Friday, July 9, 2021

Banerjee and Lilov Reach Wimbledon Boys Semifinals after Posting Two Victories Friday; Jimenez Kasintseva and Fruhvirtova Face Unseeded Opposition in Girls Semifinals

After spending just two hours and 36 minutes on court today while collecting two singles and one doubles win at the Wimbledon Junior Championships, Samir Banerjee admitted that his goal coming into the tournament was much less ambitious than his current semifinal berth: to win one match. 

"My goal coming in was just to win a match," said the 17-year-old from New Jersey. "At Roland Garros, I lost in the first round, so I really just wanted to get that first slam win under my belt. I didn't expect this, but I love the grass courts here. I think I'm playing well, I just want to see how far I can go now."

In his 6-2, 6-1 win over No. 5 seed Pedro Boscardin Dias in the third round to start the day, Banerjee extracted some revenge, having lost to the Brazilian 6-4, 7-6(6) in the second round of last week's Roehampton J1.

"He pretty much outplayed me last week and I knew I had to make some changes," said Banerjee, who had 20 winners and just 14 unforced errors. "Today, I just came in, I really wanted to put the pressure on him, make him play a lot. He's more of a clay courter, so I knew I could play more attacking and put him under pressure. I ended up doing that well; I don't think I could have played any better, it was a good match."

In the quarterfinals against Mili Poljicak of Croatia, Banerjee continued to play aggressively, but minimize his unforced errors to come away with an easy 6-1, 6-1 win over the big serving 16-year-old. 

"Everything I hit, I'm accelerating fully and I'm really ripping the ball," said Banerjee, who hit 16 winners against just six unforced errors in his first Grade A quarterfinal. "It was just one of those days. You have those days when nothing is going in and today was one of those days where everything seemed to be working."

Playing two matches in one day is often a draining experience, but given his level in the first match of the day, Banerjee could see the advantages of coming right back out.

"Usually playing two matches in a day is a negative, because you're going to be gassed for the second one," said Banerjee, who has committed to Columbia for next fall. "But I would say for today, just the way I was playing, the way I was on a roll, I was happy, because I could just keep building off the momentum and keep playing well."

Banerjee's semifinal opponent will be qualifier Sascha Gueymard Wayenburg of France, who defeated No. 4 seed Bruno Kuzuhara 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-2 in the quarterfinals.

Victor Lilov, who, like Banerjee, was unseeded this week, also had a quick first match of the day, beating unseeded Vojtech Petr of the Czech Republic 6-2, 6-1 in just over an hour. But unlike Banerjee, he had to dig deep to win his quarterfinal match, coming from behind to defeat No. 7 seed and Roehampton champion Jack Pinnington Jones of Great Britain 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.

The match was tentatively moved to Court One, only to moved again, this time to Court 3, due to the length of the ladies doubles semifinals, but regardless of the venue, Lilov was never going to garner any support, despite being the underdog. 

"It annoyed me more at the beginning of the match, until I let it go, realized it's just sport, and nothing personal," said the 17-year-old from North Carolina. "It was a great atmosphere, he was the Brit and they were supporting him, but it was a lot of fun to be on the court, it was a pleasure to play. I just kept playing and kept fighting, I didn't really listen to them toward the end of the match."

Once Lilov broke Pinnington Jones to take the second set, he could sense the physical toll Pinnington Jones had paid over the past two weeks.

After going up a break in the third set and consolidating for a 4-1 lead, Lilov kept the pressure on. 

"I saw he was struggling physically," Lilov said. "He's won a lot of matches in the last weeks. People don't know that grass is probably the most demanding surface, to be honest, with how low you get and the movement of the hips."

Lilov failed to get a break with Pinnington Jones serving at 1-4, despite two break points, and he went down 15-40 in the next game, which sent the crowd roaring for Pinnington Jones. But Lilov won the next four points to secure a 5-2 lead, and confidently served out the match two games later.

"When I was down 15-40, I just told myself, make more first serves and I played a couple of good points, a couple of more good points. To be up 5-2 is a big difference from being up 4-3, especially since he was pretty drained."

Pinnington Jones admitted that his tank was empty down 1-4 in the third.

"My body was struggling a bit in my second round match, and I knew it was going to be a big ask, two matches," said Pinnington Jones. "That's why I withdrew from doubles yesterday. I was expecting it to be tough and physical and grass requires a different type of load. Unfortunately, I wasn't physically at my best, but I don't think he was either, and I think he just managed his game better. My quad started cramping at 4-1 and I was pretty much done there, playing great tennis, on fire sort of thing, so I was just trying to enjoy the crowd and atmosphere for as long as possible out there."

Lilov, who was playing in his first Grade A quarterfinal today, said he is not suprised to find himself in the semifinals.

"I've always thought, and maybe it's hurt me in the past, but I've always thought I want to win, I want to go far," Lilov said. "I expected myself to do well, I think, and thankfully I have so far."

Lilov's opponent is Juncheng Jerry Shang of China, who defeated big serving No. 11 seed Jerome Kym of Switzerland 3-6, 7-6(2), 6-4 in front of a large and appreciative evening crowd on Court One.

Shang and Lilov have played four times on the ITF Junior Circuit, two of them on South American clay swing this past February, with Shang winning the first week and Lilov the following week. 

"He's a great player," Lilov said of Shang. "He's won a lot of matches this year and he's very confident in himself."

While the boys semifinals feature three unseeded players and the top seed, the girls semifinals have the top seed, the No. 8 seed and their two unseeded opponents.

No. 1 Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva of Andorra again had to come from a set down, but she defeated British wild card and Florida rising freshman Alicia Dudeney 3-6, 6-2, 6-1. Jimenez Kasintseva will face Nastasja Schunk of Germany who defeated Matilde Paoletti of Italy 6-3, 4-6, 6-2.

No. 8 seed Linda Fruhvirtova of the Czech Republic, who won the Roehampton title last week, now has a ten-match winning streak on grass after defeating No. 15 seed Mara Guth of Germany 6-3, 6-2. Fruhvirtova will play unseeded Ane Mintegi Del Olmo of Spain, who took out No. 6 seed Kristina Dmitruk of Belarus 7-6(6), 6-3. 

In doubles, one US team has advanced to the girls semifinals, with Reese Brantmeier and Elvina Kalieva winning two matches today. They defeated the British wild card team of Kylie Bilchev and Mingge Xu 6-4, 6-2 in the second round and Radka Zelnickova of Slovakia and Darja Vidmanova of the Czech Republic 6-4, 4-6, 11-9 in the quarterfinals. Brantmeier and Kalieva couldn't convert their first four match points up 9-5 in the tiebreaker, but they got the fifth to move on. They will play top seeds Dmitruk and Diana Shnaider of Russia in Saturday's semifinal.

Banerjee and his partner Kokoro Isomura of Japan are through to the boys doubles semifinals after beating the unseeded German team of Philip Florig and Max Rehberg 6-3, 6-0. 

Lilov and his partner Peter Privara of Slovakia had their quarterfinal match postponed due to the lateness of Lilov's second singles match.

In the women's doubles semifinals, No. 3 seeds Su-Wei Hsieh of Taiwan and Elise Mertens of Belgium defeated No. 5 seeds Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara(UCLA) of Japan 6-4, 1-6, 6-3. Caroline Dolehide and Australia's Storm Sanders failed to convert three match points and lost to Veronika Kudermetova and Elena Vesnina of Russia 7-6(6), 3-6, 7-5.

In mixed doubles, Great Britain's Joe Salisbury has advanced to his second straight mixed doubles final, with the former Memphis star partnering with Harriet Dart for a 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 win over No. 9 seeds Kevin Krawietz of Germany and Kveta Peschke of the Czech Republic Friday night. Their opposition in Sunday's final will be determined on Saturday.

US boys in third round at Wimbledon Friday

Jerome Kym[11](SUI)d. Ozan Colak 7-6(4), 6-4
Victor Lilov d. Vojtech Petr(CZE) 6-2, 6-1
Bruno Kuzuhara[4] d. Max Westphal(FRA) 6-3, 3-0 ret.
Samir Banerjee d. Pedro Boscardin Dias[5](BRA) 6-2, 6-1

US boys in quarterfinals Friday:

Sascha Gueymard Wayenburg[Q](FRA) d. Bruno Kuzuhara[4] 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-2
Samir Banerjee d. Mili Poljicak(CRO) 6-1, 6-1
Victor Lilov d. Jack Pinnington Jones[7](GBR) 4-6, 6-4, 6-3

US boys in Saturday's Wimbledon semifinals:

Victor Lilov v Juncheng Shang[1](CHN)
Samir Banerjee v Sascha Gueymard Wayenburg[Q](FRA)