Photo: Susan MullaneFrederico Ferreira Silva (POR)
The top two seeds made the perfect start to the Abierto Juvenil Mexicano on Sunday, when Frederico Ferreira Silva of Portugal and Serbia’s Nikola Milojevic both scored opening day wins.
Ferreira Silva of Portugal, the current world No. 6 on the ITF Junior Rankings, was a finalist on the clay courts of the Club Deportivo Chapultepec last year. He may feel that he has unfinished business in Mexico after narrowly losing out on the prestigious Grade A title to Italy’s Stefano Napolitano in the 2011 tournament. The Portuguese teenager certainly appeared in confident form dispatching Mexican wildcard Daniel Alejandro Burle Coria 60 60 in the first round.
Ferreira Silva will take on Rishab Agarwal of India next after he came through a far more taxing encounter against Great Britain’s Tom Hill 57 60 63. Milojevic, who is seeded second behind Ferreira Silva, has been in Mexico City since 17th December practicing with his father. “I like the weather better here than in Belgrade,” he told reporters earlier this week. “It is very cold and wet there right now!” Milojevic appeared very much at home in beating Justin Butsch of the USA 62 61 in their day one meeting. Milojevic plays Marcelo Zormann Da Silva of Brazil next for a place in the third round.
In other opening day boys’ matches, fourth seed Belgian Clement Geens, ninth seed Guillermo Nunez of Chile and sixth seed (and local favourite) Lucas Gomez all progressed safely through to the second round. The biggest shock in the boys’ competition was Vietnam’s Nam Hoang Ly, who upset 14th seed Diego Pedraza of Columbia in straight sets, winning 63 64. 15-year-old Hoang won back-to-back Grade 5 ITF Junior titles in August and September this year but this is arguably his biggest result at an ITF Junior event of this stature.
Switzerland's Belinda Bencic is the top seed for the girls' event and looked every inch the player to beat when she routinely beat Maria Ximena Yanez Diaz of Mexico 60 60 to storm into the second round. As well as being a quarter-finalist in the Under 18 event at the Orange Bowl earlier this month, Bencic is also already excelling on the ITF Pro Circuit and won two Women’s ITF $10K events in late September, both in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.
Bencic was not the only seeded player to dish out what is known colloquially as a ‘double bagel’ - a 60 60 scoreline. Third seed Elise Mertens of Belgium was also in merciless mood when she dispatched Itzi Janikuari Torres Millan of Mexico without dropping a game.
Second seed Ching-Wen Hsu was almost as dominant in her opening match. Hsu, from Taipei, was far too strong for Irina Lidkovskaya of Russia and sailed through with a 62 62 win. Karin Kennel (SUI), Victoria Rodriguez (MEX) and Veronika Kudermetova (RUS), seeded fourth, fifth and sixth respectively, all joined Bencic, Hsu and Mertens in the second round.
The Abierto Juvenil Mexicano, which occupies the unique ‘Christmas week’ timeslot in the ITF Junior Circuit calendar, is the opening event on the 2013 calendar. It is also the biggest event leading up to the Junior Australian Open in January.