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Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Americans Navarro, Noel and Damm Reach Wimbledon Junior Quarterfinals; Great Britain's Matusevich Ends Rune's Quest for Second Junior Slam

©Colette Lewis 2019--
Wimbledon--

Martin Damm has a comfort level at Wimbledon very few can claim, a feeling that stems from his trips there dating to before he was old enough to form memories. After his 6-2, 6-3 win over unseeded Taha Baadi of Canada to reach the Junior Championships quarterfinals, he recalled the trips to the All England Club with his father Martin Damm, an ATP professional.

"Yesterday we actually visited creche, the daycare that's here, and we were always there," said the 15-year-old left-hander. "I saw a picture from when I was like 10 months old, the first time I was here, and basically every year I've been coming here since, until the last four years, when my dad stopped playing. This is the tournament I came to the most, and I have the best memories, not just because my dad was playing here, but all the memories I made in that daycare, all the players I met when I was a little kid; it's pretty special here."

Damm played his first junior slam last summer at the US Open, but has already reached the French Open boys semifinal and he is the No. 4 seed this week. Damm, the youngest Kalamazoo 16s champion in the tournament's long history, credits the work he's done with Dr. Larry Lauer's USTA Mental Skills staff for his success this year on the ITF Junior Circuit.

"It's for sure mental," said Damm, "though obviously tennis-wise as well. Before Kalamazoo, I had a couple tough tournaments, so we sat down with the USTA coaches, my agent, my dad. I've put in a lot of work on the mental side, and to be honest, that's the biggest key to my success lately. All the routines, what we've set up in practices, in our talks, I think a lot of the matches I've won against the older guys, it's more the mental side than the physical."

Damm had beaten Baadi, a rising freshman at Wake Forest, at the Grade A in Italy back in May."I had confidence, I beat him in Milan, so it was just about executing, doing the things we worked on after my [second round] match," said Damm, who hit eight aces in the 53-minute match. "And I think I served very well and that helped a lot on grass."

Damm's opponent in Thursday's quarterfinal is No. 10 seed Carlos Alcaraz Garfia of Spain, who squeezed past lucky loser Will Grant 6-4, 5-7, 8-6. Alcaraz Garfia served for the match three times, but didn't have a match point on his own serve until he led 7-6. Grant saved four match points serving at 3-5 in the third set, and buoyed by that comeback, attacked the Alcaraz Garfia serve aggressively, but the 16-year-old Spaniard finally ended Grant's impressive tournament on his third attempt.

Damm and Alcaraz Garfia met in the semifinals of the Grade A in Brazil back in February, with Damm winning 6-4, 6-4.
Great Britain's Anton Matusevich  has now reached the Wimbledon boys quarterfinals for the second straight year, taking out French Open champion and No. 1 seed Holger Rune of Denmark 6-4, 7-5.

Matusevich, who had lost to Rune 6-3, 6-2 last week in the ITF Grade 1 in Roehampton, said he was buoyed by the support of the crowd and from a group of friends who he had lured to the match with free ground passes.

"They were supporting me and it gets you fired up especially," said the 18-year-old, who completed his A level exams just a few weeks ago will now devote himself to tennis full time. "I got them grounds passes, my two best friends, and I said guys, bring the support tomorrow. It was a very good atmosphere out there. Obviously, the crowd will be behind me, but I sometimes block out the crowd and like to focus on each point."

Matusevich, who said he didn't think the quality of the match particularly high, got the only break of the first set, and had no trouble closing it out, but he failed to capitalize on his four match points serving at 5-4 in the second, leading to a tense few minutes for his mates and the rest of the crowd. Rune played a poor game to get broken again, although Matusevich did come up with an excellent lob winner to end it, and in the next game he made no mistake, hitting a good serve to earn his fifth match point and closing it out with an ace.

"I was playing very smart today, I think," said Matusevich, the 2018 US Open Junior doubles champion. "I wasn't hitting my forehand unbelievably well; I wasn't killing it. I was just making the return, slicing a lot...no rhythm, just win, find a way against this guy, so I was really happy."

Matusevich will face No. 8 seed Shintaro Mochizuki of Japan, who defeated wild card Arthur Fery of Great Britain 6-3, 6-3. Matusevich beat Mochizuki last week in the round of 16 at Roehampton 6-1, 6-4.

In the bottom half of the boys draw, the only seed remaining is No. 17 Harold Mayot of France, who beat No. 6 seed Brandon Nakashima 6-4, 6-4. Mayot will face Illya Beloborodko of Ukraine, who beat Nicolas Alvarez Varona of Spain 7-6(3), 6-4.  Dalibor Svrcina of the Czech Republic will play Carlos Valero Gimeno of Spain in the other bottom half quarterfinal.

In the girls draw, top seed Emma Navarro lost the first set to 15-year-old qualifier Katrina Scott 6-0, but she took control of the match early in the second set and went on to take the next two sets 6-1, 6-1. Navarro had to save two break points to open the second set, but the match really turned when Scott went up 40-0 in the set's second game, but could not secure it, with Navarro finding her form and rolling from there.

The first set featured outstanding grass court tennis from Scott, who had ten winners, many of them coming via her drop shots, and only four unforced errors. Navarro made a rash of uncharacteristic errors, 14 to be exact, with only three winners, but she turned that around, and Scott, her right thigh heavily taped, was unable to sustain the level she had displayed in the first set. Scott, who played all three grass events, went 10-3 in that stretch, which included qualifying for Wimbledon.

Navarro will play No. 6 seed Natsumi Kawaguchi of Japan, who advanced when Elli Mandlik retired with an ab injury after dropping the second set 6-4, having won the first set 6-3. The other quarterfinal in the top half features 16-year-old qualifier Polina Kudermetova of Russia against Roehampton champion Daria Snigur of Ukraine. Kudermetova beat No. 3 seed Qinwen Zheng of China 6-2, 6-1, while Snigur took out Robin Montgomery 6-7(4), 6-1, 6-2.

There is an all-French quarterfinal coming Thursday after No. 4 seed Diane Parry defeated Hong Yi Cody Wong of Hong Kong 6-2, 6-3, and unseeded Elsa Jacquemot beat Mai Nirundorn of Thailand 7-5, 6-0.  No. 10 seed Alexa Noel advanced to her first junior slam quarterfinal, beating 15-year-old British wild card Matilda Mutavdzic 6-4, 6-4.

Noel was playing on one of the larger outside courts, Court 5, and with a British player competing on it, Mutavdzic had plenty of support from those waiting to get into Court 3 next door or exiting Show Courts 2 or 12. After a while, Noel begin to put her hands over her ears whenever Mutavdzic won a point, anticipating the coming roar.

"It was hard," said Noel, who turns 17 in September. "I love crowds, and obviously she's at home, but it was difficult for me just because she hit a few shots, I hit a few unforced errors, but the crowd was still going crazy. But it's something you have to deal with."

Despite all the crowd support, Mutavdzic was eventually worn down by the slicing and drop shots that Noel alternated with big serves and forehands. Down 5-2 in the second set, Mutavdzic saved three match points and broke Noel, then held to put the pressure back on the American, but some excellent serving delivered the win for Noel.

"I think I went for way too much," Noel said of failing to close out the match in that eighth game. "I could have easily just kicked a serve and play the point, hit a forehand, but for some reason I was like, hit an ace. And I didn't do that at all."

Noel will face Priska Nugroho of Indonesia in the quarterfinals. For the third consecutive match, Nugroho came from a set down to win, beating 14-year-old Linda Fruhvirtova of the Czech Republic 4-6, 6-3, 6-3.

All of the four girls quarterfinal matchups are a first ITF Junior Circuit meeting.

In the completion today of the first round of doubles, top seeds Parry and Zheng were defeated by Kamilla Bartone of Latvia and Oksana Selekhmeteva of Russia 7-5, 6-4.  Navarro and Chloe Beck, the No. 7 seeds, won their first round match over Nirundorn and Pia Lovric of Slovenia 7-6(3), 6-3.

In boys doubles, top seeds Jonas Forejek and Jiri Lehecka defeated Andrew Dale and Andres Martin 6-4, 6-4. No. 3 seeds Damm and Toby Kodat beat Roman Burruchaga of Argentina and Natan Rodrigues of Brazil 7-6(7), 6-4. Eliot Spizzirri and Tyler Zink advanced to the second round with a 7-6(1), 6-1 win over Alejo Lingua Lavallen of Argentina and Mayot. Govind Nanda and his Canadian partner Liam Draxl, seeded No. 7, beat Nicholas David Ionel of Romania and Wojciech Marek of Poland 7-6(4), 7-6(5).

Sam Querrey lost to Rafael Nadal 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 in the men's quarterfinals today, leaving Serena Williams as the only American still in singles save for Damm, Noel and Navarro. For more on Nadal's win today over Querrey, see this article from the Wimbledon website.

Wednesday's third round singles results for Americans:

Alexa Noel[10] d. Matilda Mutavdzic(GBR)[WC] 6-4, 6-4
Emma Navarro[1] d. Katrina Scott[Q] 0-6, 6-1, 6-1
Natsumi Kawaguchi(JPN)[6] d. Elli Mandlik  3-6, 6-4, ret.
Daria Snigur(UKR) d. Robin Montgomery 6-7(4), 6-1, 6-2

Martin Damm[4] d. Taha Baadi(CAN) 6-2, 6-3
Carlos Alcaraz Garfia(ESP)[10] d. Will Grant[LL] 6-4, 5-7, 8-6
Harold Mayot(FRA)[17] d. Brandon Nakashima[6] 6-4, 6-4

Thursday's quarterfinal singles matches featuring Americans:

Emma Navarro [1] v Natsumi Kawaguchi(JPN)[6]
Alexa Noel[10] v Priska Nugroho(INA)
Martin Damm[4] v Carlos Alcaraz Garfia(ESP)[10]

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