Photo: Susan MullaneBelinda Bencic (SUI)
Top seed Belinda Bencic of Switzerland will take on Tapei’s Ching-Wen Hsu in the 2012 Abierto Juvenil Mexicano final after contrasting semi-finals in Mexico City. Japan’s Naoki Nakagawa will take on second seeded Serbian Nikola Milojevic in the boys’ final.
Bencic continued her seemingly unstoppable march towards what would be her first Grade A title when she brushed aside accomplished Belgian Elise Mertens 60 60. It marked Bencic’s second ‘double bagel’ win of the tournament after she also whitewashed Maria Ximena Yanez Diaz of Mexico in her opening match.
Bencic is coached by Melanie Molitor, the mother and former coach of Swiss superstar Martina Hingis. Molitor, who helped Hingis to five Grand Slam titles and a further seven finals, works with Bencic’s father Ivan to mentor the 15-year-old. While this week mark’s Bencic’s best result so far on the ITF Junior Circuit, she has also been making significant progress at ITF Pro Circuit and won back-to-back $10,000 women’s titles on hardcourt in Egypt in September.
Hsu’s battling win over another Swiss girl, Karin Kennel, was nowhere near as straightforward for the second seed and she needed three sets before squeaking out a 67(7) 62 76(4) win on the claycourts to earn a spot in her first Grade A final. Hsu, 16, is player in form, having already picked up five Junior titles of various Grades, including her last event, the Seogwipo Asian/Oceania Closed International Junior Tennis Championships (Grade B1), held on hardcourts in Korea in November.
Hsu and Bencic have never previously met at ITF Junior Circuit level.
In the boys’ competition, meanwhile, Nakagawa continued his giantkilling run to reach his first Grade A final when he knocked out local favourite Lucas Gomez (MEX) 63 63. Nakagawa will take on second seed Milojevic (SRB), who beat Belgium’s Clement Geens 63 61.
"In the championship match, my tactics will be aggressive. I’m expecting a tough game, and it represents a challenge for me to win the title,” said Nakagawa ahead of facing Milojevic. “I feel very happy, this is the first time I'm in the final of a Grade A, so I have very high expectations of winning the match.”
Milojevic sounded a bullish note ahead of playing the in-form Nakagawa for the 2012 Abierto Juvenil Mexicano boys’ singles title. “"I will do my best ... I have confidence that I can win."
Milojevic and Bencic are both already Abierto Juvenil Mexicano champions, having picked up the 2012 doubles titles. Milojevic triumphed in the boys’ doubles when he and Frederico Ferreira Silva of Portugal teamed up to beat Franko Miocic (CRO) and Guillermo Nunez of Chile 75 63 in the doubles final. Bencic joined forces with Veronika Kudermetova to pick up a 75 64 title win over Victoria Rodriguez (MEX) and Katrine Isabel Steffensen (USA).
It was some consolation for Ferreira Silva after he was beaten by Nakagawa in the quarter-finals of the boys’ singles. “Although this year I did very well in singles I'm satisfied with my performance in doubles along with Nikola,” said Ferreira Silva (through translation). “Though our opponents played very well, we took advantage of the opportunities presented to us and we were able to come through.”