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Saturday, January 26, 2019

Nava Loses Thriller to Musetti in Australian Open Boys Final, Tauson Captures Girls Title; Broadus Wins ITF Grade 1 in Colombia; Kang and Williams Claim Les Petits As Doubles Crown

Junior slam finals are often entertaining, and it's not unusual for them to go to three sets. It is rare to have the major championship decided in a tiebreaker however, with American Emilio Nava and Italian Lorenzo Musetti playing in the first boys Australian Open final to go extra time since 1977, when scores were first recorded.  Of course, until recently, the Australian Open used advantage sets in the third, but one was never needed in a boys final, with 1996's 7-5 in the third win for Bjorn Rehnqvist of Sweden the closest match on record there. Until Saturday.

In the first year of a first-to-10, win-by-2 tiebreaker format for the final set in Melbourne, the boys championship match on Rod Laver Arena concluded that way, with top seed Musetti saving a match point in his 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (14-12) win over No. 13 seed Nava.

Obviously in a match that close, margins were extremely tight throughout. Nava got the only break of the first set, and had no difficulty closing it out, but Musetti's safer style helped him turn things around in the second set. Neither player faced a break point in the third set, although Nava dug out of a 0-30 hole serving at 3-4 with the assistance of a let-serve ace.

The tiebreaker was equally tight, with Musetti having a two-point lead on several occasions, but none after going up 5-3. The 16-year-old US Open finalist had his first match point at 9-8, but Nava hit a confident overhead winner to save that, only to miss a backhand wide to give Musetti another match point, this time on his own serve. He double faulted, although he challenged the second serve and it had missed by so little that it was impossible to see any space on the Hawkeye rendition. He didn't let that crush him however, winning the next point for his third match point at 11-10. Nava saved that with a backhand that forced an error from Musetti, then hit an ace to earn his first, and only, match point. Musetti hit a good first serve that Nava wasn't able to get back in play, and Musetti earned a fourth match point when Nava missed a forehand long. This time Nava couldn't save it, going big on a forehand, but sending it well long.

Nava's aggressive game resulted in 30 winners, but 50 unforced errors, while Musetti had 19 winners and 26 unforced errors. If nerves were a factor for either boy, they disguised them well, handling the occasion as if they had been there many times, instead of once, for Musetti, and never before, for Nava. Musetti is the first Italian to win an Australian Open junior singles title.

Top seed Clara Tauson claimed Denmark's first Australian Open girls championship, beating No. 4 seed Leylah Fernandez of Canada 6-4, 6-3 in a battle of 16-year-olds. Tauson had held a 2-1 edge in their head-to-head on the junior circuit, with Fernandez's win coming last year on clay, but Tauson's power was a little too much for the slightly built left-hander. Tauson, who beat Fernandez in last week's Traralgon Grade 1 final, was unable to close out the title serving for it at 5-2, double faulting on match point and losing the game, but she recovered to close out the title with her sixth break of the match.

For more on the girls final, see this article from Tennis Life. The ITF junior website also has an article on the singles finals.

In the mixed doubles final Saturday, Rajeev Ram(Illinois) won his first slam title, with Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic. The No. 3 seeds beat wild cards JP Smith(Tennessee) and Astra Sharma(Vanderbilt) of Australia 7-6(3), 6-1 in the final. For more on that match, see this article from the Australian Open website.

At the ITF Grade 1 in Colombia, Americans swept the girls titles.  No. 4 seed Savannah Broadus defeated top seed Alexa Noel 6-1, 7-6(7) to win her first Grade 1 title. In the girls doubles final, unseeded Emma Jackson and Sasha Yepifanova defeated unseeded Anfisa Danilchenko of Russia and Bo Young Jeong of Korea 7-6(2), 6-3.

No. 15 seed Kevin Chahoud of Sweden won the boys singles title, beating unseeded Jacob Bullard 6-3, 6-4 in the final. The boys doubles championship went to No. 5 seed Flavio Cobolli of Italy and Bruno Oliveira of Brazil, who beat unseeded Gustavo Heide and Joao Loureiro of Brazil 7-6(1), 6-4 in the final.

The finals of Les Petits As tournament in Tarbes France will feature the top two seeds in the girls draw, and the No. 11 and No. 13 seeds in the boys draw.  No. 1 Linda Fruhvirtova of the Czech Republic defeated No. 4 seed Anastasiia Gureva of Russia 6-2, 6-2 and will face No. 2 Sofia Costoulas of Belgium in the final. Costoulas defeated No. 8 seed Kristyna Tomajkova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-2 in today's semifinals. 

No. 11 seed Rashed Nawaf of Qatar will play No. 13 seed Vojtech Petr for the boys title. In Saturday's semifinals, Nawaf took out home country favorite Antoine Ghibaudo of France 6-3, 6-0, while Petr had a considerably tougher time with No. 14 seed Gilles Arnaud Bailly of Belgium, coming back for a 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 victory. 

The United States came away with one title this week, with unseeded Kyle Kang and Cooper Williams claiming the boys doubles championship. They defeated Bailly and his partner Alexander Blockx 7-6(2), 6-3 in the final. Kang and Williams played an outstanding tiebreaker to claim the first set and went up 5-1 in the second set. They were not able to close it out on serve, but broke Bailly on the deciding point to seal the title.

Live scoring is available at Tennis Ticker. Live streaming is available at the tournament website.