Wednesday, September 9, 2020

French Open Junior Championship Acceptances Include Nine Americans; Williams Advances to US Open Semifinals; Melichar Earns Spot in Women's Doubles Final

photo by Sam Elias, via unsplash

The acceptances for the French Open Junior Championships were released today, with five US girls and four US boys receiving direct entry. There is no junior qualifying this year, so 56 players received entry, with eight wild cards to be named later. 

The American girls who have entered, with their current ITF Junior ranking in brackets, are Robin Montgomery[5], Alexandra Yepifanova[23], Elvina Kalieva[26], Madison Sieg[41] and Ellie Coleman[54].

The American boys entered are Dali Blanch[30], Bruno Kuzuhara[51], Alexander Bernard[57] and Maxwell McKennon[61].

Both Australian Open Junior champions have entered, with Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva of Andorra and Harold Mayot of France looking to sweep the titles of the only two junior slams that will be contested this year. In all, seven of the Top 10 have entered in both the boys and girls fields.

The cutoff for the girls was 68, with Great Britain's Emma Raducanu receiving entry based on her WTA ranking of 338 and Daria Lopatetska of Ukraine receiving entry based on her WTA ranking of 381. The cutoff for the boys was 61, with Pablo Llamas Ruiz of Spain receiving entry due to his ATP ranking of 649. 

There will be up to eight alternates designated, but only three will be allowed access to the site. These are the testing protocols that have been announced for the junior event:

Upon arrival at the hotel, player and support team member will need to submit two nasopharyngeal swab PCR tests within the 72 hours preceeding the start of the event.

Once the player has received his/her first negative test result, he/she will be allowed to pick up his/her credential and may go on site.

From then on, players and support team member may do the second PCR test which can be the same day as the result of the 1st test.

5 days after the second PCR test, players and guests will be required to undergo a third PCR test, to confirm results of the second test.

The testing room will be operational from Thursday 1st October at the Ibis Hotel

Each player is responsible to ensure they arrive in Paris in a reasonable time to observe the protocol.

Planning for international travel is already complicated enough without last minute changes, but those hoping to get Grade 3 points at the ITF Grade 1 in Hungary next week, got a shock when they were informed that it had been downgraded to a Grade 5 just two weeks before the tournament was to begin. That means no hospitality as well as a huge reduction of points on offer, so unsurprisingly, withdrawals were legion.

Serena Williams has joined Jennifer Brady in the US Open women's semifinals, beating unseeded Tsevtana Pironkova of Bulgaria 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 this afternoon. The third-seeded Williams will face the winner of tonight's match between Victoria Azarenka of Belarus and No. 16 seed Elise Mertens of Belgium Thursday evening, after the match between Brady and Naomi Osaka of Japan, who beat Shelby Rogers 6-3, 6-4 last night. 

2019 finalist Daniil Medvedev, seeded 3,  is through to the semifinals, beating fellow Russian and No. 10 seed Andrey Rublev 7-6(6), 6-3, 7-6(5) this afternoon. He will play the winner of tonight's match between No. 21 seed Alex De Minaur of Australia and No. 2 seed Dominic Thiem of Austria in Friday's semifinals.

The women's doubles final is set, with Nicole Melichar and partner Yifan Xu of China advancing to the championship match against Vera Zvonereva of Russia and Laura Siegemund of Germany, who won their semifinal on Tuesday.
The No. 3 seeds saved a match point in the third set tiebreaker, beating unseeded Asia Muhammad and Taylor Townsend 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(7).  Muhammand and Townsend led 4-2 in the final set, only to go down 6-5, with Xu serving for the match, but they played a perfect game to break her at love and force a tiebreaker. Townsend saved a match point with a poach with Muhammad serving at 5-6, and then it was Xu's turn to save a match point, hitting a sharply angled forehand winner off a return at 6-7. A Melichar poach gave her team a second match point and Xu again came up big, directing her return right at Muhammad at the net, who couldn't handle it.

Melichar, who reached the 2018 Wimbledon women's doubles final with Kveta Peschke of the Czech Republic, won the mixed doubles title at Wimbledon that year, with Alexander Peya of Austria. Xu, playing with Gabriela Dabrowski of Canada, lost in the 2019 Wimbledon women's doubles final.  

The men's doubles final is Thursday at 3 p.m., and the wheelchair competition begins at noon, with the complete schedule here.