02 Jul 2013

Ana Konjuh aims high

News Article

By Simon Cambers

Ana Konjuh (CRO)

First it was Serbia, with Novak Djokovic, Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic; now it seems it is Croatia’s turn with Ana Konjuh bidding to claim a second grand slam junior title of 2013.

The hard-hitting 15-year-old continued her smooth progress through the girls’ draw on Tuesday with a 61 76 win over Britain’s Harriet Dart to book her place in the third round.

“She was serving pretty good in the second set and I couldn’t break her,” Konjuh said. “I was 4-1 down in the tiebreak so I had a bit of luck, but I’m really glad I won in two sets today.”

Having won the Australian Open and reached the semi-finals of the French Open, Konjuh is the second top Croatian girl to come through, just a year younger than Donna Vekic, who is already in the top 100 in the women’s game.

Konjuh will play Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil in round three but has her sights set on adding the title to her Melbourne crown.

“It would be a dream to win here,” she said. “Wimbledon is my favourite grand slam, it’s really something special. If you win Wimbledon, you know that you are the best, so I hope I can continue to play well.”

Konjuh has already begun to make her mark on the women’s Tour, breaking into the world’s top 600 despite playing only a handful of events. That experience, she said, is helping her in the juniors.

“It’s really a huge difference in the WTA Tournaments,” she said. “The women are like 15 years older than me and I have to play with them and they could be like my mother. So it’s a bit strange but I’m doing pretty well so I hope I stay healthy to the end of the year and do the best I can.”

“I want to maybe go No 1 at the end of the year, if that’s possible, if Belinda doesn’t go well.”

Belinda is, of course, Belinda Bencic, the Swiss top seed who crushed Belgium’s Greetje Minnen 60 64 to reach round three. Third seed Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic cruised past another Croatian, Jana Fett, 63 61, Czech No 4 seed Barbora Krejcikova beat Kyoka Okamura of Japan 63 62 and fifth seed Taylor Townsend saw off Sandra Samir of Egypt, part of the ITF Touring Team, 62 64.

In the boys’ event, Australian top seed Nick Kyrgios eased into round three with a 62 64 win over Lucas Miedler and second seed Nikola Milojevic of Serbia was equally impressive, beating Daniil Medvedev of Russia 62 64.

Third seed Alexander Zverev of Germany held off Britain’s Julian Cash 64 76 but No 4 seed Laslo Djere of Serbia had to dig deep to beat Russia’s Karen Khachanov 67 63 63.

Fifth seed Kyle Edmund was a confident 63 61 winner over Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka while there was also a good win for Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis, who beat Daniel Windahl of Sweden 76 75.

The 17-year-old Kokkinakis is playing his first big event since a back injury he suffered at the Australian Open in January, a tournament where he played through the pain to reach the final.

“I went to the French Open with no expectations to play,” Kokkinakis said. “But then I got a chance to hit with Rafael Nadal and that flared up a bit because I was trying to hit it hard with him. That set me back a couple of weeks.

“But it got better a bit quicker than I expected and so far here it’s been good. I’m really happy to be back and on court injury free. Everything’s a bonus. I’d much rather be doing this than sitting at home doing rehab.”