Photo: Francesco PanunzioAlexander Zverev (GER)
MILAN, ITALY: Germany’s Alexander Zverev and Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic are the 54th Trofeo Bonfiglio singles champions after both teenagers triumphed in Sunday’s finals of the Grade A claycourt event in Milan.
Zverev became the youngest ever boys’ singles champion of the historic tournament, formerly known as the Italian Open, at 16 years and 36 days old. Despite his youth, the younger brother of ATP World Tour regular Mischa Zverev fought like a seasoned campaigner to outlast Serbia’s Laslo Djere 76(5) 57 75.
Zverev succeeded Italy’s Gianluigi Quinzi as boys’ singles champion at the Tennis Club Milano Alberto Bonacossa. Quinzi was also previously the tournament’s youngest boys’ singles champion.
The young German joins an impressive list of former champions of the prestigious event, which was first played in 1959 in honour of talented Italian junior Antonio Bonfiglio, who died of pneumonia at the age of 19. Zverev’s name will sit alongside Nicolas Almagro, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Goran Ivanisevic, Jim Courier, Guy Forget and Ivan Lendl among others in the honour roll.
Zverev didn’t get everything his own way on Sunday, however. He and partner Andrey Rublev of Russia were beaten in the boys’ doubles final 64 63 by Germans Johannes Haerteis and Hannes Wagner. The girls’ doubles title had already been won on Saturday by the French pair of Fiona Ferro and Margot Yerolymos.
Bencic picked up her second Grade A singles title inside six months when she beat Russia’s Darya Kasatkina 75 60. Even before Sunday’s title-winning performance, the 16-year-old Swiss had shown herself to be one of the dominant players on the ITF Junior Circuit.
She also won last week’s 35th Torneo International Citta Di Santa Croce Grade 1 event and has now compiled a winning streak of 11 consecutive match wins. Counting her win at the Abierto Juvenil Mexicano Grade A in December (she chose to play ITF Pro Circuit events between then and now), Bencic has won her last 17 matches at Junior level.
Bencic is coached by Martina Hingis’ mother and former coach Melanie Molitor and has already started to impressed in the pros. Before arriving in Italy for this most recent swing of ITF Junior claycourt tournaments, Bencic came through qualifying and went on to reach the semi-finals of the $50,000 clay ITF Pro Circuit tournament in Indian Harbour Beach, Florida.
She joins a list of female former Trofeo Bonfiglio champions which is every bit as star-studded as the boys’ honour roll - previous winners include Sloane Stephens, Dominika Cibulkova, Anna Kournikova, Gabriella Sabatini and Hana Mandilova.