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Saturday, July 14, 2018

Swiatek Claims Wimbledon Girls Title; McNally and Osuigwe Meet Royalty, Advance to Girls Doubles Final for Second Straight Year

©Colette Lewis 2018--

Iga Swiatek said after her semifinal win on Court 8 Friday that she was "stressed" just thinking about playing in Saturday's Wimbledon girls final on Court One, one of the most significant courts in the sport.  But any nerves she felt didn't show in her near-perfect performance, with the 17-year-old from Poland claiming a 6-4, 6-2 victory over fatigued qualifier Leonie Kung of Switzerland.

"I was scared that I will not do well because of the stress and the pressure," said Swiatek, who had 33 winners and just 13 unforced errors in her first junior slam final. "But I felt great on court. I was thinking that this is why I play tennis, to make the show, to make people clap, to make them enjoy the game."

Kung was broken in her first service game, but she denied Swiatek serving for the set at 5-3, hitting a forehand winner after a long and entertaining point to save a set point. She couldn't hold in the next game however, with Swiatek showing how dangerous her return game can be, then cranking a forehand winner on her fourth set point to take the set.

In the second set, with Court One now at least two-thirds full, Kung went up 40-15 serving at 1-2. But two double faults later it was deuce, and Swiatek forced two errors, giving her a 3-1 lead, which expanded to 4-1 with a love hold in the next game.

Kung said she never felt comfortable.

"I wasn’t feeling very good on the court," said the 17-year-old, who was just the second qualifier to reach the final since qualifying began in 1998. "I felt tired, I didn’t feel very pumped. I wasn’t fast in my legs anymore, my arm not, I felt tired, yes. She had very good serves, she played very aggressive, she made the shots that she had to make and I was just not feeling so fit anymore."

Kung held from 0-30 down to make it 2-4, but Swiatek stayed focused, served well, held for 5-2 and broke at 30-40 to secure the title.

Her celebration was subdued, possibly because she still didn't actually believe she had won.

"I don't know," Swiatek said when asked how it felt to be a Wimbledon champion. "I'm too overwhelmed. I don't feel it. I have to rest and then I will enjoy everything."

Swiatek, who was not enthusiastic about grass court tennis coming into the tournament and did not play the Grade 1 in Roehampton, dropped the first set she played this year on the surface against top seed Whitney Osuigwe, but raised her game with each subsequent set, winning the next 12.

She hopes to receive the qualifying wild card Wimbledon traditionally distributes to the junior champion in 2019, but will concentrate on building her WTA ranking, which has reached as high as 330. She is not planning to play the US Open Junior Championships, but is looking to compete in the Grade A Youth Olympics this October in Buenos Aires as her last junior event.

Kung, who turns 18 in October, is not planning to compete in the US Open Junior Championships either, with a $60,000 ITF event in Switzerland that week a better fit in her schedule.

The boys singles final will be played on Sunday, again on Court One, with unseeded Jack Draper of Great Britain taking on top seed Chun Hsin Tseng of Taiwan.

The doubles championships will also be decided on Sunday, with Caty McNally and Whitney Osuigwe into the girls doubles final for the second year in a row. The No. 2 seeds defeated unseeded Dalayna Hewitt and Peyton Stearns 6-2, 7-5 in an all-American semifinal, but the non-tennis highlight of the pair's day was meeting Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle, the Duchesses of Cambridge and Sussex, respectively, prior to the resumption of the men's semifinal on Centre Court.

"Yesterday, after doubles, a woman from upstairs just said tomorrow Whitney and I could meet Kate and Meghan," McNally said. "We just said, oookay. Today we got here at 11, went upstairs and they took us over in a lounge area. It was us, the boys finalists, a few ball kids and a wheelchair player who got to meet them."

These were not just introductions and handshakes, but conversations.

"They asked us what event we were playing, how we were doing, how we liked it here, about the weather, where we're from, stuff like that," Osuigwe said.

McNally and Osuigwe said they were quite familiar with the two duchesses, "you see them on every magazine," Osuigwe said, but a discussion then ensued as to whether they were the most famous people the two Americans had ever met. They settled on yes, if tennis players were not included.

In the final, McNally and Osuigwe will be playing the top-seeded Chinese team of Xiyu Wang and Xinyu Wang, who defeated No. 4 seeds Coco Gauff and Argentina's Maria Carle 6-4, 6-2. The Americans concede they have the advantage of experience.

"They're probably going to come out swinging like they always do, because that's their game style," said McNally, who also reached the Wimbledon girls doubles final in 2016 and won the French Open girls doubles title last month. "At least we know, last year we had chances for sure, and I think this year we'll be able to take advantage of the opportunities."

"To be blunt, they play hard and flat," Osuigwe said. "We've played them in doubles before, not as a pair, but both of them separately. We played the righty (Xinyu) Wang last week, when she played with Clara Tauson."

The boys doubles final will feature No. 6 seeds Nicolas Mejia of Colombia and Ondrej Styler of the Czech Republic against the unseeded team of Yanki Erel of Turkey and Otto Virtanen of Finland.  Mejia, who suffered a heartbreaking 7-6(5), 6-7(6) 19-17 defeat to Draper in the singles semifinals Friday, recovered to post two victories in doubles today. He and Styler defeated Brandon Nakashima and Tyler Zink 6-3, 6-4 in the delayed quarterfinal, then beat unseeded Rinky Hijikata of Australia and Naoki Tajima of Japan 6-3, 7-6(4) in the semifinals. Erel and Virtanen had just one match Saturday, beating the British wild card team of James Story and Harry Wendelken 7-6(0), 7-6(5).

The complete Sunday schedule is here.

Women's Final Saturday:
Angelique Kerber[11](GER) def. Serena Williams[25] 6-3, 6-3

Men's Doubles Final Saturday:
Mike Bryan and Jack Sock[7] def. Raven Klaasen(RSA) and Michael Venus[13](NZL) 6-3, 6-7(7), 6-3, 5-7, 7-5