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Saturday, July 13, 2019

Snigur Defeats Noel for Wimbledon Girls Title; Broadus and Forbes, Nanda Reach Doubles Finals; Boys Championship Match Between Mochizuki and Gimeno Valero Set for Sunday

©Colette Lewis 2019--

Although she loves the grass, Daria Snigur acknowledged her nervousness when she stepped out on Court 1 for the Wimbledon girls final on a warm and sunny Saturday afternoon at the All England Lawn and Tennis Club.

The 17-year-old Ukrainian certainly looked less comfortable than she had throughout the week, falling behind No. 10 seed Alexa Noel 4-1 in the opening set, as double faults and unforced errors allowed the 16-year-old American the space she needed to use her eclectic game. But Snigur adjusted, eliminating her errors and coming up big on key points to claim a 6-4, 6-4 victory, joining Kateryna Bondarenko as her country's only Wimbledon girls champions.

Snigur, who had defeated Noel 6-1, 6-2 last Friday in the final of the ITF Grade 1 in Roehampton, saved three break points at 3-4 in the first set to pull even, then broke Noel and served out the set.  The pattern repeated in the second set, with Snigur momentarily reverting to her form early in the first set, with unforced errors giving Noel a 2-0 lead. But as quickly as her game evaporated, it returned, with a love hold cutting Noel's lead to 3-1. A net cord winner and two unforced errors got Snigur the break back, and although Noel took a 4-3 lead, Snigur dug back in, holding, then breaking at love to go up 5-4.

Serving for the match, Snigur had no trouble holding, converting her first match point with a backhand winner, then falling to her knees. The crowd, which continued to fill the stands throughout the match and probably numbered eight or nine thousand, applauded warmly for both players, although they might have been wishing for a third set. After shaking hands, Snigur sprinted to the players box to embrace her father before collecting her winner's trophy.

Snigur said she was not interested in getting into a slicing battle with Noel, admitting that she does not like to play the American.

"It's a very hard game for me, because I don't like when she play all time slices," Snigur said. "But I must to play, because it's finals, Wimbledon, I don't have my choice. I tried to push the ball, I don't want to play slice on slice. I must push the ball."

By push, Snigur meant drive, and Noel explained why Snigur is so good on grass in particular.

"She's a very good player," Noel said. "She's super deceiving and she loves her backhand. She can hit her backhand from anywhere on the court. She was even running to the deuce side to get backhands. She kind of acts, in my opinion, she's not super high energy, not crazy intense, and she doesn't look like she moves, but when she gets on court when we're playing, she does."

And while Noel's varied and slice-heavy game is a nightmare for most players, Noel feels the same way about Snigur's style.

"That's not a normal thing to play against," Noel said. "It's hard to face. She's quick and she's there to win as everyone else is."

That said, Noel was ambivalent about her own performance in the final, especially when contrasted with her 6-2, 6-1 win over No. 4 seed Diane Parry in the semifinals.

"I definitely didn't play as well as I did yesterday," Noel said. "It was just mental, everything, the entire match, going into it, how nervous one was going to into it," said Noel, who is coached by David Span. "I had my chances, even not playing awesome, but she just dealt with it a little bit better. In my opinion, I had the match, and I guess it just happens."

For Snigur, who is not expecting to play any other junior events save the ITF Junior Masters this fall, the title was a perfect way to end her junior career.

"It's a very good feeling," said Snigur, who is coached by Larisa Savchenko, who reached the women's quarterfinals at Wimbledon in 1994. "Very good for me, for my career, I think. Because I won 15(K), 25(K) women's tournaments, but I want to win grand slam of course. It was my dream."

While Snigur now is setting out to build her WTA ranking, now at 423, Noel will be playing the USTA National 18s Championships in San Diego next month and the US Open Junior Championships in September. But first they will get an opportunity to mingle with others who excelled on the grass of the All England Club during the fortnight, when they attend Sunday's Champions Dinner (formerly Ball).

"I've been so excited about that," Noel said. "I just got told about that. I'm so excited."

Three other Americans will join Noel there, after winning their doubles semifinal matches on Saturday.  Govind Nanda, playing with Canadian Liam Draxl, will take on top seeds Jonas Forejtek and Jiri Lehecka of the Czech Republic in the boys doubles final. The No. 7 seeds defeated the British wild card team of Arthur Fery and Toby Samuel 6-4, 6-3 in the semifinals, while Forejtek and Lehecka outlasted No. 3 seeds Martin Damm and Toby Kodat 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.

Savannah Broadus and Abigail Forbes played a near-perfect semifinal Saturday morning, beating Aubane Droguet and Selena Janicijevic of France 6-1, 6-1 in 43 minutes.  Broadus and Forbes will face Kamilla Bartone of Latvia and Oksana Selekhmeteva of Russia in the girls final.

The boys final is scheduled for Sunday, with No. 8 seed Shintaro Mochizuki of Japan facing unseeded Carlos Gimeno Valero of Spain. See my post from Friday for how they advanced to the final.

Saturday's results:

Boys doubles:
Govind Nanda(USA) and Liam Draxl(CAN)[7] d. Arthur Fery and Toby Samuel(GBR)[WC] 6-4, 6-3
Jonas Forejtek and Jiri Lehecka(CZE)[1] d. Martin Damm and Toby Kodat(USA)[4] 6-2, 3-6, 6-3

Girls doubles:
Savannah Broadus and Abigail Forbes(USA) d. Aubane Droguet and Selena Janicijevic(FRA) 6-1, 6-1
Kamilla Bartone(LAT) and Oksana Selekhmeteva(RUS) d. Polina Kudermetova(RUS) and Giulia Morlet(FRA) 7-6(6), 7-5

Girls singles final:

Daria Snigur(UKR) d. Alexa Noel(USA)[10] 6-4, 6-4

Women's singles final:
Simona Halep(ROU)[7] d. Serena Williams(USA)[11] 6-2, 6-2