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Friday, January 21, 2022

Australian Open Junior Championships Begin Saturday, with Kuzuhara No. 1 Seed; Three US Women Advance to AO Fourth Round; Joint, Woestendick Claim ITF J5 Titles in New Jersey; Four Americans in Colombia J1 Semifinals

In less than an hour, the Australian Open Junior Championships begin in Melbourne, with the traditional start to the junior slam calendar returning after the cancellation of last year's event.

Seven US boys and four US girls are in the draw, with six of the 11 in first round action Saturday (tonight in the US). Bruno Kuzuhara is the top seed, with Ozan Colak the other American seeded, at 13. The other American boys are qualifiers Rohan Murali and Quang Duong, Aidan Kim, Leanid Boika and Yannik Rahman. Rahman played the Costa Rica J1 last week, the only AO player to have those two far-flung tournaments on his schedule. 

The US girls in the draw are Alexis Blokhina, No. 13 seed Liv Hovde, No. 5 seed Clervie Ngounoue and Qavia Lopez. 

Neither of Orange Bowl champions played the warmup event in Traralgon, but both Adolfo Daniel Vallejo of Paraguay and Petra Marcinko of Croatia are entered in the Australian Open Junior Championships. Vallejo is the No. 3 seed; Marcinko, who ascended to No. 1 in the ITF junior rankings after sweeping the Orange Bowl titles, is the top seed. She faces Blokhina in a Sunday match.  Kuzuhara is also not on Saturday's schedule.

The ITF has put together a very detailed set of notes for the year's first junior slam; I'm not aware that this has been done before, but it's a welcome addition for media and fans alike.

Saturday's first round junior matches featuring Americans:

Yannick Rahman d. Louis Bowden[Q](GBR) 2-6, 6-2, 6-2
Aidan Kim v Gerard Campana Lee(KOR) 6-3, 6-2
Kilian Feldbausch[11](SUI) d. Quang Duong[Q] 6-0, 6-3 
Ozan Colak[13] d. Dinko Dinev(BUL) 6-0, 6-1

Liv Hovde[13] d. Talia Gibson[WC](AUS) 6-3, 7-6(8)
Clervie Ngounoue[5] d. Nahia Berecoechea(FRA) 6-3, 6-4

Both US men in action at the Australian Open Friday lost, leaving just Taylor Fritz and Maxime Cressy with a chance to reach the round of 16. All three US women did win their third round matches, with Amanda Anisimova particularly impressive in her victory over defending champion Naomi Osaka of Japan.  On Saturday, Danielle Collins will attempt to join Anisimova, Jessica Pegula and Madison Keys in the fourth round when she takes on 2019 Australian Open girls champion Clara Tauson of Denmark.

Friday's third round results for Americans:

Amanda Anisimova d. Naomi Osaka[13](JPN) 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(5)
Jessica Pegula[21] d. Nuria Parrizas Diaz(ESP) 7-6(3), 6-2
Madison Keys d. Qiang Wang(CHN) 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(2)

Pablo Carreno Busta[19](ESP) d. Sebastian Korda 6-4, 7-5, 6-7(6), 6-3
Denis Shapovalov[14](CAN) d. Reilly Opelka[23] 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-3, 6-4

Saturday's third round matches featuring Americans: 

Danielle Collins[27] d. Clara Tauson(DEN) 4-6, 6-4, 7-5
Taylor Fritz[20] d. Roberto Bautista Agut[15](ESP) 6-0, 3-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3
Maxime Cressy d. Christopher O'Connell[WC](AUS) 6-2, 6-7(6), 6-3, 6-2

Maya Joint made it two J5 singles titles in a row today, claiming the championship in Medford New Jersey, while also taking the doubles title. The third-seeded Joint, who won the J5 last Friday in Wisconsin, defeated qualifier Esha Velaga 6-2, 6-3 in the final. She again got the better of Velaga in the doubles final, with Joint and partner Conley Raidt, the No. 4 seeds, beating the unseeded team of Velaga and Erin Ha 7-5, 7-6(12). Joint had lost in the doubles final last week in Eau Claire.

In the boys final, unseeded Cooper Woestendick, who was runner-up in Wisconsin last week, got his first ITF Junior Circuit title with a 6-7(1), 7-5, 6-1 win over No. 5 seed Evan Wen. Wen did collect a title later in the doubles, with partner Payton Young. The top seeds defeated unseeded Maxwell Exsted and Maximus Dussault 6-4, 2-6, 10-3 in the final.

The semifinals are this evening at the J1 in Barranquilla Colombia, with four Americans hoping to advance. One is certain to be eliminated, with top seed Cooper Williams and No. 5 seed Michael Zheng playing in a J1 semifinal for the second week in a row.  The winner of that match will play the winner of the match between unseeded Paul Barbier Gazeu of France and No. 8 seed Jan Hrazdil of the Czech Republic, who recorded quarterfinal wins over No. 3 seed Nicholas Godsick and No. 14 seed Alexander Frusina respectively.

The two US girls in the semifinals are No. 2 seed Krystal Blanch, who is playing No. 11 seed Sayaka Ishii of Japan, and No. 9 seed Olivia Lincer, who is facing No. 13 seed Madeleine Jessup of Taiwan.  Jessup took out No. 5 seed Mia Slama 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 in the quarterfinals.