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Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Lucky Loser Grant Advances to Third Round at Wimbledon Junior Championships; Fourteen-Year-Old Fruhvirtova Ousts Second Seed Osoro Serrano

©Colette Lewis 2019--

Eight Americans have advanced to Wednesday's third round of the Wimbledon Junior Championships, and none of them feel half as fortunate as Will Grant.

Grant, the only player in either singles draw to get in as a lucky loser after losing in the final round of qualifying, defeated No. 5 seed Jiri Lehecka of the Czech Republic 6-4, 7-6(6) to earn just his second win at the junior slam level.

"If you would have told me I would have been here, it's like nah, it's crazy," said Grant, who lost in the first round at the Grade 1 in Nottingham and failed to qualify at Roehampton in the two previous grass court tournaments. "If you would have asked me [if I liked grass] that two weeks ago, I would have definitely said no. Losing in qualies in Roehampton, it wasn't pretty, I was really struggling on the grass....honestly I was in such a bad place mentally, I wanted to go home, I'm so done with the grass. But luckily my parents and coaches pushed me, kept me in a good place, and now I'm here."

Despite picking up his first junior slam win Monday against friend Nini Dica, who had drawn Grant's number in the lucky loser procedure, Grant was less than confident going into the match with Lehecka, who has a Top 500 ATP ranking and had beaten him 6-4, 6-1 in the final of a Grade 2 on the clay in April.

"Honestly, going into the match, obviously you think you can win and be positive," Grant said. "But in the back of my mind, I really didn't feel I could win. He beat me pretty easily a few weeks ago, pretty routine. I don't think he played his best today, but I had a part in that."

Grant also made good use of his challenges, with the Hawkeye system available on Court 16.

"I got one wrong, second game, it was way in, and I got three right towards the end, and it was pretty big points, and all were in," Grant said. "After the first or second I got right, I could sort of tell that the ref wasn't having a good day."

Grant didn't need any help from Hawkeye when he saved a set point with Lehecka serving for the second set at 6-5. Lehecka had come back from 0-40 down, taking four straight points, but Grant connected with a nifty cross court passing shot to save it and two consecutive Lehecka backhand errors sent the set to a tiebreaker. Lehecka led 5-4 and had two serves, but his backhand again let him down and Grant found himself serving at 6-5. Lehecka connected on a forehand winner to save the first match point, but he hit another errant backhand to give Grant a second chance, then double faulted to end the match.

"Honestly, in that second set, I got lucky," said Grant, who will be joining the Florida Gators this fall. "I probably should still be out there in the third, but it just went my way today, and I'm really proud."

Grant will play No. 10 seed Carlos Alcaraz Garfia, one of three Spanish boys remaining in the draw, in the third round. Alcaraz Garfia powered past Matheus Pucinelli de Almeida of Brazil 6-1, 6-2 Tuesday.

No. 4 seed Martin Damm defeated qualifier Ryoma Matsushita of Japan 6-4, 6-4 and will face Taha Baadi of Canada on Wednesday. No. 6 seed Brandon Nakashima is the third American boy in the round of 16, after he defeated Nicholas David Ionel of Romania 7-6(4), 6-2. Nakashima will take on No. 17 seed Harold Mayot of France Wednesday in the only boys third round match featuring two seeds.

"I thought he came out playing pretty well in the first set," said the 17-year-old Nakashima, who completed his first semester of college at the University of Virginia before returning this summer to the ITF Junior Circuit for the French Open. "I just tried to stay consistent with him, stay patient and wait for my moment. Luckily I closed it out in a tight first set and then got a little confidence, started playing a little better in the second, got some more returns in play and started serving a lot better."
Only five seeds remain in the girls draw, with 14-year-old Linda Fruhvirtova of the Czech Republic, pulling off the biggest upset of the girls tournament by defeating No. 2 seed Maria Osorio Serrano of Colombia 6-4, 6-3.  Fruhvirtova, the youngest competitor at Wimbledon this year, looked in control throughout the match, despite having just won her first junior slam match on Saturday.

"I'm really happy with my win today," said Fruhvirtova, the reigning Les Petis As champion. "I feel like I played really, really well. Of course there were some mistakes, but I played consistent. There weren't many downs in my game, I kept playing well first set, second set and I was focused."

A little more than a year younger than this year's Wimbledon sensation Coco Gauff, Fruhvirtova views the American prodigy as an inspiration, but does not see herself making the second week of the women's tournament by this time next year.

"I think I can get there, but I don't think I can do it like in one year," said Fruhvirtova, who faces the same age restrictions as Gauff, which both must continue to navigate in the coming years. "It's really tough. I can't get so many wild card, I'm limited in count of tournaments, but I think what she achieved here is amazing, great results. I think I can do it, some day."

While Osorio Serrano was not able to hold off her younger opponent, top seed Emma Navarro did, just barely, beating 16-year-old Selena Janicijevic of France 4-6, 6-4, 7-5. Up 4-1 and serving in the first set, Navarro lost five straight games, then went down a break in the second set at 3-1, but fought back. The 18-year-old from South Carolina took a 4-2 lead in the third set, lost it, served for the match at 5-4, didn't get to match point, but never allowed any frustration to disrupt her focus. Janicijevic showed off some exquisite volleys in high pressure situations, but Navarro was still able to find spots for well-executed passing shots, including one stunning forehand from eight feet behind the baseline as she was tumbling to the grass.

Navarro got another chance to serve for the match after breaking Janicijevic with a forehand winner at 30-40, but she needed three match points to finally end the challenge from Janicijevic, who played outstanding tennis to save the first two match points. After forcing a forehand error for a third match point, Navarro got a good first serve in and Janicijevic netted her backhand return, ending a match the spectators crowding around court 10 were delighted to have witnessed. Navarro ended with 38 winners and just 23 unforced errors, while Janicijevic hit 37 winners with 35 unforced errors.

Navarro will face 15-year-old qualifier Katrina Scott, who added to her impressive grass court resume with a 6-1, 6-4 win over British wild card Sonay Kartal.

A day after going 11-9 in the third set, Elli Mandlik beat Elina Avanesyan of Russia 6-0, 6-0. Robin Montgomery and No. 10 seed Alexa Noel also advanced to the third round with straight-sets wins.

Half of the first round of doubles matches were completed today, with the only girls seeded team to fall No. 6 Sada Nahimana of Burundi and Liubov Kostenko of Ukraine losing to Savannah Broadus and Abigail Forbes 6-1, 6-4.  Thailand's Thasaporn Naklo was forced to retire in her doubles match after being hit in the eye with a ball late in the third set. Naklo and her partner Mananchaya Sawangkaew were coming back from 5-1 down against Fruhvirtova and Kristyna Lavickova when the unfortunate accident occurred.

The wild card team of Jacob Fearnley and Connor Thomson of Great Britain beat No. 8 seed Sergey Fomin of Uzbekistan and Gauthier Onclin of Belgium 6-2, 6-4, and Nakashima and Valentin Royer of France beat No. 4 seeds Pucinelli de Almeida and Argentina's Thiago Tirante 6-3, 6-2 in first round boys doubles action Tuesday.

In the women's quarterfinals, No. 11 seed Serena Williams defeated Alison Riske 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 and will face unseeded Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic in Thursday's semifinals. See this Wimbledon website article for more on that all-American quarterfinal.

Tuesday’s second round junior singles results featuring Americans:

Arthur Fery(GBR)[WC] d. Cannon Kingsley 6-4, 6-4
Anton Matusevich(GBR) d. Govind Nanda 6-3, 6-3
Brandon Nakashima[6] d. Nicholas David Ionel(ROU) 7-6(4), 6-2
Martin Damm[4] d. Ryoma Matsushita(JPN) 6-4, 6-4
Carlos Gimeno Valero(ESP) d. Andrew Dale[Q] 6-1, 6-3
Will Grant[LL] d. Jiri Lehecka(CZE)[5] 6-4, 7-6(6)

Katrina Scott[Q] d. Sonay Kartal(GBR)[WC] 6-1, 6-4
Elli Mandlik d. Elina Avanesyan(RUS) 6-0, 6-0
Alexa Noel[10] d. Charlotte Owensby[Q] 6-2, 6-1
Diane Parry(FRA)[4] d. Abigail Forbes 7-6(5), 6-4
Emma Navarro[1] d. Selena Janicijevic(FRA) 4-6, 6-4, 7-5
Robin Montgomery d. Funa Kozaki(JPN)[Q] 7-6(1), 6-2

Wednesday's third round singles matches featuring Americans:

Alexa Noel[10] v Matilda Mutavdzic(GBR)[WC]
Emma Navarro[1] v Katrina Scott[Q]
Elli Mandlik v Natsumi Kawaguchi(JPN)[6]
Robin Montgomery v Daria Snigur(UKR)

Martin Damm[4] v Taha Baadi(CAN)
Will Grant[LL] v Carlos Alcaraz Garfia(ESP)[10]
Brandon Nakashima[6] v Harold Mayot(FRA)[17]