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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

My Conversation with Sebastian Korda; Gauff, McNally and Hilderbrand Reach Quarterfinals at Wimbledon Junior Championships; Isner and Anderson Advance to Men's Semifinals

©Colette Lewis 2018--

Because I didn't cover the Australian Open or French Open Junior Championships in person, I hadn't talked to Sebastian Korda in quite some time, so I decided to schedule a one-on-one interview with former ITF World Junior No. 1 here at Wimbledon. In our conversation after his loss on Saturday, Korda told me how special it was for him to win the Australian Open boys title on the 20th anniversary of his father Petr's men's title, why he played sparingly as a young junior, the best advice his father has given him, and why he's not planning to play Kalamazoo this year, in this Tennis Recruiting Network article, posted today.

In third round Wimbledon Junior Championships action today at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, Americans Trey Hilderbrand, Caty McNally and Coco Gauff earned victories, while Cannon Kingsley, Tristan Boyer and Lea Ma failed to advance.

Hilderbrand started yet another dry and partly sunny day in Southwest London with a surprisingly easy first five games against unseeded Nicolas Alvarez Varona of Spain. In 16 minutes, the 18-year-old Texan had a 5-0 lead, with Alvarez struggling to get his first serve in, and Hilderbrand charging the net at every opportunity.

Hilderbrand, who also returned well when Alvarez did get his first serve in, was up 6-1, 5-0 and had two match points on Alvarez's serve. The 17-year-old from Spain, who had changed his strategy and started serving and volleying down 3-0 in the second set, hit a second serve ace to save the first match point and on the second hit a volley that Hilderbrand got to, but was unable to execute the passing shot. Alvarez went on to get his first hold of the match, then broke Hilderbrand with more aggressive grass court tennis to make it 5-2.

Serving for match again at 5-3, Hilderbrand went down 30-40, but he got a first serve in that Alvarez couldn't handle. Alvarez earned another break point after a putaway at the net, but after Hilderbrand was called for a foot fault on his first serve, Alvarez couldn't get the second serve in play.  That mistake proved costly, with Hilderbrand hitting an ace to earn his third match point, which he converted with another big first serve.

"I was thinking, let's just see if you can hold one game," said Hilderbrand, who won 38 of his 59 net approaches. "I hit some pretty good serves to get me out of the game. I kept telling myself, one point at a time, let's play a solid point and see if he can beat you."

Up 6-1, 5-0, Hilderbrand had to fight thinking ahead to the quarterfinals.

"I probably did think about that a little bit at 5-3, but I just tried to get that out of my head and focus on my match," said Hilderbrand, who will begin his college career at Central Florida next month. "I knew it still wasn't over, and obviously, he came back."

Hilderbrand will face top seed Chun Hsin Tseng of Taiwan, one of only two seeded boys still in the draw.  The French Open boys champion, who defeated qualifier Ondrej Styler of the Czech Republic 6-2, 6-1, has never played Hilderbrand, who thinks his aggressive net play could cause the top-ranked ITF junior some problems.

"It's definitely an advantage," said Hilderbrand, who didn't play many ITF Junior Circuit events growing up. "My first grand slam, the [2017] US Open, I didn't know any of those guys and obviously they struggled with me. The French Open was a little different, it's just not my surface or anything; this tournament, guys probably knew who I was, but they probably weren't sure I was going to be playing how I'm playing right now."

The other quarterfinal in the top half will feature wild card Anton Matusevich and Tao Mu of China. In the bottom half, No. 5 seed Nicolas Mejia of Colombia will face Gilbert Soares Klier Junior, who has followed up his first round win over No. 2 seed Sebastian Baez of Argentina with two more straight-sets win. Mejia ended Kingsley's tournament with a 7-6(3), 7-5 third round win.  The other boys quarterfinal features Lorenzo Musetti of Italy against Jack Draper of Great Britain.  Draper had a much tougher time with No. 11 seed Boyer today than he did in the first round of Roehampton, but Draper came through with a huge forehand winner at 5-6 30-all in the third set, and converted his match point when Boyer sent a backhand wide.

No. 13 seed McNally and No. 3 seed Gauff had to come from a set down in their third round wins.  McNally had all manner of trouble with her serve, with 12 double faults in the first two sets, but she managed to hang on after a losing a big lead in the second set to come away with a 1-6, 7-6(4), 6-1 win over Qinwen Zheng of China.

"I was having a really hard time with my serve, that was the main thing," said the 16-year-old from Cincinnati, who is playing in her third Wimbledon. "And that was kind of mentally breaking me down and that was affecting everything else in my game."

Up 4-1 and serving in the second set, McNally lost five of the next six games, although she had five break points with Zheng serving at 5-all. But the next game propelled McNally to a new level.

"In the second set, I think I found more rhythm towards the end and when I was able to hold at love 5-6 down, that gave me some confidence," McNally said. "I served a lot better the rest of the match and my game followed."

In Thursday's quarterfinals, McNally will play qualifier Leonie Kung of Switzerland, who defeated No. 9 seed Yuki Naito of Japan 6-3, 6-3. Kung and McNally have met twice this year, on the ITF Women's Circuit, with Kung winning both times.

"I lost to her twice this year, when I went to Martinique and Guadeloupe and I lost to her both times," said McNally, who is still an amateur and right now does not have a timetable regarding turning pro. "I played with her in doubles at the Grade A in Milan, so I know her game."

Gauff found herself coming to the net often against No. 15 seed Maria Carle of Argentina, but some of that was necessitated by Carle's slices, volleys and short angles. Gauff struggled on serve in the first set, getting broken twice, and she had no aces in the match, an unusual statistic for her.

In the second set, Gauff managed a break at 4-5 with great anticipation to reflex a volley winner back at Carle, and in the third set, the 14-year-old Floridian was more adept at keeping Carle on defense. Leading 3-1, Gauff saved a break point with a great forehand, and her serve came though late in the game, giving her some breathing room against Carle.  After holding at love for a 5-2 lead, Gauff was relentless in Carle's service game, breaking at love and finishing with a return winner.

Gauff and Carle, who are doubles partners this week, were their usual competitive selves during the match, but they shared a hug at the net when the time came to shake hands.

Gauff will face No. 10 seed Xiyu Wang of China, who defeated the other American girl in the third round, Lea Ma, 6-2, 6-4.

Iga Swiatek of Poland, who beat top seed Whitney Osuigwe in the opening round, will face Emma Raducanu of Great Britain in one of the top half quarterfinals, with No. 4 seed Xinyu Wang of China taking on Viktoriia Dema of Ukraine.

The first round of doubles was completed today, with Dalayna Hewitt and Peyton Stearns the only Americans to advance to the second round in the matches played today.

Thursday's schedule is available here.

In the men's quarterfinals, John Isner(Georgia) and Kevin Anderson(Illinois), who played in the NCAA Team Championships final in 2007, are through to their first Wimbledon semifinals, with Isner defeating Milos Raonic of Canada 6-7(5), 7-6(7), 6-4, 6-3 and Anderson shocking defending champion Roger Federer 2-6, 6-7(5), 7-5, 6-4, 13-11.  Isner is now in the first major semifinal of his career, while Anderson reached the US Open final last year.

For more on Isner's victory, see this article from the ATP website. For more on Anderson's upset, see this article from the ATP website.

Wednesday's men's quarterfinal featuring American:
John Isner[9] def. Milos Raonic[13](CAN) 6-7(5), 7-6(7), 6-4, 6-3

Wednesday's junior singles results featuring Americans:

Jack Draper(GBR) def. Tristan Boyer[11] 6-7(1), 6-3, 7-5
Trey Hilderbrand def. Nicolas Alvarez Varona(ESP) 6-1, 6-3
Caty McNally[13] def. Qinwen Zheng(CHN) 1-6, 7-6(4),6-1
Coco Gauff[3] def. Maria Carle[15](ARG) 5-7, 6-4, 6-2
Xiyu Wang[10](CHN) def. Lea Ma 6-2, 6-4
Nicolas Mejia([5]COL) def. Cannon Kingsley 7-6(3), 7-5

Thursday's junior singles matches featuring Americans:
Coco Gauff[3] v Xiyu Wang[10](CHN)
Caty McNally[13] v Leonie King[Q](SUI)
Trey Hilderbrand v Chun Hsin Tseng[1](TPE)

Thursday's women's semifinal match featuring American:
Serena Williams[25] v Julia Goerges[13](GER)


Brent said...

Interesting interview with Korda. I really like the 'go slow' approach that he explains from him and his dad. His answer of why he's not playing Kalamazoo makes no sense though.

College Fan said...

I don’t understand Korda's rationale for skipping Kalamazoo. In your interview, the WC into the Open would be “rushing it.” However, he enjoyed the WCs to Indian Wells and the New York ATP. I’m not following his logic. He will play futures and maybe some challengers where, as he says it’s tough to make money. Yet, he will pass up the roughly $50,000 prize (US Open 1st rd $) for winning Kalamazoo. Yes he has good advisors and his Dad was a long time pro. However, I think some juniors underestimate the benefit of winning a tournament. Especially, when you are the clear favorite. Think of how many examples of where a guy wins a few tournaments at the Futures level and then does better at the Challenger level than some guys already at that level. Or when a dominant college guy who is used to winning a lot of matches hits the tour with positive momentum vs a guy who is used to losing week after week. Winning, at any level, is beneficial and often begets more winning.