13 Jul 2017

Lansere gives grass a second chance to reach semifinal

News Article

By Clive White

Photo: Susan MullaneSofya Lansere (RUS)

WIMBLEDON: Sofya Lansere took a few steps on the grass at Roehampton before the warm-up event last week and turned to her coach and said: “That’s not me. Let’s go back to Moscow”.

Fortunately for the Russian, her coach insisted that she had the game for grass and persuaded Lansere to stay. And on Court Five at Wimbledon on Thursday she beat the new junior French Open champion and No2 seed Whitney Osuigwe, of United States, 75 63.

“I like the grass very much,” she said on reflection after the biggest win of her fledgling career put the 16-year-old in the semifinals of junior Wimbledon where she will face the new tournament favourite Claire Liu, also of the United States.

An arguably bigger shock was the removal from the competition of another American, the No 1 seed Kayla Day who had banked everything on winning the girls’ singles before embarking on a full-time senior career.

She had beaten fellow American Ann Li in both their previous meetings and although she got off to a better start this time she lost 46 62 61. Such is the strength in depth of American girls’ tennis right now they could still get two girls in the final on Saturday.

Despite her success Lansere does not claim to be the new Sharapova. Besides, her favourite player was Kim Clijsters. Coincidentally, the Belgian is also her next opponent’s favourite.

Speaking through her coach Julia Kashevarova Lansere said: “I think it’s more difficult to do today what Sharapova did [in 2004 when she won the Wimbledon title at the age of 17]. Tennis is more adult minded now.”

That said the mental maturity shown by some of the girls this year is impressive, none more than Li’s.

“Just being around here and knowing I can stay calm with all these people and all the distractions has given me a lot of confidence,” said Li, who was qualifying for her first Grand Slam semifinal. “Just being here is amazing - I’ve seen Fed twice! I’ve haven’t spoken to him, I just can’t say anything when I see him.”

It would seem that a bathroom break after losing the first sest may have been the turning point in her quarterfinal against Day. “In the first set I didn’t have as much energy as she did – she was yelling ‘come on’ a lot. I took a bathroom break after that, regrouped and came back with a lot more energy and a lot more ‘come ons’.

Nevertheless, Liu, who many believe should not have lost the Roland Garros final to Osuigwe, is looking poised to make amends for that defeat here. It’s going to be tough for the commentators if it is a Li-Liu final. The draw in both events has already thrown up some choice pairings: Sun v Day in the girls’ singles and better still Added v Greif in the boys’ singles.

A blonde-haired Spaniard whose favourite player is Novak Djokovic not Rafael Nadal is one of the novelties of the boys’ event. Alejandro Davidovich Fokina is of Russian parentage but born in Malaga. His experience of Wimbledon was initially a bit like his “compatriot” from the old country, Lansere.

When he went out in the first round of last year’s event he said he must have slipped up twenty times but he is still standing this year as the boys’ singles enters the quarterfinal stage. He beat the No10 seed Oliver Crawford, of United States, 61 63 to earn the toughest of all draws: a match against many people’s favourite, the No2 seed Yibing Wu, of China. “Now I feel the grass, I have more control. I like it very much,” said the new convert.