Photo: Susan MullaneAnnika
Kimmer Coppejans of Belgium and Germany’s Annika Beck were crowned as the 2012 junior singles champions at Roland Garros.
Coppejans became only the second Belgian boy ever to win a Grand Slam title thanks to a 61 64 win over Filip Peliwo of Canada, while girls’ No. 2 seed Beck came back to beat Anna Schmiedlova of Slovakia 36 75 63.
“It's an incredible feeling,” said 18-year-old Coppejans, who looked as if he could barely believe what he had achieved. “I feel like I'm on top of the world. My expectations were only to do better than third round, because that was my best result in a slam so far. Then, I got to the quarters and I had a good win over (Kyle) Edmund. From then on I thought I really could win this tournament. I believed in myself and in the end I did win it. It's great.”
After two three-set battles in his first two matches, Coppejans did not drop a set in his last four as he handed Peliwo his second consecutive Grand Slam final defeat. “I played really good from the start,” he said. “In the second I had a break early and I just held serve each time. I played an incredible match today.”
The only time he got tense was when serving for the match at 5-4 in the second set, when he fell 0-40 down. “It was a bit tight but he didn't break me once in the whole match so I thought if I can just play good points again, then he won't break me at all. I had to stay calm.”
Peliwo smashed his racquet in anger and disappointment and though Coppejans tried to console him, the Canadian was distraught after going so close for the second Grand Slam event in succession.
“It’s very difficult to take it in right now, I am extremely disappointed,” Peliwo said. “It is a lot worse than in Australia because at least there I played decent, not half bad. I could actually do something, whereas today was a disaster, I played really bad and a lot worse than I had in the whole tournament. I have to give credit to Kimmer, though, because he played better than I’d ever seen him play.”
Despite the defeat, Peliwo said he would find the positives and move on. “Honestly, before this I was not expecting to do that well because I hadn’t been playing that well in juniors the two weeks before,” he said. “If I’d asked myself before the tournament if I would be happy with the final, I’d have said, that’s a great result. Obviously you want to win but I didn’t expect too much.”
The girls’ final was a real ding-dong affair as Beck recovered from a set down to become the first German winner since Anna-Lena Groenefeld in 2003.
“Of course it feels very good,” a delighted Beck said. “It was such a good final today. We had a tough fight against each other. I was very nervous at the beginning but I just try to handle it because of the situation, my first final here in a Grand Slam tournament. It just feels so good to win it.
“It means very much to me. I never thought that I was going to win it today because actually I saw her results before and she was playing very good. But such a win gives so much self‑confidence for yourself and for the upcoming tournaments. It's a good feeling.”
Beck said the victory was doubly satisfying because it was her last junior event and that she intended to celebrate her victory with a spot of sight-seeing. “Maybe I will visit the Eiffel Tower and take a walk along the Champs‑Elysées,” she said. “And visit the Louvre or something else and just have fun here.”
Schmiedlova admitted she was disappointed to go so close but said the way she had played throughout the week was a huge confidence boost. “It was a great week for me - I still can’t believe I was in the finals,” she said.
“Bad luck I couldn’t win it but we were both nervous. I think it was a good week and it was many new experiences. I know what I can do and what I can get better at. I know that I can be a good player. I had some very big wins and big support from Slovakia. I am so happy that I can be second."