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Saturday, September 8, 2018

Seyboth Wild Beats Top Seed Tseng to Reach US Open Boys Final, Brooksby Falls to Musetti; Wang and Burel Vie for Girls Title; All-US Girls Doubles Final Set; Nava and Nefve Seek Boys Doubles Championship

©Colette Lewis 2018--
Flushing Meadows NY--

Top seed Chun Hsin Tseng's quest for a rare third straight junior slam title ended today on Court 17, with a 6-2, 6-4 loss to Thiago Seyboth Wild, but history is still being made at the US Open Junior Championships, with Wild becoming the first Brazilian to reach the boys final, and finalist Xiyu Wang the first girl from mainland China to compete in any junior slam singles championship match.

Despite the fact that sixth seed Seyboth Wild was playing the top seed, it was No. 3 seed Wang who had the tougher semifinal, with her 6-1, 5-7, 6-3 15-year-old qualifier Dasha Lopatetskaya delayed several times by drizzle and eventually completed after 7:30 p.m. on the indoor courts of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

The 17-year-old left-hander, who reached the girls semifinals at Wimbledon and won the doubles title there, breezed through the first set in under 30 minutes, with Wang's pace too much for Lopatetskaya to handle. In the second set, Lopatetskaya began to adjust, and with Wang's power game misfiring just often enough, Lopatetskaya was able to earn a 2-0 lead. That didn't last, with the score 2-2 in the second set when play was moved indoors.

Wang thought Lopatetskaya benefited from the change of venue.

"I think no, because the court is different," said Wang. "It's more slower, and outdoor I was playing very fast, she cannot defense very well. When we moved to the indoors, the points not so fast and she has time to hit against me, so we have more rallies. The second set was tough."

After getting broken at 5-6 to lose the second set, Wang didn't change her strategy, and her big hitting earned her a break in the first game of the third set. Wang gave that break back, but Lopatetskaya, who has played seven matches since last Saturday, couldn't hold in either of her next two service games. She broke Wang serving for the match, but not enough first serves in the final game gave Wang the chance to tee off on second serves and control the points with Wang breaking for the win.

Wang said she did not know she would be the first junior slam singles finalist from mainland China, and wasn't impressed with that fact.

"Normal, I just play my game, so not really excited," Wang said. "I just try to stay consistent, do my game, play my best."

Wang's first pro title last month, at a $25,000 ITF Women's Circuit event in Thailand, has given her confidence.

"That helped very much," Wang said. "I think I have more experience to help me to play the final."

Wang will be facing No. 11 seed Clara Burel of France in the final, who has the experience of playing in a junior slam final, after reaching the championship match this year at the Australian Open.  Getting back to a slam final is never easy, and Burel had to win a third-set tiebreaker to move past No. 4 seed Maria Osorio Serrano of Colombia 7-5, 1-6, 7-6(3).

Burel, also 17, had two match points with Osorio Serrano serving at 4-5, but didn't convert, then saved two break points in the next game, with two net cord aces.  After the second one, Burel looked mortified that she had gotten the benefit of the new rule that does not replay a let on a serve.

"Two break points by her and two lets," said Burel, who lost to Osorio Serrano in the previous meeting last year on clay. "I was so lucky today, I know. I like her, she's a good person, so I was sorry for her."

Burel played well in the tiebreaker, while Osorio Serrano did not, with her unforced errors deciding most of the points.

Burel's match, which was played entirely outdoors, finished long before the other semifinal, so she could not discuss her opponent, but she agreed that her experience in a junior slam final would give her an advantage over either possible opponent.

"For sure," said Burel, who lost to En Shuo Liang of Taiwan 6-3, 6-4 in the Australian Open girls final. "I make a grand slam final, so I have the experience. I know the feeling when you go to the court, and for sure it will help me."

Seyboth Wild was at a disadvantage in experience with Tseng on the other side of the net, but the 18-year-old said his serve was the shot that helped him overcome that.

"I came on court knowing exactly what I had to do," said Seyboth Wild, who had seven aces and converted four of his five break points. "I had a really solid match, I've had a great week, actually, and I don't know what's happening with my serve. I haven't served this well in forever."

In addition to his serve, Seyboth Wild was also able to catch the speedy Tseng by surprise with drop shots.

"He was trying to run to every ball and wait for my mistake," said Seyboth Wild, who had 25 winners compared to only six for Tseng. "So hitting drop shots would make him come into the court, so I could go to the net, to get the point to be quicker, maybe get a forehand, that was just what I was trying to do. Also get some angles, don't let him run in straight lines because that's easier."

Seyboth Wild has an ATP ranking in the Top 500, but he decided to play his final junior slam to "have some fun and enjoy my last junior tournament."

The contrast between the Pro Circuit and the Juniors is not only physical, but mental, according to Seyboth Wild.

"They're men, they're not juniors," said Seyboth Wild, whose excellent English has been honed by eight years of language classes. "What changes the most is the focus you have to have on court and it just makes the juniors look easy for you. Not easy, easy, but to focus, keep the game and the strategy going."

Seyboth Wild will face unseeded Lorenzo Musetti of Italy in Sunday's final, after Musetti defeated USTA National 18s champion Jenson Brooksby 6-3, 6-3 on Louis Armstrong stadium.

The 16-year-old Musetti said that he changed his game to enhance his chances against Brooksby.

"I think physically it was very tough, because he never missed and he stay on the baseline, so it was tough to break him," said Musetti, who had twice as many winners, 26, as Brooksby. "He was a really good flat player, so I need to change my game, to slice, to confuse him. It was tough, but I think prepared very good for the match and I play really good tennis. It was very impressive for me, because I never stay so much focused in one match."

Musetti, who has a one-handed backhand, sliced regularly and also was able to catch Brooksby off guard with drop shots, although Brooksby was not sure Musetti had a winning percentage in that category.

"I knew that coming in he would do that," said the 17-year-old from Sacramento. "I feel like he did hit a few winners off them, but there were some I was able to get up to and attack. I thought I could read them pretty well, but he still has a good drop shot. It was 50/50 or something."

Brooksby, who fell behind two breaks, 3-0 to start the match, said nerves were not a factor.

"I was pretty comfortable from the start," Brooksby said. "The court, the atmosphere, that wasn't an issue at all. I wasn't nervous before the match. I wish I could take back a few games, play a little better. I had a couple break point or 30-all chances and I wish I could have played a few of those points a bit better."

In the second set, Brooksby went up a break at 2-1, but immediately gave the break back and needed to save two break points to hold for 3-3. Serving at 3-4, Brooskby again faced two break points, but he could only save one and Musetti played his best game of the match to serve it out, going drop shot winner, backhand winner, forehand winner and good first serve to hold at love.

Musetti was he was unable to put into words his feelings about making the final.

"I cannot describe the feeling, because it's the first time," Musetti said. "It's amazing and I cannot believe I was in the final, now I have to get the trophy. I hope so, but I will enjoy for sure the final tomorrow. I'm very proud of it and I think I work hard for this and I think I deserve this. For me, it would be fine like this, but we always have to think the top, so I want the trophy and I hope to take it."

The boys final will lead off Sunday's four junior finals, beginning at noon on Armstrong Stadium.

The girls doubles champions will come from the United States regardless of who wins on Sunday, with top seeds Caty McNally and Coco Gauff facing Hailey Baptiste and Dalayna Hewitt.  Baptiste and Hewitt beat another unseeded American team, wild cards Chloe Beck and Emma Navarro, 6-4, 6-3 outdoors, while McNally and Gauff were forced indoors for their 6-2, 6-2 win over No. 5 seeds Joanna Garland of Taiwan and Moyuka Uchijima of Japan.

Axel Nefve and Emilio Nava will play for the boys doubles title on Sunday after saving two match points in their 3-6, 6-4, 12-10 win over Damien Wenger of Switzerland and Jesper De Jong of the Netherlands.

Nefve and Nava were up 8-6 in the match tiebreaker, but lost the next three points to face their first match point. Wenger and De Jong had control of the point, but Nefve and Nava kept digging out what looked to be winners and getting them back. On the second match point, with De Jong serving at 10-9, Nefve kept his team in the match with a forehand winner. Nava took over after that, hitting a backhand cross court passing shot to give his team a match point, and he sealed the trip to the final with a forehand winner.

Their opponents in the final, unseeded Anton Matusevich of Great Britain and Adrian Andreev of Bulgaria, also saved a match point in their 4-6, 7-5 10-6 win over Musetti and Giulio Zeppieri in the semifinals. Serving at 4-5 in the second set, Matusevich and Andreev outlasted Musetti and Zeppieri in a long rally on a deciding point, and kept that momentum throughout the next two games and the match tiebreaker. 

Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Great Britain's Jamie Murray won the mixed doubles title, beating Poland's Alicja Rosolska and Croatia's Nikola Mektic 2-6, 6-3, 11-9. For more on the mixed final, see this article from the US Open website.

Saturday's results involving Americans:

Boys singles semifinal:
Lorenzo Musetti(ITA) def. Jenson Brooksby[WC] 6-3, 6-3 

Women's singles final:
Naomi Osaka[20](JPN) def. Serena Williams[17] 6-2, 6-4

Mixed doubles final:
Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Jamie Murray(GBR) def. Alicja Rosolska(POL) and Nikola Mektic(CRO) 2-6, 6-3, 11-9

Sunday's finals involving Americans:

Girls doubles final:
Caty McNally and Coco Gauff[1] vs Dalayna Hewitt and Hailey Baptiste

Boys doubles final:
Axel Nefve and Emilio Nava vs Anton Matusevich(GBR) and Adrian Andreev(BUL)

Women's doubles final:
Coco Vandeweghe and Ashleigh Barty(AUS)[13] vs Timea Babos(HUN) and Kiki Mladenovic(FRA)[2]


L.B. said...

The benefits of playing USTA Junior Tournaments=Rules of the Game and Life Lessons:
"Friend at Court is the book of rules and regulations under which tennis is played in the United States. It includes the ITF Rules of Tennis, The Code, and USTA Regulations. It is recommended reading for players, parents, coaches, teachers, tournament directors, league officials and anyone who wants a finer understanding of the game."