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Thursday, September 6, 2018

Heat and Rain Play Havoc with US Open Junior Championships Third Round, but Brooksby, Nakashima and Gauff Advance to Quarterfinals

©Colette Lewis 2018--
Flushing Meadows, NY--

A three-hour delay for extreme heat greeted juniors arriving at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center for their third round US Open singles matches Thursday and when lightning suspended play a little over three hours later, five of the 16 matches had yet to be completed. But three Americans were able to post victories to move on to Friday's quarterfinals, setting up two intriguing rematches.

Brandon Nakashima and Jenson Brooksby will play for the third time since April Friday, with the rematch of last month's Kalamazoo 18s final set up by their straight-sets victories.  Nakashima, the No. 14 seed, defeated No. 3 seed Hugo Gaston of France 6-1, 6-2 on Court 17, having little trouble against the 2017 Orange Bowl champion.

"I felt like I was playing well and I wasn't focusing too much on how he was playing," said Nakashima, a 17-year-old from San Diego. "I saw he took that medical timeout (after losing his serve to go down 1-0 in the second set), but I wasn't really too sure what was going on."

Nakashima was able to come up with some big serves when he was down break points, while Gaston, who got only 41 percent of his first serves in during the opening, was constantly under pressure when serving.

"It was definitely different from my opponent yesterday," said Nakashima, who had four aces and no double faults. "I knew I was going to be in a lot of the return games and I knew I just had to focus on my serve. I had to hit my targets well, just keep playing my game."

Brooksby fell behind early against qualifier Henry Von Der Schulenburg of Switzerland, who served for the first set at 5-4, but the 17-year-old from Sacramento won a marathon game with Von Der Schulenburg serving at 5-6, and held that momentum throughout the second set for a 7-5, 6-2 win.

"He had three or four game points, I had three or four break points, that was a long game," said Brooksby, who finished only about ten minutes before play was suspended for the day. "He had some good serves, but I was able to find some good returns in that game to break."

Brooksby said he was able to raise his level in the second set.

"I started playing better, following my strategy well in the second," said Brooksby. "I got an early break also, so I was able to play looser. I played pretty well overall in the second set."

Neither Brooksby or Nakashima would admit to looking ahead to a possible rematch when they first saw the draw, although Nakashima said he allowed himself to consider the possibility prior to today's matches. 

"When the draw first came out, I didn't focus on who I would be playing in the later rounds," Nakashima said. "But before today, I saw that I could possibly play him in the next round. I'm definitely happy that I get another shot at him tomorrow, after losing the last two or three times. I feel like I'm competing well, playing good tennis, so I'll give a good shot tomorrow. I'm looking to get revenge from last time. Obviously, it'll be a tough match and I'm just looking forward to competing tomorrow."

Brooksby understands that Nakashima will be especially eager to avenge his losses at the Easter Bowl and Kalamazoo and Brooksby is determined not to expect a similar outcome.

"First of all, I'm sure he's motivated to do well in this match," Brooksby said. "And second, obviously quarters of US juniors is huge. He's a good player, and I will never take anything lightly, against anyone, or him either."

Gauff's rematch will be with Dasha Lopatetskaya of Ukraine, with Lopatetskaya winning their previous meeting last year 6-2, 5-7, 7-6(3) in the semifinals of Les Petits As, the prestigious junior event in Tarbes France.

French Open champion Gauff earned her third consecutive junior slam quarterfinal appearance with a 6-3, 6-0 win over unseeded Oksana Selekhmeteva of Russia, while the 15-year-old Lopatetskaya, a qualifier, came from 4-2 down in the second set to defeat Elli Mandlik 7-5, 6-4.

Gauff was down 2-0 to start the match, but by the end she was coming into the net often, winning 11 of 13 points at the net.

"Pretty much everyone at USTA and my dad, everyone basically who watches me play, agrees that I should be going in more," said the 14-year-old Gauff, who reached the final of the US Open Juniors last year. "There's time when I finish into the court but decide to move back. It's not because my volleys aren't good--in doubles my volleys are good--I just haven't been used to playing that way. Sometimes when I have the lead I try to come in more and, today, she's not a heavy hitter, I would say, likes to chip and slice, and it's easy to put that away because there's no pace behind it...the first three points I went to the net I won, so I just kept coming in, just because I was winning them."

Lea Ma, the No. 16 seed, was trailing No. 3 seed Xiyu Wang of China 6-1, 4-0 when play was suspended. Wang was the player who knocked Ma out of Wimbledon in the third round back in July.  The winner of that match, which will be completed beginning at noon on Friday, will play No. 9 seed Naho Sato of Japan, who beat No. 5 seed Caty McNally 7-5, 6-4.

In the other quarterfinal that is set, No. 11 seed Clara Burel of France will face unseeded Emma Raducanu of Great Britain.

Only one other boys quarterfinal is set too, with top seed Chun Hsin Tseng of Taiwan, seeking his third straight junior slam title, facing qualifier Giulio Zeppieri of Italy. Tseng defeated qualifier Wojchiech Marek of Poland 6-2, 6-3 and Zeppieri beat Nick Hardt of the Dominican Republic 6-4, 6-1.

The third of the American boys in the round of 16, New Yorker Cannon Kingsley, lost the final 11 games of his match with Lorenzo Musetti in a 3-6, 6-3, 6-0 victory for the Italian.

The quarterfinals of doubles were scheduled for Thursday, but all eight matches were postponed until Friday.

Thursday's singles US Open results involving Americans:

Girls third round:

Dasha Lopatetskaya[Q](UKR) def. Elli Mandlik 7-5, 6-4
Naho Sato[9](JPN) def. Caty McNally[5] 7-5, 6-4
Lea Ma[16] vs Xiyu Wang[3]CHN 1-6, 0-4, to finish
Coco Gauff[1] def. Oksana Selekhmeteva(RUS) 6-3, 6-0

Boys third round:

Lorenzo Musetti(ITA) def. Cannon Kingsley 3-6, 6-3, 6-0
Jenson Brooksby[WC] def. Henry Von Der Schulenburg[Q](SUI) 7-5, 6-2
Brandon Nakashima[14] def. Hugo Gaston[3](FRA) 6-1, 6-2

Womens semifinals:

Naomi Osaka[20](JPN) def. Madison Keys[14] 6-2, 6-4
Serena Williams[17] def. Anastasija Sevastova[19](LAT) 6-3, 6-0

Friday's matches featuring Americans:


Lea Ma[16] vs Xiyu Wang[3](CHN), third round, to finish
Coco Gauff[1] vs Dasha Lopatetskaya[Q](UKR), quarterfinal

Boys quarterfinal:

Brandon Nakashima[14] vs Jenson Brooksby[WC]

Mens doubles final:
Jack Sock and Mike Bryan[3] vs Lukasz Kubot(POL) and Marcelo Melo(BRA)[7]