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Thursday, December 6, 2007

Dimitrov Keeps Berankis in Hunt for Year-end No. 1 by Defeating Ignatic Again

©Colette Lewis 2007--
Key Biscayne, FL--

Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria kept alive his hopes for a second consecutive Orange Bowl with another victory over ITF Junior World No. 1 Vlad Ignatic of Belarus, and he also gave life to No. 2 Ricardas Berankis's hopes for the top spot in the year end rankings.

Dimitrov beat Ignatic in the quarterfinals of the Eddie Herr last week, in a dramatic and suspense-filled encounter. Thursday's round of 16 contest between Dimitrov, the No. 16 seed, and Ignatic, the No. 1 seed, was less emotional, only because it wasn't as close, with the 2006 Orange Bowl 16s champion taking it 6-2, 6-4.

With Ignatic unable to reach the semifinals, he can't clinch the year-end title unless US Open Junior Champion Berankis fails to win the tournament. With his 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-1 victory over No. 13 seed Yuki Bhambri of India, Berankis, seeded second, kept the top spot in his sights, although the 17-year-old Lithuanian wasn't dwelling on that.

"It's a good feeling that you still have some chances to reach No. 1, but I'm not focusing on that too much," said Berankis. "We'll see how it goes. If I'm one, I'm one."

Berankis made it difficult on himself, dropping his serve at 5-3 in the second, when he could have put the 15-year-old from New Delhi away in two sets.

"I made a couple of bad unforced errors there and the tiebreak was the same," said Berankis. "I lost my momentum then, but I took him early in the third. He wasn't making too many winners or pressuring me, but sometimes I was just too anxious."

With the win, Berankis now gets another chance at wild card Chase Buchanan, who overcame big-serving Milos Raonic of Canada 6-7(6), 6-1, 6-4. Buchanan ousted Berankis from the Eddie Herr in the second round, in a third set tiebreaker, and Berankis is looking forward to the rematch.

"It is good motivation, to take the revenge," he said, remarking that Buchanan plays a large number of three-set matches.

After his third set tiebreaker win over Mirza Basic on Wednesday, Buchanan probably would have liked a quick one against Raonic, but the solidly built 16-year-old kept Buchanan on the defensive. When the Canadian feathered a perfect drop volley on set point in the first, he demonstrated the finesse that accompanies his power, and Buchanan had to dig in to get to a third set. Up 3-0 in the third with Raonic cramping, Buchanan looked to be in command, but serving for the match at 5-3, Buchanan was broken, double faulting on break point.

Serving at 4-5, Raonic made a couple of volley errors and at 30-30 Buchanan clocked a backhand passing shot that gave him match point. He didn't have to hit another shot, as Raonic double faulted to end it.

Two other U.S. boys advanced to the quarterfinals, with No. 15 Ryan Harrison taking a 6-4, 6-3 victory over No. 4 Ricardo Urzua-Rivera of Chile and No. 14 Jarmere Jenkins blasting by unseeded Alexei Grigorov of Russia 6-4, 6-1. The fourth American boy in the round of 16, Rhyne Williams, seeded 11th, lost to No. 8 seed Radu Albot of Moldova 6-2, 4-6, 6-2.

The seven American girls remaining in the 18s were whittled down to three and due to the luck of the draw, eliminated each other in three of Wednesday's matches. Melanie Oudin continued her domination of juniors with a 6-1, 6-0 win over unseeded wild card Christina McHale. No. 15 seed Mallory Cecil was down a set and 3-0 to No. 4 seed Madison Brengle before winning ten of the next 11 games for a 4-6, 6-4, 4-0 ret. victory. Brengle was complaining of dizziness and was said to be coughing up blood at that point in the match, but she was able to take the court for her doubles match a few hours later.

Wild card Alison Riske is having an impressive tournament, coming out on top Thursday after a two-and-a-half hour battle with Ohio's Kristy Frilling. With her 6-3, 4-6, 7-5 win, the 17-year-old Pennsylvanian earned a quarterfinal berth in only her third ITF tournament, but it required overcoming a 3-4 deficit in the final set.

"She was beating me with her shots," said Riske. "She tried to mix it up with me today instead of pound with me, and I think it really worked to her advantage. But I just tried to stay confident and not let my emotions get to me too much, because it was warm out and she's a great player. So I just tried to stay calm and make some more first serves."

Riske's next opponent is Cecil, while Oudin takes on World No. 1 and Wimbledon Junior Champion Urszula Radwanska, who held off Coco Vandeweghe of the U.S. 6-1, 7-5 on the Californian's 16th birthday. It will be the first meeting in both cases.

The girls 16s, which featured an All-American final in 2006, can deliver another one in 2007, if unseeded wild cards Lily Kimbell and Elizabeth Begley win their semifinal matches Friday. Kimbell eliminated No. 13 seed Amandine Hesse of France 6-4, 2-6, 6-2, while Begley upended Grace Min 7-5, 7-5. Kimbell meets unseeded Stephanie Cornish of Great Britain, while Begley draws the only seeded girl remaining, No. 5 Katarena Palivets of Canada.

The boys 16s will not be won by an American, as the last three, Matt Kandath, Alex Domijan and Junior Ore, were beaten Thursday. Top seed Bernard Tomic of Australia faces unseeded Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia in one semifinal; in the other, Eddie Herr 16s champ Pablo Carreno faces Jose Pereira of Brazil (a/k/a Jose Silva). Both are unseeded.

For complete draws, including 16s doubles semifinal and 18s quarterfinal matchups, see usta.com.


Anonymous said...

Does anyone know what happened to Lazare Kukhalashvili? I haven't seen him around lately and he was the former Orange Bowl champion in 12's. Should be about 16 years old now. Is he injured?

Anonymous said...

4-0, 3rd set default? Come on! Sport doesn't build character, it reveals character. -John Wooden

Anonymous said...

Heard there is question Heard that Lazare lied about his real age. ALso, never grew. Anyone else hear that? Also heard there is questions about Silva B16 OB semi finalist real age? Annyone else hear that? Anyone know how ITF can protect against false birthdays from players from 3rd world countries?

Anonymous said...

Lazo is in supposedly training in spain according to one coach i talked to. I don't know what tournaments he will play, but i think he is going to play a couple pro tournaments. It would be interesting to see if he has developed his game or if he is still a baseliner who play 5 feet behind the line.

Anonymous said...

Great win for chase. I saw Raonic play sundling first round and unfortuanetly for sundling Raonic was serving huge. Multiple aces were called in that were clearly out but im guessing most reffs have that problem. Does Raonic usually serve two first serves?? Thats what i saw in his first round match. What happened with Alex Domijan?

Anonymous said...

Lazare did indeed get caught lying about his age by 2 full years.i suspect there are other Eastern Bloc kids who do this to get scholarships to academies over here and to be signed by agents for good money much the same as in baseball where as many as 40 to 50 Dominicans and other South Americans were caught lying about their ages to be signed to lucrative baseball contracts. I think its far more common than people want to imagine.

Anonymous said...

"anonymous said... Lazare did indeed get caught lying about his age by 2 full years."

This is amazing info. I always thought that he looked unusually mature for his age. Now the big question is whether he signed a pro contract. I suspect that he did. If so, those agents are likely to want their money back because they probably thought they were signing a 14 year old prodigy, not just a decent 16 or 17year old.

Anonymous said...

How can the ITF verify the real age of players born in counties that perhaps dont keep the type of official bith records as is done in western countries. While it would be very difficult to falsify a birth record in the US and other western countries, it would not be that difficult to in many third world countries. So, basically the ITF is stuck. Its like if we had our 15 year olds playing the 14 orange bowl.