Photo: Corinne DubreuilNick Kyrgios (AUS)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA: The junior singles finals at Melbourne will have a distinctly familiar feel after Australians Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis set up a showdown in the boys’ event and Katerina Siniakova and Ana Konjuh advanced to a meeting in the girls’ competition on a windy Friday at Melbourne Park.
For the first time since 1994, two Australians will contest the boys final after Kyrgios and Kokkinakis came through their semi-finals in convincing fashion.
Third seed Kyrgios crushed the hopes of eighth seed Filippo Baldi of Italy 62 61 to maintain his storming run through the draw, reaching the final without losing any more than four games in a single set.
“I don’t think I’ve played a match longer than an hour,” Kyrgios said. “I’m playing really well but it was difficult conditions today so I was really surprised with how I played.
“I know Baldi’s been playing great tennis but I thought I served really well today. I’m really stoked with that performance.”
Unseeded Kokkinakis saw off 11th seed Borna Coric of Croatia 63 62 to maintain a fairytale run that began well before the tournament even started.
The 16-year-old shot to prominence when he was called in as a replacement for John Isner in the Hopman Cup in Perth and almost took a set off Fernando Verdasco.
Having battled past second seed Gianliugi Quinzi 86 in the third set in the previous round, Kokkinakis cruised to victory, ensuring there will be a first-time grand slam champion on Saturday.
The two Australians have played each other twice and Krygios said he hoped the match would go the same way as their previous encounters. “I won them in three sets, so it’s going to be a tough match,” he said.
The girls’ final will be a repeat of the Orange Bowl decider from December, when 15-year-old Konjuh beat 16-year-old Siniakova in the final.
Third seed Konjuh, already a part of the Croatia Fed Cup team, dropped her first set of the week but came back strongly in the third to beat Russia’s Elizaveta Kulichkova 62 36 61 while second seed Siniakova beat Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit 62 63.
It was more heartbreak for Kontaveit, who lost in the final at the US Open and in the semi-finals in both Paris and Wimbledon.
But for Konjuh and Siniakova, the results set up a repeat of their Orange Bowl final and the Croatian, watched by Fed Cup captain Iva Majoli, said she was looking forward to the repeat.
“We’ve played each other twice and I know her really well,” the 15-year-old said. “I’m a bit excited to play on Rod Laver Arena but I hope I play well. Hopefully my coach will set me a good tactic and I will play well tomorrow.”
Konjuh completed the first half of what she hopes will be a double celebration as she and Carol Zhao of Canada, the No 1 seeds, joined forces to win the girls’ doubles event, beating sixth seeds Oleksandra Korashvili of Ukraine and Czech Barbora Krejcikova 57 64 107.
“It was a pretty tight match and we were down so we had to keep our energy up and be positive,” Konjuh said. “My parents are awake, they already sent me a message, saying congratulations but now focus on tomorrow.”
Zhao said the pair had been trying to team up for a while. “We originally wanted to play at the Eddie Herr and the Orange Bowl but it didn’t work out,” she said. “So we agreed to play here and it turned out well. It’s an incredible feeling, obviously, and playing with Ana was a great
experience. Hopefully she can win it tomorrow.”
The boys’ title went to another Australian pair, Bradley Mousley and Jay Andrijic, an unseeded pair, who beat Germany’s Maximilian Marterer and Lucas Miedler of Austria 63 76.
“It’s our first grand slam title together and it’s only my second grand slam doubles event at all,” Andrijic said. “We’re good friends off the court. It’s the best thing I’ve done in my career, winning a grand slam.”
Mousley praised the influence of the home crowd, saying: “We were really happy to do it in Australia. We were pretty confident in our game and in each other, which was a key factor. By far it’s a career highlight and I’ll never forget it for the rest of my life.”