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Friday, June 11, 2021

Fils and Van Assche Meet for French Open Boys Title, Noskova and Andreeva to Decide Girls Championship; Three Americans in Orlando Challenger and Wichita $25K Semifinals

The semifinals of junior slams are not always the most exciting matches, but all four of the French Open singles matches today were competitive, and two ended in third set tiebreakers(which the pros do not play in Paris).

Arthur Fils, 2020 Orange Bowl 

No. 14 seed Arthur Fils defeated doubles partner Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(5) in the first of two boys semifinals between French players. Fils, the reigning Orange Bowl champion, was down 6-3, 3-1 before mounting his comeback with a streak of five straight games. There were no breaks of serve in the third set, and only four break points total, but Fils was able to hold his nerve in the tiebreaker to claim the victory. He will hope to celebrate his 17th birthday Saturday with a title when he faces No. 13 seed Lucas Van Assche, who beat No. 9 seed Sean Cuenin 7-5, 6-4. If the crowd at both semifinal matches is any indication of the interest of the local fans, expect a large contingent cheering on both players at 11 a.m. Paris time on Saturday.

The girls final in Paris will feature two unseeded players, both of whom came from a set down to advance to the championship match. Linda Noskova of the Czech Republic prevented an all-Russian final when she defeated No. 4 seed Diana Shnaider of Russia 1-6, 6-3, 6-3. Noskova made use of her willingness to come to the net in the final two sets, keeping Shnaider from finding the time she need for her big ground strokes.

Erika Andreeva was in all sorts of trouble against No. 9 seed Oksana Selekhmeteva, with Selekhmeteva serving for the match at 5-4 in both the second and third sets. But Andreeva didn't panic, saving three match points with Selekhmeteva serving at 5-4 in the third set, emerging with a 2-6, 7-5, 7-6(0) win.  

Selekhmeteva didn't get to match point serving at 5-4 in the second set, and Andreeva took advantage of some tentative play by Selekhmeteva to take the last four games of the set. Andreeva found success by bringing Selekhmeteva to the net with drop shots, then passing her, a strategy she continued to employ even in the face of the occasional failure in execution.

Serving for the match at 5-4 in the third set, Selekhmeteva went up 40-15, but Andreeva kept calm during a tense rally, with Selekhmeteva eventually sending a forehand long. An unforced forehand error on the next point made it deuce, but Andreeva couldn't get a first serve back in play on the next point to give Selekhmeteva a third match point. Andreeva again refused to donate anything when it mattered, and a brave backhand forced Selekhmeteva into a backhand error. Andreeva won the game, saved a break point in her service game to hold for 6-5, and then completely dominated the tiebreaker.

Selekhmeteva got off to a shaky start in the tiebreaker, missing an easy putaway at the net, and two more errors followed, while Andreeva was relentless in both her strategy and execution.

Noskova is the first Czech girl to reach the Roland Garros final since 1989. Andreeva, who like Noskova, is 16 years old, is aiming to become the first Russian girls champion since Daria Kasatkina in 2014.

The doubles finals Saturday will feature another match with Fils and Mpetshi Perricard, this time on the same side of the net. The No. 4 seeds, who share the same coach, will play the unseeded team of Martin Katz of Belgium and German Samofalov of Ukraine, after the singles finals. Fils and Mpetshi Perricard defeated unseeded Viacheslav Bielinskyi of Ukraine and Petr Nesterov of Bulgaria 7-5, 6-2, while Katz and Samofalov ended the run of Victor Lilov and Slovakia's Peter Privara 6-4, 7-6(6).

Selekhmeteva, who won the US Open girls doubles title with Kamilla Bartone of Latvia in 2019, will go for a second junior slam title with Alexandra Eala of the Philippines. The top seeds defeated the unseeded Italian team of Eleonora Alvisi and Lisa Pigato 6-2, 6-1 in today's semifinals. The will face No. 8 seeds Maria Bondarenko of Russia and Amarissa Toth of Hungary, who beat No. 3 seeds Noskova and Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva of Andorra 6-7(2), 6-2, 10-4 in today's semifinals.

Bethanie Mattek-Sands will go for her sixth grand slam title in women's doubles Sunday, after she and Iga Swiatek of Poland defeated Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania and Nadia Podoroska of Argentina 6-3, 6-4 in today's semifinals. The No. 14 seeds will play No. 2 seeds Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic, who defeated Bernarda Pera and Poland's Magda Linette 6-1, 6-2 today. 

NCAA singles champion Sam Riffice(Florida) continued his impressive run today at the ATP Challenger 80 in Orlando, reaching his first Challenger semifinal with a 6-1, 7-5 victory over Ulises Blanch. Riffice will face Christopher Eubanks(Georgia Tech), a 6-3, 7-5 winner over Nicolas Jarry of Chile, Saturday.

JC Aragone(Virginia) defeated Emilio Gomez of Ecuador 6-4, 7-5 and will take on Nicolas Mejia of Colombia. Mejia advanced when Jenson Brooksby(Baylor) withdrew due to an injury. None of the semifinalists are seeded.

Three Americans also have advanced to the semifinals of the $25,000 USTA men's Pro Circuit tournament in Wichita Kansas. Patrick Kypson(Texas A&M) won a three-hour battle of former Kalamazoo 18s champions, with the 2017 winner beating 2019 champion Zachary Svadja 6-7(1), 6-1, 7-6(4). Kypson will play No. 6 seed Felix Corwin(Minnesota), who beat No. 2 seed Genaro Olivieri of Argentina 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. In the top half, Govind Nanda(UCLA) defeated qualifier Matias Soto(Baylor) 6-1, 6-1 in today's quarterfinals and will play No. 5 seed Sho Shimabukuro of Japan for a spot in the final.