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Monday, September 5, 2022

Wild Card Jovic Erases 5-0 Third Set Deficit to Defeat Sierra, Reach Third Round; Zheng's Practices with Medvedev Lead to Junior Victories; Tiafoe Beats Nadal, Pegula Through to Quarterfinals

©Colette Lewis 2022--
Flushing Meadows NY--

Yes, Iva Jovic did come back from 5-0, 40-15 down in the third set against No. 5 seed Solana Sierra of Argentina in the second round of the US Open Junior Championships Monday evening at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

But no one was more surprised at that incredible comeback than she was.

"It was 5-0, 40-15 and I was one point from being out 6-0 in the third, but I won that game, and I'm like ok, whatever," said the 14-year-old wild card from Torrance California, still nearly breathless with disbelief. 

"Great, I'm not getting bageled today, and then I won another game, 5-2, but you're not doing this, I thought. Then at 5-3, I was like, ok, if you can break her here, maybe you have a shot to get to 5-all. I started to believe a little bit. Then at 5-4, I'm like, oh my god. And then I said, you're going to get to 5-4 just to lose it at 6-4, that's exactly what's going to happen to you. Then I won that game, and I was like, what's going on? I was a little flustered at 5-all and missed two returns, but I held easy, played a good service game and I was just flipping out in the tiebreaker."

Jovic trailed 7-4 in the tiebreaker, with Sierra, the Roland Garros girls finalist and a semifinalist here last year, serving. But three errors by Sierra later, Jovic was even, and after another exchange of errors it was 8-8. Sierra held when Jovic netted a backhand down the line, but Jovic saved her third match point with an ace down the T. Sierra netted a backhand to give Jovic a 10-9 lead, and then double faulted to end the two-hour and 32-minute match.

Jovic said she had never come close to pulling off a comeback like that before.

"I'll definitely be more hopeful in those situations in the future," Jovic said. 

Jovic, playing in her first junior slam, has enjoyed being in New York, although she is definitely not a fan of the traffic.

"It's incredible," Jovic said. "It's so professional, they treat you like you're a pro and I just love it. My main motivation for this tournament is that I want to play another match. I want to experience that again."

Jovic called her second round "a crap draw, I'm playing this girl she's insane, but I was like, ok, try your best. When I won the first set, I was like ok, let's go, at least you have a shot."

And then, from 2-2 in the second set, Jovic lost nine games in a row.

"Most of the third set was a slap in the face, but I don't know, miracles happen, I guess," Jovic said.

Jovic's third round opponent on Wednesday will be No. 9 seed Victoria Mboko of Canada.

Jovic was one of only two US girls to post victories Monday, with No. 3 seed and Wimbledon girls champion Liv Hovde the other. Hovde, playing her first round match, defeated qualifier Aruzhan Sagandikova of Kazakhstan 6-1, 6-3.

Wild card Valerie Glozman took top seed Sofia Costoulas of Belgium to three sets, but lost 3-6, 6-2, 6-2.

In boys first round action, No. 4 seed Nishesh Basavareddy defeated Dylan Dietrich of Switzerland 6-3, 7-6(2). Unseeded Kyle Kang defeated No. 11 seed Jakub Nicod of the Czech Republic 2-6, 6-1, 6-1 in second round action, with Kang the much more engaged and committed player in the third set of that match. 

The other American in the bottom half of the draw to advance to the round of 16 is No. 16 seed Michael Zheng, who will be missing his first day of school at Columbia University Wednesday.

"Classes actually start tomorrow, but I've already moved into my dorm," said Zheng, who defeated qualifier William Jansen of Great Britain 6-2, 7-5. "I spent one full day at Columbia, but then I had to leave."

Zheng, the 2022 Wimbledon boys finalist, had lost to Jansen at the J1 at Roehampton the week before Wimbledon, so he knew he had to play well to beat Jansen.

"It's good to get that revenge; I knew he was playing well coming in," Zheng said. "It isn't an easy match, when he has a big serve and a good backhand. Especially on these courts, with his flat backhand, the ball skids a little bit. He's playing well, so it was a good win."

Zheng has hit with men's quarterfinalist Matteo Berrettini and ATP No. 1 Daniil Medvedev while on site at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

"I've been right there with them, I feel like I can keep up with them," said Zheng, who was not able to hit with Medvedev before his loss to Nick Kyrgios Sunday night, as it conflicted with his first round junior match. "I feel I'm right there. Obviously I feel I need to be a little bit stronger, more physical to do three out of fives, but I can definitely see in five, six years, coming back and having a good run, that would be amazing."

Zheng was playing Jansen at the same time that Frances Tiafoe was defeating Rafael Nadal 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 on Arthur Ashe Stadium, so he couldn't follow the match, but he appreciated the significance of the win for American men's tennis, and for American juniors.

"We have a lot of up and coming players that are young and doing much better at the slams," Zheng said. "Obviously with Tiafoe with an amazing win over Rafa, one of the greats of the sport, I think it's inspiring. It inspires the new generation, and shows we can beat some of these older guys."

Zheng will face No. 3 seed Kilian Feldbausch of Switzerland, who defeated Ozan Baris 6-4, 6-3 in Wednesday's third round.

Although only a brief midday shower interrupted play for 90 minutes today, the forecast for Tuesday calls for a 100 percent chance of rain, so the remainder of the second round of singles and the first round of doubles is all that is on Tuesday's schedule.

The top seeds in boys doubles, defending champion Coleman Wong of Hong Kong and his partner Edas Butvilas of Lithuania lost to Aidan Kim and Learner Tien 6-7(5), 6-4, 10-8 in one of the eight boys first round doubles matches played Monday night.

In US Open women's singles, Jessica Pegula[8] advanced to the quarterfinals with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Petra Kvitova[21] of the Czech Republic and will play top seed Iga Swiatek of Poland on Wednesday. Danielle Collins[19] lost to Aryna Sabalenka[6] 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.

Coco Gauff plays Caroline Garcia of France in the quarterfinals Tuesday night on Ashe.

Monday's first round junior results of Americans:

Connor Henry Van Schalkwyk(NAM) d. Leanid Boika[WC] 6-4, 6-4
Hynek Barton(CZE) d. Cooper Williams  2-6, 6-4, 6-3
Martin Landaluce[5](ESP) d. Hudson Rivera[Q] 7-6(4), 6-3
Patrick Brady[Q](GBR) d. Jonah Braswell[WC] 6-4, 7-6(5)
Nishesh Basavareddy[4] d. Dylan Dietrich(SUI) 6-3, 7-6(2)
Juan Manuel La Serna(ARG) d. Bryce Nakashima 7-5, 6-2

Ella Seidel d. Shannon Lam[WC] 6-0, 6-0 
Johanne Svendsen[13](DEN) d. Katherine Hui[Q] 6-3, 7-5 
Liv Hovde[3] d. Aruzhan Sagandikova(KAZ) 6-1, 6-3
Amelie Van Impe(BEL) d. Alexis Blokhina 2-6, 6-4, 7-5
Weronika Ewald[Q](POL) d. Capucine Jauffret[WC] 6-2, 6-2

Monday's second round junior results of Americans:
Coleman Wong[9](HKG) d. Aidan Kim 4-6, 6-3, 6-3
Kilian Feldbausch[3](SUI) d. Ozan Baris 6-4, 6-3
Yaroslav Demin[14](RUS) d. Darwin Blanch[WC] 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 
Michael Zheng[16] d. William Jansen(GBR) 6-2, 7-5
Kyle Kang d. Jakub Nicod[11](CZE) 2-6, 6-1, 6-1

Tuesday's second round junior matches featuring Americans:

Nishesh Basavareddy[4] v Alexander Blockx(BEL)
Alex Michelsen v Martyn Pawelski[10](POL)

Liv Hovde[3] v Ranah Stoiber(GBR)
Clervie Ngounoue v Tatum Evans[Q]
Ariana Pursoo[WC] v Mia Kupres(CAN)