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Saturday, June 1, 2019

21 Americans Begin Quest for French Open Junior Title; Kenin Tops Williams, Anisimova and Keys Move into Round of 16 at Roland Garros

The French Open Junior Championships begin Sunday in Paris, with a total of 21 Americans--11 boys and 10 girls--looking for their first slam title. Fourteen of the 21 will play their first singles match tomorrow.

The US boys in the draw include three seeds: No. 3 Brandon Nakashima, who is playing in his first junior tournament of the year after spending the spring semester competing at the University of Virginia; No. 6 seed Emilio Nava, who reached the final of the Australian Open back in January, and No. 10 seed Martin Damm.  The rest of the US boys in the draw are Will Grant[Q], Cannon Kingsley, Zane Khan, Toby Kodat, Dali Blanch[Q], Govind Nanda, Tyler Zink and Eliot Spizzirri.

Four US girls are seeded: No. 4 Alexa Noel, the Milan Grade A champion; No. 6 seed Hurricane Tyra Black, No. 8 seed Emma Navarro and No. 14 seed Elli Mandlik. The six other US girls in the draw are Savannah Broadus, Charlotte Chavatipon[Q], Abigail Forbes, Chloe Beck[Q], Robin Montgomery and Lea Ma.

The top seed in the boys draw is Australian Open champion Lorenzo Musetti of Italy, currently No. 2 in the ITF World junior rankings. Milan champion Jonas Forejtek of the Czech Republic is the No. 2 seed, with Spizzirri his opponent in the first round tomorrow.

Leylah Fernandez of Canada is the top seed in the girls draw. Unlike several of the US girls, Fernandez did play a warmup event prior to the French Open, winning the ITF Grade 1 in Belgium today with a 6-2, 6-1 decision over No. 8 seed Carole Monnet of France. Australian Open girls champion Clara Tauson of Denmark, No. 1 in the ITF World Junior rankings was entered, but withdrew late. France's Diane Parry, who is still in the women's doubles draw after a second round win today with partner Fiona Ferro, is the No. 2 seed.

The US girls have won the past two titles, with five of the six finalists in the past three years. Whitney Osuigwe defeated Claire Liu in 2017 and Coco Gauff defeated Caty McNally last year.  Back in 2016, Amanda Anisimova, then 14, reached the final, falling to Rebeka Masarova of Switzerland. Three years later Anisimova is through to the fourth round of the women's draw after defeating Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania 7-6(6), 6-4 today. It's the second straight slam round of 16 for the 17-year-old from Florida. Anisimova will face former Oklahoma State/Florida Atlantic standout Aliona Bolsova of Spain, a qualifier, for a place in the quarterfinals.

Anisimova is one of three unseeded teenagers to reach the round of 16. Eighteen-year-old Iga Swiatek of Poland, last year's Wimbledon girls champion, advanced with a 0-6, 6-3, 6-3 win over Monica Puig of Puerto Rico. Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic, who turns 20 later this month, reached the fourth round with a win over No. 28 seed Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain Friday.

No. 14 seed Madison Keys defeated qualifier Anna Blinkova of Russia 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-4 today to face, not top seed Naomi Osaka of Japan, but Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic, who upset Osaka 6-4, 6-2.
That was big news, but perhaps even bigger was Sonya Kenin's 6-2, 7-5 win over Serena Williams, the No. 10 seed. The 20-year-old from Florida, who got a walkover from No. 22 seed Bianca Andreescu of Canada in the second round, was not intimidated by the Williams aura and with two previous WTA Top 10 wins already to her credit, she had enough experience to cope with the tense atmosphere.  For more on Kenin's win, see this article from Steve Tignor at tennis.com. Kenin will play No. 8 seed Ashleigh Barty of Australia on Monday.

The fourth American woman in the round of 16, No. 7 seed Sloane Stephens, will play No. 19 seed and former French Open champion Garbine Muguruza of Spain on Sunday.

To wrap up the Grade 1 in Belgium, I mentioned Fernandez winning that title, her first Grade 1, with the boys singles title going to unseeded Leandro Riedi of Switzerland. He defeated unseeded Alibek Kachmazov of Russia 6-4, 1-6, 6-0 in the final. [correction:] Although Kachmazov is competing in Paris, Riedi was not high enough in the rankings to earn entry into the French Junior Championship qualifying.