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Friday, January 30, 2015

Swan and Mihalikova in Girls Australian Open Final; Safiullin, Hong to Decide Boys Title; Paul Reaches Futures Semifinal; Americans Out at Les Petits As

The finals are set for the Australian Open junior championships, which will be held on Rod Laver Arena Saturday (later tonight in the US). Fifteen-year-old Katie Swan of Great Britain, who lives in Kansas, saved three match points, with the No. 14 seed coming back to defeat No. 5 seed Dalma Galfi of Hungary 0-6, 7-6(5), 7-5. She will face unseeded Tereza Mihalikova of Slovakia, who beat unseeded Greet Minnen of Belgium 6-4, 7-5.  The two finalists have not played before.

Swan, who was down 6-0, 4-2, is the first British girl in the final since Laura Robson made back to back appearances in 2009 and 2010. Mihalikova is the first Slovakian to reach the final since Katarina Basternakova in 1999. For more on Swan's comeback, which including cramping in the third set, see this article from the BBC.

Top seed Roman Safiullin lost his first set of the tournament in Friday's semifinal with unseeded Djurabeck Karimov of Uzbekistan, but advanced with a 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-1 victory.  He will face, for the first time, No. 7 seed Seong Chan Hong of Korea, who defeated No. 16 seed Akira Santillan of Australia 6-2, 7-6(2).  Russia has not had an Australian Open boys finalist since Mikhail Youzhny in 1999; Korea's last boys finalist in Melbourne was Sun-Yong Kim in 2005.  For more on the semifinals, see the ITF junior website.

The junior singles finals have been streamed the past several years. See the tournament website for a link.

The doubles champions were crowned Friday, with Australians Jake Delaney and Marc Polmans coming through in their home country to take the boys title.  The unseeded pair defeated No. 8 seed Hubert Hurkacz of Poland and Alex Molcan of Slovakia 0-6, 6-2, 10-8. They are the third straight team with at least one Australian member to win the boys doubles title.

The girls title went to No. 2 seeds Miriam Kolodziejova and Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic, who defeated the unseeded team of Minnen and Katharina Hobgarski of Germany 7-5, 6-4.

Complete draws are at the tournament website.

And congratulations to Bethanie Mattek-Sands for her second grand slam doubles title.  The 2012 Australian Open mixed doubles champion won the women's doubles title Friday with Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic. In their first time playing together, the unseeded Safarova and Mattek-Sands won a lot of close matches, culminating with 6-4, 7-6(5) win over No. 14 seeds Yung-Jan Chan of Taiwan and Jie Zheng of China. For more, see this article from the tournament website.

At the ITF Grade 1 in Ecuador, both Gianni Ross and Vasil Kirkov lost their semifinal matches in singles, but Francesca Di Lorenzo and Meghan Kelley, the No. 6 seeds, advanced to the doubles final, beating top seeds Mira Antonitsch of Austria and Tamara Zidansek of Slovenia 2-6, 6-4, 13-11.

Two of the three 17-year-olds in action in the Palm Coast Futures quarterfinals lost, but Tommy Paul advanced, reaching his second career Futures semifinal, with a 6-3, 2-6, 6-2 win over top seed Marcelo Arevalo of El Salvador. It is the second straight week that Paul has beaten the top seed in a Futures tournament, having taken out Christian Lindell of Sweden in the second round last week in Weston. Paul will play unseeded Patricio Heras of Argentina in the semifinals.

For the third week in a row, Francis Tiafoe lost to 32-year-old Benjamin Balleret of Monaco, this time dropping a 7-6(5), 6-2 decision, after losing to Balleret in the semifinals and finals in the previous two Futures in Florida.  Reilly Opelka lost to No. 2 seed Connor Smith, despite 18 aces, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, getting his only two break points in the opening set. Smith, who had no aces, was only two of 10 on his break chances, but it was enough to take the final two sets.

One American woman reached the semifinals of the $25,000 Pro Circuit event in Sunrise, Florida, No. 7 seed Sachia Vickery, who at 19 is the oldest semifinalist.  Vickery will play 17-year-old qualifier Natalia Vikhlyantseva of Russia, who beat Maria Sanchez 6-3, 6-1 today. In the top half, 18-year-old Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain will play 17-year-old Darya Kasatkina of Russia, who is on an eight-match winning streak after taking the title last week in Daytona Beach. The French girls champion defeated Sorribes Tormo in the semifinals last week 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.

At Les Petits As in Tarbes, France, both No. 5 seed Amanda Anisimova and unseeded Govind Nanda lost their quarterfinal matches in singles, so no Americans will be competing this weekend. Anisimova lost to No. 4 seed Olga Danilovic of Serbia 6-1, 6-1 and Nanda lost to No. 11 seed Nicolas Alvarez Varona of Spain 6-3, 6-4.

Alvarez Varona will play No. 5 seed Chun Hsin Tseng of Taiwan, a wild card, in one semifinal, while the other will feature No. 9 seed Nini Dica of Romania against No. 2 seed Timofey Skatov of Russia.

In the girls semifinals, top seed Anastasia Potapova will face fellow Russian Kamilla Rakhimova, the No. 14 seed, after both came from a set down to win in the quarterfinals.  Danilovic will face No. 2 seed Iga Swiatek of Poland in the other semifinal, so a rematch of the dramatic semifinal of the Junior Orange Bowl last month could still take place on Sunday, should both Potapova and Swiatek win.

For complete results, see the tournament page at Tennis Europe.