to be careful if you win against someone already twice, they probably have a tactic against you, think different when playing against you. That's always tough; you can't go on the court, and think, oh I beat her twice, I just have the game to beat her. They are such good players, they know they have to change their game and they will."

The semifinal in the top half of the draw will feature Iga Swiatek of Poland and No. 4 seed Xinyu Wang of China. Swiatek continued rolling through the draw, beating Emma Raducanu of Great Britain 6-0, 6-1 to reach her second consecutive junior slam semifinal. Wang had a long battle with unseeded Viktoriia Dema of Ukraine, with the two splitting tiebreakers, but Wang took control with a break to go up 3-1 in the third and closed out the 6-7(4), 7-6(4), 6-3 victory.

Swiatek and Wang played in January of 2017 at the Grade 1 in Traralgon Australia, with Wang winning 7-5 in the third.

The boys semifinals will also feature a Chinese player, with unseeded Tao Mu advancing with a 7-5, 6-1 win over wild card Anton Matusevich of Great Britain, avenging a loss in the semifinals of the Grade 1 last month in Belgium.  Mu will face top seed Chun Hsin Tseng of Taiwan, who beat the last American boy in the draw, Trey Hilderbrand, 6-2, 6-4.

Hilderbrand struggled in the first set, but began to play better against the French Open boys champion in the second set, going up a break at 4-3 after Tseng had taken a 40-0 lead in the game. But Hilderbrand couldn't find a first serve in the next game, and Tseng broke back with a return winner.  After he held for 5-4, Tseng denied Hilderbrand three game points and after three deuces, broke for the match with a forehand pass.

"He's just really, really good from the baseline," Hilderbrand said. "He's got a pretty good serve, really good returns and he's really quick and hits good passing shots. He's really good at everything, to be honest."

Hilderbrand said he was generally happy with the way he played, although his serving was compromised by a slight ab injury.

"I didn't serve that well, and my ab is kind of starting to hurt again," the 18-year-old said. "That really set me back in the match. My first serve wasn't really clicking for me there. My ab kind of hurt me on every serve and it just wasn't there for me."

The other boys semifinal will feature Great Britain's Jack Draper and No. 5 seed Nicolas Mejia of Colombia.

For the second match in a row, Draper dropped the opening set in a tiebreaker on Court 12, but again he came back, this time beating unseeded Lorenzo Musetti of Italy 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-1.  Draper, the first British boy to reach the Wimbledon boys semifinals since Kyle Edmund in 2013, has split his two decisions with Mejia, losing last year on grass at Roehampton and winning last November on clay in at the Grade 1 in Yucatan.

The 18-year-old Mejia defeated unseeded Gilbert Soares Klier Junior of Brazil 7-6(6), 7-5 to reach his first junior slam semifinal and is now 4-0 in tiebreakers this week.

The top seeds in boys doubles, Tseng and his partner Ray Ho, lost today in the second round of doubles to Rinky Hijikata of Australia and Naoki Tajima of Japan 7-6(8), 6-1.

The only American boys remaining in the doubles draw are Brandon Nakashima and Tyler Zink, who came from a set and 4-1 down to beat the Czech team of Jonas Forejtek and Dalibor Svrcina 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-3.

Six US girls are still alive in the girls doubles draw, including 2017 finalists McNally and Whitney Osuigwe, the No. 2 seeds.  Gauff and Maria Carle of Argentina, the No. 4 seeds, Alexa Noel and Ireland's Georgia Drummy, the No. 7 seeds, and unseeded Dalayna Hewitt and Peyton Stearns all will play in the quarterfinals on Friday.

The complete order of play for Friday is here.

Serena Williams reached the tenth Wimbledon final of her career with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Julia Goerges of Germany and will play No. 11 seed Angelique Kerber in Saturday's women's final, a rematch of the 2016 women's championship match. Williams is seeking her eighth Wimbledon title, Kerber, her first.  For more on Williams' win, see the Wimbledon website.

Thursday's quarterfinal junior singles results featuring Americans:

Xiyu Wang[10](CHN) def. Coco Gauff[3] 4-6, 7-6(1) ,6-4
Leonie King[Q](SUI) def. Caty McNally[13] 7-6(3), 7-5
Chun Hsin Tseng[1](TPE) def. Trey Hilderbrand 6-2, 6-4

Thursday's women's semifinals:
Serena Williams[25] def. Julia Goerges[13](GER) 6-2, 6-4
Angelique Kerber[11](GER) def. Jelena Ostapenko[12](LAT) 6-3, 6-3

Friday's men's semifinals:
John Isner[9] v Kevin Anderson[8](RSA)
Rafael Nadal[2](ESP) v Novak Djokovic[12](SRB)