Saturday, June 8, 2019

Holger Rune, Leylah Fernandez Claim French Open Singles Titles; Beck and Navarro Win Girls Doubles; All-US Finals in Champaign $15K, Bethany Beach $25K

Holger Rune of Denmark and Leylah Fernandez of Canada won French Open junior singles titles today, beating American opponents Toby Kodat and Emma Navarro. Navarro finished the day as a junior slam champion however, partnering with Chloe Beck to win the girls doubles title Saturday afternoon.

Tennis Channel had advertised coverage of the girls and boys singles finals, but when the men's semifinal resumed, early in the second set of the girls final, they switched to that, and as I don't have access to Tennis Channel Plus with my service provider, I missed the second half of the girls final and all the boys final.

Finalist Emma Navarro and Champion Leylah Fernandez, courtesy photo
In what I saw of the girls final, Navarro, the eighth seed, played well, but was at a disadvantage when Fernandez chose to drop shot, which was often. Fernandez, who reached the Australian Open girls final in January, led throughout the first set, breaking for the second time in the sixth games for a 4-2 lead. Fernandez showed signs of nerves trying to close out the set serving at 5-3, double faulting twice early in the game. But she found her forehand in the nick of time, saving three break points in that game and closing out the set. Fernandez broke Navarro to start the second set, and despite giving the break right back in the next game, she rolled through the remainder of the match, earning a 6-3, 6-2 victory.

The top-seeded Fernandez, who turns 17 in September, is the first Canadian, boy or girl, to win a Roland Garros singles title. She will not be playing Wimbledon Juniors, although she said she may play the US Open Juniors before concentrating exclusively on her pro career.

No. 7 seed Rune appeared to be on his way to a routine victory over the unseeded Kodat, serving for the match at 6-3, 5-4, 40-15. But Kodat saved both those match points, won the game, only to be broken again to give Rune a chance to serve for the match again. He only won one point in that game however, and Kodat took the tiebreaker 7-5, winning the final four points to take the set.

It was an ideal time for Rune to get a break, and the weather cooperated, with a rain delay giving him time to regroup. He came out strong to open the third set, and although three games went to deuce, Rune won them all for a 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-0 victory over fellow 16-year-old.

Rune is the second player from Denmark to win the Roland Garros boys title, with Kurt Nielsen's title way back in 1948 the only other one.

Fernandez and Rune's thoughts about their wins today can be found in this article from the Roland Garros website.
Champions Chloe Beck and Emma Navarro (photo courtesy Michael Beck)
After her singles loss, Navarro still had doubles to play, with the completion of the semifinal, interrupted Friday night, first on the agenda. Navarro and Chloe Beck were leading No. 7 seeds Adrienn Nagy of Hungary and Sohyun Park of Korea 6-3, 1-0, when play resumed, but they dropped the second set 6-3, sending the match to a tiebreaker. Although they did not face a match point themselves, Beck and Navarro had a match point on every other point from 9-8 on, but seven times Nagy and Park saved them, until finally Beck and Navarro converted on the eighth, for a 6-3, 3-6, 17-15 win and a place in the final.

After all that drama, Navarro and Beck had to be relaxed to start the final, and they rolled over No. 4 seeds Alina Charaeva and Anastasia Tikhonova of Russia 6-1, 6-2 for the title. Navarro and Beck had reached the US Open Junior semifinals last year and the Australian Open finals this year, so they are not surprise winners, in spite of not being seeded. Navarro and Beck are the second all-US team to win a girls doubles title at Roland Garros, with Beth Herr and Janet Lagasse's title back in 1982 the only previous one.

The boys doubles title was won by No. 5 seeds Matheus Pucinelli de Almeida of Brazil and Thiago Tirante of Argentina, who beat unseeded Flavio Cobolli of Italy and Dominic Stricker of Switzerland 7-6(3), 6-4 in the final.

The men's doubles title went to an unlikely pair, with former Auburn star Andreas Mies and partner Kevin Krawietz beating Jeremy Chardy and Fabrice Martin of France 6-2, 7-6(3). The unseeded Germans were playing a Challenger as recently as last month, but they are now grand slam champions, the first German pair to win the men's doubles title in Paris. For more, see this article at the Roland Garros website.

Although all five American men remaining at the ATP Challenger in Little Rock exited today, the other two Pro Circuit events will feature all-American finals on Sunday.

Top seed Usue Arconada and wild card Natasha Subhash will meet for the championship at the $25,000 women's event in Bethany Beach Delaware. Subhash, the 17-year-old rising freshman at the University of Virgina, needed over three hours to get past unseeded Tess Sugnaux of Switzerland 7-5, 5-7, 6-3, while Arconada defeated No. 7 seed Dea Herdzelas of Bosnia 6-2, 7-6(3). Arconada and Subhash played once on the ITF Junior Circuit, with Arconada winning their semifinal match at the 2016 Grade A in Brazil 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.

Arconada and Hayley Carter won the doubles title today, their first as a team, with the top seeds beating No. 3 seeds Herdzelas and Slovakia's Tereza Mihalikova 6-4, 6-4 in the final.

At the $15,000 Men's event in Champaign, No. 5 seed Strong Kirchheimer(Northwestern) will play current Arizona State rising senior Nathan Ponwith, a qualifier, for the title. No. 6 seed Kirchheimer defeated former Florida Gator Diego Hidalgo of Ecuador, the No. 5 seed, 5-7, 6-3, 6-3. Ponwith beat unseeded Sumit Sarkar, a rising junior at Rice, 6-3, 6-4 in the other semifinal.

At the $100,000 ITF World Tennis Tour women's event on the grass in Surbiton England, 17-year-old Caty McNally advanced to the semifinals, beating top seed and WTA 54 Alison Van Uytvanck of Belgium 7-6(5), 6-2. McNally, who has six Top 100 wins this year, fell in the semifinals to No. 3 seed Alison Riske 6-0, 6-4.

Unseeded Jennifer Brady(UCLA) and Caroline Dolehide won the doubles title in Surbiton, beating Great Britain's Heather Watson and Belgium's Yanina Wickmayer, also unseeded, 6-3, 6-4. The Americans didn't drop a set all week.