Photo: Susan MullaneFrederico Ferreira Silva (POR)
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO: Tournament top seeds Frederico Ferreira Silva and Belinda Bencic served up mirror image matches on Center Court to continue their progress through their respective draws on day four at the Grade A Abierto Juvenil Mexicano.
Ferreira Silva, last year’s beaten finalist in the boys draw, was first up on Center Court and was made to battle to the final point to overcome Brazilian Rafael Matos 63 46 76(5) in an extremely hard fought battle. By a strange coincidence Belinda Bencic, top seed in the girls’ draw, and following Ferreira Silva onto Center Court, beat Mexico’s Camila Fuentes by an identical scoreline 63 46 75(5).
For Ferriera Silva it was the first time he had played Matos and it is sure not to be an encounter the Ferreira Silva will forget in a hurry. However, the top seed did not arrive in Mexico this year expecting an easy ride.
“This time there are very good ranking players, the tournament is a very high standard.” The Portuguese national is also not taking the challenge of the Mexican players lightly commenting on Lucus Gomez, Mexico’s top junior: “He’s a very good player, he’s got good hands, fights well and has a tough game.”
Despite the battles he faces last year’s runner up is happy to be back at the tournament.
"The weather is great, the people are very nice, the food is very good and now we have many improvements to the marina, the hotel is perfect, and we're happy, I feel even better than last year."
Elsewhere in the boys draw Serbian second seed Nikola Milojevic on his debut at the Abierto Juvenil Mexicano had a much easier ride through to the next round with a 63 63 win over American AJ Cantanzariti. Nevertheless, like his Portuguese rival and doubles partner he isn’t taking anything for granted.
"I'm psyched to win the tournament. Whenever I compete in a tournament, I give my best to win but we must not forget that this is a strong competition. The players participating, come to get as many ITF points as possible to up them in a good good position in the rankings going into the Australia Open Juniors."
The Serb has forged a compelling rivalry with Ferreira Silva. "We are very good friends, we know each other well, and we’ve played several times throughout our junior careers. He’s a rival I respect, and very good opponent to play.
Boys third seed Croatia’s Franko Miocic became the highest seeded casualty following defeat to qualifier Francis Tiafoe from USA 62 36 46. Next up for Tiafoe will be Mexican favourite Lucas Gomez, seeded six, after he notched up another straight sets win to defeat American Luca Corinteli 75 64.