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Monday, September 4, 2023

Williams Uses Crowd to Defeat Lucky Loser in Second Round US Open Junior Action; 16-year-old Glozman Starts to Feel Comfortable After Weeks in New York

©Colette Lewis 2023--
Flushing Meadows NY--

Harvard incoming freshman Cooper Williams got a taste of the college tennis atmosphere Monday evening on the USTA Billie Jean King Tennis Center's Court 11, with the No. 3 seed coming from a break down in the third set to beat lucky loser Markus Molder of Estonia 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(7) to advance to the third round of the US Open Junior Championships.

The fans arriving early for the Ashe evening session began filling the stands as the drama built in the third set in a classic favorite versus underdog battle. Most of the hundreds of spectators were neutral when they arrived, but enthusiasm of the dozen or so supporters leading the "let's go Cooper, clap, clap, clap clap clap" cheers in the third set was contagious leading others to join in as Williams got a key break with Molder serving at 4-3 in the third set.

Williams said he couldn't have gotten through it without their encouragement.

"There was a lot that went into the last four games of the match," said the 18-year-old, who was born in New York. "I was cramping, they were cheering me on, and I was like, I can't roll over now. My fitness trainer gave me a HotShot and I chugged that thing and I just battled."

There was definitely some uneasiness in the crowd when Williams was broken at 5-all, but Molder couldn't take advantage of that lapse, and when Williams broke Molder on what he called "the greatest return I've ever hit in my life" to break back and get into a match-deciding tiebreaker, the optimism and the chants returned.

Williams is not generally a follower of the Shelton-Tiafoe school of crowd engagement, but he knew in the heat and humidity, against a motivated opponent playing well, he needed to solicit their help.

"I don't really do that stuff much," said Williams, who reached the quarterfinals of Roland Garros and the semifinals of Wimbledon and Kalamazoo this summer. "I like to say I stay pretty cool-headed in that sense, with the crowd. But I felt like the only way to find what I needed there was to get something from them and it worked...they got hyped for me, everyone was standing up, it was surreal."

Molder, an 18-year-old right-hander, was also cramping, and he could be seen flexing his right hand in the final three games of the match, with the cramps primarily affecting his serve.

Molder paid for that in the tiebreaker, when he got very few first serves in and made a slew of unforced errors. Before long, Williams had built an 8-2 lead, only to see Molder take five of the next six points, cranking a forehand winner to make it 9-7. But with his final match point on serve, Williams hit an ace, which the Electronic Line Calling system showed on the line, ending the drama, and a series of exhausted fist pumps were all he could muster as a celebration.

"I'm starting to cramp again and I need to finish it," Williams said of those last few swings of the racquet. "And then I hit the outside of the line(on the ace) and I was like, thank goodness. It was a lot of relief, because mentally, it was a lot."

Williams plays fellow American Adhithya Ganesan on Wednesday, after the wild card, who will attend Cornell next semester, defeated Jan Hrazdil of the Czech Republic 7-6(5), 7-6(3). They are the only two Americans left in the top half of the draw after three-set losses by wild card Matthew Forbes, 2022 US Open boys quarterfinalist Kyle Kang and Roy Horovitz.

Two US girls have also advanced to the third round in the top half of the draw, with No. 7 seed Kaitlin Quevedo outlasting 14-year-old qualifier Mika Stojsavljevic of Great Britain 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, and 16-year-old Valerie Glozman defeating fellow wild card Akasha Urhobo 7-6(4), 7-5.

Glozman trailed Urhobo 5-2 in the first set and 5-3 in the second set, saving seven set points in the second set, two serving at 3-5 and five with Urhobo serving for the set at 5-4.

"She's a very tough player, very much first strike, so if I get past the first shot, I feel I have a shot at the rally," said Glozman, who lost in the second round of the US Open Junior Championships as a wild card last year. "But it's a lot of pressure when you're at their mercy on the first shot, so I was definitely feeling it throughout the match."

As she did in 2022, Glozman won a round in the women's qualifying as a wild card recipient this year, but said that experience proved to her that the pressure she was putting on herself was counterproductive.

"The only mindset shift I had wasn't necessarily strategy related, but I just wanted to enjoy myself on the court a little more," Glozman said of her approach to playing the US Open juniors after competing in the women's qualifying two weeks ago.

"I placed a lot of pressure on myself in qualifying because I received the wild card, not through even winning a tournament," Glozman said. "I kind of wanted to prove that it was a worthy investment. I feel I didn't enjoy myself out there because I put so much pressure on myself, so I wasn't able to fully perform. And even when I was hitting good shots, I wasn't enjoying the moment."

Glozman spent the week between the qualifying and the junior championships hitting with a variety of pros, with one of her favorites Jelena Ostapenko, who last night defeated defending champion and WTA No. 1 Iga Swiatek.

"She just knocked out Iga, which is crazy," said Glozman, who also mentioned how much she liked her hitting session with Camila Osorio, the 2019 US Open girls champion. "[Ostapenko] was super sweet and she said I was a good hitting partner, so I'm happy with that. She's interesting, but off the court she's super nice, and at least on the court with me, she was super nice."

Having experienced competing against and hitting with pros in the week leading up to the junior championships, Glozman has a rare perspective on the similarities, and the differences, in the levels.

"A lot of things are very close between high level juniors, college tennis and pros," Glozman said, mentioning the quick rise of Peyton Stearns and Mirra Andreeva as examples. "But I think it's mainly mental, because everyone has a lot of good shots, it's just how they put it together. I guess Peyton found the magic pill, and so did Mirra."

Glozman's opponent in the third round Wednesday will be No. 11 seed Anastasiia Gureva of Russia, who ended the run of qualifier Olivia Center 7-6(2), 6-1. Quevedo will face No. 9 seed Tereza Valentova of the Czech Republic, who beat wild card Anita Tu 6-0, 6-2.

With the first round of singles now complete, American juniors went 19-18. Four have advanced to the third round, with nine more playing second round matches tomorrow.

No third round singles matches are on Tuesday's schedule, just the 16 remaining second round singles matches and 16 remaining first round doubles matches. 

Monday's second round results of US juniors:

Cooper Williams[3] d. Markus Molder[LL](EST) 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(7)
Rei Sakamoto(JPN) d. Roy Horovitz 6-7(6), 7-6(3), 6-4
Fabio De Michele[Q](ITA) Matthew Forbes[WC] 7-6(3), 3-6, 6-3
Adhithya Ganesan[WC] d. Jan Hrazdil(CZE) 7-6(5), 7-6(3)
Federico Cina[14](ITA) d. Kyle Kang 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-1 

Tereza Valentova[9](CZE) d. Anita Tu[WC] 6-0, 6-2
Valerie Glozman[WC] d. Akasha Urhobo[WC] 7-6(4), 7-5
Anastasiia Gureva[11](RUS) d. Olivia Center[Q] 7-6(2), 6-1
Kaitlin Quevedo[7] d. Mika Stojsavljevic[Q](GBR) 6-3, 3-6, 6-3

Monday's first round results of American juniors:

Hannah Klugman(GBR) d. Kristina Penickova[WC] 6-2, 6-2
Victoria Osuigwe[WC] d. Iva Ivanova(BUL) 6-2, 6-4
Sayaka Ishii[3](JPN) d. Annika Penickova[Q] 6-3. 3-6, 6-3 
Ena Koike[6](JPN) d. Tyra Grant 7-5, 6-3 
Elizara Yanev(BUL) d. Mia Slama 6-3, 6-1
Aspen Schuman[WC] v Alisa Oktiabreva(RUS) 6-4, 6-1

Darwin Blanch[8] d. Charlie Camus(AUS) 4-6, 6-3, 6-4
Alexander Frusina[WC] d. Tianhui Zhang[Q](CHN) 6-4, 7-6(2)
Danil Panarin(RUS) d. Cyrus Mahjoob[WC] 7-6(2), 3-6, 7-6(5)
Nishesh Basavareddy[WC] d. Rafael Jodar[Q](ESP) 6-2, 6-4

Tuesday's second round matches featuring Americans:

Darwin Blanch[8] v Oliver Ojakaar(EST)
Trevor Svajda[WC] v Henry Searle[4](GBR)
Learner Tien[11] v Sebastian Eriksson(SWE)
Alexander Frusina[WC] v Nicola Budov Kjaer(NOR)
Nishesh Basavareddy[WC] v Rodrigo Pacheco Mendez[2](MEX)

Katherine Hui[WC] v Lucciana Perez Alarcon[2](PER)
Alexia Harmon v Laura Samsonova[10](CZE)
Victoria Osuigwe[WC] v Sayaka Ishii[3](JPN)
Aspen Schuman[WC] v Mingge Xu(GBR)

Monday's fourth round matches results of Americans:

Madison Keys[17] d. Jessica Pegula[3] 6-1, 6-3
Marketa Vondrousova[9] d. Peyton Stearns 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-2 

Tuesday's quarterfinal matches featuring Americans:

Coco Gauff[6] v Jelena Ostapenko[20](LAT)

Taylor Fritz[9] v Novak Djokovic[2](SRB)
Frances Tiafoe[10] v Ben Shelton


Colin said...

Eager to see how Svajda does against Searle today, and Basavareddy against the 2 seed. Those could be good ones.